Hello and welcome to exampundit. Here are the Important Current Affairs Update of 14 and 15 February, 2017. These are very important for the upcoming SBI PO Mains and other insurance and bank exams.
Financial and Banking News:
Jharkhand signs MoU with Microsoft in ‘Momentum Jharkhand’
- Jharkhand government and Microsoft India today inked an MoU to leverage cloud technologies to drive the state’s digital ambitions.
- The MoU will support the state government to explore cloud, machine learning and mobile based solutions to improve citizen services and provide better facilities in the fields of education and agriculture, a Microsoft India release said.
- The MoU was signed at the ‘Momentum Jharkhand: Global Investors’ Summit & Trade Exhibition’. Jharkhand government has been using an advanced IT infrastructure to provide citizen services and driving technology led programmes like Skill India and Digital India.
MCX, Singapore Diamond Investment Exchange sign MoU
- Multi Commodity Exchange of India Limited (MCX) and Singapore Diamond Investment Exchange (SDiX), the world’s first and only commodity exchange trading in physically settled diamonds, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for establishing areas of cooperation between the two exchanges.
- The MoU was signed at a ceremony in Mumbai on Thursday by Mrugank Paranjape, MD & CEO of MCX and Linus Koh, CEO of SDiX. The MoU is intended to facilitate cooperation between the two exchanges in areas such as knowledge sharing and research, standardization of the product for Indian markets and enhancing transparency in pricing, as well as to explore areas for further collaboration between the exchanges.
- India is the largest global hub for the cutting and polishing of diamonds, and has several thousand small medium and large enterprises which are involved in the diamond business. Moreover, through this partnership, the exchanges have agreed to work towards the goal of assisting the stakeholders in India’s diamond industry by bringing international best practices in price risk management and price discovery through innovative spot and derivative market operations. The move will also foster the development of communication channels for the sharing of information between the exchanges.
HAL signs MoU with CPWD to build helicopter facility at Tumakuru
- Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Central Public Works Department (CPWD) for execution of infrastructure development works at HAL’s new Greenfield helicopter facility at Tumakuru.
- The MoU was signed at Aero India 2017 here on Friday. “The project spread over 615 acres of land allotted by the Karnataka government will house infrastructure for production and testing facilities, self-sufficient manufacturing capabilities of a wide range of helicopters of 3-ton to 12-ton class,” said T Suvarna Raju, Chairman and Managing Director, HAL.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone for HAL’s new helicopter manufacturing facility at Biderehalla Kaval, Tumakuru on January 3, 2016.
REC inks two pacts with Jharkhand utilities for Rs 15,000-crore loan
- State-run Rural Electrification Corp today said it has inked two pacts with Jharkhand utilities for providing financial assistance of Rs 15,150 crore.
- "On the occasion of 'Momentum Jharkhand - Global Investors Summit 2017', two MOUs of Rs 15,150 crore have been signed by REC with JBVNL (Rs 8,150 crore) and JUSNL (Rs 7,000 crore), in presence of Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das on February 17, 2017 at Khelgaon, Ranchi," REC said in statement.
- REC is a Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) that provides financial assistance to power entities in the government as well as the private sector in the areas of generation, transmission and distribution.
GST Council clears law to compensate states
- The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council, at its 10th meeting on Saturday, ratified the draft law for compensation to states. However, it could not ratify the three enabling laws — Integrated GST (IGST), State GST (SGST) and Central GST (CGST) draft laws because of some contentious issues that cropped up.
- These three enabling laws are now expected to be ratified by the GST Council in its next meeting, on March 4 and 5 in New Delhi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said. If they are ratified, they would be taken up in Parliament during the second half of the Budget session starting March 9.
- It was also decided at the meeting, held in Udaipur, that a fourth law, for Union Territories, would also be drafted on the lines the SGST draft law, and would be cleared by Parliament, said senior government sources.
