Hello and welcome to ExamPundit. Here are the Important Current Affairs of 26, 27 and 28th March, 2016.
RBI announces private placement of special securities under UDAY
- The Reserve Bank of India Monday asked market participants interested in subscribing to special securities under UDAY scheme through private placement route to approach it by March 30.
- Power Ministry had launched the Ujjwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) in November last for revival of debt ridden power distribution companies (DISCOMs) in different states.
- The special securities under UDAY are being issued by governments of Bihar, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Punjab and Rajasthan.
- "RBI has asked market participants who are interested in subscribing to the special securities under UDAY Scheme through private placement route to approach the Internal Debt Management Department, RBI, Central Office latest by March 30, 2016," the central bank said in a statement.
- Under the scheme, the Centre allows state governments, which own the discoms, to take over 75% of the debt as of September 30, 2015 in two years and pay back lenders by selling bonds. For the remaining 25% dues, discoms have been allowed to issue bonds.
- The scheme is expected to help discoms save around Rs 1.8 lakh crore in the next three years. The cumulative debt of discoms is Rs 4.37 lakh crore.
ADB, USAID join hands to support India's clean energy expansion plan
- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate on supporting India’s expansion plans for clean energy infrastructure.
- Under the terms of the MoU, USAID will align the components of its technical assistance with ADB’s current and planned investments in renewable energy.
- Teresa Kho, Country Director for ADB in India, signed the MoU for ADB.
- The Department of Economic Affairs in the Finance Ministry had requested ADB to provide financing up to $ 500 million each to support rooftop solar, and expansion of the transmission network to connect solar parks in multiple states under the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) solar park programme.
- USAID, through its Partnership to Advance Clean Energy Development (PACE-D) programme, will work with ADB to assist MNRE and select states in the design and development of public private partnership (PPP) investment models for solar parks.
Wipro, Jubilant FoodWorks tie up for energy management services
- Wipro on Monday announced a five-year partnership with the country’s top food service company Jubilant FoodWorks to deliver energy management services and help reduce energy and operational costs.
- The EcoEnergy business of Wipro rolled out its multi-year Managed Restaurant Energy Services (MRES) programme last year which ensures effective sustenance of energy cost reduction, Wipro said.
- The remaining 600 plus restaurants would be rolled out in the coming months, a Wipro statement quoted him as saying.
- Jubilant is part of Jubilant Bhartia group and India’s largest food service company, with a network of 1,004 Domino’s Pizza restaurants across 230 cities as of February 11, the statement said.
World Bank approved $250 million loan to Support Electricity Distribution Sector Reforms in Rajasthan
- The World Bank Board on 25 March 2016 approved a 250 million US dollar Development Policy Loan (DPL) for Rajasthan. The loan was granted to support the government of Rajasthan in improving the performance of its electricity distribution sector under the State’s 24x7 Power for All program.
- The First Programmatic Electricity Distribution Reform Development Policy Loan for Rajasthan will be the first in a series of two operations for a comprehensive turnaround of Rajasthan’s electricity distribution sector.
The key areas that the operation will support
- Strengthening governance in the distribution sector in the state by giving more operational autonomy to the utilities
- Establishing targets for reducing the gap between the cost of supply and revenue recovery
- Providing incentives to employees for improving performance
FreeCharge partners with payment gateway CCAvenue, to tap 100,000 online merchants
- Snapdeal-owned digital payments platform FreeCharge has partnered with a payment gateway CCAvenue, as it gains access to over one lakh online merchants across sectors like hospitality, retail and education.
- It will also help them access real-time,multi-currency online payment services, FreeCharge said in a statement Saturday.
- This association would allow CCAvenue e-merchants use FreeCharge as a payment option.
- FreeCharge directly competes with payment e-wallets like Alibaba-backed Paytm, and Flipkart's recently launched Flipkart Money.
- Founded in 2001, CCAvenue is a payment gateway service provider offering real-time, multi-currency payment solutions to businesses in hospitality, education, online retail and other major industry verticals.
Ola, Bajaj Allianz tie up to offer motor insurance to drivers
- Taxi-hailing application, Ola, has partnered with private general insurer Bajaj Allianz General Insurance to provide motor insurance solutions to its driver partners. Through this tie-up, the driver-partners will have easy access to availing motor insurance with a host of value-added services and add on covers like depreciation shield and engine protector provided by Bajaj Allianz.
- The two companies are also working together to create a digital infrastructure that will bring insurance transactions like purchase or claims, fully online. Pranay Jivrajka, COO at Ola said that driver entrepreneurs are key stakeholders to the growth of mobility in India and they are building a robust ecosystem for them through initiatives like these, enabling them to grow professionally and personally.
