Current Affairs 17th April 2017 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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UAE-based Indian businessman BR Shetty has decided to invest 1,000 crore in producing India's biggest-ever motion picture, 'The Mahabharata'. Being directed by VA Shrikumar Menon, the movie is scheduled to release in early 2020. The movie would be shot in English, Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada, Tamil and Telugu. It would also be dubbed in other Indian and foreign languages.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser has met with Pakistani officials on his first visit to the South Asian country since the United States dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb on neighboring Afghanistan.Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said it remains committed to working for peace and reconciliation in neighboring Afghanistan, and that Pakistani officials had discussed efforts to secure the border. Mr. McMaster met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and other senior officials.The U.S. dropped the Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, or MOAB, on an Islamic State tunnel complex carved in the mountains, killing 94 militants.

The Jammu and Kashmir police has directed telecom companies to shut their 3G and 4G services in the Kashmir Valley as the state authorities feel there has been an attempt to spread fear and show security personnel in a bad light through online videos.The decision was taken after several videos surfaced in recent days, some showing local politicians being threatened by terrorists in various parts of the Valley and others which showed alleged atrocities by Army, police, CRPF or other para-military forces deputed for Parliamentary bye-elections.Officials said that it appears that such videos were being circulated with an aim to create fear among people or show the security personnel in poor light.Controversy peaked when a video showing a man tied to an army jeep in Budgam district of central Kashmir on April 9 surfaced when polling was underway for the Srinagar Parliamentary bypoll.A case has been registered against unknown army personnel for the alleged act which received wide criticism.There were videos showing traders and political leaders in Pulwama of South Kashmir being threatened by terrorists at gun point.Such videos are only aimed at creating scare in general public,” a senior police official said.Internet services had been barred in the Valley keeping in view the sensitive Srinagar bypoll and were restored on April 13.

After incidents of flight delay and assault on Air India employees, the national carrier on Monday, said in an internal note that not only do these incidents reduce the morale of the AI employees but also gives negative publicity to Air India.In view of these issues, the national carrier has imposed the following rules: Air India will impose fine ranging from Rs. 5 to Rs 15. lakh on unruly passengers who cause delay to flight before or after landing. Air India will impose a financial damage of Rs 5 lakh on unruly passengers causing delay of up to one hour, Rs 10 lakh for one-two hour delay and Rs 15 lakh for delay beyond two hours.No direct interaction with the media by any AI employeeFIR/police complaint to be filed immediately under relevant section of the IPCWhen such an incident occurs, the first person to be informed will be airport manager/ SM/ RD/CD and CMD office.Training will be imparted to Airport/ security staff on handling on unruly passengersIn the note, Air India has mentioned three incidents of delay of flight: late arrival of Dola Sen, MP TMC in April 7, 2017; Ravindra Gaikwad, Shiv Sena MP assaulting an AI employee and thereby causing a delay; and Mithun Reddy, YSRC MP assaulting a AI officer at Tirupati and thereby causing a delay in 2015.

The supreme Court Compelled to take strict action following the Sahara group’s non-submission of over Rs 5,000 crore, the Supreme Court on Monday directed the sale of the group’s luxurious Aamby Valley at Lonavala and appointed Bombay High Court’s official liquidator for selling the property. The apex court also asked the group’s chief Subrata Roy to personally appear before it on April 28.Taking strong objection of the group’s non-compliance of the court’s order, a bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra, Ranjan Gogoi and A K Sikri said, “Enough is enough. You cannot say something today and resile tomorrow.”The Aamby Valley properties are estimated to be worth Rs 34,000 crore. Earlier this month, the top court had warned the Sahara Group that it would be forced to auction its property in Maharashtra if it fails to deposit Rs 5092.6 crore in SEBI-Sahara refund account by April 17.The court also warned Roy that he will be at his own peril if continues to not comply with its order. The bench further asked Roy and his groups as well as SEBI to provide all necessary details relating to the properties to the official liquidator within 48 hours.

