Hello and welcome to ExamPundit. Here are the Important Current Affairs of 10th March, 2016.
CCEA approved Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana to provide free LPG connections to BPL households
- The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 10 March 2016 approved Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana.
- The scheme seeks to provide free LPG connections to women from below poverty line (BPL) households and builds on the objective of achieving universal coverage of cooking gas in the country.
- Incidentally, this is the first time the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas would implement a welfare scheme benefitting crores of women belonging to the poorest households.
Features of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana
- Under the scheme, a financial support of 1600 rupees will be provided for each LPG connection to the BPL households.
- The identification of eligible BPL families will be made in consultation with the State Governments and the Union Territories.
- This will benefit about 1 crore 50 lakh households below the poverty line in 2016-17.
- It will be implemented at an estimated cost of 8000 crore rupees over three years between April 2016 and March 2019 to cover 5 crore BPL households.
- It is complimentary to Prime Minister’s Give It Up campaign under which 75 lakh middle class and lower middle class households have voluntarily given up their cooking gas subsidy.
ICICI Bank launches credit-linked subsidy scheme under PMAY
- Country's largest private sector lender ICICI Bank Thursday launched a credit-linked subsidy scheme for home loans under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY).
- Under this scheme, individuals including women borrowers from the economically weaker section and low income group will be able to acquire and construct the first brick-and-mortar house of the family by paying significantly lower equated monthly installments (EMIs), ICICI Bank said in a statement.
- The scheme is available to those without a brick-and- mortar (pucca) house, with families comprising husband, wife and unmarried children.
- ICICI Bank has signed an MoU with National Housing Bank (NHB) to facilitate the credit-linked subsidy to eligible borrowers.
- Under the scheme, an eligible customer will get a subsidy at 6.5% per annum on a maximum amount of Rs 6 lakh or the loan amount, whichever is lower, for a maximum tenure of 15 years.
HDFC Bank ties up with five start-ups
- HDFC Bank has shortlisted five start-ups that it will work with to strengthen their web, mobile and payment offerings. The company shortlisted five out of the 30 applications it had received in its maiden Digital Innovation Summit, it said on Thursday.
- The five companies shortlisted were Senseforth Technologies, an AI customer response system, Tagnpin, a marketing and customer engagement company, Safe 2 Pay, a point of sale-free payment system, Bugclipper, in-app feedback tool and Taptis Technology, a biometric payment company.
- The bank had previously tied up with the likes of Chillr, which not too long ago raised $6 million from Sequoia Capital, where it developed an ecosystem, which helped customers pay without a wallet.
- Senseforth Technology, a Bengaluru-based start-up, has developed a machine-learning tool to help chat with customer to solve customer queries.
Odisha to have country's first auto servicing cluster
- In a first, the Centre has initiated steps to develop the Automobile Servicing Cluster in Odisha under the 'Micro and Small Enterprises - Cluster Development Programme (CDP)' scheme.
- There are 52 big servicing units in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. In order to develop a cluster, the Government of India has approved to develop it under the MSE-CDP scheme. It is taken on a pilot basis to develop an automobile servicing cluster in the country.
- The Union ministry of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) has approved setting up of common facility centres at Bargarh, Ganjam and Brahmagiri (in Puri district).
BHEL starts 500 Mw thermal unit at Anpara-D power plant
- The state-owned power equipment maker BHEL on Thursday said it has commissioned a 500 Mw unit at Anpara-D thermal power plant in Uttar Pradesh.
- With this, BHEL has added 2,320 Mw of generating capacity in Uttar Pradesh in the current financial year, it said.
- This is a first of its kind project where the power plant has been set up on an abandoned ash pond, saving scarce land.
- Setting up of power plant on an ash pond requires special technological innovations in civil engineering. Successful execution of this project has offered an alternative option for future projects facing land constraints.
Union Cabinet approved MoU between India and IMF for setting up South Asia Regional Training and Technical Assistance Center
- The Union Cabinet on 10 March 2016 gave its approval for entering into the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and the IMF for setting up of South Asia Regional Training and Technical Assistance Center (SARTTAC) in India.
- The Cabinet also authorised the Finance Minister to approve related decisions in respect of India’s contribution for setting up of the centre, including Letter of Understanding for financial contribution by India, site of the SARTTAC, representative of India on the Steering Committee on SARTTAC, etc.
Features of SARTTAC
- It will be a collaborative venture between the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and 6 member countries belonging to South Asia.