- In the past two years, Ola has announced several social and financial benefits for its drivers. The company had recently announced its partnership with Indifi to offer personal loans to its drivers.
BHEL commissions 40 Mw hydro electric generating unit in West Bengal
- Power equipment manufacturer Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has commissioned second 40 Mw hydropower generating unit at the Teesta low dam hydro electric project (HEP) stage-IV in West Bengal, the company said on Monday.
- A run-of-the-river greenfield project, located in Darjeeling district of the state, is being set up by National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC). The order was placed with the heavy engineering company by NHPC.
- The order for the electrical & mechanical (E&M) work of four units of 40 MW each was given to BHEL.
- The company's Bhopal, Jhansi, Rudrapur, Mumbai and Bengaluru facilities are supplying equipment for the project while the execution of work on site is being carried out by its power sector eastern region. The remaining two units of the project are also in advanced stages of execution, the company said.
Mizoram, JICA signed MoU on Capacity Enhancement on Sustainable Agriculture and Irrigation Development
- The Government of Mizoram and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) on 24 March 2016 signed a MoU on Capacity Enhancement on Sustainable Agriculture and Irrigation Development in the State.
- The Memorandum of Understanding was signed in the presence of State Chief Secretary Lalmalsawma and Satoru Fujita, Team Leader and Deputy Director, Rural Development Department, JICA.
Features of the MoU
- As part of the MoU, JICA will undertake technical cooperation project in 4 rural develop blocks in Aizawl, Kolasib, Serchhip and Champhai districts.
- It is primarily a technical cooperation project under which training programmes on sustainable agriculture and irrigation development
- The training programmes will take place for three times between October 2016 and September 2021 in Japan.
- The entire project will be based on a development study that was conducted by JICA between 2013 and 2015, under which a 20-year master plan was prepared
Union Cabinet approved MoU between India and UAE to mobilise long term investment into NIIF
- The Union Cabinet on 23 March 2016 gave its ex-post facto approval for a MoU between India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to mobilise long term investment into the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF).
- The Memorandum of Understanding was signed on 11 February 2016 to maximize economic impact mainly through infrastructure development in commercially viable projects in India.
Features of the MoU
- It seeks to mobilize funds to develop commercially viable projects including greenfield, brownfield and stalled projects.
- It will facilitate establishment of a transparent and high-level framework and collaboration platform for smooth flow of investments for this purpose.
Health Minister JP Nadda launched Rotavirus vaccine as part of Universal Immunization Programme
- Union Health and Family Welfare Minister J P Nadda on 26 March 2016 launched the rotavirus vaccine as part of the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) of the country.
- The vaccine is being introduced initially in four states, which are Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Odisha and will be expanded to the entire country in a phased manner.
- The rotavirus vaccine was developed indigenously, under a public-private partnership by the Ministry of Science and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
- Apart from the rotavirus vaccine, three new vaccines are also being introduced as part of UIP including Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV), Measles, Rubella (MR) vaccine and Adult Japanese Encephalitis (JE) vaccine.
President’s Rule imposed in Uttarakhand
- President Rule was imposed in Uttarakhand on 27 March 2016 following the approval of the recommendation of the Union Cabinet by the President Pranab Mukherjee. The Cabinet recommended president rule in the state citing a constitutional breakdown.
- President signed the proclamation under Article 356 of the Constitution dismissing the Congress government headed by Harish Rawat and placing the Assembly under suspended animation.
- Under suspended animation, the legislative assembly though is not dissolved but the legislative power of the state is taken over by the parliament from the declaration of the president rule. An assembly remains in this state until further notice from the president.
Awards & Honors –
63rd National Film Awards announced
- The 63rd National Film Awards were announced on 28 March 2016.
- The awards will be presented by Directorate of Film Festivals of India to honour the best films of 2015 in the Indian cinema. The award ceremony will be held on 3 May 2016.
- Best Feature Film - Baahubali: The Beginning
- Indira Gandhi Award for Best Debut Film Of A Director - Neeraj Ghaywan for Masaan
- Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment - Bajrangi Bhaijaan
- Best Children's Film - Duronto
- Best Direction - Sanjay Leela Bhansali for Bajirao Mastani
- Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration - Nanak Shah Fakir
- Best Film on Environment / Conservation / Preservation - Valiya Chirakulla Pakshikal
- Best Film on Social Issue - Niranayakam
- Best Actor - Amitabh Bachchan for Piku
- Best Actress - Kangana Ranaut for Tanu Weds Manu Returns
- Best Supporting Actor - Samuthirakani for Visaranai
- Best Supporting Actress - Tanvi Azmi for Bajirao Mastani
- Best Child Artist - Gaurav Menon for Ben
- Best Hindi Film -Dum Laga Ke Haisha
Gujarat was named the Most Film-Friendly State at the 63rd National Film Awards.
