Thursday, January 14, 2016

Current Affairs Update – 14th January, 2016

Hello and welcome to ExamPundit. Here are the Important Current Affairs of 14th January, 2016. These are important for the upcoming LIC AAO 2016 and Syndicate Manipal PO 2016 Exam.


Current Affairs at a Glance - 14th January, 2016
  1. Reserve Bank of India has allowed banks to offer the whole array of services even at off-site Automated Teller Machines (ATMs). Off-site ATMs are the ones that are set up on a standalone basis and are not on the premises of a bank branch.
  2. The country's largest public sector bank, State Bank of India (SBI), has opened its first branch dedicated to serving startup companies in Bengaluru. The announcement comes ahead of the Prime Minister's 'Start-up India Stand Up India' event that will be held on January 16, where the government will roll out its new startup policy. The bank envisions that its InCube branches will be a one-stop shop for the financial service requirements of startups in the country.
  3. Sikkim has become India’s first fully organic state by implementing organic practices on around 75,000 hectares of agricultural land. It was 12 years ago in 2003 when the Pawan Chamling-led government decided to make Sikkim an organic farming state through a declaration in the legislative assembly.
  4. Bengaluru-based activist Subhashini Vasanth on 13 January 2016 was honoured with Neerja Bhanot Award. She was presented the award for her endeavour to help people in distress and for empowering widows of martyrs and their families across the country.
  5. David Beckham on 12 January 2016 was presented with the Danny Kaye Humanitarian Leadership Award at the sixth biennial UNICEF Ball in Los Angeles.
  6. Bhaskar Bhat, managing director of Titan, has taken over as Chairman of Tata SIA Airlines Ltd (Vistara), succeeding Prasad Menon who retired from the airline on January 13.
  7. India's Sania Mirza and her Swiss partner Martina Hingis today broke a 22-year-old world record by winning their 29th women's doubles match in a row en route to their entry into the women's doubles final of the WTA Sydney International, here today.
  8. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on 12 January 2016 notified revised petition fees for H-1B and L-1 visas. The increase in the fees is in tune with the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 that was signed into law by Barack Obama, the President of the USA, on 18 December 2015.
  9. India continued its trend of being the top country of birth from Asia for immigrant scientists and engineers in US, with 950,000 out of the continent's total 2.96 million, according to a new report.
  10. Renowned British actor Alan Rickman, best known for playing Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series and ruthless terrorist Hans Gruber in "Die Hard", died here on Thursday, media reports said.





Finance/Economy/Banking –

RBI allows banks to provide all services at off-site ATMs


  • Reserve Bank of India has allowed banks to offer the whole array of services even at off-site Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).
  • Off-site ATMs are the ones that are set up on a standalone basis and are not on the premises of a bank branch.
  • "With a view to providing operational freedom to banks, it is advised that banks are now free to offer all their products and services through the ATM channels provided the technology permits the same, and adequate checks are put in place to prevent the channel from being misused to perpetuate frauds on the banks/other genuine customers," it said in a notification.
  • Earlier, the banking regulator had allowed all services to be offered only at on-site ATMs or the ones that are on the premises of a bank branch.


SBI opens first dedicated banking branch for startups


  • The country's largest public sector bank, State Bank of India (SBI), has opened its first branch dedicated to serving startup companies in Bengaluru. The announcement comes ahead of the Prime Minister's 'Start-up India Stand Up India' event that will be held on January 16, where the government will roll out its new startup policy.
  • The bank envisions that its InCube branches will be a one-stop shop for the financial service requirements of startups in the country.
  • While SBI isn't focusing on helping startups with loans and other forms of capital assistance, it will service their banking needs such as employee account maintenance and will assist them on matters from setting up a company itself to the procedure for bringing in funds from foreign investors.
  • The bank has opened its first InCube branch in Bengaluru since the city is the hub for startups in the country. It also plans to open centers in Pune and Delhi-NCR in the coming months, but will limit opening them only in cities that have a large presence of startups.
  • Apart from serving a startup's financial services requirements, SBI will also provide mentorship through technology experts. It has also tied up with third parties to provide taxation and legal consultation, etc. The InCube model has been built taking advice and feedback from senior technology experts such as Mohandas Pai, Nandan Nilekani and iSPIRT, added Bhattacharya.


Centre Approves Rs 791 Cr As Drought Assistance for Telangana

  • The Union government today approved Rs 791 crore for Telangana as central assistance to help the state cope with the drought situation which it is facing.
  • The decision was taken at the meeting of the High-Level Committee (HLC), chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, for Central Assistance to the drought-affected Telangana.
  • The committee examined the proposal based on the report of the central team which visited the drought-affected districts of Telangana.


Govt Limits Foreign Travel by Bureaucrats to Four a Year

  • Bureaucrats can go on a maximum four overseas trips in a year, according to a Finance Ministry guideline which says that Secretaries should undertake foreign travels only when no one else can be deputed.
  • Secretaries to Government departments have also been barred from travelling abroad during Parliament session unless absolutely unavoidable. Also, Secretary and the Minister of a department cannot be abroad at the same time.
  • Prime Minister's approval would be needed for any Secretary requiring travel beyond the mandated four trips in a year, according to the revised comprehensive guidelines on foreign visit by officers of Government of India issued by the Finance Ministry.


