Current Affairs 18th June 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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Former BJP MP Chetan Chauhan, who had played Test cricket for India, has been appointed as the Chairman of the prestigious National Institute of Fashion Technology, prompting sharp reaction from the Aam Aadmi Party. Chauhan's appointment is similar to the appointments to institutions like the FTII and CBFC. This is absurd. He (Chauhan) does not know 'F' about fashion and he is the same person who defended Jaitley. Set up in 1986, the premier fashion institute, which has centres across the country, comes under the Union Ministry of Textiles.  As per the NIFT Act 2006, the Chairperson of the institute's Board of Governors shall be an eminent academician, scientist or technologist or professional, who is to be nominated by the Visitor, in this case the President of India. Chetan Pratap  : Chetan Pratap Singh Chauhan is a former cricketer who played 40 Test matches for India. He moved to Pune, Maharashtra where his father, an Indian Army officer was posted. He played most of his international cricket in the late 1970s and was the regular opening partner of Sunil Gavaskar during that period.He was twice a member of parliament, elected to the Lok Sabha from Amroha in Uttar Pradesh.  

The first batch of three female pilots  Avani Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh were inducted in Indian Air Force fighter squadron on 18 June 2016. On successful completion of their training, the trio were formally commissioned by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. Being the first to break barriers, they were the cynosure of all eyes at the parade in their immaculate turnout. On completion of their Stage III training at Bidar in adjoining Karnataka next year, they will get to fly fighter jets like the Sukhoi and Tejas. Ms. Avani from Satna in Madhya Pradesh was inspired by her brother who is in the Army and said she always wanted to conquer the skies and hence joined the Flying Club in her college. Ms. Mohana Singh from Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan boasts of a grandfather who was a Flight Gunner in the Aviation Research Centre and father who is a Warrant Officer in the IAF and is all excited to continue the family legacy of working in the armed forces. Ms. Bhawana Kanth, who hails from Darbhanga in Bihar and daughter of an officer in the Indian Oil Corporation, dreamt of flying planes from her childhood days and opted for the fighter stream after her Stage I training. The achievement of the three is a significant milestone for the Indian military, as this is the first time it has permitted women into combat roles. Last October, the government decided to open the fighter stream for women on an experimental basis for five years. But combat roles in the Army and the Navy are still off limits due to a combination of operational concerns and logistical constraints.Joining the Indian Air Force for flying was a dream instilled by parents and grandparents,” says Ms. Mohana Singh, whose father is with the IAF and grandfather is still serving as a flight gunner in the Aviation Research Centre. The three will begin advanced training on advanced jet trainer Hawks. It will take another 145 hours on the Hawks for almost a year before they would actually get into the cockpit of a supersonic fighter.  

Microsoft was selected as the technical partner to build a mobile Application (app) for Union Human Resources Ministry's SWAYAM (Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds) platform on 17 June 2016 . The platform will launch 2000 Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC)for over three crore students in 2016. Microsoft signed a deal of 38 crore rupees with All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) to build and run the app for three years. Later, it will be taken over by AICTE. Microsoft will deploy a team of dedicated people to set up the state-of-the-art application. SWAYAM platform : University Grants Commission (UGC) Regulation, 2016 was finalized in a credit framework for online learning courses through SWAYAM.According to the regulation, the partner institutions which are identified by the National MOOCs coordinator will make the online courses available on SWAYAM platform. Twice in each year, Registrars of all the institutions will be given the list of online courses being offered in each semester.Physical facilities like laboratories, computer facilities, library etc, shall be made available for free by the parent institution.A certificate upon successful completion of the MOOCs will be issued by the parent institution and issued through the host institution.The credits earned through courses through SWAYAM platform in the credit plan of the program will be given equivalent weightage by the parent institution.

Union Home Ministry has  notified 10 coastal police stations extending their jurisdictional limits from the existing 12 nautical miles to 200 nautical miles. The notified 10 police stations share the coastline in eight States on 16 June 2016. The new coastal police stations are proposed to maintain security up to five nautical miles from the shore. After the 26/11 terror attacks, the Coast Guard was given responsibility to secure the territorial waters which are extending up to 12 nautical miles (about 22 kilometres) from the shore. The extension of jurisdictional limits will allow local police while dealing with cases of smuggling and terrorism and guarding 7516-km long coastline of India. On the other hand, Union Home Ministry also approved the Maharashtra Chief Minister’s proposal to create a Central Marine Police Force for patrolling and protecting the coastline.  