Indian-origin professor Surya Deva appointed UN Adviser on Human Rights and Businesses
- Indian-origin law professor, Surya Deva was appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) as an Adviser on human rights and multinationals and businesses.
- Deva’s appointment to the position was approved on 24 March 2016 in Geneva by the UNHRC.
- After the appointment, Deva will serve as a member of the four-member Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises.
Indian-American Nandita Bakhshi named President, CEO of Bank of the West
- Indian-American Nandita Bakhshi was appointed as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Bank of the West, a unit of French banking giant BNP Paribas. Her appointment was announced by the bank on 16 March 2016.
- She will take over the roles of President and CEO-designate effective from 1 April 2016 and will assume the role on 1 June 2016.
- Bakhshi succeeded Michael Shepherd who will take on the role of Chairman of BNP Paribas USA, the new holding company for all BNP Paribas subsidiaries in the US. Shepherd will continue to serve as Chairman of BancWest Corporation and of Bank of the West.
Pakistan, Iran signed 6 MoUs to strengthen bilateral relations
- Pakistan and Iran on 25 March 2016 signed 6 Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) to strengthen bilateral cooperation in health, commerce, finance and foreign services..
- The MoUs were signed in Islamabad during Iranian President Dr Hassan Rouhani’s visit to Pakistan. This was the first visit by an Iranian head of state in 14 years to Pakistan and also the first visit after lifting of international sanctions on Iran.
World Bank approved $100 million loan to Jordan for creating jobs for Jordanians, Syrian refugees
- The World Bank on 27 March 2016 agreed to provide concessional 100 million US dollar loan to Jordan for creating one lakh jobs for Jordanians and Syrian refugees. The loan will be provided at rates usually reserved for the poorest countries.
- The announcement was made by World Bank President Jim Yong Kim during a joint visit of Kim and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to Jordan.
- The long-term loan is part of an attempt by the international community to improve conditions for refugees in overburdened host countries Jordan and Lebanon.
- More than 4.8 million Syrians have fled their country since the start of the Syria conflict in 2011. Jordan hosts about 640000 registered Syrian refugees and Lebanon more than one million.
World Theatre Day 2016 observed globally
- The International Theatre Institute (ITI) Centres and the international theatre community across the world celebrated the World Theatre Day (WTD) on 27 March 2016.
- The Russian Dramatist Anatoly Vasiliev was the World Theatre Day International Message Author 2016. Vasiliev is a noted Russian theatre director and one of the leading European contemporary stage directors.
- World Theatre Day was initiated in 1961 by the ITI. Various national and international theatre events are also organized to mark the occasion.
- One of the most important of these is the circulation of the World Theatre Day International Message through which, at the invitation of ITI, a figure of world stature shares his or her reflections on the theme of Theatre and a Culture of Peace.
- The first World Theatre Day International Message was written by Jean Cocteau (France) in 1962.
International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations observed
- The International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims was observed on 24 March 2016 across the world.
- To mark the occasion, all Member States of the UN, international organizations and civil society organizations conducted awareness programmes on the importance of protection of human rights.
Hockey India Second Annual Awards 2015 conferred
- Hockey India on 26 March 2016 conferred the Hockey India 2nd Annual Awards 2015 in Bengaluru, Karnataka.
- The Late Captain Shankar Laxman won the coveted Major Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement Award. P.R Sreejesh and Deepika won the Dhruv Batra Player of the Year Award for Men and Women respectively, at the awards ceremony.
UNEP released Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2016
- The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in the fourth week of March 2016 released the Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2016.
- The report, which was prepared by the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre for Climate and Sustainable Energy Finance and Bloomberg New Energy Finance, assessed investment trends in the renewable energy sector across the world in 2015.
- The report further revealed that within the developing-economy category, the “big three” of China, India and Brazil saw investment rise 16 percent to 120.2 billion US dollars in 2015.
- 2015 produced a new record for global investment in renewable energy. The amount of money committed to renewables excluding large hydro-electric projects rose 5 percent to 285.9 billion US dollars, exceeding the previous record of 278.5 billion US dollars achieved in 2011.
Books & Authors –
Anything But Khamosh: The Shatrughan Sinha Biography authored by Bharathi S Pradhan
- The book entitled Anything But Khamosh: The Shatrughan Sinha Biography was in news in the fourth week of March 2016. The book was authored by Bharathi S Pradhan.
- The book describes film actor Shatrughan Sinha’s journey from Patna to Film Institute of India (now FTII) in Poona and his tryst with the celluloid in Mumbai.
- This Pradhan’s work also traces Sinha’s political journey. In 2003, Sinha set a record as the first film star to be sworn-in as a Union Cabinet Minister.