Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Current Affairs Update – 16th February, 2016

Hello and welcome to ExamPundit. Here are the Important Current Affairs of 16th February, 2016. These are important for the upcoming LIC AAO 2016 Exam as well as other exams including Railways.


Current Affairs at a Glance - 16th February, 2016
  1. The government on Monday unveiled a National Capital Goods Policy to give an impetus to the capital goods sector and a leg up to the Make in India initiative. This is for the first time that a national policy has been framed for the sector.
  2. State Bank of India has taken yet another giant leap in this space with the launch of SBI e-Smart SME, a working capital loan offering for sellers on e-commerce platforms.  
  3. mRUPEE, a subsidiary of Tata Teleservices, on 15 February 2016 announced that it has tied up with Indian  Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) to provide an additional payment gateway.
  4. The country's largest lender State Bank of India on February 4 partnered travel firm Thomas Cook to offer a recurring deposit to the bank's customers to save for their future holidays.
  5. The tax department has resolved 180 tax disputes worth Rs 5,000 crore under mutual agreement procedure (MAP) since April 2014, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) said in a statement issued on Tuesday. MAP is a mechanism under the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs), or tax treaties signed by India with various countries, through which international tax disputes are resolved.
  6. The ministry of railways on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the government of Sweden for technical cooperation, in keeping with minister Suresh Prabhu's promise of getting best international technology along with investment.
  7. South Eastern Coalfields Limited (SECL), a subsidiary of the Coal India Limited (CIL), would be setting up country’s largest coal washery with a capacity of 25 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) in Korba district of Chhattisgarh. The project would be known as Kusmunda Coal Washery.
  8. India's fourth-largest software services firm HCL Technologies has bagged the largest outsourcing contract in recent times from Swedish auto maker Volvo Group, with the deal valued at over $ 2.8 billion spread over five years.
  9. Global e-commerce major Amazon today said it will acquire online payment service provider Emvantage Payments Private Ltd for an undisclosed amount.
  10. Taxi-hailing app Uber today signed an agreement with the Maharashtra government to help create 75,000 jobs across the state.
  11. India today test-fired its indigenously developed Prithvi-II missile, which is capable of carrying 500 kg to 1000 kg of warheads, as part of a user trial by the army from a test range at Chandipur.
  12. The 58th Grammy Awards — presented by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences — have wrapped up in Los Angeles. Indo-British filmmaker Asif Kapadia won Grammy Award for Best Music Film for his documentary Amy.  Record of the Year – "Uptown Funk" – Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars.  Album of the Year – 1989 – Taylor Swift.
  13. U K Sinha will remain SEBI Chairman till March 1, 2017.
  14. Two prominent sportspersons from Odisha, namely Jauna Murmu and archer Ranjit Nayak were included in the Target Olympic Podium (TOP) Scheme formulated by the Union Government for the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games.
  15. ICC Cricket for Good and UNICEF launched Team Swachh clinics in partnership with BCCI.




Finance/Economy/Industry –

Government unveils first-ever national Capital goods policy


  • The government on Monday unveiled a National Capital Goods Policy to give an impetus to the capital goods sector and a leg up to the Make in India initiative. This is for the first time that a national policy has been framed for the sector.
  • The policy envisages increasing exports from the current 27 per cent to 40 per cent of production while increasing share of domestic production in India's demand from 60 per cent to 80 per cent, thus making India a net exporter of capital goods.
  • The policy also aims to facilitate improvement in technology depth across sub-sectors, increase skill availability, ensure mandatory standards and promote growth and capacity building of MSMEs.
  • Some of the key issues addressed include availability of finance, raw material, innovation and technology, productivity, quality and environment friendly manufacturing practices, promoting exports and creating domestic demand.
  • The key policy recommendations include strengthening the existing scheme of the DHI (Department of Heavy Industry) on enhancement of competitiveness of Capital Goods sector by increasing budgetary allocation and increasing its scope to further boost global competitiveness in various sub sectors of Capital Goods, enhancing the export of Indian made capital goods through a ‘Heavy Industry Export & Market Development Assistance Scheme (HIEMDA)’.
  • It has also made provision for launching a Technology Development Fund, upgrading existing and setting up new testing & certification facility, making standards mandatory in order to reduce sub-standard machine imports and at the same time providing opportunity to local manufacturing units by utilising their installed capacity and launching scheme of skill development for Capital Goods sector.