- The FM said the legal committee had queries from the all-powerful Council, which consists of Jaitley and state finance ministers, on the composition of an appeal tribunal in the Centre and states, eligibility of members, delegation of powers, exemptions during the transition phase, services and value-added tax (VAT) in work contracts where it will be taxed, and the definition of agriculture.
Tata Motors, Microsoft India signed strategic agreement to leverage IoT & AI
- Tata Motors and Microsoft India on 16 February 2017 announced the signing of a strategic agreement to redefine connected and personalized driving experiences for Indian customers.
- The agreement was signed in the presence of Guenter Butschek, CEO & MD of Tata Motors and Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft India.
- Under the agreement, Tata Motors will leverage Microsoft’s connected vehicle technologies by converging artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and the Internet of Things (IoT).
- The agreement will enable the Tata Motors to traverse the digital and physical worlds and create a highly personalized, smart and safer driving experience across the digital life of a vehicle owner.
- The first vehicle showcasing these state-of-the art technologies will be unveiled at the 87th Geneva International Motor Show on 7 March 2017.
Air India inducts A320 neo plane, to add 13 more in 2017
- Air India on 16 February 2017 inducted the first Airbus 320 neo aircraft into its fleet. The plane is first of the 14 aircraft leased from Kuwait headquartered ALAFCO Aviation Lease and Finance Company.
- The plane was formally inducted by giving the traditional water canon salute at the international airport in New Delhi. With this induction, Air India became the first CFM powered NEO operator in India.
- Airbus 320 neo aircraft, known for burning less fuel, is configured with 162 seats including 12 in the business class. It joins the national carrier’s existing fleet of 66 A320 family planes. With this induction of Airbus 320 neo aircraft, Air India’s fleet size went up to 138 planes.
- While inducting the plane into the fleet of Air India, the CMD Ashwani Lohani said a total of 14 A320 neos would be inducted into the fleet in 2017. The CMD also said that the airline is also looking at using these planes for international operations.
- With this, Air India became the third airline after IndiGo and Go Air to induct the A320 neo aircraft. It is the first domestic operator of neo plane that is powered by CFM engine; the other two are using the aircraft with Pratt and Whitney engine.
Reliance Defence, Dassault incorporated joint venture to execute Rafale deal
- Reliance Defence Limited and Dassault Aviation on 16 February 2017 announced the incorporation of Dassault Reliance Aerospace Limited (DRAL). The DRAL is a joint venture (JV) between the Reliance Aerostructure Limited (RAL) and Dassault Aviation (DA).
- In the DRAL, the French company Dassault Aviation will have 49 per cent shareholding, while the RAL will have 51 per cent shareholding.
- The DRAL will be a key player in the execution of the Union Government’s deal with Dassault to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets at a value of Rs 60,000 crore.
- DRAL has finalized the infrastructure requirements at Dhirubhai Aerospace Park at Mihan, Nagpur and the construction work for the greenfield facility will start in May 2017.
- DRAL will execute the programs in phases, with Phase I resulting in the generation of more than 700 highly-skilled direct jobs and 2,800 indirect jobs.
New Marriage Bill seeks to check extravagant spending in weddings
- The Marriages (Compulsory Registration and Prevention of wasteful expenditure) Bill, 2016 seeks to put a cap on extravagant spending in Indian weddings by limiting the number of guests and number of the dishes in the menu.
- The bill aims to check ‘show of wealth’ and wants those who are spending above ₹5 Lakh in a wedding to contribute towards marriages of poor girls. It was introduced by Ranjeet Ranjan, a Congress MP, wife of MP Pappu Yadav.
- The Bill seeks that “if a family intends to spend more than ₹5 lakh on a wedding then, it will have to declare the amount proposed to be spent in advance to the appropriate government body and contribute 10% of it to a welfare fund established to assist poor families in the marriages of their daughters.
- The main objective behind its introduction is to prohibit extravagant and wasteful expenditure on marriages and to put into effect a simpler and much cheaper process.
