Thursday, March 16, 2017

Current Affairs Update - 16 March, 2017

Hello and welcome to exampundit. Here are the Important Current Affairs Update of 16 March, 2017. These are important for the upcoming SBI PO Mains, NIACL Assistant Mains as well as other insurance and bank exams.

Current Affairs at a Glance - 16 March, 2017 - Tap to show
  1. Becoming one of the select few Indian start-ups to make a global entry, online mobile wallet major Paytm on Thursday said it has launched bill payments service in Canada.
  2. Online marketplace Snapdeal on Thursday announced its partnership with Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) for an exclusive partnership to showcase products from popular SME brands from Japan on Snapdeal.   Customers can now purchase JETRO products across various categories including electronic devices, accessories, kitchenware and personal care directly from Snapdeal.
  3. The Union Cabinet on 15 March 2017 approved a special financial assistance for bifurcated Andhra Pradesh. This financial assistance will be provided by special dispensation in funding of Externally Aided Projects (EAPs.)
  4. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Puducherry port and Chennai Port Trust to develop Puducherry port into a satellite port to handle containers from Chennai to the Union Territory
  5. Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman launched the Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES) on 15 March 2017.
  6. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 15 March 2017 approved the proposal for setting up around 50 new Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) under Civil or Defence Sector in the country.
  7. Mercer on 14 March 2017 released the results of the 19th annual Quality of Living Survey. In the survey, while Vienna occupies the first place for overall quality of living for the 8th year running, Hyderabad was adjudged as the best Indian city in terms of living standards.
  8. The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and UN Women on 15 March 2017 launched the Women in Politics Map 2017. India placed at 148th number.
  9. Congress leader Captain Amarinder Singh was on 16 March 2017 sworn in as the 26th Chief Minister (CM) of Punjab. Alongside, Navjot Singh Sidhu was sworn in as a Cabinet Minister of Punjab.
  10. Supreme Court lawyer and senior advocate Atul Nanda was on Thursday appointed as Punjab Advocate-General.
  11. Two-wheeler manufacturer Hero MotoCorp has signed up as a National Supporter for the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 which will be held across 6 host cities between 6 to 28 October this year.
  12. Union Health Minister J P Nadda on 15 March 2017 launched the National Health Policy 2017 with an aim to provide healthcare in an assured manner to all, particularly to the undeserved and underprivileged. The policy proposes raising public health expenditure to 2.5 per cent of the GDP in a time bound manner.
  13. The students of Maharashtra Institute of Technology (MIT) Pune and technology giant IBM have developed a robot, Chintu, which would assist senior citizens in their everyday tasks.
  14. The Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune and Canon India Private Limited on 15 March 2017 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote film education through short-term courses across several towns and cities in the country.
  15. The Executive Committee (EC) of National Mission for Clean Ganga on 15 March 2017 approved 20 projects worth nearly Rs 1900 crore.



Financial and Banking News:

Paytm goes global, enters Canada with an App for bill payments


  • Becoming one of the select few Indian start-ups to make a global entry, online mobile wallet major Paytm on Thursday said that announced on Thursday that it has launched bill payments service in Canada.
  • According to the company, users in Canada will now be able to pay for their cell phone, cable, internet, electricity and water bills via the Paytm Canada app. Sources in the company said that while Paytm has started off with bill payment services, new features would be included into it as well. The company plans to assess the Canadian market and keep on adding services which are more in vogue and used in that country.
  • Back in May 2016, Paytm said that it plans to go global through its association with Alipay, owned by Alibaba Group. Beginning with 16 countries, Paytm's international reach will grow every time Chinese mobile payment major expands its international footprint.
  • Vijay Shekhar Sharma, the founder and CEO of One97-owned Paytm had said that his company has been working with Alipay to make Paytm a global wallet.

Snapdeal, Japan Trade Organization tie-up to bring Japanese products to India


  • Online marketplace Snapdeal on Thursday announced its partnership with Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) for an exclusive partnership to showcase products from popular SME brands from Japan on Snapdeal.   Customers can now purchase JETRO products across various categories including electronic devices, accessories, kitchenware and personal care directly from Snapdeal.
  • The partnership is a step forward for Snapdeal in its quest to expand its portfolio with international brands which are acclaimed for excellence in their product quality and standards. Via the partnership, JETRO also hopes to create a niche space for these companies and their products in the Indian market as well as reach out to a huge customer base of over thousands of Indians.
  • Snapdeal will feature a specially curated store exhibiting a slew of products ranging from contact lenses, stationery, electronic device accessories, kitchenware, personal care, storage and display as well as sewing.