SBI launches SBI e-Smart SME e-Commerce Loan


  • Bank has taken yet another giant leap in this space with the launch of SBI e-Smart SME, a working capital loan offering for sellers on e-commerce platforms.  
  • The sellers can apply for loan online and get immediate sanction – thereby enabling “loans at the click of a button”. This innovative product moves away from traditional lending based on financial statements like balance sheet and income tax returns; and instead uses proprietary platform data and surrogate information from public domain to assess the seller's credit worthiness for loan sanctioning. 
  • The product was launched in partnership with the well-known e-commerce platform Snapdeal in the presence of Bank’s Chairman Smt. Arundhati Bhattacharya & Snapdeal CEO Sri Kunal Bahl, on 15.01.2016 at SBI Corporate Centre, Mumbai.

Some of the important features of the product are as below:
  1. Exclusive & easy finance
  2. Quick online sanction with KYC documents
  3. Lowest Interest Rates
  4. Collateral free loan upto Rs. 10 Lacs under MUDRA
  5. 0.399% Processing Fee
  6. Concession of 0.25% to Women Entrepreneurs

  • It is Bank’s endeavor to fuel the growth of young and digital India, by providing access to quick and low-cost finance to millions of SMEs helping them grow big in their business. 
  • This new product enables millions of small brick-and-mortar merchants who are selling on the e-commerce platform to overcome their liquidity crunch and expand their business exponentially and digitally.


Tata Teleservices subsidiary mRUPEE tied-up with IRCTC


  • mRUPEE, a subsidiary of Tata Teleservices, on 15 February 2016 announced that it has tied up with Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) to provide an additional payment gateway.
  • Indian Railways carries more than 23 million passengers a day and the association will allow users one-tap payments for rail ticket bookings via mRUPEE wallet for a significant number of travellers.
  • mRUPEE, a subsidiary of Tata Teleservices, is a service that allows the consumers to do various transactions through their mobile phone.


SBI, Thomas Cook tie up for Holiday Savings Account for online customers


  • The country's largest lender State Bank of India on February 4 partnered travel firm Thomas Cook to offer a recurring deposit to the bank's customers to save for their future holidays.
  • The product is exclusive for online customers.
  • With the scheme, called Thomas Cook Holiday Savings Account (HSA), a bank customer will be able to pre-select a holiday from the travel company and save for it through a recurring deposit with the bank.
  • The customer will have to pay 12 instalments and at the end of the period the travel firm will pay the 13th instalment.


CBDT resolves international tax disputes worth Rs 5,000 crore Under MAP


  • The tax department has resolved 180 tax disputes worth Rs 5,000 crore under mutual agreement procedure (MAP) since April 2014, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
  • The resolved cases pertain to various sectors of the economy like software services, IT-enabled services, manufacturing, consultancy services, etc. The countries with which cases have been resolved are the US, Japan, UK and China.
  • MAP is a mechanism under the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs), or tax treaties signed by India with various countries, through which international tax disputes are resolved.
  • The MAP programme is led by one or more Competent Authorities designated by the signatory countries to resolve tax disputes under the provisions of each treaty. In the past two years, increased focus on MAP has resulted in resolution of large number of disputes relating to double taxation.
  • According to CBDT, MAP has emerged as an effective alternative tax dispute resolution mechanism. Its use to resolve disputes has provided comfort to foreign investors and also reduced the number of cases under litigation.


India, Sweden Sign MoU for Railways Cooperation


  • The ministry of railways on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the government of Sweden for technical cooperation, in keeping with minister Suresh Prabhu's promise of getting best international technology along with investment.
  • The main objective of the MoU, signed by Sweden's ministry of enterprise and innovation, is cooperation between the two countries to promote efficiency and sustainability and achieve concrete results with regard to bilateral trade, investment, research and technology transfer.
  • Both countries will also work towards benchmarking policy development, regulations, organisation and specific characteristics for their respective railways.
  • The MoU also includes exchange of knowledge, technical expertise, innovation, technology, sustainable solutions and research.
  • The MoU will remain in force for five years from the date of signing. It can be extended for another five years with the written consent of both sides.
  • It was signed by Girish Pillai, adviser, infrastructure, on behalf of railways ministry, and Oscar Stenstrom, state secretary on behalf of Sweden.


