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Friday, January 22, 2016

Current Affairs Update – 22nd January, 2016

Hello and welcome to ExamPundit. Here are the Important Current Affairs of 22nd January, 2016. These are important for the upcoming LIC AAO 2016 Exam.


Current Affairs at a Glance - 22nd January, 2016
  1. India will be the fastest growing major economy in the world in 2016, says the United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects 2016 report launched today. This report expects the Indian economy, which accounts for over 70 per cent of South Asia's GDP, to grow 7.3 per cent in 2016 and 7.5 per cent in 2017, up from an estimated 7.2 per cent in 2015.
  2. The government will pay banks a 2.5% commission to unlock the country’s massive stash of gold under a new monetisation scheme, the RBI said, as the ambitious plan received a poor response from banks and customers.
  3. Deposits in accounts opened under the government’s flagship financial inclusion programme —— Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) —— have crossed the Rs. 30,000 crore mark.
  4. The Central Board of Direct Taxes on Friday signed seven more unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs) with taxpayers, taking the total number of such pacts to 39.
  5. The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) on 18 January 2016 launched Algorithm Trading Test Environment (ATTE) service in partnership with Symphony Fintech Solutions Pvt Ltd. It is also known as Algo-Trading or Black-Box Trading.
  6. The Chhattisgarh Government on 20 January 2016 signed a share-holding agreement with a few central government-run corporations for the second phase of Jagdalpur-Raoghat railway project.
  7. Senior revenue service officer Atulesh Jindal on 21 January 2016 was appointed chairman of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).
  8. Union Health Minister J P Nadda was today named by UN chief as a member of the first high-level UN advisory group of a 'Every Woman Every Child', that will address the major health challenges faced by women, children and adolescents.
  9. Senior revenue officer Ashok Kumar Mehta was today appointed as Private Secretary to President Pranab Mukherjee.
  10. The Nai Manzil scheme was on 20 January 2016 launched for the first time in Jammu and Kashmir. The scheme was launched for girls in Srinagar in three institutions- Skill Development Centre, University of Kashmir and two Madarsas.
  11. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today launched a free high-speed public Wi-Fi service in collaboration with technology giant Google at Mumbai Central here, the first station in the country to get such facility.
  12. Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a US-based think-tank, on 14 January 2016 released the 2016 Nuclear Security Index with the theme Building a Framework for Assurance, Accountability, and Action. Among the 24 states with one kilogram or more of weapons-usable nuclear materials in the world, while Australia was adjudged as the safest, India was among the least safe with the 21st rank.




Finance/Industry/Banking –

India expected to be world's fastest growing economy, says new UN report


  • India will be the fastest growing major economy in the world in 2016, says the United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects 2016 report launched today.
  • This report expects the Indian economy, which accounts for over 70 per cent of South Asia's GDP, to grow 7.3 per cent in 2016 and 7.5 per cent in 2017, up from an estimated 7.2 per cent in 2015.
  • South Asia is expected to be the world's fastest growing region in 2016 and 2017 despite challenging global conditions, the report added.
  • On India, the UN report noted that the macroeconomic environment has improved, helped by the sharp decline in the prices of oil, metals and food.
  • Consumer and investor confidence has risen even as India’s Government faced difficulties in implementing its wide-ranging reform agenda and some economic indicators, such as industrial production, remain volatile, the report added.
  • Asked what explained the optimism over India’s GDP seeing incremental growth improvement in coming years, Nagesh Kumar, Economist and Head,UN-ESCAP South and South West Asia Office, said that many of the reforms that are stalled now are expected to get on track.
  • Moreover, the softening of global oil prices, which is the only silver lining for India, is expected to continue, especially after Iran coming on board.



Banks to get commission for unlocking household gold: RBI


  • The government will pay banks a 2.5% commission to unlock the country’s massive stash of gold under a new monetisation scheme, the RBI said, as the ambitious plan received a poor response from banks and customers.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Gold Monetisation Scheme on November 5 to lure an estimated 20,000 tonnes of gold hoarded in households and temples into the banking system and trim the import bill of the world’s second-biggest gold consumer after China.
  • However, only a few kilograms trickled in over the last two months as banks showed little interest in popularising the scheme because of negligible returns for them.
  • Now, the government has decided to pay the participating banks a total commission of 2.5%, including 1.5% handling charges, for the first year, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said in a statement late on Thursday.