Union Cabinet approved establishment of Food Legumes Research Platform in Madhya Pradesh
- The Union Cabinet gave its approval for the establishment of Food Legumes Research Platform (FLRP) at Amlaha in Sehore, Madhya Pradesh.
- The approval was given by the Cabinet at a meeting chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 15 February 2017 in New Delhi.
- Apart from the main research centre in Amlaha, satellite hubs will be set up in West Bengal and Rajasthan for pulses and Natural Resource Management respectively.
- These satellites hubs will be established in the second phase with assistance from the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA).
- To facilitate the establishment of the FLRP, the Union Cabinet gave its approval for -
- Signing of a lease deed with State Government of Madhya Pradesh for the land provided by them at Amlaha Farm, Sehore
- Conferring on the Food Legume Research Platform of ICARDA an international status as contemplated in Clause 3 of the United Nations (Privileges and Immunities) Act, 1947.
EPFO launches Employees Enrolment Campaign 2017
- The Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) on 15 February 2017 launched Employees Enrolment Campaign 2017. The campaign encourages firms to enrol their employees under its schemes at nominal damages of Rupee one per annum.
- The declaration scheme is operational between 1 January 2017 and 31 March 2017.
- The employees’ share of contributions, if declared by the employer as not deducted, shall stand waived.
- The damages to be paid by the employer in respect of the employer in respect of the employees for whom declaration has been made under this campaign shall be at the rate of Rupee One per annum.
- No administrative charges shall be collected from the employer in respect of the contribution made under the declaration.
Union Cabinet approves merger of 5 associate banks with SBI
- The Union Cabinet on 15 February 2017 approved the merger of the State Bank of India with five of its associate banks.
- These five associate banks are State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Travancore, and State Bank of Patiala.
- The merger proposal was announced in May 2016 and was scheduled for March 2017.
- The merger will create a bank with a projected asset book of Rs 37 lakh crore by 31 March 2017. In addition, it is also likely to result in recurring savings, estimated at more than Rs 1000 crore in the first year, through a combination of enhanced operational efficiency and reduced cost of funds. The existing customers of subsidiary banks will benefit from access to State Bank of India’s global network.
Kerala Government gave approval for airport in Sabarimala
- The Kerala Cabinet gave its approval for construction of an airport in Hindu pilgrimage centre Sabarimala. The approval was given by the Cabinet at a meeting chaired by the State Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on 15 February 2017 in Thiruvananthapuram.
- Details related to the approval
- The Cabinet has entrusted the Kerala Small Industries Development Corporation (KSIDC) with the task of conducting a feasibility study.
- The airport is expected to reduce the heavy traffic on the roads leading to Sabarimala during the pilgrim season.
- At present, pilgrims alighting at the Chengannur or Thiruvalla railway stations reach Sabarimala through various routes linking with the MC Road or National Highway.
Piyush Goyal launched TAMRA Portal for transparent Mining Clearances
- Piyush Goyal, the Union Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines, on 15 February 2017 launched the Transparency, Auction Monitoring and Resource Augmentation (TAMRA) Portal and Mobile Application.
- Simultaneously, the TAMRA portal, developed by the Ministry of Mines, was launched across 12 mineral-rich states.
- Objective: TAMRA was created with an aim to speed up mining activity in India and facilitated all stakeholders to track the status of clearances linked to mining blocks for getting mines to reach till operationalisation for the same.
- It covers block-wise, mineral-wise and state-wise information of the mines to be auctioned.
- It will also monitor various statutory clearances and highlight the additional resources generated through e-auction.
- TAMRA platform will help in enhancing transparency and accountability in mining.
- In the case of delay in obtaining any clearances, TAMRA will send triggers to the concerned authority. These triggers will help the authority to take the remedial steps immediately.
- The triggers generated by TAMRA will also be sent to the ministry of mines, which will allow the ministry to expedite clearances in case the timelines set against each of the statutory clearances are not met.