China’s first cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-1 is to be launched into space between April 20 and 24 to dock with the orbiting experimental space station.The cargo spacecraft was transferred with a Long March-7 Y2 carrier rocket from the testing centre to the launch zone in Wenchang, southern China’s Hainan Province, a statement from the office of China’s manned space programme said today.“The completion of the transfer signals the Tianzhou-1 mission has entered its launching stage,” state-run Xinhua quoted the statement as saying.China currently is in the process of building permanent station by 2022 to rival Russia’s International Space Station (ISS).Technicians have performed several tests during the assembling of the spacecraft and rocket since February, it said.In the following days, technicians will continue testing the spacecraft and rocket and inject fuel before the launch,Tianzhou-1 is the first cargo ship independently developed by the country.It is expected to dock with the orbiting Tiangong-2 space lab and conduct in-orbit refuelling, the report said. The cargo spacecraft will also carry out space experiments, including one on non-Newtonian gravitation, before falling back to earth.

Government-owned Union Bank of India, which lost $171 million (1,100 crore at today's rates) because of a hack last year, worked with the RBI and government to track and retrieve the amount within six days. The heist had taken place through a phishing email that appeared to be from the RBI, causing the transfer of funds to four different countries.It was just another Friday for the hundreds of office goers who were jostling with each other to get to their own work places in and around the corporate office of the Union Bank of India at Nariman Point in Mumbai. Even those queuing up in the early hours at the cash counters across the 4,233 branches and 7,946 ATMs of the bank spread across India, were calmly going about their tasks— depositing money or withdrawing cash.However, those early hours of 21 July 2016, were going to be anything but ordinary for the chairman and managing director of Union Bank, Arun Tiwari, who also sits in the corporate office—the Union Bank Bhavan. Happily going about his routine tasks of reading newspapers, sipping a cup of tea and updating himself of the goings-on in the bank, Tiwari was just settling in when his phone rang.He still remembers the time. “It was around 10.30am when I was informed that an unidentified hacker was attempting to swindle us of $171 million (about Rs1,100 crore at today’s rates) from our Nostro account.” A Nostro account is an account that a bank holds in a foreign currency in another bank.All hell should have broken loose. But Tiwari, who insists that he is a “non-technical” person kept his cool. “The thing uppermost in my mind was that I had to quickly get onto the money trail and recover the money.”That was easier said than done. By the time the Union Bank official in the treasury department, who was reconciling the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) payments for the day realized that an amount of $171 million had already been debited from the dollar account of the bank without his authorization, the money had travelled far and wide.The money had found its way to accounts in two banks in Cambodia—the Canadia Bank Plc and RHB IndoChina Bank Ltd, besides the Siam Commercial Bank in Thailand, Bank Sinopac in Taiwan, and a bank in Australia. These funds were routed by Citibank New York and JP Morgan Chase New York, which hold UBI’s foreign exchange accounts.Even as Tiwari informed the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the ministry of external affairs and Gulshan Rai, director general of the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), to apprise them of the matter and take advice, he simultaneously sent a terse message instructing all the staff at Union Bank Bhavan that “a whole floor on that building was to be cordoned off, and that all staff members working to solve this problem would only leave after the matter was resolved”.

Inflation based on the wholesale price index (WPI) slipped to 5.70% in March as manufactured goods showed cost decline even as food prices hardened.The WPI inflation, reflecting the annual rate of price rise, in February was 6.55%. In March 2016, the print came in at (-)0.45%.According to official data released on April 17, food prices saw a sharp rise of 3.12% in March compared to 2.69% in the previous month.This is primarily because of a steep price jump in vegetables where inflation stood at 5.70%. As for fruits, the figure was also high at 7.62%, while for egg, meat and fish, it was 3.12%.Fuel inflation declined to 18.16%, from 21.02% in February.The manufactured items witnessed some softening in price rise, with inflation at 2.99% in March, as against 3.66% in the previous month.The government also revised upwards January inflation to 5.53% from the provisional estimate of 5.25%.Earlier this month, the Reserve Bank of India had left key policy rate unchanged at 6.25% for the third review in a row citing upside risks to inflation. It had, however, increased the reverse repo rate — which it pays to banks for parking funds with it — by 0.25% to 6%, narrowing the policy rate corridor.For 2017-18, it projected retail inflation to average 4.5% in the first half and 5% in the second half.Data released last week showed that retail inflation touched a five-month high of 3.81% in March on costlier food items and non-food products.The RBI frames its monetary policy stance on the basis of retail inflation. Inflation - Whole Sale Price Index March - Dropped to 5.70%

The Supreme Court took strong note on Monday of huge vacancy in police force in six states, including Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, and asked their Home Secretaries to either personally appear or depute an officer to assist it. A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar referred to the vacancy in the states — Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, and summonsed the home secretaries or officers not below the rank of the joint secretary authorised by them for assisting it on Friday.The bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul, said that the data, mostly pertaining to 2013, indicates that there are huge vacancies in police force in various states and said, “We endeavour to monitor the filling up of vacancies.”It said that there are more than 40,000 and 1.5 lakh vacancies in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, respectively. The six states have been asked to provide the roadmap as to how they endeavour to fill up the vacancies with the apex court fixing the plea filed by Manish Kumar for monitoring by it on April 21.