Sale of 24% equity in Lubrizol India by Indian Oil to Lubrizol Corporation, USA approved


  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) gave its approval to permit Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IndianOil) to sell its 24 per cent equity in M/s Lubrizol India Private Limited (LIPL) to Lubrizol Corporation, USA (LC).
  • The approval was given at a meeting of the CCEA chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 15 March 2017 in New Delhi.
  • The sale will enable the IndianOil to have a long term association with the Lubrizol Corporation.

Union Cabinet approves special assistance measure for Andhra Pradesh


  • The Union Cabinet on 15 March 2017 approved a special financial assistance for bifurcated Andhra Pradesh. This financial assistance will be provided by special dispensation in funding of Externally Aided Projects (EAPs.
  • The financial assistance will be also provided for the irrigation component of Polavaram project.
  • The special assistance will be provided to the state towards repayment of loan and interest for EAPs signed and disbursed from 2015-16 to 2019-20. The decision to this effect was taken at a Union Cabinet meet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Modalities for implementation of the decision:

  • Externally Aided Projects: Andhra Pradesh will be provided with a special assistance measure by the Union Government. Under this measure, the centre would make up for the additional central share the state might have received during 2015-16 to 2019-20. This will be done is the funding of the Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) would have been shared at the ratio of 90:10 between the Centre and the State.
  • In addition to this, the special assistance will be provided by way of repayment of loan and interest for the Externally Aided Projects (EAPs) signed and disbursed during 2015-2016 to 2019-20 by the State.
  • This support in repayment of the EAP loans will help Andhra Pradesh to put its finances on a firmer footing and promote economic growth.
  • Polavaram project: The Union Government will also fund 100 per cent of the irrigation component of the Polavaram project starting from 1 April 2014. Completion of the Polavaram project will help in increasing irrigation prospects in the state.

Puducherry port inks MoU with Chennai Port Trust


  • A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Puducherry port and Chennai Port Trust to develop Puducherry port into a satellite port to handle containers from Chennai to the Union Territory
  • Chief Secretary to Puducherry government Manoj Parida and Chairman of Chennai Port Trust P Raveendran inked the MoU in the presence of Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari, Chief Minister V Narayanasamy and Minister of State for Road Transport, Highways, Shipping and Fertilisers Mansukh L Mandaviya in New Delhi.
  • This was stated in a release from the office of the Chief Minister said.
  • The development of Puducherry port into a satellite port would help handle containers from Chennai and for their onward transit from hereeither by rail or road to other destinations, official sources said.

Commerce Minister launched a new scheme to address needs of exporters


  • Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman launched the Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES) on 15 March 2017.
  • Speaking on the occasion, Sitharaman said that the scheme aims to address the needs of the exporters and added that the focus is not just on creating infrastructure but to make sure it is professionally run and sustained.
  • An empowered committee will be set up to periodically review the progress of the approved projects in the scheme.
  • The committee will also take the required steps to ensure that the objectives of the scheme are achieved.
  • The committee chaired by Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia would also look over the proposals of the implementing agencies for funding.

CCEA approves setting up of 50 new Kendriya Vidyalayas


  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 15 March 2017 approved the proposal for setting up around 50 new Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) under Civil or Defence Sector in the country.
  • The total project cost for the proposed 50 new Kendriya Vidyalayas is Rs 1160 crore based on Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) norms.
  • New KVs will be opened from classes I to V for which 650 regular posts shall be created in all 50 Kendriya Vidyalayas.
  • When the school will grow up to class XII and becomes a full-fledged school with two sections in each class, then about 4000 regular posts of various categories will be created including 2900 teaching posts and about 1100 non-teaching posts.
  • When fully functional, these new KVs will provide quality education to approximately 50000 students in addition to the approximately 12 lakh students that are already studying in present KVs.

Union Cabinet approves MoU between LBSNAA and NIPAM for capacity building of public officials


  • The Union Cabinet on 15 March 2017 approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), Mussoorie and Namibia Institute of Public Administration and Management (NIPAM), Namibia.
  • The MoU will be signed in the field of capacity building of public officials of Namibia and other training activities for the benefit of both the institutes.
  • The MOU will help the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy to disseminate some of its experience in running a training institution for higher civil services in the country to NIPAM.
  • It will also help the two sides to engage in collaborative activities in the sphere of public administration and capacity building.

