Current Affairs 16th March 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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Haryana’s new secretariat building in Chandigarh has become the only building in the country to have an early earthquake warning and security system (onsite). The  system Installed and demonstrated by a team from Terra Techcom Private Limited, New Delhi, and Secretary Electronics GmbH, Germany, who have collaborated with India for the project.Earthquake Warning System is already being used in 26 countries around the world and it can give us crucial seconds so that we can evacuate in event of an earthquake. The system works on the principle of detection of primary and secondary seismic waves of an earthquake. The primary waves are fastest kind of seismic wave and the first sign of earthquake but they do not cause any damage they are soon followed by secondary waves that  have the potential to cause damage, which is known to us as an earthquake. The system detects intensity of the primary waves and gives out warning alarm only when the intensity of the secondary waves is high enough to potentially cause damage.In case of Earthquake it gets activated automatically and takes step for security and safety of people and infrastructure by shutting off elevators, electricity, gas supply, water supply, opens emergency gates and warns people of an earthquake by signalling an alarm.

The Rajya Sabha has passed the Sikh Gurdwaras (Amendment) Bill, 2016  which envisages to amend 91-year-old Sikh Gurdwaras Act,1925 to exclude Sehajdhari Sikhs from voting in elections to Sikh religious bodies.Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925 : The Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925 was a piece of legislation in British India, which legally defined Sikh identity and brought Sikh gurdwaras (houses of worship) under the control of an elected body of orthodox Sikhs.The Bill proposes to remove the exception given to Sahajdhari Sikhs in 1944 to vote in the elections to select the members of the Board and the Committees constituted under the Act. Since 1949, Sehajdhari Sikhs are continuously exercising their voting rights in the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) elections.

Union Government on 15 March 2016 imposed anti-dumping duty of up to 44.7 percent on import of plastic-processing machines for five years. It will be implemented on the imports from Chinese Taipei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.The duty will be levied on all kinds of plastic-processing or injection-moulding machines, also known as injection presses.According to Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), the safeguard duty was imposed after it was noticed that these imports from other countries led to deterioration of performance of the domestic industry.Anti-dumping duty of 27.98 percent has been imposed on plastic-processing machines imported from Chinese Taipei.Safeguard duty of 44.74 percent and 30.85 percent has been imposed for the same products imported from Malaysia and the Philippines. Imports from Vietnam will attract a levy of 23.15 percent.Plastic-processing or injection-moulding machines are used for processing or moulding plastic materials. Anti-dumping measures are taken to ensure fair trade and provide a level-playing field to the domestic industry. They are not a measure to restrict imports or cause an unjustified increase in cost of products.

