Current Affairs Update – 21st January, 2016

Hello and welcome to ExamPundit. Here are the Important Current Affairs of 21st January, 2016. These are important for the upcoming Syndicate Bank Manipal Exam and LIC AAO 2016.



Current Affairs at a Glance - 21st January, 2016
  1. Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Thursday allowed banks to sell gold coins manufactured by MMTC Ltd, through bank branches as the gold procured for making the coins are from the domestic market.
  2. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on 20 January 2016 released the first report of the Alternative Investment Policy Advisory Committee (AIPAC) for comments from the stakeholders. The 21-member committee was constituted by the SEBI in March 2015 under the chairmanship of N R Narayan Murthy, co-founder of Infosys, to suggest measures for development of the alternative investment funds (AIFs) and startup eco-system in the country.
  3. The Government of India and the World Bank today signed a $250 million credit agreement under the Jhelum and Tawi Flood Recovery Project for reconstruction and recovery support in flood-affected areas in which public infrastructure and livelihoods were impacted severely.
  4. Japan-based SoftBank has invested an additional Rs 100 crore in Housing.com to drive the growth of the realty portal.
  5. The Union Cabinet on 20 January 2016 approved amendments in Power Tariff Policy to ensure 24X7 affordable power for all.
  6. The Union Government on 20 January 2016 granted Infrastructure Status to the Shipyard Industry in a bid to ease its financial stress.
  7. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on 20 January 2016 gave its approval for setting up over 5000 MW of Grid-Connected Solar PV Power Projects on build, own and operate basis. 
  8. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and Kuwait Institute of Scientific Research (KISR) on 20 January 2016 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.
  9. The Girls First initiative was in news in the third week of January 2016 as the results showed that it helped in improving emotional and physical well-being of school children in Bihar.
  10. Three Mi-25 gunship helicopters supplied by India are to officially join the Afghan Air Force today. The gunships, delivered at the end of December last year, have been in the assembly process.
  11. Noted environmentalist Ravi Chellam on 20 January 2016 took charge as the Executive Director of Greenpeace India, a Non-Government Organisation (NGO).
  12. Former world number one Lleyton Hewitt bade an emotional farewell from tennis today.
  13. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 20 January 2016 released a book titled The Z Factor: My Journey as the Wrong Man at the Right Time in New Delhi. The book is the autobiography of the promoter of Essel/ Zee Group Subhash Chandra.
  14. Eminent danseuse Mrinalini Sarabhai, wife of the late Dr Vikram Sarabhai, father of India’s space programme, passed away here on Thursday following age-related health complications.





Finance/Industry/Banking –

RBI allows banks to sell gold coins made by Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation of India


  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Thursday allowed banks to sell gold coins manufactured by MMTC Ltd, through bank branches as the gold procured for making the coins are from the domestic market.
  • MMTC was authorised by the central government to manufacture these gold coins with Ashok Chakra embossed on it for the domestic market. The India Gold Coin sale scheme was announced on November 5 last year along with gold monetisation and sovereign gold bond schemes.
  • Today's relaxation allowing banks to sell gold coin will be significant because so far India gold coins were allowed to be sold only through MMTC centers which were hardly 25 in the country.
  • Banks cannot sell gold coins other than India Gold Coins manufactured by MMTC, because the restrictions put by the RBI on banks not sell gold coins continues. Only relaxation given to them is for selling India gold coins. Till first half of 2013, banks were very aggressively selling gold coins.



SEBI released report of Narayan Murthy-panel on Alternative Investment Policy


  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on 20 January 2016 released the first report of the Alternative Investment Policy Advisory Committee (AIPAC) for comments from the stakeholders.
  • The 21-member committee was constituted by the SEBI in March 2015 under the chairmanship of N R Narayan Murthy, co-founder of Infosys, to suggest measures for development of the alternative investment funds (AIFs) and startup eco-system in the country.

