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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Current Affairs Update – 17th February, 2016

Hello and welcome to ExamPundit. Here are the important Current Affairs of 17th February, 2016. These are important for LIC AAO and other upcoming exams.

Current Affairs Update - 17th February, 2016
  1. Private sector lender YES Bank has partnered UltraCash Technologies to launch payments processing through sound waves. The innovative technology ensures that UltraCash’s ‘Tap and Pay’ works on all devices and doesn’t need any special hardware to make the payment.
  2. E-commerce giant Amazon today announced the launch of ‘Amazon Tatkal’, an initiative that enables small and medium businesses (SMBs) to go online and sell products on Amazon.
  3. The Union Ministry of Finance on 16 February 2016 announced changes to regulations that govern interest rates on various National Saving Schemes (NSSs). The changes, which will come into effect from 1 April 2016.
  4. BAE Systems has down-selected Mahindra as its business partner for the proposed in-country assembly, integration and test (AIT) facility for the M777 ultra lightweight howitzer.
  5. Union Cabinet clears LIGO-India gravitational wave observatory
  6. The Union Cabinet has approved signing of Agreement for collaboration in Traditional Medicine between Ministry of Ayush and the World Health Organisation.
  7. India's largest online marketplace Flipkart has appointed Fidelity International's country head Nitin Seth in the role of Chief People Officer to head all its human resource functions at a time when it is seeing major churn in its leadership team.
  8. Fashion designer Manish Arora on 16 February 2016 was awarded with the Chevalier de la Legion  d’Honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honour), France's highest civilian honour.
  9. The first train connecting Iran and China packed with Chinese goods arrived in Tehran on 15 February 2016. The arrival revived the ancient Silk Road trade route and also highlighted the economic possibilities for Iran since the lifting of international sanctions.
  10. The former United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali passed away on 16 February 2016 in Cairo, Egypt.  Boutros-Ghali served as UN Chief from January 1992 to December 1996 and became the first secretary general to be deprived of a second term as he struggled to impose the UN’s writ in a post-cold war world. He was the first African to hold the position. He helped secure peace deals between Israel and Egypt.
  11. Noted Malayalam novelist and short story writer Akbar Kakkattil passed away at a private hospital here this morning.





Finance/Banking/Economy –

YES Bank, UltraCash partner to launch payments service


  • Private sector lender YES Bank has partnered UltraCash Technologies to launch payments processing through sound waves.
  • UltraCash utilises a patent-pending technology, through which payment data is securely transferred from one device to the other, using unique ultra-high frequency sound waves.
  • This partnership will enable Ultracash to issue YES Bank-sponsored mobile wallets and employ YES Bank’s immediate payment service (IMPS) payments platform to enable processing of instant proximity transactions.
  • The innovative technology ensures that UltraCash’s ‘Tap and Pay’ works on all devices and doesn’t need any special hardware to make the payment.
  • There is no need of special near field communication (NFC) chips.
  • UltraCash’s sound wave technology enables mobile payments to be done without the need for Internet connectivity using any of the options, such as bank accounts and cards.
  • Besides, UltraCash will issue YES Bank-branded digital wallets to consumers to aid quicker, seamless and friction-free payments.


Amazon launches ‘Tatkal’ initiative for small and medium biz


  • E-commerce giant Amazon today announced the launch of ‘Amazon Tatkal’, an initiative that enables small and medium businesses (SMBs) to go online and sell products on Amazon.
  • Starting with New Delhi, Amazon Tatkal will traverse the country, engaging with thousands of entrepreneurs, artisans, manufacturers and sellers and help them sell online on the spot, the company said in a statement.
  • It said Amazon Tatkal is a specially designed studio-on-wheels offering a suite of launch services including registration, imaging and cataloguing services, as well as basic seller training mechanisms.
  • It will enable thousands of interested sellers to start selling on Amazon in real time and experience the benefits of launching an online business, the statement added.