China’s economy beat the government target and grew by 6.9 per cent in the first quarter this year mainly due to a surge in infrastructure investment and exports, showing signs of a steady development in the world’s second largest economy.The growth was well above the full-year target of 6.5 per cent, and the 6.8 per cent increase registered in the fourth quarter of 2016, China’s National Bureau of Statistics said.The GDP reached 18.07 trillion yuan ($2.63 trillion) in the first quarter.The NBS statement said, “the national economy maintained the momentum of steady and sound development from the second half of last year, getting off to a good start in 2017 and laying a solid foundation for accomplishing the whole-year growth target”.The official data also suggested a pick-up in domestic consumption as February retail sales jumped 10.9 per cent from the previous year.China is trying to boost domestic consumption to shift focus of its export reliant economy, which is also driven by massive state investments in improving the infrastructure.Also, China’s exports, which were on a declining trend in recent years, showed increase in Q1 in Yuan terms.China’s exports in yuan-denominated terms rose 14.8 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter, while imports increased 31.1 per cent, customs data released on April 13 said.Foreign trade volume reached 6.2 trillion yuan (about $902 billion) in the first quarter, up 21.8 per cent year on year.As per the data released today by the NBS, China’s fixed-asset investment (FAI) grew 9.2 per cent year-on-year in the first three months of 2017, quickening from the 8.9 per cent growth registered in the first two months.The FAI includes capital spent on infrastructure, property, machinery and other physical assets.Private sector FAI, which accounts for more than 60 percent of the total FAI, grew 7.7 per cent in the first quarter, accelerating from the 6. 7 per cent registered in the first two months, according to the NBS.FAI by state-owned enterprises climbed 13.6 per cent year on year during the period, and infrastructure investment expanded 23.5 per cent in the first quarter.China’s value-added industrial output, an important economic indicator, expanded 6.8 per cent year on year in the first quarter, compared with the 6.3 per cent increase for January to February, the NBS data said.In March, industrial production expanded 7.6 per cent year on year, NBS data showed.The 6.8 per cent growth rose from the 5.8 per cent increase in the same period of 2016. It was also higher than the 6 per cent annual gain seen in 2016, NBS said.Spending on infrastructure, spiralling property market and increase in public debt specially the bad loans remained a key concern for Chinese leadership as it grappled to halt the slowdown of the economy which last year slid to 6.9 per cent.The government has lowered this year’s growth target to 6.5 per cent.On the debt front, China’s total and private debt is reported to be worth more than 250 per cent of GDP.In February this year, state-run Xinhua news agency has quoted China Banking Association as saying that the country’s bad loans totalled to a whopping $220 billion last year.Bad loans by commercial banks totalled 1.5 trillion yuan ($220 billion) at the end of 2016. GDP  18.07 trillion yuan ($2.63 trillion) in the first quarter

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Sunday inaugurated the new Vistadome coach which has glass roof, LED lights, GPS-based info system and rotating seats among other features.While flagging off the train with Vistadome coaches between Visakhapatnam and Araku through video conferencing from Rail Sadan in Bhubaneswar, he said that the Vistadome coaches’ features will enable tourists to enjoy scenic beauty along the journey.Prabhu also laid the foundation stone for mechanised laundry at Visakhapatnam, which he said will significantly improve the quality of linen provided on the trains and would lead to enhanced passenger satisfaction.Inaugurating the Life Line Express-Sindhudurg of Konkan Railway, he said it will be a great help to poor patients.A function was also arranged at Visakhapatnam in which a number of public representatives including MP Kothapalli Geetha and several MLAs were present. Vistadome coach The specially-designed Vistadome air-conditioned coach, claimed to be a first-of-its-kind on Indian Railways, has large glass windows and an observation lounge that offer passengers a panoramic view of the sites along the 128-km rail route from Visakhapatnam to Araku valley hill station. A unique feature of this Rs 3.38 crore 40-seat coach is the double-wide reclining passenger seats that could be rotated 360 degrees for a better sightseeing experience. The coach also has a glass-domed ceiling, automatic sliding doors and a multi-tier luggage rack, a railway release  