The recommendations of the committee are founded on the following principles
  • Ease of doing business is important
  • Fund managers have the role of “Prudent Men”
  • Adopt global best practices, and where necessary, innovate the “next” (best) practice

Key suggestions of the committee
  • For creating a favourable tax environment the panel recommended that exempted income of AIFs should not suffer tax withholding of 10 percent.
  • Overseas investors in India-centric fund vehicles should not be subject to the indirect transfer provisions of the IT Act when they transfer their investments in an India-centric vehicle to another investor.


Union Government signed $250 million credit agreement with World Bank for flood affected areas in Kashmir

  • The Government of India and the World Bank today signed a $250 million credit agreement under the Jhelum and Tawi Flood Recovery Project for reconstruction and recovery support in flood-affected areas in which public infrastructure and livelihoods were impacted severely.
  • It will also strengthen the capacity of the state government to respond to and better manage natural disasters in the future.
  • The credit agreement for the project was signed by Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs on behalf of the Government of India and Onno Ruhl, World Bank Country Director, India on behalf of the World Bank.


Union Government, World Bank signed Financing Agreement for Bihar Kosi Basin Development Project

  • The Union Government and World Bank on 20 January 2016 signed the Financing Agreement for World Bank (IDA) assistance of 250 million US dollars for Bihar Kosi Basin Development Project.
  • The Financing Agreement was signed by Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Union Government and Onno Ruhl, Country Director in India, World Bank.
  • It is a loan for an implementation period of 5 years. Bihar Government will be the implementing agency.


SoftBank invests Rs 100 crore more in Housing.com

  • Japan-based SoftBank has invested an additional Rs 100 crore in Housing.com to drive the growth of the realty portal.
  • The company did not disclose the SoftBank’s increase in stake after the fresh infusion of Rs 100 crore. SoftBank had over 30 per cent stake in the portal.
  • Founded in 2012, the portal had raised so far over USD 100 million in capital from leading investors, including SoftBank, Nexus Ventures, Falcon Edge and Helion Ventures.



Union Cabinet approved amendments in Power Tariff Policy


  • The Union Cabinet on 20 January 2016 approved amendments in Power Tariff Policy to ensure 24X7 affordable power for all.
  • The amendments aim at promoting clean energy, better regulation of discoms and faster rollout of investments. The amendments are also aimed at achieving the objectives of Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) with the focus on 4 Es: Electricity for all, Efficiency to ensure affordable tariffs, Environment for a sustainable future, Ease of doing business to attract investments and ensure financial viability.
  • For the first time, a holistic view of the power sector has been taken and comprehensive amendments have been made in the Tariff policy 2006.

Highlights of Amendments are:

Electricity:
  • 24X7 supply will be ensured to all consumers and State Governments and regulators will devise a power supply trajectory to achieve this. 

Efficiency:
  • Reduce power cost to consumers through expansion of existing power plants.

Environment:
  • Renewable Power Obligation (RPO): In order to promote renewable energy and energy security, 8 percent of electricity consumption excluding hydro power will be from solar energy by March 2022.  
  • Renewable Generation Obligation (RGO): New coal/lignite based thermal plants after specified date to also establish/procure/purchase renewable capacity.


Union Government granted Infrastructure Status to Shipyard Industry

  • The Union Government on 20 January 2016 granted Infrastructure Status to the Shipyard Industry in a bid to ease its financial stress.
  • With the granting of the infrastructure status, the shipyards will be able to avail flexible long-term funding at lower costs.
  • With this inclusion, the financial stress on the shipyard industry will be eased substantially.
  • The shipyards will be able to avail flexible structuring of long-term project loans, long-term funding from infrastructure funds at lower rates of interest.



Union Cabinet approved Policy on Promotion of City Compost

  • The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 20 January 2016 approved Policy on Promotion of City Compost.
  • The policy primarily seeks to promote the use of city compost by bringing better coordination among various government departments and agencies.

Features of Policy on Promotion of City Compost
  • Under the policy, a provision has been made for market development assistance of 1500 rupees per tonne of city compost for scaling up production and consumption of the product. Market development assistance would lower MRP of city compost for farmers.
  • Eco-Mark standard will be specified for city compost that would ensure that environment friendly quality product reaches the farmers.
  • Fertilizer companies and marketing entities will also co-market city compost with chemical fertilizers through their dealers' network.



