Hello and welcome to ExamPundit. Here are the Important Current Affairs of 3rd February, 2016. These are important for the upcoming LIC AAO 2016.
RBI relaxes FDI norms to boost start-ups
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Tuesday relaxed several rules including foreign direct investment norms to boost start-up activity in the country.
- To begin with, start-ups are allowed to receive foreign venture capital investment irrespective of the sector in which they operate. The new norms will enable transfer of shares from foreign venture capital investors to other residents or non-residents.
- The central bank also permitted, in case of transfer of ownership of a start-up enterprises, receipt of the consideration amount on a deferred basis as also enabling escrow arrangement or indemnity arrangement up to a period of 18 months.
- The central bank simplified the process of dealing with delayed reporting of foreign direct investment (FDI)-related transaction by building a penalty structure into the regulations itself.
Services PMI jumps to 19-month high of 54.3 in Jan on new business inflows
- India's services sector gained traction in January and posted its strongest monthly gain in activity for over one-and-a-half years, a private survey showed on Wednesday.
- Posting a 19-month high of 54.3 in January (December: 53.6), the seasonally adjusted Nikkei Services Activity Index pointed to a marked and accelerated expansion of activity across the sector.
- Growth was noted in four of the six monitored categories, the exceptions being hotels & restaurants and transport and storage.
- Underpinning the overall increase in services output was a seventh successive monthly expansion of new business inflows.
- Adjusted for seasonal factors, the Nikkei India Composite PMI Output Index climbed to an 11-month high of 53.3 in January from 51.6 in December.
- Lifting the index were a rebound in manufacturing production as well as stronger growth of services output.
Cabinet approves formation of state JVs for rail infrastructure
- The Union cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi today approved a proposal for formation of joint venture companies between Indian Railways and state governments to mobilize resources for executing rail infrastructure projects in multiple states.
- The joint venture companies would be formed with equity participation of the rail ministry and the state governments. Each such JV would have an initial paid-up capital of Rs 100 crore -- including the rail ministry's paid up capital of upto Rs 50 crore -- based on the quantum of projects to be undertaken.
- The JV companies would also be allowed to form project-specific Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) with equity holding by other stakeholders including banks, ports, public sector undertakings and mining companies. The rail ministry is working on a capital expenditure plan of Rs 1 lakh crore in the current financial year, including Rs 40,000 crore to be raised from Extra Budgetary Resources.
Union Government set up two panels to reform tax policies
- The Union Government on 2 February 2016 set up two new committees in order to bring coherence and streamline the direct and indirect tax policy and administration.
The two new panels are:
- Tax Policy Research Unit (TPRU)
- Tax Policy Council (TPC)
Key highlights of Tax Policy Council
- The TPC will be headed by the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
- It will suggest broad policy measures for taxation based on inputs from the TPRU.
- The Council will be advisory in nature, which will help the Government in identifying key policy decisions for taxation.
Key highlights of Tax Policy Research Unit
- The TPRU will be a multi-disciplinary body to examine and analyse any fiscal or tax policy referred by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC).
- It will prepare and disseminate policy papers and background papers on various taxation issues.
- TPRU will comprise of officers from CBDT, CBEC as well as economists, statisticians, researchers and legal experts. The new committees are a follow up of Parthasarthy Shome panel recommendations on tax reforms.
SC appointed Lodha Committee to sell PACL's assets
- Supreme Court on 2 February 2016 appointed a committee under former Chief Justice RM Lodha to sell assets of Pearls Agrotech Corporation Ltd (PACL) and refund 49 thousand crore rupees to the investors.
- The investors invested in the firm’s collective investment scheme (CIS) that was deemed illegal by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
- A bench headed by Justice Anil Dave said that the title deeds of various lands belonging to PACL should be handed over by the CBI to the SEBI. The court in its direction said that SEBI will take appropriate steps to ensure their sale.