Punjab Assembly on 14 March 2016 unanimously passed the 'Punjab Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal land (Transfer of Proprietary Right) Bill, 2016'. The bill was passed against the construction of contentious Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL).The bill is an attempt to divest its neighbouring states from getting share from Punjab’s river waters.The BillIt seeks to provide transfer of proprietary rights back to the land owners from whom the land was acquired by the state government for the construction of SYL free of cost.The state government shall notify suitable machinery for settlement of claims of any landowner or any other party.No suit, prosecution or other legal proceedings shall lie against the state government or any person for anything which is done in good faith or intend to be done in pursuance of this Act.Section 8 of the Bill empowers the state government to make rules to carry out the purposes of this Act.The Bill was passed hours before the SYL issue was being heard in the Supreme Court. In the apex court, the Attorney General of India Mukul Rohtagi stated that Central Government will not become party to any of the state.The passage of the bill has been criticised by Haryana’s Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. He termed it as "unconstitutional" and an "injury" to the federal structure and said his state would reciprocate.The River Water Dispute between Punjab and Haryana has the 61-year-old water dispute between the two states started after the first agreement was signed in 1955. As per the agreement reached during an inter-state meeting convened by the Union Government, the waters of the Ravi and the Beas were allocated to various states in following manner: Rajasthan 8.00 MAF (9,767.8 MCM);Punjab 7.20 MAF (8,881 MCM); and Jammu and Kashmir 0.65 MAF (801.76 MCM).This allocation was based upon the basis of flow data available from 1921-45 that estimated the mean flow of the two rivers at 15.85 MAF (19550.66 MCM) over and above the actual pre-partition use. This agreement was followed by numerous agreements like the 1960 Indus Water Treaty, 1966 Punjab Reorganization Act, the 1981 Indira Gandhi and 1985 Rajiv Longowal Accord.With the reorganization of the state of Punjab with effect from 1 November 1966, the question of Haryana's share in the waters allocated to Punjab under the 1955 agreement was raised. This led Punjab to approach the apex court in 1976.March 1976 Notification has Subsequently, in exercise of the power conferred by the Punjab Reorganization Act, Union Government issued a notification in March 1976 allocating 3.5 MAF (4,317 MCM) to Haryana out of the 7.2 MAF (8,881 MCM) earlier allocated to the composite Punjab state.  However, Punjab was not happy with this decision.December 1981 Agreement is After a number of discussions, a fresh agreement was accepted between the party states in December 1981 whereby the available supplies were estimated to be 17.17 MAF (21,178.86 MCM) on the basis of the 1921 to 1960 flow series.

Plans to liberalise trade between India and China, the world’s two fastest-growing large economies, have gathered momentum with both sides exchanging offers on removal of a chunk of tariff lines on goods imports. Against India’s offer to remove 42.5% of tariff lines under the 16-country Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), China has expressed its willingness to abolish equivalent amount of tariff lines for India.Although a final call on the products India would like China to scrap the import duties, trade experts say India may seek duty relief for its textile exports, among others.Cotton fibre and yarn, copper and some organic chemicals are the major items that India has exported to China this fiscal, while its imports from China include electronic items, mechanical appliances, organic chemicals,fertiliser and iron and steel. Earlier, India used to export huge quantities of iron ore to China before curbs were placed on their mining.India’s merchandise exports to China stood at a mere $11.9 billion in 2014-15, while China’s exports to India were to the tune of $60.4 billion. Even if the likely damaging impact of cheaper imports from China on domestic industry such as steel is discounted, the potential customs revenue loss for the country as a percentage of its gross domestic product (GDP) will be much higher than China’s, also because of the fact that China’s GDP is more than four times of India’s.Successful RCEP negotiations would essentially pave the way for a virtual free trade agreement (FTA) between India and China, as India already has FTAs with other members in the grouping. RCEP comprises 10 Asean nations and six others with which these countries have already forged FTAs. According to an initial assessment made in 2013, RCEP nations included more than 3 billion people, have a combined GDP of about $17 trillion, and makes up for roughly 40% of the global trade.