The rupee was trading lower by 3 paise at 64.44 against the U.S. dollar in early trade on Monday on foreign fund outflows amid increased demand for the American currency from importers and a lower opening of the domestic equity market.However, a weak dollar against major global currencies capped the losses, Forex dealers said.The domestic unit closed higher by26 paise at 64.41 in the previous session on Thursday on account of fresh selling of the American currency by exporters, besides a weakness in the greenback overseas.Forex market remained shut on Friday on account of ’Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Jayanti’ and ‘Good Friday.’Meanwhile, the benchmark BSE Sensex shed 24.78 points, or 0.08%, to 29,436.67 in early deals.

Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), the second major constituent of the Congress-led Opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) appears set to overhaul the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) in all the seven Assembly segments in the Malappuram Lok Sabha constituency from where byelection results began pouring in from 8 a.m. on Monday.IUML general secretary and former Minister P.K. Kunhalikkutty had gained substantive leads in five out of the seven Assembly segments and was ahead of LDF's M.B. Faisal of the CPI(M) in the Kondotty and Vallikunnu Assembly segments which the LDF had won in the 2016 Assembly elections. The byelection was necessitated by the death of former Union Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed in New Delhi on February 1. He had won the seat by a margin of 1.94 lakh votes.The outcome of the byelection was foregone as Malappuram is an IUML bastion. However, the setbacks in the two LDF-controlled Assembly segments would cause some serious embarrassment for the ruling alliance.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday inaugurated Kiran Multi Super Speciality Hospital and Research Centre, built by a private trust, according to reports. “Tomorrow in Surat, will inaugurate a multi-speciality hospital at Katargam and a diamond manufacturing unit at Ichhapore,” PM Modi had tweeted.  The Prime Minister is in Gujarat on a two-day visit that began yesterday. Apart from inaugurating the hospital, PM Modi will attend a raft of events and inaugurate a slew of schemes and projects on Monday.PM Modi will “lay the foundation of various irrigation schemes & inaugurate a drinking water scheme that will benefit people living in Tapi district.” In Botad, PM Modi will dedicate to the “nation Phase 1  of SAUNI Yojana & lay foundation stone of Phase 2 (Link 2) of SAUNI Yojana.” “Tomorrow in Botad, will also witness the historic welcoming of the waters of the Narmada into the Krishna Sagar Lake,” PM Modi had written on the microblogging site. PM Modi will also visit Silvassa town in the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, where he will address a gathering apart from inaugurating a few projects. “In Dadra and Nagar Haveli, will inaugurate government projects & distribute sanction letters to beneficiaries of various Govt. initiatives,” PM Modi tweeted. In Bajipura, PM Modi will inaugurate SUMUL cattle field plant and lay foundation stone for other projects at SUMUL Dairy.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan narrowly won a historic referendum on Sunday that will tighten his grip on power, but the knife-edge result left the country bitterly divided and the opposition crying foul.The sweeping constitutional changes approved in the vote create a presidential system that will grant Mr. Erdogan more power than any leader since modern Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and his successor Ismet Inonu.The result could also have even wider implications for Turkey which joined NATO in 1952 and for the last half-century has set its sights on joining the European Union.The 'Yes' campaign won 51.4 percent of the vote against 48.6 percent for 'No', the election commission said in figures quoted by state news agency Anadolu, in a count based on 99.5 percent of the ballot boxes. Turnout was a high 85 percent.Supreme Election Board chief Sadi Guven confirmed that the 'Yes' camp had emerged victorious, but the opposition has vowed to challenge the outcomeThe referendum was held under a state of emergency that has seen 47,000 people arrested in an unprecedented crackdown after a failed military putsch against Mr. Erdogan in July last year.In a nail-biting end to a frenetic campaign, the 'No' share of the vote climbed as more ballots were counted, after lagging well behind in the early count, but failed to overtake the 'Yes' votes.

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