Union Cabinet approved signing of Air Services Agreement between India and Rwanda
- The Union Cabinet approved the signing of a bilateral Air Services Agreement (ASA) between India and Rwanda.
- The approval was given at a meeting of the Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 15 February 2017.
- The agreement has the potential to spur trade, investment, tourism and cultural exchange between India and Rwanda.
- It will also provide enabling environment for enhanced and seamless connectivity between both the countries.
- The ASA seeks to provide commercial opportunities for the carriers belonging to both the countries.
Eight executive directors appointed in PSU banks
- The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has appointed T C A Ranganathan and Sunil Mehta as non-executive chairmen of Indian Overseas Bank and Punjab National Bank, respectively.
- The tenure of Ranganathan and Mehta in their respective banks is for three years, according to an order issued by Personnel Ministry. Mehta is currently on the board of State Bank of India and will have to resign from SBI before joining the new post.
- Ranganathan, a postgraduate in economics, has served as the chairman of the board and managing director of Export-Import Bank of India and managing director of State Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur.
- He opened the first branch of SBI in China at Shanghai and also serves as the president commissioner of PT Bank SBI Indonesia. Ranganathan, an alumnus of Delhi School of Economics (DSE), has also served as a non-executive director of SBI (Mauritius).
- Meanwhile, the Banks Board Bureau has appointed eight executive directors (EDs) in various public-sector banks on Friday for three years.
- K Swaminathan, general manager in Indian Overseas Bank, has been appointed as ED in the same bank. Neelam Damodharan and Atanu Kumar Das have been appointed as EDs in Bank of India. Damodharan is general manager in Bank of Baroda and Das is GM in Vijaya Bank.
- Ashok Kumar Pradhan will be ED in United Bank of India and P Ramana Murthy will be executive director of Central Bank of India.
- Fareed Ahmed Khan will be ED in Punjab and Sind Bank. M K Bhattacharya and S Harishankar have been appointed EDs of Indian Bank and Allahabad Bank, respectively.
Vikas Swarup appointed as High Commissioner of lndia to Canada
- Vikas Swarup was appointed as the High Commissioner of lndia to Canada. A decision in this regard was taken by the Union Ministry External Affairs (MEA) on 16 February 2017.
- At the time of elevation, Swarup was working as the Spokesperson of the MEA. Gopal Baglay, the Joint Secretary in the Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan (PIA) Division in the MEA, will succeed Swarup.
Palaniswami Sworn in as new Tamil Nadu Chief Minister
- After days of speculation, AIADMK's Edappadi Palaniswami was sworn in as the 13th Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu on 16 February 2017.
- The swearing in ceremony was conducted at Raj Bhavan around 4.30pm, in the presence of Tamil Nadu Governor C Vidyasagar Rao.
- Palaniswami took the oath first and then he was followed by 30 ministers in four batches.
- This is the third ministry to take the oath after AIADMK won the assembly election in May 2016.
Norman Isaac became first Indian to be FIBA’s Technical Delegate
- Norman Isaac in February 2017 became the first Indian to be promoted by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) as the Technical Delegate (TD).
- His appointment/promotion was confirmed by the sport’s worldwide governing body. He was promoted to TD along with a select few aspirants, who successfully cleared a series of tests at Doha, Qatar.
- FIBA in an official letter affirmed his new status and asked Norman to prepare the preliminary rounds of matches in the qualifiers, which will kick off in November 2017 towards the first ever FIBA World Cup in China in 2019.
Justice Vikramajit Sen takes charge of Delhi and Districts Cricket Association
- Justice Vikramajit Sen, former Supreme Court Judge, on 15 February 2017 took charge of the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA). He officially took the charge from Justice Mukul Mudgal.
- Just after taking charge of the DDCA, Justice Sen formed various committees. In a three-page instruction, he laid out the ground rules while keeping most of the committees selected by Justice Mudgal.
- DDCA accounts manager Pritam Panwar and Vikrant will be signing authorities in all financial and bank related matters. The selection committees also remained same. Former Ranji cricketer Siddharth Sahib Singh was named in-charge of all Cricket Operations (International, Domestic and IPL).