Kotak Mahindra Group has tied up with Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) to launch a $525 million fund to invest in the stressed asset market in India. The Canadian pension fund manager will have the option to invest up to $450 million in this partnership, Kotak Mahindra Group said in a statement on 14 March 2016.This investment will address the growing opportunity arising from the current stress in the Indian banking and corporate sectors,” the statement said.The fund has a flexible investment mandate providing financing solutions to companies in addition to investing in stressed asset sales by banks with the aim to restructure, recover and turn around companies in distress, it added.“Through this agreement, CPPIB will selectively invest in assets that we believe will deliver value in line with our long-term investment mandate,” said Adam Vigna, managing director, principal credit investments, CPPIB.On 22 January, Mint had reported that Kotak Mahindra Group and CPPIB are in the process of launching a $500-600 million stressed asset fund in India, before the end of the financial year.The fund will work closely with Kotak Mahindra Group and its affiliate, Phoenix Asset Reconstruction Company (ARC) Pvt. Ltd, to locate opportunities in the stressed asset market in India. Kotak Mahindra Bank currently owns 49% stake in Phoenix ARC.Kotak Mahindra and the CPPIB have been in discussions since 2015, as stressed assets piled up at domestic banks in the aftermath of an economic downturn that made it difficult for many borrowers to repay debt.In January, Ajay Piramal-led Piramal Group said it will launch a $1 billion stressed assets fund in association with Nirmal Gangwal, founder of Brescon Corporate Advisors Ltd, a corporate turnaround firm. The fund will be looking at investing in stressed firms and possibly take over management where needed.The stressed asset market is looking attractive to domestic and foreign investors due to a pile-up of bad loans in the Indian banking system, which is working on a March 2017 deadline to clean up its books.Gross non-performing assets (NPAs) of 39 listed banks surged to Rs.4.38 trillion in the quarter ended 31 December 2015, from Rs.3.4 trillion at the end of the September quarter, according to data collated by corporate database provider Capitaline.In a statement last week, ratings agency Crisil Ratings had said that it expects stressed assets (a sum of gross NPAs and other troubled assets) in the Indian banking system to rise to over Rs.7 trillion (or 11.3% of total loans) by March 2017, from about Rs.4 trillion (7.2% of total loans) as on March 2015.

Pune-based Maharashtra Institute of Technology (MIT) in the second week of March 2016 set up India's first education technology accelerator called Edugild. The accelerator will be the first one in the country to focus only on the education sector.The programme, in its first year, received applications from 300 entrepreneurs' focused on the education sector from all over the country. Of these, four companies were selected by Edugild for its accelerator programme.Classboat: It helps students to find and select classes in the city.Instafeez: It is a Bengaluru based start-up which has developed a payment solution. Their services also provide a seamless fee reconciliation platform.Simulanis: It is a Delhi-based start-up that uses 3D gaming and augmented reality based tools for engineering learning.Gradopedia: It is a start-up dedicated for graduates to experience simulated job profiles of their aspirations and then make a wise choice of the career paths to pursue.Founded by MIT, Pune, Edugild is India’s first accelerator with an exclusive focus on EdTech.Based in Pune, it offers a 16-week intensive mentorship and product realization program to any EdTech start-up in the world.

The CB Insights report evaluated the investors on the basis of their investments since 2008.Fourteen Indian-origin investors find place in a list of top 100 global venture capitalists (VCs) compiled by CB Insights, a research firm that tracks VC and angel investments. The list, led by Peter Fanton of Benchmark Capital, was based on factors such as investor exits and consistency of investments, among others. The report evaluated the investors on the basis of their investments since 2008. Sameer Gandhi of Accel Partners at rank 25 was the top-ranked Indian venture capitalist. He was followed by Promod Haque of Norwest Venture Partners at rank 32.

GlenmarkBSE 1.46 % Pharma has received final nod from the USFDA to manufacture and market therapeutical equivalent of Endo Pharmaceutical's Frova tablets, used to treat migraine headaches, in the US market. Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Inc has been granted final approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) for Frovatriptan Succinate Tablets, 2.5 mg.the drug is "therapeutical equivalent of Endo Pharmaceutical's Frova tablets 2.5 mg." Quoting IMS data, Glenmark said the approved product has an estimated market size of $87.8 million for the 12 months ended January 2016. The company's current portfolio consists of 61 ANDAs pending approvals from the USFDA and 108 products authorised for distribution in the US. Glenmark Pharmaceuticals is a pharmaceutical company headquartered in Mumbai, India.It manufactures and markets generic formulation products and active pharmaceutical ingredients, both in the domestic and international markets.The company's current portfolio consists of 61 ANDAs pending approvals from the USFDA and 108 products authorised for distribution in the US.