India and Thailand has decided to ramp up cooperation in the fields of economy, counter terrorism, cyber security and human trafficking besides forging closer ties in defence and maritime security.  The announcement was made here after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held extensive talks with his visiting Thai counterpart General Prayut Chan-o-cha.  The countries have prioritised completion of India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral highway and early signing of the Motor Vehicles Agreement between India, Thailand and Myanmar. Following the delegation-level talks, in which also Army Chief Dalbir Singh Suhag was also present, two agreements - Executive Programme of Cultural Exchange (Extension of CEP) for 2016-2019 and an MoU between Nagaland University and Chiang Mai University, Thailand - were signed.   India and Thailand were also maritime neighbours, he said both the countries have agreed to forge a closer partnership in the fields of defence and maritime cooperation. A partnership to meet our bilateral interests and to respond to our shared regional goals.Information Technology, pharmaceuticals, auto components and machinery are some other areas of promising collaboration. We also see early conclusion of a balanced Comprehensive Economic and Partnership Agreement as our shared priority. Both the countries recognised the importance of bilateral trade and noted that the economic relations are deep rooted in the existing framework, including bilateral Free Trade Agreement, ASEAN India Trade in Goods Agreement and Early Harvest Scheme. The Prime Minister of Thailand invited Indian investments to Thailand under the cluster development policy, which is a newly initiated program aimed at enhancing investment in focused areas. The policy will help expand the investment network between the two countries in various mutually beneficial sectors, including information technology, pharmaceutical, automotive parts, chemical products, machinery and parts, bio-technology, and R&D.

Odisha government plans to set up eight advanced skill training institutes with an outlay of  Rs 1,000 crore. Three years from now, every graduate of an ITI (industrial training institutes) of the state will be at the fore front of technology. With a massive outlay of Rs 1000 crores, with loan assistance of Asian Development Bank, the eight advanced skill training institutes will come up in different parts of the state. These will be modelled around the best in the world in terms of physical and intellectual infrastructure to impart training to our youths. Our existing ITIs will be paired with them in a hub and spoke model so that their standards in providing high quality technical training can be jacked up. It may be noted that newly formed OSDA, with MindTree’s co-founder Subroto Bagchi as its chairman, is adopting a set of 20 goals over the next 18 months under different categories.  All of them come together to form the overarching Vision: "8 lakhs skilled in 3 years". This number is the number of all employable youths of the state. This number is both a reality and a powerful force; a force that wants to go somewhere. Our job is to provide the escape velocity and the initial trajectory for them. The focus is mainly on three key areas in next 18 months. These are revamping of existing ITIs, partnering with ADB to set up eight super state of the art advanced skill training institutes and working with short term skill partners to build significant scale. Against the target of skilling 1.1 million youths  in five years from 2014-15, 0.33 million youths have already been trained as on March 2016. OSDA plans to create a private public angel fund at the district level where the collectors can give upto Rs one lakh to local entrepreneurs who come up through rural case study competitions.

Kerala Tourism won four awards at ‘FilmAT’ which is one of the biggest international film festivals dedicated to tourism, art and ecology in Poland. Three of the honours were given to a single campaign. ‘Responsible Tourism’ initiative started by Kerala Tourism won three awards under categories of the Best Promotional Social Campaign, Protection of Nature, and Eco-Food categories respectively. The tourism board's ad film ‘The Great Backwaters of Kerala’ won the ‘Best Editing Award’. This film showcases the lifestyle of people living near and into the backwaters in a picturesque and charming way. The film was created and scripted by Stark Communications and Kerala Tourism's creative and brand management agency. The director of the film is by highly regarded Malayalam filmmaker Anwar Rasheed. The FilmAT festival is associated with the International Committee of Tourism Film Festivals (CIFFT).  International des Festivals du Film Touristique : International des Festivals du Film Touristique(CIFFT), was founded in 1989 by privately owned Vienna-based agency Filmservice International. The main office of the general secretary is located in Vienna, Austria. Current director is Austrian businessman Alexander V. Kammel also acting as Festival Director of the Cannes Corporate Media & TV Awards and lots of other festivals.  He took over the position from former Director, Rudolf Kammel. Since 2010 Lee W. Gluckman, Jr. (Director of the Mobius Awards and Chairman to the US International Film & Video Festival) has been the President of CIFFT. Former Presidents were from 1989 to 2003 Antonio Conte.

US based private space transport service company SpaceX successfully launched two commercial satellites viz. EUTELSAT 117 West B and ABS-2A. They were launched using SpaceX’s reusable Falcon 9 rocket which had lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, US. This mission was SpaceX’s second dual-satellite launch. These two commercial satellites are operated by Eutelsat and ABS companies respectively. They are geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) satellites that seek to provide global communications services to their users. However in this mission, the reusable rocket was lost before it could land on a drone ship platform in the Atlantic Ocean.  