CIL arm to set up country's largest coal washery in Chhattisgarh


  • South Eastern Coalfields Limited (SECL), a subsidiary of the Coal India Limited (CIL), would be setting up country’s largest coal washery with a capacity of 25 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) in Korba district of Chhattisgarh. The project would be known as Kusmunda coal washery.
  • It would be an integral part of Kusmunda Open Cast coal mine, one of the three mines operated by the SECL in Korba coalfields having an estimated reserve of 10,074.77 million tonnes.
  • The washery would be built in 41.23 hectare area in villages Durpa and Jarhajel in Korba---about 250 km from Raipur.
  • The ministry of environment, forest and climate change had granted terms of reference (TOR) for the project.
  • The Kusmunda coal washery would be the largest in the country. The existing largest coal washery is also located in Korba district. The ACB (India) Limited had set up a coal washery at Dipka area in 1999. 



HCL Tech wins $2.8 bn deal from Volvo, largest IT outsourcing deal in recent times


  • India's fourth-largest software services firm HCL Technologies has bagged the largest outsourcing contract in recent times from Swedish auto maker Volvo Group, with the deal valued at over $ 2.8 billion spread over five years.
  • The deal also involves HCL buying the IT technology arm of Volvo for $138 million (Rs 895 crore) that mandates it to take over 2,500 employees and 40 customers of Volvo globally on its rolls. Around 200 engineers at Volvo's Bengaluru facility will be rebadged by HCL.
  • According to sources, the outsourcing deal is valued at $1.8 billion over five years and an additional $1 billion that HCL would get from committed contracts of $1 billion over the same period from the 40 customers of Volvo in Europe. HCL will be the sole global vendor for the Swedish auto giant.
  • The deal is one of the largest IT deals signed by any Indian IT company, and a first in the industry to use principles of Vested Sourcing as the basis of the relationship for an IT outsourcing engagement of this size and magnitude.
  • Earlier the company had agreed to buy the external IT business of Sweden's Volvo group for $138 million (around Rs 895 crore) in an all-cash deal.


Amazon to acquire Emvantage Payments

  • Global e-commerce major Amazon today said it will acquire online payment service provider Emvantage Payments Private Ltd for an undisclosed amount.
  • The acquisition will help Amazon accelerate the development of convenient and trustworthy payment solutions for customers and the e-commerce industry in India, it said in a statement.
  • As part of this acquisition, Emvantage's employees would join Amazon's payments team to develop innovative payment products and solutions specifically for the Indian market.
  • While not disclosing the deal amount, Amazon said the acquisition is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016.


Uber inks pact with Maharashtra govt to create 75,000 jobs


  • Taxi-hailing app Uber today signed an agreement with the Maharashtra government to help create 75,000 jobs across the state.
  • Through this memorandum of understanding (MoU), Uber will focus on training women and people from marginalised sectors of society.
  • The move would train and provide 75,000 new job opportunities across Maharashtra over the next 5 years, the company added.
  • The MoU was formalised by Uber through the Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Department (SDED) of the Maharashtra government here.




India –

Prithvi-II Missile, Capable Of Carrying Up To 1000 Kg Warhead Test Fired


  • India today test-fired its indigenously developed Prithvi-II missile, which is capable of carrying 500 kg to 1000 kg of warheads, as part of a user trial by the army from a test range at Chandipur.
  • The missile test was carried out from a mobile launcher from launch complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at about 1000 hrs, defence officials said.
  • With a strike range of 350 km, the surface-to-surface Prithvi-II is capable of carrying 500 kg to 1,000 kg of warheads and is thrusted by liquid propulsion twin engines.
  • It uses advanced inertial guidance system with manoeuvring trajectory to hit its target.
  • The trial data of the missile trial conducted by the specially formed Strategic Force Command (SFC) were being analysed.
  • Inducted into India's armed forces in 2003, Prithvi II, the first missile to be developed by DRDO under India's prestigious IGMDP (Integrated Guided Missile Development Program) is now a proven technology.