- It will help in capacity building of Government officials including State level in macro, fiscal, monetary policies by the IMF and greater coordination between the six member countries of South Asia.
- The six member countries are India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Additional member countries could join SARTTAC at a later stage.
India, Bangladesh signed 2 billion US dollar Line of Credit
- India and Bangladesh on 9 March 2016 signed a 2 billion US dollar Line of Credit (LOC) to implement socio-economic development projects in Bangladesh and strengthen bilateral relations. The LOC was extended by Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) on behalf of the Government of India.
- The 2 billion US dollar LOC is the biggest credit line India has so far extended to any country.
- The LOC agreement to this effect was signed in Dhaka, Bangladesh by Yaduvendra Mathur, Chairman & Managing Director, EXIM Bank, and Mohammad Mejbahuddin, Senior Secretary, Economic Relations Division, Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.
E-portal for Pashmina "PHAMB" products launched
- An e-commerce portal to sell famous brands of Pashmina products has been launched to boost global sale of this hand-woven fabric.
- The main aim of the e-portal is to sell 200 elite brands of Pashmina products throughout the world.
- Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Asgar Hussain Samoon launched the e-commerce portal, www.Phamb.co.in, for Pashmina products
Union Cabinet approved creation of Nominated Authority in Ministry of Coal
- The Union Cabinet on 10 March 2016 approved creation of a post of Nominated Authority in the Ministry of Coal.
- The post will be of Joint Secretary level and was created as per the Section 6 of Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015.
The Union Government shall act through the Nominated Authority for the following purposes -
- Conduct the auction process and allotment with the assistance of experts
- Execution of the vesting order for transfer and vesting of Schedule I coal mines pursuant to the auction
- Executing the allotment order for any Government company or corporation in pursuance of Section 5 of Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015
Lupin completed acquisition of GAVIS Pharma
- Drug major Lupin on 9 March 2016 announced completion of the acquisition of privately held US-based GAVIS Pharmaceuticals LLC and Novel Laboratories (GAVIS).
- The acquisition of GAVIS Pharma was announced by Lupin of 23 July 2015.
- The deal was cash-free and debt-free and it was funded by a bridge loan, with 10 crore rupees from existing cash reserves deployed for it.
- With this acquisition, Lupin received access to a host of specialty generic drugs and niche products, mainly in dermatology, gastro-intestinal and injectables. GAVIS’s New-Jersey based manufacturing facility will now become Lupin’s first manufacturing site in the US.
Tata Power arm inked agreement with IRRL to acquire 30 MW wind farm in Maharashtra
- Tata Power Renewable Energy Limited (TPREL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Power, on 9 March 2016 signed a Share Purchase Agreement (SPA) with Indo Rama Renewables Limited (IRRL) to acquire its 100% subsidiary Indo Rama Renewables Jath Limited (IRRJL). IRRJL owns a 30 MW wind farm in Sangli District of Maharashtra.
- IRRJL’s wind farm is fully operational since July 2013 and has executed a long-term power purchase agreement with Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Limited. The wind farm is registered under the Generation Based Incentive scheme of Ministry of New & Renewable Energy.
- With this acquisition, Tata Power’s total generation capacity will increase to 9130 MW and its operational Wind power generation capacity to 570 MW with wind turbines located across five states, which are Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. TPREL also has 250 MW of wind projects under construction across Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.
DIPP gave approval for 12 industrial licenses to Reliance Defence Ltd
- The DIPP on 9 March 2016 announced that it gave approval for 12 industrial licenses to the Reliance Defence Ltd, which a subsidiary of Anil Ambani-led Reliance Infrastructure Ltd.
- The licenses were sanctioned to the Strategic Business Units (SBUs) of the company in February 2016 by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) under the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
- Reliance Defence Technologies Pvt. Ltd, Reliance Helicopters Ltd, Reliance Propulsion Systems Ltd, Reliance Aerostructure Ltd and Reliance Naval Systems Ltd are some of the SBUs under the Reliance Defence Ltd that got licenses.
ISRO launched Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System-1F
- The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on 10 March 2016 launched the country’s sixth Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS)-1F, on board the trusted launch vehicle PSLV C-32.
- The lift off took place from the second launch pad of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre(SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikotta, India’s spaceport at 4:01pm. Satellite IRNSS-1F was launched after the 54-and-a-half hour countdown that started on 8 March 2016.
- XL version of PSLV was used in PSLV-C32 and it was the twelfth time that the 'XL' configuration was flown.