Lists & Indexes:

Mercer released 2017 Quality of Living Survey


  • Mercer on 14 March 2017 released the results of the 19th annual Quality of Living Survey. In the survey, while Vienna occupies the first place for overall quality of living for the 8th year running, Hyderabad was adjudged as the best Indian city in terms of living standards.
Highlights of 2017 Quality of Living Survey

  • The European cities that figured in the top 10 list are  Zurich (2), Munich (4), Dusseldorf (6), Frankfurt (7), Geneva (8), Copenhagen (9) and Basel, a newcomer to the list, in 10th place.
  • The only non-European cities in the top ten are Auckland (New Zealand) and Vancouver (Canada). They were placed at the 3rd and 5th position respectively.
  • The survey also includes a city infrastructure ranking that assesses each city’s supply of electricity, drinking water, telephone and mail services.
  • Singapore tops the city infrastructure ranking, followed by Frankfurt and Munich. Baghdad (230) and Port au Prince (231) rank last for city infrastructure.
  • In the infrastructure rankings, Mumbai was ranked the highest at 141, which was followed by Kolkata (149) and Pune (151).

UN launches Women in Politics Map 2017; India placed at 148th number


  • The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and UN Women on 15 March 2017 launched the Women in Politics Map 2017.
  • The rankings showed that the number of women Heads of State or Heads of Government fell from 19 to 17 since 2015, and progress in the number of women in parliament continues to be slow.
  • The report was launched on the sidelines of the 61st Commission on the Status of Women, known as the largest inter-governmental forum on women's rights and gender equality. For 2017, the theme is on women's economic empowerment in the changing world of work.
  • India ranked 88 in the number of women Ministers with five or 18.5 per cent in the cabinet. However, women hold important positions. For instance, Sumitra Mahajan is the Speaker and Sushma Swaraj is the Union External Affairs Minister.
  • Rwanda topped the list followed by Bolivia and Cuba 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Appointments:

Captain Amarinder Singh sworn in as Chief Minister of Punjab


  • Congress leader Captain Amarinder Singh was on 16 March 2017 sworn in as the 26th Chief Minister (CM) of Punjab. Alongside, Navjot Singh Sidhu was sworn in as a Cabinet Minister of Punjab.
  • Amarinder Singh was administered oath of office and secrecy by Punjab Governor VP Singh Badnore at an impressive ceremony at the Punjab Raj Bhawan.
  • Nine ministers including two women were also inducted in the state cabinet. The ministers inducted included Brahm Mohindra, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Manpreet Badal, Charanjit Singh Channi, Rana Gurjeet Singh, Sadhu Singh Dharamsot and Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa. The two women inducted are Aruna Chaudhary and Razia Sultana.

Atul Nanda appointed Punjab Advocate-General


  • Supreme Court lawyer and senior advocate Atul Nanda was on Thursday appointed as Punjab Advocate-General. He replaces senior advocate Ashok Aggarwal, who resigned as the state’s top law officer soon after the change of guard in Punjab almost six years after he was appointed by the previous SAD-BJP government.
  • A prominent lawyer, Nanda has even appeared for the Supreme Court in its cases and is familiar with Punjab and its politics. Among other things, he has dealt with alleged corruption cases against Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh. One of the first tasks before him would be appointment of law officers in terms of Supreme Court’s March, 2016, order.
  • The Apex Court order makes it clear that the State would have to fix eligibility criterion before constituting a search committee. After its nod, the names would be sent to the Punjab and Haryana High Court Chief Justice Shiavax Jal Vazifdar.

New Chairperson of National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Manhar Valji assumed office


  • Manhar Valji on 16 March 2017 became the chairperson of the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis. Along with Valji, two members - Manju Diler and Dalip Kallu Hathibed – assumed office.
  • The National Commission for Safai Karamcharis seeks to study, evaluate and monitor the implementation of various schemes meant for the welfare of  safai karamcharis.
  • The commission was constituted in August 1994 as per the provisions of the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Act, 1993.
  • The commission consists of a chairperson, a vice-chairperson and five members. Among them, at least one of the members  shall be a woman.

Sports:

Hero MotoCorp signs up as 'national supporter' of FIFA U-17 World Cup


  • Two-wheeler manufacturer Hero MotoCorp has signed up as a National Supporter for the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 which will be held across 6 host cities between 6 to 28 October this year.
  • The company has a long-standing association with various disciplines of sports through sponsorships across cricket, hockey and football. With the signing of the agreement, Hero MotoCorp has filled the second of six National Supporter slots for the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017, the first being Bank of Baroda.
  • Hero MotoCorp is also associated with Indian Super League, promoted by IMG-Reliance and Star India, and has been the title sponsor for Hockey India League as well. It has also advertised on the Indian Premier League and on international cricket matches played by Team India.