Awards & Honors –

58th Annual Grammy Awards presented


  • The 58th Grammy Awards — presented by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences — have wrapped up in Los Angeles.
  • Grammy Award or simply Grammy is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the mainly English–language music industry.
  • It shares recognition of the music industry as that of the other performance awards such as the Emmy Awards (television), the Tony Awards (stage performance), and the Academy Awards (motion pictures).

In 2016 Grammy Awards:
  • Kendrick Lamar received the most nominations with 11. For the latter, he went on to pass Eminem as the rapper with the most nominations in a single night, and second overall behind Michael Jackson (12 nominations in 1984).
  • Producer Max Martin received the most nominations for a non–performing artist, with six.
  • Indo-British filmmaker Asif Kapadia won Grammy Award for Best Music Film for his documentary Amy.

Awards:
  • Record of the Year – "Uptown Funk" – Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars
  • Album of the Year – 1989 – Taylor Swift
  • Song of the Year – "Thinking Out Loud" - Ed Sheeran & Amy Wadge, songwriters (Ed Sheeran)
  • Best New Artist – Meghan Trainor
  • Best Pop Solo Performance – "Thinking Out Loud" – Ed Sheeran
  • Best Pop Vocal Album – 1989 – Taylor Swift
  • Best World Music Album – Sings – Angélique Kidjo

NOTE: Home by Anoushka Shankar was nominated in the category.
  • Producer of the Year, Non–Classical – Jeff Bhasker

Jeff Bhasker is an Indian-origin record producer, songwriter, keyboardist, vocalist, and multi–instrumentalist.
  • Best Music Film – Amy – (Asif Kapadia)


Appointments –

U.K. Sinha Gets Extension as SEBI Chief


  • U K Sinha will remain Sebi Chairman till March 1, 2017 with the government extending his term for the second time, a move seen as a vote of confidence for continuity at the top amid volatile market conditions.
  • The extension by over a year for Sinha, approved by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-headed Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, would make him the second-longest serving Chairman of the capital markets regulator Sebi in its over 25-year-history.
  • Sinha was initially appointed for a three-year term during the UPA regime and was later given a two-year extension. While his current term was to end on February 17, he was eligible for a one-year extension as a person can hold the position of Sebi Chairman till the age of 65, which Sinha would reach next March.


Sports –

Dominic Thiem defeated Nicolas Almagro to win ATP Argentina Open


  • World No. 19 Dominic Thiem on 14 February 2016 defeated Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 7-6 (2), 3-6, 7-6 (4) to win the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Buenos Aires tournament.
  • With the win, Theim claimed his fourth ATP singles title.
  • Thiem reached the final after beating former No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the semifinals.


Indian women football team defeated Nepal to bag gold at SAG


  • The India women's team on 15 February 2016 won gold at the 12th South Asian Games (SAG), beating Nepal 4-0 in the final at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Shillong.
  • India’s Kamala Devi scored twice. Bala Devi and Ashalata Devi were the other scorers.
  • On the other hand, the match brought to an end India's top women's footballer Bembem Devi's international career.


Jauna Murmu, Ranjit Nayak included in Target Olympic Podium Scheme


  • Two prominent sportspersons from Odisha, namely Jauna Murmu and archer Ranjit Nayak were included in the Target Olympic Podium (TOP) Scheme formulated by the Union Government for the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games.
  • Jauna Murmu is a sprinter, while Ranjit is an archer. The two sports persons were chosen for the scheme by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.
  • The TOP Scheme under the National Sports Development Fund (NSDF) was formulated with the objective of identifying and supporting potential medal prospects for 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games.


ICC Cricket for Good and UNICEF launched Team Swachh clinics in partnership with BCCI


  • The International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket for Good and United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with BCCI on 15 February 2016 launched the Team Swachh clinics during the ICC WT20 Host City Tour. The clinics were launched at the HPCA Stadium in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh.
  • The step was taken to promote a nationwide initiative that aims to build a social movement for sanitation and toilet use there by leading to an open-defecation-free India.





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