Union Government formed Arvind Panagariya committee on Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Corridor

  • Union Government on 11 January 2016 formed a five-member high level committee to monitor the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Corridor (bullet train project). The committee will be headed by NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya.
  • The mandate of the committee is to look into the overall operations and technical issues, Make in India component and financial outlay of the 90000 crore rupees worth project.
  • Further, the committee will also overview the project’s strategic importance for India-Japan bilateral relation. Earlier, in December 2015, both countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation and assistance in the execution of the project.

Apart from the Chairman, the members of the committee are-
  • AK Mittal, Railway Board Chairman
  • S Jaishankar, Foreign Secretary
  • Shantikanta Das, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs Secretary
  • Amitabh Kant, Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion


Govt panel pushes for curbs on online pharmacies

  • A sub-committee of a panel set up by Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) wants restrictions on online pharmacies.
  • It has asked for a ban on such outlets being used for buying high-risk drugs and mandatory licensing of the physical premises where such orders are processed. The task force's sub-group which proposed these regulations did not have any representation from online pharmacies.
  • The task force's sub-group had 23 members. These included senior executives of major pharmaceutical companies such as Lupin, Glenmark, Abbott and Sun Pharma, beside representatives from business chambers.
  • The task force had three sub-groups and was established under the chairmanship of the DoP secretary Dr. V. K. Subburaj on October 31 last year, to recommend measures for the development of manufacturing capabilities in the main lines of pharmacy production.


India –

Sikkim becomes India’s first organic state


  • Sikkim has become India’s first fully organic state by implementing organic practices on around 75,000 hectares of agricultural land.
  • It was 12 years ago in 2003 when the Pawan Chamling-led government decided to make Sikkim an organic farming state through a declaration in the legislative assembly.
  • Later the entry of chemical inputs for farmland was restricted and their sale banned. Farmers therefore had no option but to go organic.
  • Organic cultivation is free of chemical pesticides and chemical fertilisers as it tries to strike a harmonious balance with a complex series of ecosystems.


Jharkhand to add drinking water crisis in local disasters list


  • Jharkhand government on 12 January 2016 decided to add the ongoing crisis of drinking water in the list of special local disasters of the State.
  • The decision was taken in a Cabinet meeting and will cover those districts where the rainfalls have been less than 75 percent of the normal or where the groundwater level has gone below by four meters or more.
  • As per the decision, the state will spend 10 percent of the state disaster relief funds in those areas to fight the crisis of drinking water.


Nitin Gadkari inaugurated 2nd Liquid Chemical Berth of Mumbai Port Trust

  • Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari on 13 January 2016 inaugurated Mumbai Port Trust’s second liquid chemical berth at Pir Pau, Mumbai.
  • With commissioning of this berth, the cargo handling capacity of the Port will increase by 2.5 MMT (Million Metric Tonnes) per annum.


Jharkhand to set up fast track courts for trial of witchcraft-related attacks

  • For speedy trial of cases relating to witchcraft incidents, the Jharkhand Government on 13 January 2016 decided to set up fast track courts in five districts.
  • As per an official release, the courts will be formed in Ranchi, Chaibasa, Khunti, Palamau and Simdega districts.
  • The decision was taken during a cabinet meet chaired by Chief Minister Raghubar Das. The decision is based on the reports of witchcraft-related attacks in some rural areas of the state. 


Awards & Honors –

Subhashini Vasanth honoured with Neerja Bhanot Award


  • Bengaluru-based activist Subhashini Vasanth on 13 January 2016 was honoured with Neerja Bhanot Award. She was presented the award for her endeavour to help people in distress and for empowering widows of martyrs and their families across the country.
  • She started the Vasantharatna Foundation in memory of her husband. The foundation provides education scholarships, conducted empowerment programmes and outbound learning programmes for women and children.
  • Bollywood actor Sonam Kapoor presented the award to Vasanth at a ceremony held in Chandigarh.
  • The annual Neerja Bhanot Award was instituted in 1990 and named in honour of Senior Flight Purser, Neerja Bhanot, who saved hundreds of lives while sacrificing her own, during a Pan Am Flight 73 hijack at Karachi Airport in September 1986.


UNICEF presented David Beckham with Danny Kaye Humanitarian Leadership Award


  • David Beckham on 12 January 2016 was presented with the Danny Kaye Humanitarian Leadership Award at the sixth biennial UNICEF Ball in Los Angeles.
  • Sir Elton John and David Furnish presented the award to Beckham at the event, honouring him for his tireless work to save and improve the lives of children around the world.
  • Beckham has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2005. In 2015, the footballer launched 7: The David Beckham UNICEF Fund, making a personal commitment to use his voice, influence and connections to raise vital funds and rally for lasting change for children.
  • The Danny Kaye Humanitarian Leadership Award is named after Danny Kaye, star of Hans Christian Andersen and White Christmas. Kaye was one of the world’s most beloved entertainers. He was the first ever celebrity representative for UNICEF, and was a Goodwill Ambassador from 1954 until his death in 1987.