Maharashtra Assembly on 15 March 2016 passed a bill to amend the Maharashtra Public Trusts Act 1950. The bill provides for de-registration of long-defunct trusts among other things.Once passed by the Legislative Council, the law would pave way for initiating action against 3.5 lakh such charitable trusts, about 50 percent of the total trusts registered under the Trusts Act.The Amendment Bill It will allow initiating action against the trusts whose trustees have defaulted on reporting the change of details or audited accounts or making other compliances in last five years.It allows for de-registration of trusts whose purpose of formation is either fulfilled or became impossible to fulfill.The bill provides for taking over of management of de-registered trusts and disposal of their properties by sale and depositing of proceeds in government treasury.It also makes it compulsory for the trusts to take previous permission of the charity commissioner before borrowing money.The state Assembly cleared a bill to amend the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Act 1960, barring tainted directors of banks from contesting polls to any cooperative bank post for 10 years.The provision will be applicable to all members of the board of directors dissolved by the state government in the past as per the directives of the Reserve Bank of India. If such a person is currently a director for various banks, he will have to resign from the post, if any bank governed by him was dissolved for financial irregularities in the past 10 years.The state cabinet has already taken a decision in this regard and issued an ordinance which has been imposed with retrospective effect.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between the union tourism ministry and Ecotourism Society of India (ESOI) to promote responsible and sustainable tourism in the country.The ESOI will prepare a 10-year road map for advocacy and certification under the sustainable tourism criteria after consultations with various stakeholders at the grassroots level.The tourism ministry and the ESOI published the 'Sustainable Tourism Criteria for India' two years ago and carried it to the grassroots through advocacy workshops. "ESOI will formulate classification guidelines for certification of tour/travel operators within STCI guidelines and later develop standards for destinations which will also be in sync with internationally accepted global sustainable tourism criteria.The ESOI was established in 2008 at the behest of the tourism ministry as a non-profit organisation to promote environmentally responsible and sustainable practices in tourism.The ministry has officially declared the ESOI as its partner in developing policy guidelines, code of conduct and ethical practices for sustainable tourism.The ESOI has over the past eight years attempted to spread awareness and educate tourism service providers as well as local government officials on the need to ensure sustainable tourism practices

Priyanka Kakodkar and Raksha Kumar on 15 March 2016 were named as joint winners of the 2015-16 Chameli Devi Jain Award. They were awarded for their work that clubs social concern and compassion with pioneering reportage and analytical skills.Kakodkar's reports, which targeted on the acute farming crisis in Maharashtra, were published on the front page of The Times of India in the year 2015. More than 50 of her reports were published in a year by the paper.Independent journalist Raksha Kumar won the honour as her rePriyanka Kakodkar and Raksha Kumar were on Tuesday named as joint winners of the 2015-16 Chameli Devi Jain award for women journalists.The Media Foundation's Chameli Devi Jain award for 2015-16 has been jointly awarded to Priyanka Kakodkar and Raksha Kumar for work that combines social concern and compassion with ground-breaking reportage and sharp analytical skills.Both Priyanka and Raksha have chosen to focus on areas that demand greater attention.Kakodkar's reports focused on the acute farming crisis in Maharashtra have been of such high quality that her paper, The Times of India, front-paged more than 50 of them in the year gone by Raksha Kumar, an independent journalist, has in 2015, focused on the perilous aspects of the central government's proposal to amend the Land Acquisition Act, the Forest Rights Act and the Coal Act.This year's award will be presented on March 17 by former environment minister Jairam Ramesh at the India International Centre, Delhi, which will be followed by the second B.G. Verghese Memorial Lecture.The annual Chameli Devi Award of The Media Foundation is the premier award for women media persons in India.It was first awarded in 1982.ports focused on the perilous features of the Union Government's proposal to amend the Land Acquisition Act, the Forest Rights Act and the Coal Act.The award will be presented by former Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on 17 March 2016 at the India International Centre, Delhi.he annual Chameli Devi Award of The Media Foundation is the premier award for women media persons in India. It was first awarded in 1982.