Jan Dhan accounts deposits cross Rs. 30,000 cr


  • Deposits in accounts opened under the government’s flagship financial inclusion programme —— Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) —— have crossed the Rs. 30,000 crore mark.
  • As many as 20.38 crore bank accounts were opened under the PMJDY as on the January 20, as per the latest data available. These bank accounts had deposits of Rs. 30,638.29 crore (about $4.5 billion).
  • The accounts that can be opened under PMJDY are Basic Savings Bank Deposit Accounts (BSBDA) which can be of zero balance, as per RBI guidelines.
  • As per the trends available, the percentage of accounts with ‘Zero Balance’ have actually shown a significant decline.
  • Accounts with no balance in them were as high as 76.81 per cent of the total opened under the scheme as on September 30, 2015. They have come down to just about 32 per cent at the end of December.
  • The Finance Ministry data further showed that 8.74 crore of the accounts were seeded with Aadhaar and 17.14 crore account holders were issued RuPay cards.



CBDT signs seven more advance pricing agreements

  • The Central Board of Direct Taxes on Friday signed seven more unilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs) with taxpayers, taking the total number of such pacts to 39.
  • “The seven APAs signed on Friday pertain to various sectors of the economy like investment advisory services, software development services and IT enabled Services. The agreements signed today also include one of the few agreements to be reached in the manufacturing sector,” said an official release.
  • Tax authorities have signed 30 such agreements this fiscal. The APA scheme, which was introduced in 2012, tries to provide certainty to taxpayers in transfer pricing by specifying the method of pricing and setting the prices of international transactions in advance.
  • The scheme provides certainty in transfer pricing up to a period of nine years and helps reduce tax disputes.



BSE launched Algorithm Trading Test Environment in partnership with Symphony Fintech Solutions


  • The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) on 18 January 2016 launched Algorithm Trading Test Environment (ATTE) service in partnership with Symphony Fintech Solutions Pvt Ltd.
  • The BSE is Asia’s oldest stock exchange and, at present, is the world’s fastest stock exchange with a speed of 6 microseconds.

Features of the Algorithm Trading Test Environment
  • This will enable all market participants to test their trading algorithms in Equity, Equity Derivative and Currency Derivative segments free of cost.
  • The members will be able to test their trading strategies with live market data feed during market hours and historical market data.

About Algorithmic Trading
  • It is also known as Algo-Trading or Black-Box Trading.
  • As per SEBI’s Broad Guidelines on Algorithmic Trading, released in March 2012, algorithmic trading is defined as any order that is generated using automated execution logic.



Indian Bureau of Mines, National Remote Sensing Centre signed MoU for monitoring mining activity


  • Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) and National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) on 21 January 2016 signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for monitoring mining activity through satellite technology.
  • The MoU was signed by IBM Controller General R K Sinha and NRSC Director V K Dadhwal in the presence of joint secretary, Union Ministry of Mines, Subhash Chandra.
  • The MoU helps in the sustainable development and responsible use of precious mineral resources and also checking any anomalies in mining activities by licensee.

Features of the MoU
  • As part of the MoU, the IBM would set up an exclusive remote sensing cell under the technical guidance of the NRSC at its offices in Nagpur and Hyderabad.
  • These cells utilise Bhuvan-based services for monitoring mining activities across the country.



BEPS guidelines of OECD to be implemented in India from 1 April 2016

  • The term BEPS is an acronym of Base Erosion and Profit Shifting and it was in news in the third week of January 2016 as India decided to implement these guidelines.
  • BEPS refers to tax planning strategies that would exploit the gaps and mismatches in tax rules to artificially shift profits to low or no-tax locations where there is little or no economic activity, resulting in little or no overall corporate tax being paid.
  • These norms were announced by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in October 2015 to close tax loopholes that it estimated cost countries upwards of 100 billion US dollars a year.