Non-financial news – India and states:
Indian Panorama Film Festival begins in Port Blair
- The Indian Panorama Film Festival commenced on 15 February 2017 in Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- The Festival is organised jointly by Andaman and Nicobar Administration and Directorate of Film Festivals, Government of India.
- The Festival was inaugurated by Anindo Majumdar, Chief Secretary of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The inauguration event was followed by the screening of Telugu film Bahubali directed by S.S. Rajamauli.
- The five-day festival will see screening of about 15 films of different languages and genres. The film festival will conclude on 19 February 2017.
- On 16 February 2017, Bengali films Bastu Shaap, directed by Kaushik Ganguly, and Sankachil, directed by Goutam Ghose, will be screened at PBMC Auditorium at 10 A.M. Tamil films titled Radiopetti, directed by Hari Vishwanath, and Irudhi Suttru, directed by Sudha Kongara, will be screened at 2 P.M. at the same venue. Hindi film Sultan, directed by Ali Abbas Jaffar, will be screened at PBMC Auditorium at 6 P.M.
Thanal: A group launches helpline number for waste management
- Thanal, a city-based group in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala has launched a helpline to provide technical support to treat organic waste and manage non-biodegradable solid waste.
- The allotted helpline number for the cause is – 9400147150. The number will provide the caller with information and guidance regarding composting kitchen waste, organic farming, terrace farming and organic means of controlling pest and fungi spread.
- The service also includes free demonstration and technical guidance on treating organic waste. In the case of organic farming, the technical demonstration will be organised in groups.
- This is not the first time that a welfare body in the state of Kerala has attempted to address the issue of waste disposal and management by setting up a helpline number.
Awards & Honors:
Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare presented Kayakalp Awards 2016-17
- The Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare J P Nadda on 15 February 2017 presented the Kayakap Awards for 2016-17 in New Delhi.
- The Kayakap Awards are conferred annually to encourage and incentivize Public Health Facilities (PHFs) about cleanliness and hygiene.
Winners of Kayakalp Awards 2016-17
- All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi: First Prize
- North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS), Shillong: Second Prize
- Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh: Third Prize
Hindi Scholar and writer Surendra Verma selected for Vyas Samman 2016
- Surendra Verma, a well known Hindi scholar and writer, was selected for Vyas Samman 2016. He was chosen for the prestigious award for his novel Kaatna Shami Ka Vriksha: Padma Pankhuri Ki Dhar Se.
- The book, Kaatna Shami Ka Vriksha, was published in 2010.
UAE reveals its plan to build the first city on Mars by 2117
- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced its intention of building the first-ever city on the Red Planet by 2117. The Nation would be undertaking the project in collaboration with specialised international organisations and scientific institutes.
- The Mars project was announced by Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai and Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the nation’s Armed Forces.
- To get the 100-year programme in motion, the UAE plans to put together a group of professionals, experts with the potential to achieve scientific breakthroughs in order to facilitate the transport of people to Mars over the next few decades.
- The government will be initiating scientific research programmes to nurture the national cadres specialised in space sciences at various universities in the UAE.
- The announcement of the programme was made on the sidelines of the World Government Summit amidst representative from 138 governments, six major international organisations, as well as leading international technology companies.
- The project will involve a lot of research, especially focussing on the transportation means, energy and food on Mars.
- The project also aims to find a faster transportation method to Mars.
European Union issues final warning to Britain, France, Germany on air pollution
- The European Union (EU) in the third week of February 2017 warned United Kingdom, France, Germany and two other countries to check menace of Air-Pollution in their cities. The warning was issued for failing to address continuous breaches of air pollution limits for nitrogen dioxide.
- Heavy smog has covered much of Europe this winter prompting emergency measures in several big cities including London, Berlin, Paris and so on.
- The EU countries can be slapped with large financial penalties by the commission if they break the union's rules.