Government is targeting to double the insurance coverage under crop insurance through Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) in a couple of years.The scheme will be implemented in the country effective from April 1. The government is targeting to double the crop insurance coverage in the country through Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana in a couple of years," joint secretary ministry of agriculture and farmer's welfare Ashish Kumar Bhutani said while addressing an event organised by GIC Re. 23 per cent of the country's total farmer population is covered under various existing crop insurance schemes. However, the government is looking at taking it to more than 50 per cent through the PMFBY in next two years .joint secretary ministry of agriculture and farmer's welfare Ashish Kumar Bhutani said while addressing an event organised by GIC Re. "As of now, 23 per cent of the country's total farmer population is covered under various existing crop insurance schemes. However, the government is looking at taking it to more than 50 per cent through the PMFBY in next two years."A total of 5,000 automated weather stations will be set up across the country under PPP model for the successful implementation of the scheme.The insurance regulator, Irda is working on a host of measures to create such a platform so as to push agricultural insurance and other insurance products in the country.As of now, there are only 11 non-life insurance companies, including the state-owned specialised agriculture insurer Agriculture Insurance Company, which have been empanelled by the government for the implementation of PMFBY. 

Bangladesh's central bank governor resigned on 15 March ,2016 over the theft of $81 million from the bank's U.S. account, as details emerged in the Philippines that $30 million of the money was delivered in cash to a casino junket operator in Manila.The rest of the money hackers stole from the Bangladesh Bank's account at the New York Federal Reserve, one of the largest cyber heists in history, went to two casinos, officials told a Philippines Senate hearing into the scandal.They said a mix of dollars and Philippine pesos was sent by a foreign exchange broker to the ethnic Chinese junket operator over several days, a haul that would have been made up of at least 780,000 banknotes.Unknown hackers last month breached the computer systems of Bangladesh Bank and attempted to steal $951 million from its Fed account, which it uses for international settlements. They managed to transfer $81 million to entities in the Philippines.Bangladesh Bank officials have said there is little hope of apprehending the perpetrators and recovering the money would be difficult and could take months.In Dhaka, central bank governor Atiur Rahman said he had resigned to set an example in a country where there is little precedence of accountability and to uphold the image of the institution.The government also fired two deputy governors of the bank, Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith said, days after blaming it for keeping the government in the dark about the theft.Rahman's exit could be a blow to Bangladesh, a South Asian nation of 160 million. The country has been aspiring to reach middle-income status, and Rahman was seen as one of the driving forces helping Dhaka towards that goal.Under the former development economics professor, the country's foreign exchange reserves have increased four-fold to $28 billion and he also sought to ensure farmers and women entrepreneurs had better access to banking services and credit.Rahman defended his record at the central bank, saying he was proud of his achievements there.Bangladesh Bank is also working with anti-money laundering authorities in the Philippines, where it suspects the stolen $81 million arrived in four tranches.The Philippines' Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) (RCB.PS) said last week it was investigating deposits amounting to just that sum, which were made at one of its branches.Teofisto Guingona, head of the Philippines Senate's anti-corruption committee, told Reuters the transfers into RCBC were subsequently consolidated into one account and some of the money was converted to pesos.CCTV cameras at the branch were not functioning when the money was withdrawn, RCBC's anti-money laundering head, Laurinda Rogero, told the Senate hearing.The president of a foreign exchange broker called Philrem Service Corp, Salud Bautista, told the Senate that her firm was instructed by the bank branch to transfer the funds to a man named Weikang Xu and two casinos.A tranche of $29 million ended up in an account of Solaire, a casino resort owned and operated by Bloomberry Resorts Corp (BLOOM.PS). Bloomberry is controlled by Enrique Razon, the Philippines' fifth-richest man in 2015, according to Forbes.Silverio Benny Tan, corporate secretary of Bloomberry Resorts, told the hearing that the $29 million was transferred into a casino account under Xu's name in exchange for 'dead chips' that can only be cashed in from winnings.Bautista said a further $21 million went to an account of Eastern Hawaii Leisure Co., a gaming firm in northern Philippines. Reuters tried several phone numbers to seek comment from Eastern Hawaii officials but was unable to reach any.Senator Guingona said that because casinos are not covered by the country's anti-money laundering laws it was not clear if the stolen funds could ever be recovered."The paper trail ends there. That is the problem," he said. "Right now we are at a dead end."