MSDE and DoT sign an MoU to develop and implement National Action Plan for Skill Development in Telecom Sector


  • The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) in line with Prime Minister’s vision to make India the skill capital of the world, today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Department of Telecommunication (DoT) to develop and implement National Action Plan for Skill Development in Telecom Sector, utilizing PSUs under DOT with a common objective of fulfilling skilled manpower requirement of the telecom sector and at the same time providing quality opportunities for employment / entrepreneurship.
  • MSDE and DoT together have agreed to make concerted joint efforts towards skill development by facilitating mobilization of financial support for various activities under the National Ecosystem for Development of Telecom Skills by suggesting PSUs under DOT to utilize at least 20 percent of their CSR funds for skilling purposes.
  • The Ministers also launched the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojna (PMKVY) Rupay ATM Cum Debit card from Bank of India which would be issued to the students with 1 Lac Rupee PA Insurance Cover.BOI also has its own “Online Portal” for opening the accounts of students in PMKVY Scheme. The Training partners are required to get themselves registered for this process with the bank.
  • The two Ministers also flagged of the Skill Vans. These vans would travel to different parts of the country and provide skill development trainings to the youth. These vans would be equipped with facilities to provide skill development on the spot.



Chhattisgarh Government inked pact with central PSUs for railway project


  • The Chhattisgarh Government on 20 January 2016 signed a share-holding agreement with a few central government-run corporations for the second phase of Jagdalpur-Raoghat railway project.
  • A special purpose vehicle (SPV)-Chhattisgarh Dakshin Railway Pvt Ltd-was constituted through the agreement to build 142 km railway line at a cost of 2000 crore rupees.
  • The project aims at leading the economic development of tribal-dominated Bastar region.

Key highlights of the agreement
  • National Mines Development Corporation will have 43 percent stake in the SPV
  • IRCON, a Ministry of Railways company, will have 26 percent stake in the SPV.
  • SAIL will have 21 percent and Chhattisgarh Mines Development Corporation will have 10 percent stake in the SPV.


Appointments –

IRS officer Atulesh Jindal appointed as Chairman of CBDT


  • Senior revenue service officer Atulesh Jindal on 21 January 2016 was appointed chairman of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).
  • Jindal will succeed A K Jain, who completes his term at the end of January 2016.
  • The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the appointment of Jindal as chairman of the apex policy-making body of the income tax department.


J P Nadda named to high-level UN advisory group on women, children 'Every Woman Every Child'


  • Union Health Minister J P Nadda was today named by UN chief as a member of the first high-level UN advisory group of a global movement, that will address the major health challenges faced by women, children and adolescents.
  • The high-level advisory group of 'Every Woman Every Child' will be co-chaired by Michelle Bachelet Jeria, President of Chile and Hailemariam Dessalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia.
  • The advisory group will help provide leadership and inspire ambitious action for women's, children's and adolescents' health during the transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the universal Sustainable Development Goals agenda, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement.


Ashok Kumar Mehta Appointed PS to Pranab Mukherjee


  • Senior revenue officer Ashok Kumar Mehta was today appointed as Private Secretary to President Pranab Mukherjee.
  • Mehta, a 1987 batch Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer, is working as Commissioner in Kolhapur, Maharashtra, as per his service records.
  • The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has approved the appointment of Mehta as PS to the President, an order issued by Department of Personnel and Training said.
  • He has been appointed on co-terminus basis with the President's tenure, it said.
  • Mehta has been appointed in place of Rajneesh, a 1987 batch IAS officer of Himachal Pradesh cadre. Today's order did not mention further posting of Rajneesh who was working as PS to the President since July 25, 2012.


Moldovan parliament appointed Pavel Filip as Prime Minister


  • Moldovan parliament on 20 January 2016 appointed Pavel Filip as the Prime Minister. He would be the third prime minister of Moldova in less than a year.
  • The appointment follows the rise and fall of two prime ministers in 2015, namely Chiril Gaburici ( June 2015) and Valeriu Strelet (October 2015).
  • The small ex-Soviet state and Europe's poorest country was in a political turmoil after the fraudulent disappearance of 1 billion US dollars from the banking system and then government was brought down in a no-confidence vote in October 2015.
  • Pavel Filip, a member of the main pro-European coalition and a former IT and communications minister in the last government, followed the rejection of two previous candidates. His Candidature as a compromise figure was resisted by opposition as he was close aide of Vladimir Plahotniuc.


India –

Nai Manzil Scheme launched in Jammu and Kashmir


  • The Nai Manzil scheme was on 20 January 2016 launched for the first time in Jammu and Kashmir. The scheme was launched for girls in Srinagar in three institutions- Skill Development Centre, University of Kashmir and two Madarsas.
  • The two Madarsas are Madarsa Shahi-i-Hamdan in Pampore and Madarsa Imam Sadique in Shadipur, Bandipora.