Interest rates on various National Saving Schemes amended to spur economic growth


  • The Union Ministry of Finance on 16 February 2016 announced changes to regulations that govern interest rates on various National Saving Schemes (NSSs).
  • The changes primarily focused on aligning interest rates on NSSs with other comparable saving instruments so that the operation of NSSs will become market oriented.
  • The changes, which will come into effect from 1 April 2016, were announced in the interest of overall economic growth of the country, even while protecting their social objectives and promoting long term savings.

Key changes to National Saving Schemes
  1. The present interest rate spread enjoyed by the Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana, the Senior Citizen Savings Scheme and the Monthly Income Scheme over the G-sec rate of comparable maturity viz., of 75 basis points (bps), 100 bps and 25 bps respectively were left untouched.
  2. The spread of 25 bps that long term instruments, such as the 5 yr Term Deposit, 5 year National Saving Certificates and Public Provident Fund (PPF) currently enjoy over G-Sec of comparable maturity were left untouched. This will help the self-employed professional and salaried classes and encourage long term savings.
  3. The 25 bps spread that 1 yr., 2yr. and 3 yr. term deposits, KVPs and 5 yr Recurring Deposits have over comparable tenure Government securities, shall stand removed. This will make them closer in interest rates to the similar instruments of the banking sector.
  4. The interest rates of all NSSs would be recalibrated on a quarterly basis to align the small saving interest rates with the market rates of the relevant government securities.
  5. The compounding of interest which is biannual in the case of 10 yr National Saving Certificate, 5 yr National Saving Certificate and Kisan Vikas Patra shall be done on an annual basis.
  6. Premature closure of PPF accounts shall be permitted in genuine cases, such as cases of serious ailment, higher education of children, etc. This shall be permitted with a penalty of 1% reduction in interest payable on the whole deposit and only for the accounts having completed five years from the date of opening.


BAE Systems, Mahindra join hands for howitzer facility


  • BAE Systems has down-selected Mahindra as its business partner for the proposed in-country assembly, integration and test (AIT) facility for the M777 ultra lightweight howitzer.
  • India and the United States are in discussions for a Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of 145 M777A2 LW155 howitzers for the Indian Army.
  • The facility is a fundamental part of the M777 production line.
  • A domestic Assembly, Integration and Test facility will enable the Indian Army to access maintenance, spares and support for the M777 locally.


India –

Union Cabinet clears LIGO-India gravitational wave observatory


  • In a major boost to Indian science research, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a proposal to establish a state-of-the-art gravitational wave observatory in India in collaboration with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) in the US.
  • The "in-principle" approval for the LIGO-India project for research on gravitational waves -- a discovery that is regarded as the breakthrough of the century -- is piloted by the department of atomic energy (DAE) and department of science and technology (DST), a press release said.
  • The project will bring unprecedented opportunities for scientists and engineers to dig deeper into the realm of gravitational wave and take global leadership in this new astronomical frontier.
  • The LIGO-India project will also bring considerable opportunities in cutting-edge technology for the Indian industry which will be engaged in the construction of the 8-km long beam tube at ultra-high vacuum on a levelled terrain.


Cabinet approves collaboration between AYUSH and WHO


  • The Union Cabinet has approved signing of Agreement for collaboration in Traditional Medicine between Ministry of Ayush and the World Health Organisation.
  • Briefing media here, Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that this will help in improving International acceptability and branding of Ayush systems.
  • The Cabinet also approved proposal for Notification of Commitments under the Trade Facilitation Agreement, TFA, of the World Trade Organisation.
  • It also approved ratification of Instrument of Acceptance of Protocol of TFA and National Committee on Trade Facilitation.



West Bengal government launched Utkarsh Bangla Scheme for school-dropouts

  • West Bengal government on 16 February 2016 launched Utkarsh Bangla Scheme, a welfare scheme for school-dropouts, in Kolkata.
  • Utkarsha Bangla is aimed at giving vocational training to school dropouts. Each youth will get training ranging from 400 to 1200 hours. The school-dropouts will be trained free of charge in tailoring, driving, repairing television and other electronic equipment and beauty courses etc.
  • During the inauguration programme, the Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee said that in the last four years, state administration has trained 15 lakh boys and girls in vocational streams. Out of which about 10 lakh secured jobs.