The first Paralympic Games in the State organized by Arunachal Pradesh Paralympics Association (APPA) began at Sangay Lhaden Sports Academy Complex, Chimpu, Itanagar on 15,2016.Secretary, Sports Dani Salu, who hoisted the Games flag and later declared the competition open, said that the differently abled persons can also perform equally well.Citing the examples of German Music Composer Ludwig van Beethoven and inventor of gramophone Thomas Alva Edison, who were deaf, Salu encouraged the so called differently abled people to strengthen their will power and self confidence, which will help them overcome all hurdles in life.Highlighting the rights and equal opportunities for persons with disabilities (differently abled person), the Secretary (Sports) encouraged them for full participation in all field.Salu also positively responded to the memorandum submitted by APPA, saying that their demands will be looked into.The memorandum demanded corpus fund of Rs. 20 Lakh for Paralympic Games, Rs. 10 Lakh each for Umang Festival and for procurement of sports goods/items, boys and girls’ hostels for persons with disabilities, their training at SLSA, and creation/appointment of five posts of coaches for them.Over 130 differently abled persons from various parts of the State and DPM School for Hearing and Visually Impaired are participating in the Three-day Games. The events included, 100M, 400M, 800M and Wheel Chair Race (100M), Long Jump, Shot Put, Javelin Throw, Chess, Carrom, Volleyball (Men) and Arm Wrestling.Earlier, inauguration songs by the visually impaired children of Donyi-Polo Mission School of Hearing and Visually Impaired and the dance to the tune of famous ‘Rikam Pada’ by the hearing impaired children received a big round of applauses from the sizable spectators present on the occasion.Papum Pare Deputy Commissioner Sandeep Kumar Singh, Director Sports Tadar Appa, Director Youth Affairs DK Dinglow were present during the inaugural function.The Games is organized under the aegis of Directorate of Sports and Capital Complex Administration.Volley Ball, carom, wheel chair race, running race, long jump, shot put, javelin throw and arm wrestling are the main sporting activities in this three day event.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) on 14 March 2016 announced that around 90 percent of domestic workers in the world are excluded from social protection.It was revealed by the ILO in its Social Protection Policy Paper 16 entitled Social protection for domestic workers: Key policy trends and statistics.60 million of the world’s 67 million domestic workers still do not have access to any kind of social security coverage.The vast majority of domestic workers are women, accounting for 80 per cent of all workers in the sector globally.Most of their work is undervalued and unprotected. When domestic workers become old or injured, they are fired, without a pension or adequate income support.As female workforce highly subject to social and economic vulnerability, policies to extend social protection to domestic workers are key elements in the fight against poverty and the promotion of gender equality.The largest gaps in social security coverage for domestic work are concentrated in developing countries, with Asia and Latin America representing 68 per cent of domestic workers worldwide.The study revealed that social protection deficits for domestic workers also persist in some industrialized countries.In Italy, for example, some 60 per cent of domestic workers are not registered with, or contributing to, social security systems.In Spain and France, 30 per cent of domestic workers are excluded from social security coverage.It cautioned that migrant domestic workers – currently estimated at 11.5 million worldwide – often face even greater discrimination.Around 14 per cent of countries whose social security systems provide some type of coverage for domestic workers do not extend the same rights to migrant domestic workers.Apart from mandatory coverage, the strategies to protect them should include fiscal incentives, registration plans, awareness-raising campaigns targeting domestic workers and their employers as well as service voucher mechanisms.Domestic work should also be integrated into broader policies aimed at reducing informal work.The coverage of domestic workers by social security schemes is feasible and affordable, including in lower middle and low-income countries, as evidence from Mali, Senegal and Viet Nam clearly demonstrates.