Appointments –

Bhaskar Bhat becomes Tata SIA Airlines Chairman


  • Bhaskar Bhat, manaing director of Titan, has taken over as Chairman of Tata SIA Airlines Ltd (Vistara), succeeding Prasad Menon who retired from the airline on January 13. Bhat had joined the company’s board with effect from January 14.
  • As the managing director of Titan since 2002 and founding member of Titan Industries, Bhat has led it to become the largest watch manufacturer in India and the fifth largest in the world.


R Shivakumar appointed Chairman of Assocham Karnataka

  • R Shivakumar, Chairman of Kumar Group of companies, Bengaluru, has been appointed as the Chairman of Assocham Karnataka Regional Council, the new regional outfit of Assocham, New Delhi.
  • S Babu, Chairman of Ashwin Precision Products, has been appointed as Co-Chairman of Assocham Karnataka Regional Council.
  • The new revamped regional council of Assocham in Karnataka is expected to play a significant role in the development of industry and trade in the state.


Sports –

Sania-Martina create world record for most successive victories


  • India's Sania Mirza and her Swiss partner Martina Hingis today broke a 22-year-old world record by winning their 29th women's doubles match in a row en route to their entry into the women's doubles final of the WTA Sydney International, here today.
  • The World No 1 pair came from behind to beat the pair of Romanian Raluca Olaru and Kazakhstan's Yaroslava Shvedova 4-6 6-3 10-8 in a closely-fought semi-final.
  • They now surpassed the pair of Puerto Rican Gigi Fernandez and Belarus' Natasha Zvereva, who won 28 matches on the trot during their successful pairing back in 1994.
  • The Indo-Swiss pair have continued their good show from 2015 when they won 9 titles which included the Wimbledon, US Open and the year-ending WTA finals.


World –

US increased H-1B and L-1 petition fees

  • The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on 12 January 2016 notified revised petition fees for H-1B and L-1 visas. The increase in the fees is in tune with the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 that was signed into law by Barack Obama, the President of the USA, on 18 December 2015.
  • As per the revision, the petitioners must submit an additional fee of 4000 US dollars for certain H-1B visas and 4500 US dollars for certain L-1A and L-1B visas.
  • The increased fees are applicable to petitioners who applied on or after 18 December 2015 and will be in force till 30 September 2025.


India tops Asia in sending scientists, engineers to US: Report


  • India continued its trend of being the top country of birth from Asia for immigrant scientists and engineers in US, with 950,000 out of the continent's total 2.96 million, according to a new report.
  • From 2003 to 2013, the number of scientists and engineers residing in the US rose from 21.6 million to 29 million. This 10-year increase included significant growth in the number of immigrant scientists and engineers, from 3.4 million to 5.2 million, the researchers said.
  • Of the immigrant scientists and engineers in the US in 2013, 57% were born in Asia, 16% were born in Europe, 6% were born in Africa, 20% were born in North America (excluding the US), Central America, the Caribbean, or South America, and less than 1% were born in Oceania.


UN released dataset titled Trends in International Migrant Stock: The 2015 Revision

  • The Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) on 12 January 2016 released the dataset titled Trends in International Migrant Stock: The 2015 Revision. The compilation was released at the UN DESA headquarters in New York, the USA.
  • The dataset analysed trends in migration flows across the world, even country as well as region wise, between 2000 and 2015.
  • As per it, the number of international migrants, persons living in a country other than where they were born, reached 244 million in 2015 for the world as a whole, a 41 per cent increase compared to 2000.
  • Out of the 244 international migrants, there are 20 million refugees across the world.


Obituaries –

Actor Alan Rickman, known for his role in Harry Potter series, dead


  • Renowned British actor Alan Rickman, best known for playing Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series and ruthless terrorist Hans Gruber in "Die Hard", died here on Thursday, media reports said. He was 69.
  • Born February 21, 1946 in a working class family, Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman became interested in drama while attending upper school and trained in art and graphic design before securing a place at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1972 where he honed his talent.
  • His first major role was as the impetuous Tybalt in a BBC TV adapation of "Romeo and Juliet" (1978) but came to viewers' attention with his brief appearance in the BBC adaptation of John le Carre's "Smiley's People" (1982) with Alec Guinness and then as the odious, smarmy Reverend Obadiah Slope in the channel adaptation of Anthony Trollope's ecclesiastical series "Barchesters Towers" (1982).
  • What actually cemented his screen presence was his villainous part as the German terrorist in the high octane-action thriller "Die Hard" (1988) opposite Bruce Willis (a role he reprised in a flashback as "Die Hard with a Vengeance", 1995), as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Kevin Costner-starrer "Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves" (1991), and then finally as the apparently malevolent Prof Snape, the potions master of Hogwarts, ceaselessly targeting the boy wizard and his friends in all seven films of the series from "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" (2001) to "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part II" (2011).
  • A recipient of the BAFTA, Golden Globe, Emmy and Screen Actors Guild Awards, he is survived by his spouse Rima Horton with whom he had been living together since 1977 and married in 2012.









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