Highlights of the scheme
  • Under the scheme, girls from minority communities will be imparted three month skill development training in seven identified sectors relevant to the region.
  • These include training in saffron processing, food processing, embroidery, computers IT (both software and hardware), Tourism/hospitality, electronics and plumbing.
  • Trainees will also be given stipend of 4500 rupees for the course.



Google’s free Wi-Fi launch at Mumbai Central Station


  • Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today launched a free high-speed public Wi-Fi service in collaboration with technology giant Google at Mumbai Central here, the first station in the country to get such facility.
  • Terming the facility as “world class”, Prabhu said around 100 busiest stations across the country will be brought under the free public Wi-Fi service by this year-end, making it the world’s largest such project.
  • Terming it as a “historic day”, the minister said that his government was trying hard to develop sustainable infrastructure and to improve safety and security of the passengers and bring financial stability to the entity.
  • The project of providing free Wi-Fi connectivity at 400 railway stations across the country was announced last September during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Google headquarters in the US.


Indexes –

2016 NTI Nuclear Security Index released

  • Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a US-based think-tank, on 14 January 2016 released the 2016 Nuclear Security Index with the theme Building a Framework for Assurance, Accountability, and Action.
  • The Index assessed global nuclear security conditions in 176 countries in two areas - the potential theft of weapons-usable nuclear materials and the potential sabotage of nuclear facilities.
  • Among the 24 states with one kilogram or more of weapons-usable nuclear materials in the world, while Australia was adjudged as the safest, India was among the least safe with the 21st rank.
  • Among states with less than one kilogram of or no weapons-usable nuclear materials, Sweden ranks first, and Djibouti is the most improved.
  • Sabotage ranking: Finland ranks first among the 45 states that have nuclear facilities vulnerable to sabotage.


Awards & Honors –

Rahul Thakkar won an Oscar Award for technical achievement


  • Person of Indian Origin Rahul Thakkar on 8 January 2016 was named as one of winners of the Scientific and Technical Awards given by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, famously called Oscar Awards.
  • He shares the award with Richard Chuang in the category of groundbreaking design of the DreamWorks Animation Media Review System.
  • He will receive the award at the Academy’s annual Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation on 13 February 2016 in Beverly Hills.
  • With this he joined the club of other person of Indian origins who have won Oscar Awards. These are Bhanu Athaiya, Satyajit Ray, Resul Pookutty, A.R. Rahman and Gulzar.


World –

Scientists of California spotted the potential Planet 9


  • Scientists spotted the potential planet by seeing the disturbances that it is causing in the gravitational field of the far solar system. There appears to be a great perturber upsetting the movement of other objects in that far away region.
  • Konstantin Batygin and Michael E. Brown, the researchers at the California Institute of Technology claimed it as a possible ninth planet and their research papers were published in The Astronomical Journal on 20 January 2016 with the title ‘Evidence for a distant Giant Planet in the Solar System.’


Obituaries –

Founder Chairman of MTAR passes away


  • Ravindra Reddy, founder Chairman of MTAR, which supplies critical indigenously developed systems for India’s space and nuclear programmes, passed away on Thursday at the age of 77.
  • From a small machine shop in Bala Nagar industrial area of Hyderabad, MTAR grew under his leadership to manufacture rocket engines that powered Mangalyaan (Indian mission to Mars). Over the years, the private company fabricated engines for the PSLV and GSLV launchers, which have put numerous satellites into space.
  • The company has also created special facilities to make key components in nuclear power reactors. The Atomic Energy department fully trusted the company as it acquired the capabilities of building a nuclear reactor entirely on its own, a company release said.
  • His engineering acumen brought him recognition in the form of awards such as Defence Technology Absorption Award from the Prime Minister (in 2004), INS Industrial Excellence award in 2003 from El Baradei, and Chairman of IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency).



Italian film director Ettore Scola died

  • Italian director Ettore Scola passed away on 19 January 2016 following a prolonged illness in Rome. He was 84.
  • As a filmmaker, he was considered to be among the last of a generation of Italian greats with a keen eye for the issues facing his country.






Regards



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