Current Affairs 23rd January 2017 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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Dairy firm Kwality Ltd has signed an agreement with Bank of Baroda  for providing Rs 4,000 crore loans to the former's one lakh farmers from whom the company procures milk.  The company has a network of about 3.25 lakh across about 4,500 villages in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan which are amongst the largest milk producing states of India.  Kwality Ltd would cover the remaining farmers in subsequent phases over a period of time.  The scheme is aimed at providing financial assistance to improve socio-economic lives of farmers and steer them towards digitisation.  The Bank of Baroda would get a readily available customer base for the priority sector lending, he said, adding that bank would also get operational support from the company in identification of farmers and payment management system.  Kwality plans to roll out 10-12 variants of high margin value-added products such as flavoured milk, paneer, cheese, UHT, cream in tetra packs, table-butter, yoghurts, amongst others over next 12-18 months. It has six milk processing plants in north India. 

Israel has approved building permits for 566 settler homes in annexed east Jerusalem. Israel conquered the region from Palestine in 1967 and was effectively annexed by Israel in 1980. As per the plan, the new permits are for homes in the settlement neighbourhoods of Ramot, Pisgat Zeev and Ramat Shlomo.  Meir Turjeman, the deputy mayor for the city, sad, the plans was postponed until the US President Donald Trump took office. Turjeman also heads the planning committee that approved them. Turjeman said the rules of the game have changed with Donald Trump's arrival as president because Trump has pledged strong support for Israel. During his election campaign, Trump vowed to recognise Jerusalem as the country's capital despite the city's contested status. As per reports, Turjenam informed that the plan was approved by the city officials but it was postponed at the request of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. PM Netanyahu requested to postpone the plan in the wake of a UN Security Council resolution in December against Israeli settlement building. Besides, plans for some 11000 other homes were also in process in east Jerusalem. Though, the time when the plan will be moved forward was not informed. The approval of the plan has drawn condemnation from Palestinian leaders.  

The Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) has announced that it won the prestigious Golden Peacock Award for Corporate Social Responsibility in the aviation transport sector for the year 2016. The award was presented on 20 January 2017 at a ceremony during the 11th International Conference on Corporate Social Responsibility. More than 325 responses were received for the annual awards in 2017. Out of them, 191 applications were shortlisted. They were then subjected to a three-tier assessment process for final selection. Earlier in January 2017, DIAL also won the 6th EPC World Awards for its contribution in the infrastructure and construction sector. Golden Peacock Awards : The Institute of Directors, India founded the Golden Peacock Awards in 1991.The awards are globally regarded as a benchmark of corporate excellence. The award winners are eligible to use the Golden Peacock Awards Logo with year on all printed and promotional materials. Delhi International Airport Limited : Delhi International Airport Limited was formed as a consortium between GMR Group, Airports Authority of India, Fraport AG and Eraman Malaysia. GMR is the lead member of the consortium. Fraport AG is the airport operator while Eraman Malaysia is the retail advisor.  

Renowned Urdu poet Jaswant Rai Sharma, known to the world by his pen name Naqsh Lyallpuri, passed away on 22 January 2017 following a prolonged illness. He was 89. Naqsh Lyallpuri :  Born in Llallpur in Pakistan as Jaswant Rai, Lyallpuri came to Mumbai in the late 1940s to make a career in Hindi cinema. He got his first break in 1952 in the film Jaggu with the song Agar Teri Aakhon Se Aakhein Mila Doon, while he got the real success in the 1970s.  Over the years, he collaborated with some top film directors, music directors and singers and penned various soft melodies, romantic numbers and emotional songs. He wrote the lyrics in films like Chetna, Aahista Aahista, Tumhare Liye and Gharonda among others. Some of his famous songs include- Main to har modh par, Na Jane kya hua, jo tune chhu liya, Do deewane shaher mein and Ulfat me zamane ki har rasm ko thukroa. Lyallpuri retired from Bollywood in the late 1990s and began penning songs for television.  However, he made a brief comeback in 2005-06 penning songs for the films Taj Mahal with Naushad and Yatra with Khayyam.

Former Miss Universe Sushmita Sen will be on the judges panel of the upcoming 65th edition of Miss Universe pageant. The news was announced in the third week of January 2017. The contest will take place on 30 January 2017 in Philippines. Roshmitha Harimurthy will represent India at the 65th Miss Universe pageant. Sushmita Sen : Born on 19 November 1975, Sushmita Sen is the first Indian to win the Miss Universe crown. She had won the pageant of 1994 held in Manila, Philippines.She had won the Femina Miss India in 1994. After completing her reign, she started her career with the Hindi film, Dastak. However, she rose to stardom with the Tamil musical Ratchagan opposite Nagarjuna. She earned the Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award for the movie Biwi No. 1.She received critical acclaim for her female-oriented roles in films such as Filhaal..., Zindaggi Rocks and others. Miss Universe 2016 : Miss Universe 2016 will be held at the Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay, Metro Manila, Philippines. On 3 November 2016, the Miss Universe Organization (MOU) officially announced the Philippines as the host of the pageant.The Philippines’ Pia Wurtzbach of will crown her successor at the end of the event.  It will be the second time in the history of the competition that the pageant will skip the entire year, following the 2014 pageant, which was held in January 2015.  

Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express derailed on 21 January 2017 at Kuneru Railway Station in Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh at Rayagada-Vizianagaram section. The accident site falls under Waltair Division of East Coast Railways at the border of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh near Rayagada town in Odisha. The derailed part of this Train No 18448 included the engine and 9 coaches. At least 36 people died and over 60 were injured. Injured were admitted to hospitals and ambulances were arranged for them.  Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu announced an enhanced ex-gratia payment of Rs 2 lakhs for the relative of dead persons, Rs 50000 for grievous injuries and Rs 25000 for simple injuries.  Meanwhile, a statutory inquiry into the incident was undertaken by Ram Kripal, Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS), South Central Circle under the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation.  Other stranded passengers of the affected trains were later transferred towards their respective destinations through the unaffected portion of the train from Kuneru to Bhubaneswar and through 13 buses for short distance destinations like Brahmapur, Bhawanipatna, etc.  Due to the incident, East Coast Railway cancelled eight trains including Visakhapatnam-Raipur Passenger, Rayagada-Visakhapatnam Passenger, Sambalpur-Nanded Express, Visakhapatnam-Koraput Passenger, Visakhapatnam-Koraput Passenger, Hirakhand Express and Visakhapatnam-Korba Express.  

India on 23 January 2017 celebrated the 120th birth anniversary of Subhash Chandra Bose, the Indian nationalist whose defiant patriotism made him a hero in India. Observing the 120th birth anniversary of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a series of tweets hailed the revolutionary freedom fighter. On this occasion, the Prime Minister also made files related to him public on the internet, which can be accessed on netajipapers.gov.in. The first set of 100 files related to Bose was put in the public domain on 23 January 2016, the 119th birth anniversary of Netaji. PM Modi tweeted “I salute Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on his birth anniversary. His valour played a major role in freeing India from colonialism.” In another tweet, he twitted, “Netaji Bose was a great intellectual who always thought about the interests & well being of the marginalised sections of society.” Subhas Chandra Bose : Born on 23 January 1897, Bose tried to rid India of British rule with the help of Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany but he failed in his attempt to do so. In 1938 and 1939, Netaji served the Indian National Congress as its President. But later, he was ousted from the party due to his differences with Mahatma Gandhi. After expulsion from Congress, he was placed under house arrest by the British. Later in 1940, he escaped from India. In 1941, he went to Germany where he established Free India Centre and Free India Centre in Berlin. The two were established with German funds. During his stay in Germany, he formed a Free India Legion to aid in a possible future German land invasion of India. The group was formed with the participation of some 3000 people comprising of Indians who were captured Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps. Later in 1943, he moved to Japan and revamped the Indian National Army (INA) with Japanese support. INA was a group of Indian soldiers from the British-Indian army who were captured in the Battle of Singapore. As per reports, Bose died when his plane crashed in Taiwan. However, several Indians don’t believe that he died in the crash or the crash had occurred. Famous slogans/quotes formed by the charismatic Subhash Chandra Bose include a) Jai Hind b) Give me blood and I shall give you freedom! (Tum Mujhe Khoon Do, Mai Tumhe Azaadi Dunga) c) Ittefaq, Etemad, Qurbani (Urdu for "Unity, Agreement, Sacrifice") d) Dilli Chalo ("On to Delhi)! Film on Bose includes Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: The Forgotten Hero (2004) directed by Shyam Benegal. The film was a biography of Bose and depicted his leadership in Nazi Germany (1941-43) and Japanese-occupied Asia (1943–1945).

Indian badminton ace Saina Nehwal clinched the 2017 Malaysia Masters Grand Prix Gold women’s single title in the summit clash in Sibu, Malaysia on January 22, 2017. The top-seeded London Olympics bronze-medallist, defeated 18-year-old Thai Pornpawee Chochuwong, 22-20 22-20. This was her first award of 2017 and 23rd title overall.

Punjab National Bank (PNB) has launched a Contactless Credit Card. This new credit card, which has been named PNB Wave N Pay Contactless Card, was launched by Usha Ananthasubramanian, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer. This card could be used by just waving it across the terminal and the transaction will be through. There is no need to enter any PIN for transactions up to Rs. 2,000. The cardholder has full charge back rights on the misuse, a PNB statement said. This contactless credit card has been launched on Visa Platinum platform.