India-UAE sign pact for cooperation in combating cybercrime
- India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have agreed to cooperate in combating cybercrime in the wake of the serious security threat posed by it to safety of people.
- A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and UAE on Technical Cooperation in Cyber Space and Combating Cybercrime was signed last month.
- A meeting of the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Thursday gave its ex-post approval for the MoU, an official spokesperson said.
- The enhancement of technical cooperation between India and UAE in cyber space and combating cybercrime came in the wake of the serious threat of cybercrime on the security, interest and safety of the people.
Union Government signed Raptor MoU on conservation of birds of prey
- The Union Government on 7 March 2016 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on conservation of birds of prey in Africa and Eurasia at the Convention on Migratory Species Office in Abu Dhabi.
- The MoU was signed by T.P Seetharam, the Ambassador of India to the UAE.
- With the signing of the Raptor MoU, India became the 56th signatory state to sign it.
- The MoU is also in conformity with the provisions of the existing Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, wherein the birds have been accorded protection.
Rajya Sabha passed National Waterways Bill, 2015
- The Rajya Sabha on 9 March 2016 passed National Waterways Bill, 2015. The Bill seeks to unleash the navigation potential of India’s larger river ways resources.
- As part of this Bill, under entry 24 of the Union List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, the Union government can make laws on shipping and navigation on inland waterways that are classified as national waterways.
- The Bill identifies additional 101 waterways as national waterways. It also specifies the extent of development to be undertaken on each waterway.
Allahabad HC asked UP government to stop illegal mining in Sonbhadra district
- The Allahabad High Court (HC) on 9 March 2016 asked the Uttar Pradesh (UP) to immediately stop illegal mining in reserved forest areas of Sonbhadra district.
- High Court’s bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Yashwant Varma took a strict note of illegal mining in the Sonbhadra and ordered the state Principal Secretary of Mining, District Magistrate and Senior Superintendent of Police of Sonbhadra to take immediate action.
- The High Court also instructed the State government to take action against those officials, who are responsible for illegal mining.
First-ever NCC Girls Everest Expedition flagged off
- The Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh on 9 March 2016 flagged off the first-ever all girls National Cadet Corps (NCC) Mount Everest expedition.
- The aim of mountaineering expeditions in NCC is to strengthen the character and instill qualities of courage, comradeship, discipline and leadership in the cadets. NCC has always been in the forefront in adventure activities.
- The all girls team comprising of 10 girl cadets and 15 service personnel will be led by Colonel Gaurav Karki.
- The plan of conducting the first-ever NCC Girls Expedition to Mt Everest was proposed by Director General NCC Lt. Gen. A. Chakravarty in 2014.
Lok Sabha passed Enemy Property Amendment Bill 2016
- Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament, on 9 March 2016 passed the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016. The bill seeks to make amendments to the 48-year-old Enemy Property Act, 1968.
- The amendments are aimed at plugging the loopholes in the Enemy Property Act to ensure that the enemy properties that have been vested in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India remain so and they do not revert back to the enemy subject or enemy firm.
Main highlights of the Bill
- The bill guards against claims of succession or transfer of properties left by people who migrated to Pakistan after the 1965 and 1971 wars.
- The bill also includes the properties of those persons who migrated to China after the Indo-China War of 1962.
Signing and ratification of BIMSTEC Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters approved
- The Union Cabinet, presided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 10 March 2016 gave its approval for signing and ratification of the Bay of Bengal Initiative on Multi Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters.
- The Ministry of Home Affairs has been designated as the Central Authority under Article 15 of the Convention.
Naina Lal Kidwai appointed realty NBFC Altico Capital's independant Non-Executive Director
- Altico Capital, a non-banking finance company (NBFC), promoted by Clearwater Capital, Abu Dhabi Investment Council and Varde Partners, has roped in banking veteran Naina Lal Kidwai as an independent non-executive director on its board.
- Kidwai’s presence on Altico’s board is expected to help the company to grow its business and enhance its brand, said Sanjay Grewal, Chief Executive Officer of Altico Capital.
- Altico, which is focused on real estate, is looking to invest about Rs 2,500 crore every year for the next five years in the Indian real estate market.
- Kidwai stepped down as chairperson of British lender HSBC India last year after serving the bank for 13 years.
Jean Arnault appointed as head of UN Political Mission in Columbia
- Jean Arnault was on 9 March 2016 appointed as the head of United National Political Mission in Columbia. An announcement in this regard was made by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York, the USA.