Non-financial news related to India and states:

Union Government approves National Health Policy 2017


  • Union Health Minister J P Nadda on 15 March 2017 launched the National Health Policy 2017 with an aim to provide healthcare in an assured manner to all, particularly to the undeserved and underprivileged.
  • The policy proposes raising public health expenditure to 2.5 per cent of the GDP in a time bound manner.
Highlights of the National Health Policy 2017

  • It envisages providing larger package of assured comprehensive primary health care through the ‘Health and Wellness Centers’.
  • It aims at ensuring availability of 2 beds per 1000 population in hospitals to enable access within golden hour, the first hour after a traumatic injury, when emergency treatment is most likely to be successful.
  • In order to provide access and financial protection, the policy proposes free drugs, free diagnostics and free emergency and essential healthcare services in all public hospitals.
  • It seeks to increase life expectancy at birth from 67.5 to 70 by 2025 and reduce infant mortality rate to 28 by 2019.
  • It also seeks to achieve and maintain elimination status of Leprosy by 2018, Kala-Azar by 2017 and Lymphatic Filariasis in endemic pockets by this year.

MIT Pune, IBM unveil robot 'Chintu' to assist senior citizens


  • The students of Maharashtra Institute of Technology (MIT) Pune and technology giant IBM have developed a robot, Chintu, which would assist senior citizens in their everyday tasks.
  • Chintu, under 2ft tall robot, was developed after MIT Pune received a grant of Rs 10 lakh last year from IBM.
  • It is powered by the US-based company's cognitive assistant, IBM Watson. Chintu can move his hands and read books to an audience.
  • While 'Chintu' is still a few years from becoming mainstream, the students will continue to work on him to add functionalities.

FTII and Canon sign MoU to promote short courses in Film & Television


  • The Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune and Canon India Private Limited on 15 March 2017 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to promote film education through short-term courses across several towns and cities in the country.
  • The courses are proposed to be held in non-metros such as Guwahati, Jaipur, Vishakhapatnam, Raipur, Chandigarh, Raipur, Bhopal, Leh and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
  • Basically, Canon partnered FTII for its Skilling India in Film and Television (SKIFT), an initiative designed to spread the art of cinematography and film making across the country. 
  • Under FTII's unique initiative SKIFT (Skilling India in Film and Television), several short courses, mostly of skill-oriented nature have been proposed to be held in collaboration with several State Governments, Universities and Educational institutions.
  • Initially SKIFT will conduct courses such as Digital Cinematography, Documentary Film Making, Screenplay Writing, Acting, Film Criticism & Journalism and Film Appreciation.

Twenty projects approved for implementation of Namami Gange Programme in Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand and Delhi


  • The Executive Committee (EC) of National Mission for Clean Ganga on 15 March 2017 approved 20 projects worth nearly Rs 1900 crore.
  • Out of 20 projects, 13 are in Uttarakhand that includes creating new sewage treatment plants, upgrading existing STPs and laying of sewage networks in Haridwar at an estimated cost of around Rs 415 crore.
  • The approved plan for Haridwar is aimed at treating sewage water generated by not only city’s 1.5 lakh local dwellers, but also by people who visit the place for various purposes.
  • All the projects will be completely funded by the Union Government, including the expenditure on operation and maintenance of these projects.
  • Out of 13 projects approved for Uttarakhand, four pertain to pollution abatement works for river Alakananda to ensure cleaner flow of the river downstream. This includes interception and diversion of drains along with creation of new small STPs at four crucial locations at an estimated cost of nearly Rs 78 crore. These locations are Joshimath, Rudraprayag, Karnprayag and Kirti Nagar.
  • A pollution abatement project for River Ganges at Rishikesh has also been approved at an estimated cost of more than Rs 158 crore.
  • The construction of a new 26 MLD STP at Lakkar Ghat with online monitoring system has also been envisaged in the Rishikesh-specific project.
  • In New Delhi, a project to construct new state-of-the-art 564 MLD Okhla sewage treatment plant with best effluent standards has also been approved at an estimated cost of Rs 665 crore. The new project will replace the existing STPs phase-I, II, III and IV.
  • In addition, two projects for laying new sewage pipelines in Pitampura and Kondli in Delhi have also been approved. These new pipelines will prevent leakages and they have an estimated cost of more than Rs 100 crore.
  • The Union Cabinet also approved sewage related works in Karmalichak in Patna and Rajmahal in Jharkhand for a cost of over Rs 335 crore.
  • For River Ganges in Varanasi, a project under Hybrid-Annuity PPP model worth almost Rs 151 crore has also been given EC approval.

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