Haryana, South Korean state of Chungcheongbuk to collaborate on technology and development


  • South Korean state of Chungcheongbuk and Haryana on 16 February 2016 agreed to enter into a sister-statehood relationship for development.
  • Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar accepted the proposal for such a relationship made by a visiting South Korean delegation. The South Korean delegation was led by Section Chief of Chungcheongbuk Government Lee Iksoo.
  • Besides, Khattar invited South Korean businesses and investors to the Happening Haryana Global Investors Summit-2016 scheduled to be organized in Gurgaon from 7 to 8 March 2016.


Appointments –

Flipkart hires Fidelity International's India head Nitin Seth as Chief People Officer


  • India's largest online marketplace Flipkart has appointed Fidelity International's country head Nitin Seth in the role of Chief People Officer to head all its human resource functions at a time when it is seeing major churn in its leadership team. He will report directly to newly appointed CEO Binny Bansal.
  • Seth replaces Mekin Maheshwari, one of the earliest employees at Flipkart, who left the position in September last year to take up an advisory role in the company.
  • At Fidelity, Seth was responsible for offshore operations across India and Tunisia, leading over 2,600 professionals in total. Prior to his stint at he worked with McKinsey where he was the director of McKC, the company's knowledge centre in India.
  • Seth's appointment at Flipkart comes at a time when there's a massive churn in the top management.


Awards & Honors –

Fashion designer Manish Arora conferred Knight of the Legion of Honour, France’s highest honour


  • Fashion designer Manish Arora on 16 February 2016 was awarded with the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honour), France's highest civilian honour.
  • French Ambassador Francois Richier presented the award to Arora for his renowned and critically-acclaimed contribution to the fashion world.


World –

First Silk Road train arrived in Tehran from China


  • The first train connecting Iran and China packed with Chinese goods arrived in Tehran on 15 February 2016. The arrival revived the ancient Silk Road trade route and also highlighted the economic possibilities for Iran since the lifting of international sanctions.
  • The train, also referred to as Silk Road train, passed through Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to Iran, travelling a distance of 10399 kilometres. It had left Yiwu city in east China's Zhejiang province on 28 January 2016.
  • In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the idea of creating a new Silk Road through Russia and the Ukraine into Europe. Under the title One Belt, One Road, this plan is China's new national vision to improve its connectivity to Europe, Asia, and Africa.


Sports –

Indian Railways won 36th National Chess Team Championship

  • Indian Railways on 14 February 2016 won the 36th National Chess team Championship in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. For the Indian Railways team it was the first ever title.
  • To win the championship the team defeated Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) team in the final.


Obituaries –

Former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali died


  • The former United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali passed away on 16 February 2016 in Cairo, Egypt. He was 93.
  • Boutros-Ghali served as UN Chief from January 1992 to December 1996 and became the first secretary general to be deprived of a second term as he struggled to impose the UN’s writ in a post-cold war world. 
  • He was the first African to hold the position. He helped secure peace deals between Israel and Egypt.


Renowned Malayalam writer Kakkattil passes away


  • Noted Malayalam novelist and short story writer Akbar Kakkattil passed away at a private hospital here this morning.
  • He was 62 and is survived by wife and two children.
  • Kakkattil was undergoing treatment for a lung-related ailment for a year and the end came early this morning.
  • He has 54 books to his credit which includes, four novels, 27 short stories, six collections of essays, seven novelettes, a play, among others.
  • A two-time winner of the prestigious Kerala Sahitiya Akademi award, he was also recipient of the first-ever award in humour section in 1992 for his ‘School Diary’— an anthology of short essays and in the year 2004 his ‘Vadakkuninnoru Kudumba Vrithantham’ was awarded as the best novel.
  • He was the Vice-President of the Kerala Sahitya Akademi and Member of Malayalam Advisory Panel of National Book Trust and Malayalam Advisory Board of Kerala Government.





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Team ExamPundit


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