In a setback to Indian travellers, Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, has withdrawn the visa-free facility for Indians who will have to complete a pre-arrival registration from 23 Jan 2017.  The Pre-arrival Registration for Indian Nationals will be implemented on January 23. The online service for Pre-arrival Registration for Indian Nationals is now open. Indian nationals must apply for and successfully complete pre-arrival registration online before they can visit or transit the HKSAR visa-free (if seeking to enter the HKSAR during transit). Pre-arrival registration is not required for Indian nationals in direct transit by air and not leaving the airport transit area . A notice on the Indian Consulate in Hong Kong said Indian passport holders without the Pre-Arrival Registration Slip, except those belonging to any of the exempted categories, would not be allowed to board a conveyance bound for Hong Kong.  Till now Hong Kong has permitted Indians to enter with valid passport for a period up to 14 days without a visa. But the facility has been withdrawn despite representations from India ostensibly on the ground that the number of Indian asylum seekers was on the rise . There is also concern whether the move is being brought about by Hong Kong due to pressure from China. 

The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2017 was held in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland from January 17-20, 2017. The theme of 47th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2017 is Responsive and Responsible Leadership. The inaugural had musical concert by violinist Anne- Sophie Mutter. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched at World Economic Forum (WEF) Davos with $460-million funding to develop vaccines against 3 emerging highly-contagious and fatal diseases namely Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)-coronavirus, Lassa fever, and Nipah virus. The annual WEF meeting concluded with a musical performance by Afghan’s first women Orchestra ‘Zohra’ on January 20, 2017 in Davos.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has arrived in Dehradun to inaugurate the Combined Commanders Conference. The Prime Minister reached the Indian Military Academy (IMA) campus from the Jolly Grant airport in a special Indian Air Force (IAF) chopper. The military conference is being attended by the defence minister Manohar Parrikar, the chiefs of Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Indian Navy , besides the national security advisor and other experts in the field of security and defence.  

Assam State Governor Banwarilal Purohit inaugurated the Arogya Mitra conference on January 21, 2017 at Silchar.  The three day conference has been organised by the south Assam zone of the NGO, Keshab Smarak Sanskriti Surabhi at the campus of Veterinary College, Ghungoor. Aim  : Make available minimum free medical services to the people of isolated and backward places. Make people conscious of their health. Provide special training to the workers, extend social services. Arrange health check up camps. Aarogya Mitra Seva Kendra have been set up in 701 places to achieve the objective. The conference would see participation by over 1000 people from Barak Valley and adjoining areas.

India  won the three-match One-Day International series against England 2-1. In the final match played at Eden Gardens, Kolkata, England defeated India by a narrow margin of 5 runs. Batting first, the visitors made 321 for 8 in their 50 overs. Jason Roy was the top scorer with 65. On the other hand, chasing the target of 322, Indian batsmen wilted under pressure. The win at Eden prevented the hosts from making a clean sweep of the series. Earlier, India won the first two matches played in Pune and Cuttack. 1st Match: The first match was played on 15 January 2017 at Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune. India won the match by 3 wickets. Kedar Jadhav of India was adjudged as the player of the match for displaying 120 runs in 76balls. 2nd Match: The second match was played on 19 January 2017 at Barabati Stadium, Cuttack, Odisha. England won the match by 5 runs. Yuvraj Singh of India was declared player of the match for scoring 150 runs in 127 balls. 3rd Match: The third match was played on 22 January 2017 at Eden Gardens, Kolkata. India won the match by 15 runs. England's Ben Stokes was declared player of the match for his fine all-round display. Player of the series – Kedar Jadhav (India) The three-match series went into the record books with a total of 2090 runs that eclipsed 1892 runs scored in the Afro-Asia Cup in 2007. Now the two sides head for the three-match T20 International series beginning on 26 January 2017 in Kanpur. Fixtures of the three T20I: 1st T20I: India vs England will be played at Kanpur on 26 January 2017 2nd T20I: India vs England will be played at Nagpur on 29 January 2017 3rd T20I: India vs England will be played at Bangalore on 1 February 2017

Russian Railways is helping India's national transporter increase the speed of its passenger trains up to 200 km per hour.  Russian Railways is at present collaborating with Indian Railways on a 575-km stretch between Nagpur and Secunderabad and submitted a preliminary report last week. To reach the desired speed limit, Russian Railways has proposed several technical and technological solutions, including reconstruction of railway alignment as well as treating the earth bed where there are speed restrictions.

Technology giant Apple has emerged as the most innovative company for 2016, according to Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG's) annual list which ranks world’s 50 most innovative firms for the 11th straight year.  Google was ranked second, followed by electric carmaker Tesla on the list. Further, ride-hailing service Uber and home rental platform Airbnb were among the firms included in the list for the first time.  