The Union Finance Ministry has announced that non-resident Indians (NRIs) can now open National Pension Savings (NPS) accounts online i.e. through eNPS if they have Aadhaar Card or Permanent Account Number (PAN) card. Earlier, NRIs could open NPS accounts only through paper based applications by approaching Bank offices.  NPS are being regulated by the PFRDA (Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority), a regulator established by the Finance Ministry. Through eNPS, NRI’s will be able to open NPS accounts both on repatriable and on non-repatriable basis. The NPS funds would be deposited only in their NRO accounts On a repatriable basis, NRIs will have to remit the amount through his/her NRE/NRO/FCNR account. On a non-repatriable, NRIs will be able to join NPS through their NRE/FCNR/NRO accounts at the time of maturity or during partial withdrawal. This move will greatly appeal to NRIs who intend to return to India after their employment abroad, in view of their attractive returns, low cost and flexibility. India has the second-largest diaspora in the world, with around 29 million people living in over 200 countries and out of them 25% live in the Gulf countries.  

Senior legal service officer Suresh Chandra was appointed as Union Law Secretary on 14 June 2016. Chandra is currently Additional Secretary in the department. G Narayana Raju, Legislative Secretary, was holding additional charge of the post of Secretary, Legal Affairs. The government had issued advertisements for the post, even seeking candidates from outside the Law Ministry. Initially, the ministry received 45 applications from across the country, including those from serving sessions judges. But no one from the Law Ministry applied as none could fulfill the criteria specified in the advertisement. Later, the senior ministry functionaries were also allowed to apply.  

During the recent event in District Mandla,Madhya Pradesh, 3,049 people registered their spot in the Guinness book of world records for performing largest Karma Naach dance ever. The people took part in the dance to celebrate the culture and history of the Gond tribes of central India. Organised by district administration association, the participants formed 61 large circles of 50 people and performed the traditional tribal dance in spectacular synchronicity. In accordance with the Guinness World Records guidelines, the choreographed Karma Naach dance continued for a minimum of five minutes. All the participants were dressed in traditional clothing to complete the attempt, and the folk dance was accompanied by live music. India has already played host to a multitude of impressive mass participation dances, including the Largest Bollywood dance, which took place in Amritsar in January with 8,726 people.  At the Thanima 2015 arts festival in Irinjalakuda, 5,211 dancers set a new record for the Largest Kaikottikali dance in front of a captivated audience of over 55,000.

Moody's has revised to negative from stable the outlook on the Ba3 corporate family rating and senior unsecured rating of Tata Power following the announcement that the company has signed a share purchase agreement to buy Welspun Renewables Energy for Rs 9,250 crore. Tata Power's Ba3 ratings include a one-notch uplift based on the assessment that Tata Power will likely receive support from its major shareholder, Tata Sons Ltd,(unrated), if needed.The ratings could revert to stable if Moody's considers that the terms of the bridge finance do not exert material credit and liquidity pressure on the rating, and the quality of assets being acquired are not materially weaker than those of Tata Power. The change in outlook to negative reflects the combined effect of 1)entirely debt-funded nature of the transaction, which reduces headroom within the ratings, 2) uncertainty regarding the terms and structure of the bank debt that will be raised to fund the acquisition, and 3) limited details about the quality of the assets being acquired," says Abhishek Tyagi, a Moody's Vice President and Senior Analyst. However, he notes that with this acquisition, Tata Power's debt will increase by approximately 21%, thereby reducing the headroom within the rating. Moody's notes that the acquisition provides meaningful diversification benefits to Tata Power's business profile with the increase in renewable projects in its portfolio which also have long term power purchase agreements. Tata Power's renewable energy portfolio nearly doubles with this acquisition and would represent approximately 23% of its generation capacity which is in line with its spelled out long term strategy of portfolio fuel mix. The ratings could be also lowered if Tata Power raises its financial leverage further, leading to financial metrics exceeding the ratings tolerance, including (3) FFO interest coverage falling below 1.3x to 1.4x, adjusted debt/ book capitalization exceeding 75%, and RCF/debt dropping below 3.5% to 4.5% on a sustained basis. Furthermore, the ratings could be pressured if Coastal Gujarat Power Limited (CGPL) -- which is a subsidiary of Tata Power  fails to obtain waivers on its covenant breaches within a reasonable timeframe, and without significant additional costs or onerous new terms.

India's largest public sector lender State Bank of India  (SBI) has created a dedicated IT innovations and startup fund and have set aside Rs 200 crore for investment in promising startups. The fund would be extending upto Rs 3 crore for any India registered company for promoting their business in India using information technology for banking.  We have created an entity to promote and ensure usage of the funds for the right purposes, the entity could have one or more technical experts on board for advisory roles. The team would provide legal and financial assistance to startups as and when required. Bhattacharya spoke about a single window banking relationship support for startups that SBI provides through its dedicated branch in Bangalore and added that the bank already has added more than 200 clients in that branch in the last 6 months of its operations.  Recognising the fact that the nimble financial technology companies have the potential to add value to the banking services that customers want, she said that success in the future was in collaboration and not only competition.  Charting out a future path for the fintech sector Bhattacharya said that cost of small transactions needed to be minimised and banking be made smoother by removing various unnecessary processes. 

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