CCEA approved six-laning of NH-2 in Bihar and Jharkhand


  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on 20 January 2016 approved development of the six laning of Aurangabad- Bihar/Jharkhand Border- BarwaAdda section on National Highway-2 in Bihar and Jharkhand.
  • The estimated cost of the project is 4918.48 crore rupees including cost of land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation and other pre-construction activities.

Highlights of the Project
  • It will be done under the National Highways Development Project (NHDP) Phase-V.
  • The approval was given in BOT (Toll) mode on Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer (BOT/DBFOT) basis.
  • The total length of the road will be approximately 222 km.



CCEA approved setting up of over 5000 MW of Grid-connected Solar PV Power Projects

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on 20 January 2016 gave its approval for setting up over 5000 MW of Grid-Connected Solar PV Power Projects on build, own and operate basis. 
  • The work will be implemented by Solar Power Developers (SPDs) with Viability Gap Funding (VGF) under Batch-lV of Phase-ll of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM). The total investments expected under the scheme is about 30000 crore rupees.
  • This would help in creating additional 5000 MW capacity of Grid-connected solar PV power generation projects in four trenches of each 1250 MW capacity during four financial years - 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19. It will also help in employment generation of about 30000 people in rural and urban areas with reduction of about 8.525 Million T of CO2 emissions into environment every year.
  • Key highlights of Grid-Connected Solar PV Power Projects
  • Installation of 5000 MW Solar PV plants will generate about 8300 Million units per year, which caters power to almost 2.5 Million households.
  • The Scheme will be implemented by Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) as per the guidelines of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).


India –

ISRO, Kuwait Institute signed MoU on cooperation in space exploration


  • The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and Kuwait Institute of Scientific Research (KISR) on 20 January 2016 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.
  • It will allow use of data from Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites by KISR for initiating a few research and application projects.
  • It will also enable Training and Building and launching of remote sensing and communication satellites on commercial terms.
  • It will provide impetus to explore newer research activities and application possibilities in the field of remote sensing; satellite communication; satellite navigation and exploration of outer space.



Girls First initiative improved emotional & physical well-being of Bihar school children


  • The Girls First initiative was in news in the third week of January 2016 as the results showed that it helped in improving emotional and physical well-being of school children in Bihar.
  • The initiative is a first of its kind project in the country as integrates evidence-based practices from the fields of social-emotional rearing, restorative justice, positive psychology and emotional intelligence.
  • It is implemented by Corstone India Foundation with the support of David and Lucile Packard Foundation.
  • Between 2013 and 2014, 3500 maginalized adolescent girls were served under the project.
  • The initiative helped in reducing school drop outs and early marriage and improving their psychosocial health.


Union Cabinet approved MoU between India & UK on cooperation in governance reforms


  • The Union Cabinet on 20 January 2016 gave its ex-post facto approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and United Kingdom on cooperation in governance reforms.
  • The MoU, which was signed in November 2015, seeks to extend bilateral cooperation in public administration and governance reforms.

Features of the MoU
  • It covers areas of cooperation such as sharing good governance practices in public administration, user led service design, reducing bureaucracy in service delivery and government process re-engineering.
  • It will also cover reforms towards strengthening of social security, collaboration between Government and Industry on staff management, crisis and disaster Management and digital transformation of government among others.


World –

Indian Mi-25 helicopters set to join Afghan Air Force


  • Three Mi-25 gunship helicopters supplied by India are to officially join the Afghan Air Force today. The gunships, delivered at the end of December last year, have been in the assembly process.
  • The decision for the delivery of Mi-25 gunship helicopters was concluded during the recent visit of Afghan National Security Adviser Mohammad Hanif Atmar to New Delhi.
  • The attack helicopters are designed to take on fortified enemy positions and counter heavy ground fire. The Afghanistan Air Force (AAF) already operates three Indian Cheetal helicopters.
  • The Cheetal helicopters were manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). Subsequently, Afghan pilots and technicians were trained to operate them.


