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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Current Affairs Update – 15th March, 2016

Hello and welcome to ExamPundit. Here are the important Current Affairs of 15th March, 2016.


Current Affairs at a Glance – 15th March, 2016
  1. ICICI Bank, country's largest private sector lender, has launched a mobile solution that allows customers to make payments with their linked cards to its 'pockets' offering by just tapping the mobile phone. NFC employs radio transmission to ascertain contact when the cards are tapped or waved near a terminal. However, apart from NFC the bank is also using Host Card Emulation (HCE) technology for this offering.
  2. India Post in the second week of March 2016 selected Deloitte to advise it on setting up a payments bank. An agreement between the two was signed on 14 March 2016. The Public Investment Board (PIB) has already approved the 800-crore rupees proposal of India Post. The proposal will be sent to the Union Cabinet within two weeks for final approval.
  3. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) has been chosen to develop, manufacture and maintain the Russian KAMOV Ka-226T helicopters for the Indian armed forces.
  4. Infosys Foundation has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with NGO Sahakara Mitra Samstha to enhance livelihood of the farming community in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
  5. The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ecotourism Society of India (ESOI) to take its commitments to Responsible and Sustainable tourism to the next level.
  6. Parytak Mitra Programme was in news on 14 March 2016. It came in news after the information on the same was provided in the Lok Sabha by the Minister of State for Culture and Tourism (I/C) Dr. Mahesh Sharma.
  7. Pope Francis on 15 March 2016 announced that Mother Teresa will be made a saint of the Roman Catholic Church at a ceremony on 4 September 2016.
  8. The 59th Session of Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) was inaugurated on 14 March 2016 in Austria’s capital Vienna.
  9. Myanmar's Parliament on 15 March 2016 elected Htin Kyaw as the first civilian president to lead the country after 53 years of military rule. Army took power in a 1962 coup.
  10. The Booker prize-winning British author and renowned art historian Anita Brookner died on 10 March 2016. She was 87.




Finance/Banking –

ICICI Bank launches contactless mobile payments solution


  • ICICI Bank, country's largest private sector lender, has launched a mobile solution that allows customers to make payments with their linked cards to its 'pockets' offering by just tapping the mobile phone.
  • Rajiv Sabharwal, Executive Director, ICICI Bank said this is one step ahead of the tap-and-pay solution that the bank has been offering.
  • "Near Field Communication enabled cards was introduced earlier but this is a step ahead. With this, you don't need to have your card with you at the time of making a payment as long as the card is linked to Pockets," he said.
  • Pockets, is a digital banking service offered by ICICI Bank which has had about 3.3 million downloads so far.
  • NFC employs radio transmission to ascertain contact when the cards are tapped or waved near a terminal. However, apart from NFC the bank is also using Host Card Emulation (HCE) technology for this offering.
  • The HCE technology creates 'virtual' cards for 'physical' credit or debit cards (Visa/MasterCard) of the Bank, as selected by the customer.
  • This virtual card will reside in the bank's secure cloud server. By using the virtual cards, an ICICI Bank customer can initiate electronic payments from NFC enabled smartphones by just waving his/her phone near a contactless merchant terminal.


India Post selected Deloitte as consultant for payments bank


  • India Post in the second week of March 2016 selected Deloitte to advise it on setting up a payments bank. An agreement between the two was signed on 14 March 2016.
  • The Public Investment Board (PIB) has already approved the 800-crore rupees proposal of India Post. The proposal will be sent to the Union Cabinet within two weeks for final approval.
  • India Post payments bank will largely target unbanked and under-banked customers in rural, semi-rural and remote areas, with a focus on providing simple deposit products and money remittance services.
  • The pilot for the payments bank is set to start from January 2017 and the full-fledged operations may start by March 2017.
  • The Reserve Bank of India had granted payments bank permit to India Post, which is already into providing financial services and has 1.55 lakh branches across the country.


India –

HAL to manufacture Russian KAMOV Ka-226T helicopters


  • Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) has been chosen to develop, manufacture and maintain the Russian KAMOV Ka-226T helicopters for the Indian armed forces.
  • “HAL has been identified in view of its capabilities in the field of design, development, manufacture and maintenance of aircraft,” Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.
  • The manufacturing unit will be coming up at Tumakuru near Bengaluru primarily to take up manufacture and MRO activities for indigenously designed and developed light utility helicopter and other helicopters, he said.
  • “The plan for setting up of the facility existed even before the finalization of manufacture of Kamov 226T helicopters,” Parrikar said.
  • The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) had approved the purchase and joint production Ka-226T light multirole helicopters last year.
  • However, the deal was officially announced during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Moscow in last December.