Bihar claimed to have forged a world record as tens of thousands of people came together in support of prohibition, forming a chain which the ruling JD(U) said stretched for more than 11,000 kms across 38 districts. The three Isro satellites, four trainer aircraft, choppers and 40 drones filmed the entire event played out over 3,000 km of National Highways and 8,285 km of state highways and roads. Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who kept a poll promise by announcing total prohibition on April 5 last, led the landmark event which was also attended by RJD chief Lalu Prasad and state Congress chief Ashok Choudhury. The human chain made of some 2.5 crore (25 million) of its 11 crore (110 million) population holding hands has broken a Guinness world record, set up in 2004 in Bangladesh, which extended across 10,000 km.  

The Annual Status Education Report (ASER) 2016 found that Himachal Pradesh is doing well in many regards, on the education front, as compared to the rest of the states.  It has the country’s highest reading and mathematics learning levels, shooting past even Kerala, which has an almost spotless track record of maintaining its position as the most literate state.  

The Union Cabinet in January 2017 gave its  ex-post facto approval to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Vietnam in the field of cyber security. The approval was given at a meeting of the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. The MoU was signed between Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) and the Cyber Security Department of Vietnam on 3 September 2016 at Hanoi in Vietnam. The MoU seeks to promote closer cooperation for exchange of knowledge and experience in detection, resolution and prevention of cyber security-related incidents between India and Vietnam. Implementation of the MoU will result in significant mutual benefits in the cyber security sector through institutional and capacity-building in Vietnam. India-Vietnam relations : India-Vietnam relations have been exceptionally friendly and cordial since their foundations were laid by Prime Minister Nehru and President Ho Chi Minh more than 50 years ago. The traditionally close and cordial relations have their historical roots in the common struggle for liberation from foreign rule and the national struggle for independence. Former Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was one of the first visitors to Vietnam after its victory against the French in 1954. In the past few years, political contacts have strengthened between both the countries. This trend is reflected in several high-level visits by leaders from both sides. Trade and economic linkages have seen an upsurge in recent years. India's initiatives under the Act East Policy is in sync with Vietnam's growing engagement within the region and with India has paid rich dividends to both the countries. Vietnam is an important regional partner in the South East Asia for India. India and Vietnam closely cooperate in various multilateral forums such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), East Asia Summit, Mekong Ganga Cooperation and Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM).Vietnam is also an important pillar amongst India’s Cambodia, Laos PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) partners.  

The Union Cabinet in January 2017 gave its ex-post facto approval to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between India and Serbia. The MoU seeks to promote bilateral cooperation in the field of information technology and electronics. The MoU also facilitates exchanges between the private entities, capacity building institutions, the governments and other public and private organizations of the two countries that are involved in information technology and electronics sectors. India-Serbia relations : India's relations with Serbia have traditionally been close and friendly since the days of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Marshall Tito were co-founders of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which played a pro-active role to diffuse tensions in the cold war period. Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur visited Belgrade in September 2011 to attend the 50th anniversary of the first NAM Summit.Following the dissolution of the SFRY in the early 1990’s and the emergence of the Republic of Serbia, those early bonds of friendship and cooperation still provide the foundation for the relations between the two countries. The unanimous UNGA resolution admitting the FRY into the UN on 1 November 2000 was co-sponsored by 70 member-countries including India. India and Serbia have since developed a good track record of cooperation in multilateral fora in terms of mutual support and reciprocal arrangements for elections in multilateral bodies. The present bilateral relations are warm and friendly. They are marked by mutual understanding and support on issues of core interest. Several agreements have been signed between the two countries. They provide a ready framework to give momentum to bilateral relations. Institutional mechanisms such as Foreign Office Consultations and Joint Economic Committee facilitate regular exchange of views and identifying ways to further enhance cooperation. There is practically no Indian community in Serbia. There are few persons of Indian origin (PIO).They are mostly engaged in small trading, travel industry or pursuing artistic goals and most of them still maintain their bond with India.  

Multiplex chain operator PVR Pictures in January 2017 launched its theatre-on-demand service Vkaao. Vkaao is an online platform that enables consumers to watch any movie of their choice at a theatre of their choice. However, the minimum requirement for a show to be confirmed would be 50 seats. Vkaao is very disruptive and gives control to customers to choose what they want to watch, when and where. Initially, the service will begin with 500 film titles across different languages and genres. The company is also planning to increase Vkaao offerings to 1,000 titles in 3 months. By the end of 2017, it will offer around 2,500 film titles. PVR Pictures : PVR Cinemas, a group company of PVR Pictures, operates 562 screens in 122 properties in 48 cities across India. The company is planning to add 30 more screens by the end of 2016-17 financial year and another 70-80 screens during the 2017-18 financial year. Half of these new screens will come in the those cities where the PVR has the presence already and the other half of the screens will be in new cities. In January 2017, Warburg Pincus bought 14 per cent equity in PVR for about Rs 820 crore.

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