Gandhi: An Illustrated Biography authored by Pramod Kapoor was in news in the second week of March 2016.  It is a biography of Mahatma Gandhi who played a key role in Indian independence movement.The book is an intimate study into the evolution of a mischievous, fun-loving boy, into the Mahatma. It also seeks to decode Gandhi for modern generation.The chronological text and accompanying photographs in the book bring out Gandhi’s unique complexities – his failures and successes, the intimate relations he shared with his contemporaries, and the difficult one he shared with his own family.The books covers all the important aspects of his life – schooling, early marriage in Kathiawar, his college days in London, employment in South Africa, train ride in Pietermaritzburg, etc.He is the founder and publisher of Roli Books that was established in 1978.He has conceived and produced award-winning books that include.Then and Now series, Made for Maharajas, New Delhi: The Making of a Capital.Gandhi: An Illustrated Biography is his first book as an author. It will be followed by another book My Experiments with Gandhi.

ICICI Bank on 15 March 2016 announced a new mobile payment solution Touch & Pay. This solution is based on Near Field Communication (NFC) technology and will enable the bank’s customers to make secure contactless payments at retail stores using smartphones.The feature will be incorporated into the existing Pockets application of the bank.Customers can make payment by tapping smart phone at a NFC enabled merchant terminal and make the payment through account linked ICICI Bank Debit/Credit Card.To ensure security of the card details, for every payment done at a merchant store using this service, a one-use unique token is created by the Bank's server and will be sent via encryption to the merchant,The facility will be available in the last week of March 2016 at more than 60000  merchants across the country.

The Sustainable Plus survey on 14 March 2016 revealed that RIL, Vedanta, Mahindra & Mahindra, Tata Motors and Wipro are among the top 10 companies, which have received the tag of India's most sustainable firms. These companies were followed by ITC, Tata Power, Tata Chemicals, Hindustan Zinc and ACC.The survey conducted by CII-ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development also revealed that the banking sector benefited from the high scores of HDFC and Axis banks. On the other hand, scores of Tech Mahindra and Wipro gave a boost to performance of software and services sector.However, out of 100 firms profiled belonging to 20 sectors, only 18 companies responded to the Information Request (IR), while two companies partially responded. The remaining companies either did not respond to the IR or declined to participate.Ten companies, including Mahindra & Mahindra, Tata Motors, Hindustan Zinc, Vedanta, ACC and Reliance Industries, were classified as Sustainable Plus Platinum. These companies showed the highest levels of adherence to sustainable business practices.Seven companies, including Bajaj Auto, Ambuja Cements, Hindustan Unilever and Tata Steel, received a Sustainable Plus Gold classification.The remaining 83 companies got Sustainable Plus Bronze.Social governance was the next highest scorer due to the adoption of occupation health & safety management systems and dedicated Corporate Social Responsibility norms.The environment dimension had the lowest overall performance scores.The Sustainable Plus survey looks at the 100 largest companies by market capitalisation across 20 sectors in the country.It is aimed at checking the environment, social and governance dimensions of business and measures the progress of Indian companies in adopting sustainable business practices.Sustainable Plus rates the companies across three levels, which are platinum, gold and bronze.The label is accorded to companies based on their responses.They are graded on parameters like governance and social and environmental initiatives.Companies that receive the Sustainable Plus Platinum are India's most sustainable firms.