Infosys Foundation signs MoU with NGO to boost rural livelihood in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana


  • Infosys Foundation has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with NGO Sahakara Mitra Samstha to enhance livelihood of the farming community in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
  • The philanthropic arm of Infosys has pledged Rs 5 crore to the NGO, also known as Center for Collective Development (CCD), to work on increasing revenue and profits of farmers and create awareness about sustainable agricultural practices by adopting efficient business models.
  • CCD will also aim to build sustainable farmer co-operative societies and facilitate pooling, processing as well as the sale of produce in two districts of Andhra Pradesh (Anantapur and Chittoor) and one district in Telangana (Adilabad), a company statement said.
  • It will also work towards bringing in new co-operatives from different areas to strengthen the federation activities of its association, set up new processing units and enable the creation of a district level forum where farmers can voice their issues, the statement added.


MoU Signed Between M/O Tourism and Ecotourism Society of India for Responsible and Sustainable Tourism


  • The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ecotourism Society of India (ESOI) to take its commitments to Responsible and Sustainable tourism to the next level. In accordance, Shri Suman Billa, Joint Secretary, M/o Tourism and Mr. Steve Borgia, Honorary President, Ecotourism Society of India signed the MOU in the presence of Shri Vinod Zutshi, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism.
  • The Ministry of Tourism and the Ecotourism Society of India started the process a couple of years ago when they formulated & published the STCI (Sustainable Tourism Criteria for India) and carried it to the grass root level through series of advocacy workshops. Through this MOU, it is expected that sustainable tourism and Responsible Tourism will take the forefront and achieve the commitments of the Ministry's action plan.
  • The Ecotourism Society of India (ESOI) was established in 2008 at the behest of the Ministry of Tourism (MOT) as a non-profit organization to promote environmentally responsible and sustainable practices in the tourism industry across the country.


Parytak Mitra Programme to enable Students to act as Tourist Facilitators


  • Parytak Mitra Programme was in news on 14 March 2016. It came in news after the information on the same was provided in the Lok Sabha by the Minister of State for Culture and Tourism (I/C) Dr. Mahesh Sharma.
  • The programme was launched by Union Ministry of Tourism on 12 January 2016 (National Youth Day) to inculcate appropriate tourism traits and knowledge amongst the trainees to enable them to act/work as Tourist Facilitators (Prayatak Mitra).
  • College going student including those enrolled with the NCC & NSS in the age group of 18 – 28 years. The age will be reckoned on the last date prescribed for application for admission.
  • The programme seeks to improve the sectoral service standards, which is one of the pre-requisites for attracting tourists in larger numbers.

Objective of the Programme
  • To inculcate appropriate tourism traits and knowledge amongst the trainees to enable them to act/work as Tourist Facilitators (Prayatak Mitra).
  • To expect the young men and women so trained to act as catalyst / resource persons in turn for similar effort.


Odisha Cabinet approved constitution of Food Commission as per NFSA

  • Odisha Cabinet on 14 March 2016 approved a proposal to constitute a State Food Commission (SFC) as per the National Food Security Act (NFSA) 2013. It will monitor and evaluate the implementation of the NFSA Act and advice for its effective implementation to the State government.
  • The Commission will have five members and one member secretary including a chairperson. The chairperson will hold the rank of chief secretary, while members and member secretary will be in the ranks of principal secretary and joint secretary respectively. The tenure of the members will be three years.


Awards & Honors –

Pope Francis announced Mother Teresa to be granted Sainthood


  • Pope Francis on 15 March 2016 announced that Mother Teresa will be made a saint of the Roman Catholic Church at a ceremony on 4 September 2016.
  • The pope cleared the way for sainthood to Mother Teresa, who was famed for her lifetime of service to the poor, establishing shelters for homeless, orphanages, soup kitchens and clinics around the world.
  • The Vatican credited her with the 2008 cure of a Brazilian man who had been suffering from brain tumors.
  • The first step toward making her a saint took place in 2002 when Mother Teresa was credited with the healing of a Bengali woman who suffered from tuberculosis and cancer.


World –

China to set up International Maritime 'Judicial Centre'

  • Supreme Court of China on 13 March 2016 announced to create its own international maritime judicial centre. The centre will be established to handle territorial disputes and protect China’s sovereignty, maritime rights and other core interests at sea.
  • The announcement of the centre was made by the Chief Justice Zhou Qiang during the ongoing annual meeting of China's parliament. This centre would help China to become a maritime power.
  • Details of the location, kind of cases it would have jurisdiction over were not provided.