- In his new capacity, Arnault, a French national, will also serve as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Colombia.
- Before the present elevation, he had been serving as the Delegate of the Secretary-General to the Sub-Commission on End of Conflict Issues within the Colombia peace process.
- Earlier, Arnault moderated the peace process in Guatemala before being appointed the head of the verification mission in the country (MINUGUA).
Tapan Kumar Chand elected President of Aluminium Association of India
- Tapan Kumar Chand was elected as the President of the Aluminium Association of India (AAI). His election took place unanimously on 29 February 2016 at the National Governing Council Meeting of the AAI in Bhubaneshwar.
- He succeed SK Roongta who is the former Chairman of Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) and Vedanta Group.
- At present, Tapan Chand is the Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of National Aluminium Company Ltd (Nalco), which is a Navaratna Central Public Sector Undertaking.
Lists and Indexes –
Guwahati, Pune see highest growth in home prices: NHB Residex
- Guwahati, the capital of Assam, followed by Pune has seen the highest appreciation in home prices in January-March quarter of 2015 on a yearly basis.
- According to the Residex by National Housing Bank (NHB), which tracks housing prices in 26 cities, Guwahati, has seen an increase of 9% while Pune has seen an increase of 8% in Jan-March quarter of 2015. The NHB Residex comes with a lag.
- Mumbai and Delhi NCR, the country's two largest markets, did not fare very well. While Mumbai showed a growth of 4%, Delhi NCR saw a decline of 4.5%, Residex showed.
- Chennai and Kolkata, the other two metros, saw a growth of 4% and 3% respectively. bengaluru, the country's IT capital, saw a growth of 7%.
8 brands from Gujarat in Brand Trust Report 2016
- Eight popular brands from Gujarat have emerged as category leaders in a recently released study by TRA (formerly Trust Research Advisory) The Brand Trust Report, India Study 2016.
- The report features eight category leaders from Gujarat. Amul (All India Rank 41) has been listed as India's Most Trusted Dairy-Diversified (F&B) brand. It is also holds the only reigning brand in the Butter Sub-Category.
- Fogg (All India Rank 67) leads in the Deo/Perfume Category followed by Axe and Wildstone. Sintex (All India Rank 214) leads as India's Most Trusted Brand in the Manufacturing-Diversified Category.
- While Astral Pipes (All India Rank 870) is the Most Trusted Brand in Pipes Category.Ajanta (All India Rank 282) is a forerunner in the Home Care Category and correspondingly is the leader in the Clocks Sub-Category.
- Yet another brand from the region, Symphony (All India Rank 579) has been ranked as the Most Trusted Brand in the Coolers Sub-Category of the Durable list.
Kuwait imposes ban on import of Indian poultry products
- Kuwait has banned imports of poultry products from India in the wake of incidents of bird flu virus in some states.
- In October only the gulf nation's Public Authority of Agriculture Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAFR) had lifted the ban on import of live birds, hatching eggs, one-year-old chicks for the egg laying hens and flesh hens from India.
- According to experts, as India mainly exports poultry products to the Middle East, this decision may impact exports prospects in the coming days.
- In 2014-15, Kuwait imported 24.2 tonnes of poultry products, valued at USD 120,000.
- India's poultry products export during April-December period of the current financial year increased to Rs 584 crore from Rs 484 crore in the same period last year.
Awards & Honors –
Tezpur University in Assam won the President's award for for 'best university'
- Tezpur University in Assam has won annual Visitor's award for 'best university'. President Pranab Mukherjee is the Visitor of central universities.
- Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), the prestigious institution has bagged the President's award for excellence in research and innovation.
- Mukherjee will present the Visitor's awards for 2016 at a function to be held at Rashtrapati Bhavan on March 14, as part of the 'Festival of Innovations'.
- The President had announced institution of these awards at the Vice Chancellors' Conference in 2014 with the aim of promoting healthy competition amongst central universities and motivating them to adopt best practises from across the world.
- The Visitor's award for innovation will be given to Prof Rakesh Bhatnagar for development of a genetically engineered vaccine and a therapeutic antibody against anthrax, it said.
Brazilian percussionist, Nana Vasconcelos, died
- Eight time Grammy Award-winning Brazilian percussionist, Nana Vasconcelos, died on 9 March 2016 in Recife, Brazil. He was 71.
- The musician from Brazil was known for his wide instrumental range and major role in free spirited jazz and world music of the 1970s and 1980.