Maharashtra announced Babasaheb Ambedkar Special Collective Incentive Scheme
- Maharashtra Cabinet on 2 February 2016 announced Bharatratna Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Special Collective Incentive Scheme for the economically backward Dalit entrepreneurs.
- The scheme was launched to celebrate the 125th birth anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar.
- Under this scheme, special facilities would be given to Dalit entrepreneurs besides the present Collective Incentive Scheme 2013. Businessmen in Commodities and Service sector would be able to avail the benefits of this scheme.
- Dalit and tribal communities will be allowed to set up their businesses on lands provided by Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC). These lands will be offered at cheaper rates.
- The government will set aside a portion of land in every integrated town for businessmen belonging to lower class.
NIIF signed MoU with Rusnano OJSC to set-up Russia-India High Technology Private Equity Fund
- National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) Ltd. on 2 February 2016 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with RUSNANO OJSC of Russia. The MoU was to set-up Russia-India High Technology Private Equity Fund for joint implementation of investments into projects in India
- The two parties agreed to cooperate in diverse sectors and facilitate high-technology investments in India.
- They will establish a joint working group with a view to further develop cooperation between them and work on the development of the definitive agreements based on the principles outlined in the Memorandum.
Union Government to set up a BGRL to understand earthquake mechanism in Koyna region
- Dr Harsh Vardhan, the Union Minister for Science, Technology and Earth Sciences on 2 February 2016 inaugurated the construction work of Borehole Geophysics Research Laboratory (BGRL) at Hazarmachi, Karad of Maharashtra.
- BGRL is being developed at Karad to understand and address the challenges of the seismological problems (natural calamities) of societal relevance in the Koyna Region through drilling investigation.
- BGRL was conceptualised as part of the Ministry’s programme of Scientific Deep Drilling in Koyna Intra-plate Seismic Zone for geographical investigations and modeling dedicated to earthquake research in the area.
Odisha Government extended Aahar cheap meal scheme to 29 districts
- The Government of Odisha on 2 February 2016 decided to extend the Aahar scheme to 29 districts in the State. A decision in this regard was taken at a review meeting on the programme at the State secretariat in Bhubaneswar.
- As per the decision, 58 centres will be established in 29 districts across the State to provide subsidized food to urban poor under the scheme. The centres will be opened from March 2016.
- It was launched by the State Government on 1 April 2015 to mark the State’s Foundation Day, Utkala Diwas.
- As part of the first phase of the scheme, Aahar outlets were opened in five cities, namely, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Berhampur, Sambalpur and Rourkela.
First India-US BPO summit to be held in March
- The first-ever India-US BPO conference will be held in the US state of Florida during which two million job creations for both offshore and domestic Indian businesses will be targeted, its organisers have said.
- Themed, "Leveraging the Power of Partnerships, in the New Digital Age", the two-day conference is being organised by Indo-American Chamber of Commerce in partnership with TV18, on March 29-30.
- Targeting two million job creation for both offshore and domestic businesses in India, this summit will also boost the confidence of the Indian business community showcasing the 'New - Digital India,' a statement said.
Maharashtra govt bans sale of liquor in plastic bottles
- Maharashtra Government has decided to ban sale of liquor in plastic bottles and tetrapaks fearing that such packs may cause harmful effect on the health of consumers. The ban, which comes into effect from April 1, 2016, will be applicable on alcoholic beverages and liquors manufactured in Maharashtra as well as imported into the state.
- A Maharashtra Government Resolution, issued on January 11, 2016, also cited harmful effect of plastics on environment for banning polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle in liquor. In addition, the resolution makes it mandatory for manufacturers to use only virgin material for making glass bottles, used to pack spirits.
- This information was shared by state government with the Bombay High Court, which was hearing a public interest litigation seeking a ban on sale of liquor in PET bottles or plastic bottles, according to a PTI report.
R.S. Reddy new Chief Justice of Gujarat HC
- Justice Ramayyagari Subhash Reddy was on Wednesday elevated as the Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court while 12 additional judges of the Allahabad High Court were made as permanent judges.