2015 is Earth’s warmest year since 1880: NOAA


  • The globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for 2015 was the highest among all years since modern record keeping began in 1880.
  • It was revealed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on 20 January 2016 after an independent analysis.

Key facts related to global climate patterns in 2015
  • During 2015, the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.62°F (0.90°C) above the 20th century average.
  • This was the highest among all 136 years in the 1880–2015 record, surpassing the previous record set in 2014 by 0.29°F (0.16°C) and marking the fourth time a global temperature record has been set this century.


NASA formalised Planetary Defense Coordination Office to detect and track Near-Earth Objects


  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on 7 January 2016 announced that it had formalized its ongoing program for detecting and tracking near-Earth objects (NEOs) as the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO).
  • It will remain within NASA's Planetary Science Division under Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
  • It will supervise all NASA-funded projects to find and characterize asteroids and comets that pass near the orbit of the Earth around the sun.


Appointments –

Ravi Chellam took charge as Executive Director of Greenpeace India


  • Noted environmentalist Ravi Chellam on 20 January 2016 took charge as the Executive Director of Greenpeace India, a Non-Government Organisation (NGO).
  • Chellam succeeds former Executive Director Samit Aich, who had resigned in June 2015 following an internal review of the organisation's handling of two sexual harassment cases.



M Jagdeesh Kumar set to be new JNU Vice Chancellor

  • IIT Delhi professor M Jagdeesh Kumar is set to be the next Vice Chancellor of the Jawaharlal Nehru University.
  • Mr. Kumar’s name has been cleared by President Pranab Mukherjee from a panel of four names that were forwarded to him by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, officials said.
  • A professor of electrical engineering at IIT Delhi, Mr. Kumar said his priorities after taking over as the JNU VC would be to strengthen collaboration between institutions, streamline recruitment process and interact with students to see how the research output can be improved.
  • He said institutions like IIT Delhi and JNU are close to each other but there is need for more cross-collaboration in various areas than is actually happening.


Sports –

Former world no. 1 tennis player Lleyton Hewitt retires


  • Former world number one Lleyton Hewitt bade an emotional farewell from tennis today after a combustible Australian Open defeat in which he was warned for swearing and slammed the umpire as an "idiot".
  • The intensely competitive Australian, roared on by a partisan crowd, couldn't live with Spain's David Ferrer and he went down 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 to exit what was his final tournament before retiring.
  • Afterwards Hewitt, wearing a shirt decorated with the Australian flag, was joined on court by his three children while his wife, former soap opera actress Bec, looked on in tears.



Uttar Pradesh won 2014-2015 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy


  • Uttar Pradesh on 20 January 2016 won its maiden Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy with a 38-run win over two- time champions Baroda in the final played at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
  • It was Uttar Pradesh’s ninth straight win in the tournament, including five in the preliminary league phase and three more in the super league stage.


Books & Authors –

PM Narendra Modi released book titled The Z Factor written by Subhash Chandra


  • The Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 20 January 2016 released a book titled The Z Factor: My Journey as the Wrong Man at the Right Time in New Delhi.
  • The book is the autobiography of the promoter of Essel/ Zee Group Subhash Chandra.
  • It is a candid memoir of a ‘truly desi’ self-made businessman who came to Delhi at age twenty with seventeen rupees in his pocket.



Obituaries –

Eminent dancer Mrinalini Sarabhai passes away


  • Eminent danseuse Mrinalini Sarabhai, wife of the late Dr Vikram Sarabhai, father of India’s space programme, passed away here on Thursday following age-related health complications.
  • She was 97.
  • Popularly known as “Amma”, the choreography legend is survived by her environmentalist son Kartikeya and daughter Mallika, well-known dancer and social activist. The former President, late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, protégé of Dr Sarabhai, was a close family friend.
  • Ms Sarabhai, a Padma Bhushan awardee for her contributions to Bharatanatyam and other classical dance forms, was hospitalised here on Wednesday, Kartikeya, said. Her last rites will be performed at village Pethapur in Gandhinagar, which she used to visit frequently due to her keen interest in handicrafts, for which the village is well-known.






Regards



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