Malawi, UNICEF tested first UAV flights for early diagnosis of HIV in infants


  • The Government of Malawi and UNICEF on 14 March 2016 successfully tested the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs or drones) to explore cost effective ways of reducing waiting times for HIV testing of infants.
  • As part of the test, simulated blood samples were transported from a community health centre to the Kamuzu Central Hospital laboratory that is located at a distance of 10 kilometers.
  • Though drones were used in the past for surveillance and assessments of disaster, this is the first known use of UAVs in Africa for improvement of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) services.


59th Session of Commission on Narcotic Drugs inaugurated in Vienna

  • The 59th Session of Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) was inaugurated on 14 March 2016 in Austria’s capital Vienna.
  • The 9-day long session seeks to promote a comprehensive understanding of the world drug problem and evolve appropriate strategies to deal with it.
  • Around 1500 delegates representing Member States, inter-governmental organizations, and civil society will be participating in the session.
  • During the session, the Commission will discuss 10 draft resolutions and hold 74 side events and over 25 exhibitions.


Mauritania ratified 2014 Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention

  • Mauritania on 14 March 2016 became the second African country to ratify the 2014 Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention 1930.
  • Prior to Mauritania, Niger (Africa), Norway (Europe) and the United Kingdom (Europe) ratified the protocol.
  • The protocol requires States to take effective measures for prevention of forced labour, protection of victims and ensuring their access to justice and compensation.


60th Session of Commission on the Status of Women inaugurated in New York

  • The 60th Session of Commission on the Status of Women was inaugurated on 14 March 2016. The 11-day long session will take place at the United Nations headquarters in New York, the USA.
  • During the session, the Commission will discuss on its priority theme - Women’s empowerment and its link to sustainable development.
  • In addition, it will evaluate progress in the implementation of the agreed conclusions from the fifty-seventh session (2013) on ‘The elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls’.


Venezuela president extended economic emergency to protect citizens from economic warfare

  • Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro on 14 March 2016 declared a two-month extension on emergency powers meant to help shore up the country's crippled economy.
  • The declaration will bestow more time on the government of President Nicolas Maduro to intervene in the market, boost productivity and redress a flagging financial sector.
  • It will also allow the government to take more anti-crisis measures to reduce fiscal moratorium and to tap up funds from the 2015 budget to address short-term social needs.


Appointments –

Myanmar Parliament elected Htin Kyaw as first civilian President


  • Myanmar's Parliament on 15 March 2016 elected Htin Kyaw as the first civilian president to lead the country after 53 years of military rule. Army took power in a 1962 coup.
  • He is a close aide and adviser of Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of National League for Democracy (NLD) party.
  • He was elected with 360 of the total 652 votes casted while, military-nominated Myint Swe received 213 votes and stood second followed by the other NLD candidate, Henry Van Thio, who got 79 votes.
  • They will serve as first vice-president and second vice-president respectively.


Sports –

Delhi clinched Lloyd Business Today Pro-Am of Champions golf title

  • Delhi on 13 March 2016 won the 20th edition of the Lloyd Business Today Pro-Am of Champions golf tournament.
  • The final of this event was played at the Jack Nicklaus designed Classic Golf Resort in Gurgaon.
  • Delhi, comprising of Bharat Dhawan (Mazars), Avesh Bhatnagar (M/S Bhatnagar Agencies), Ravi Khanna (Kwikforms Structurals) and Saurabh Sood (GATX,) prevailed with a combined score of 105 points in the event where India's top corporate decision makers and leading golfing professionals played together.
  • The Mumbai team, comprising of Subrat Mohanty, Pramod Bhambani, Jayen Ramesh Shah and Paras Shah, ended as runners-up with 101 points.


UK Anti-Doping appointed as Secretariat for International Olympic Committee Anti-doping Taskforce

  • United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD) on 14 March 2016 was granted a role of organising a worldwide fight against performance-enhancing drugs in the run-up to 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
  • It was appointed as the secretariat for an International Olympic Committee anti-doping taskforce which will seek to standardise testing procedures.
  • The announcement came with Russia still banned by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and on course to be excluded from the Olympics following a report into mass doping violations.


Obituaries –

Booker prize-winner Anita Brookner died


  • The Booker prize-winning British author and renowned art historian Anita Brookner died on 10 March 2016. She was 87.
  • Brookner, who won the Booker in 1984 for her novel Hotel du Lac, was a bestselling author and wrote more than 25 novels.
  • Brookner, who in 1967 became the first female to be named a Slade professor of art at Cambridge University, was known for her style and stories centering on the theme of middle-class loneliness, often featuring female protagonists.






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