- Justice Reddy, a judge of the Andhra Pradesh/Telangana High Court, has been elevated as the Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court with effect from the date he assumes charge of his office, a Law Ministry statement said.
- He has become the first judge to be elevated as Chief Justice of a High Court since April 13, 2015 when the government had brought into force the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, which had overturned the collegium system of appointing judges.
R.S. Mann Appointed Chairman of Sixth Punjab Pay Commission
- Former Punjab Chief Secretary R S Mann was today appointed as the Chairman of Sixth Punjab Pay Commission by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.
- Disclosing this here, a spokesperson of the Chief Minister's Office said that Badal has cleared the appointment of R S Mann as the Chairman of Sixth Punjab Pay Commission, with effect from today.
- The spokesperson said the new Chairman has been mandated to give recommendations with regard to new pay scales for the employees and revision in the pension for pensioners/family pensioners of the state government after having detailed deliberations with the various state employees' and pensioners' associations.
Major General Menon to head United Nations Disengagement Observer Force
- Major General Jai Shanker Menon of India was appointed as the Head of Mission and Force Commander of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF). His appointment was announced by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 2 February 2016.
- Menon succeeds Lieutenant General Purna Chandra Thapa of Nepal, who will complete his assignment on 7 February 2016.
- Menon brings to his new position extensive command experience and knowledge of peacekeeping affairs at the national and international levels.
Awards & Honors –
Amitabh Bachchan conferred with lifetime achievement award
- Amitabh Harivansh Bachchan was on 2 February 2016 presented with the lifetime achievement award in New Delhi.
- He received the honour at NDTV Indian of the Year Awards for his contribution to the film industry.
Titli became first Indian film to win Best First Foreign Film award by FSCC
- Indian film-maker Kanu Behl directorial Titli on 1 February 2016 bagged the Best First Foreign Film Award conferred by the French Syndicate of Cinema Critics 2016 (FSCC).
- Titli has earlier won at various international film festivals at places like Bordeaux, Hawaii, New York, Turkey and Spain.
EU Commission, United States agreed on framework for transatlantic data flows
- The European Commission (EC) and the USA on 2 February 2016 agreed on a new framework for transatlantic data flows.
- The framework that will be known as the EU-US Privacy Shield will enable the government agencies to transfer data relied on by Facebook and Google across the Atlantic.
- And, the agreement will replace the 16-year old Safe Harbour arrangement that was ruled illegal by the European Court of Justice in October 2015.
Kerala won 61st National School Athletics championship
- Kerala on 2 February 2016 won the 61st National School Athletics championship. The national School Athletics championship was held at Olympian Rahman Stadium in Kozhikode, Kerala from 29 January 2016 to 2 February 2016.
- This is for the 19th consecutive time Kerala becomes the champions in the event. Kerala, the host of the championship got 306 points winning 39 gold, 29 silver and 17 bronze medals.
Former RBI Deputy Governor S S Tarapore passed away
- S.S. Tarapore, former Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), passed away on 2 February 2016 in Mumbai. He was 80.
- Tarapore was mostly known for his strong views on issues, ranging from inflation to capital account convertibility.
Former Lok Sabha Speaker Balram Jakhar passed away
- Former Lok Sabha Speaker Balram Jakhar passed away on 3 February 2016 in New Delhi. He was 92.
- Jakhar was elected as the Lok Sabha Speaker for two consecutive terms from 1980 to 1989. He was elected to the Lok Sabha four times and also served as the Union Agriculture Minister in 1991 in P. V. Narasimha Rao Ministry.
Veteran Urdu writer Intizar Hussain died
- Veteran Urdu fiction writer and poet Intizar Hussain died on 2 February 2016 in Lahore. He was 92.
- He was the first Pakistan national and the first Urdu writer ever to be nominated for the international award.
- He was conferred upon the Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Ambassador to Pakistan Philppe Thiebaud in September 2014.