Union Government and Jammu & Kashmir Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) under the Scheme Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) on 15 March 2016 for operational and financial turnaround of the State’s Power Distribution Department.With this, J&K became the ninth state to sign MoU with the combined DISCOM debt around 1.94 lakh crore rupees. The main aim for signing the MoU is to restructure high interest rate of the total discom debt thereby improving financial condition of State Discom.An overall net benefit of approximately 9800 crore rupees would accrue to the State by opting to participate in UDAY, by way of savings in interest cost, reduction in Aggregate Technical and Commercial (AT & C)and transmission losses, interventions in energy efficiency, coal reforms etc. during the period of turnaround.The MoU will enable Jammu & Kashmir to raise funds at cheaper rate to clear the outstanding dues of around 3538 crore rupees of Community and Public Sector Union (CPSUs), which would entail an annual saving of 1200 crore rupees over 4 years towards interest cost to the State.Compulsory Distribution Transformer metering, consumer indexing & GIS mapping of losses, upgrade/change transformers, meters etc., smart metering of high-end consumers, feeder audit etc would improve the operational efficiency of the Power Distribution Department of the State.AT & C Losses and transmission losses would be brought down, besides eliminating the gap between cost of supply of power and realisation.Union government would also provide incentives to the DISCOMs and the State Government for improving Power infrastructure in the State and for further lowering the cost of power.The State shall also be supported through additional coal at notified prices and in case of availability through higher capacity utilization, low cost power from NTPC and other CPSUs.Other benefits such as coal swapping, coal rationalization, correction in coal grade slippage, availability of 100 percent washed coal would help the state to further reduce the cost of Power. The State would gain around 785 crore rupees due to these coal reforms.Cost per unit of electricity will be reduced for the consumers.The scheme would allow speedy availability of power to around 108 villages and 3.56 lakh households in the State that are still without electricity.Availability of 24x7 power to hitherto unconnected villages/households etc. would boost the economy, promote tourism and industries, thereby improving employment opportunities for the people of the State.The Scheme UDAY was launched by the Union government on 20 November 2015 to ensure a sustainable solution to enable the distribution utilities across the country to break out of a long standing debt of almost 4.3 Lakh crore rupees.Sustainability of operational and financial performance is at the CORE of UDAY.

The Government is implementing the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) for providing financial support to proposals contained in State Higher Education Plan (SHEP) approved by the State Higher Education Councils (SHECs) in order to achieve the objectives of equity, access and quality.A total of 115 Universities and 1218 colleges have been approved by RUSA PAB for infrastructure grants. These approvals were accorded to the proposals included in the respective State Higher Education Plans (SHEPs).The States have furnished proposals for construction of Model Degree Colleges and upgradation of Colleges to Model Degree Colleges in excess of the approved target for the 12th Plan.The RUSA Project Approval Board (PAB) has already accorded approvals under these components and exhausted the sanctioned targets. Further, 1218 Colleges out of a target of 3500 colleges and 115 Universities out of a target of 150 universities during 12th Plan have been approved for funding support from RUSA. Only seven proposals from the states under the component of creation of universities through upgradation of autonomous colleges and eight proposals of states under the component of creation of universities through clustering of colleges have been approved by the PAB of RUSA as other proposals could not meet the prescribed norms. The participating States have already given a commitment to lift the ban, if earlier imposed, by them on faculty recruitments in state government and government aided Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs). This information was given by the Union Human Resource Development

Reliance Jio, the country's only pan-India 4G operator, is reportedly in advanced level talks with BSNL to use the latter telco's network and infrastructure for voice operations across all 22 telecom circles, under the intra-circle roaming pact. The state-run telco has fixed its charges for voice roaming pact at 25 paise per minute for any telco that wants to enter into intra-circle roaming pact with it. BSNL CMD Anupam Srivastava however informed a Financial Express that the telco would not be able to cut down its tariff for sharing network with other operators, confirming talks with Reliance Jio. State-owned BSNL is all set to ink its first intra-circle roaming (ICR) agreement with mobile services company Aircel, a move that will shore up its revenues, DNA earlier reported. In December 2015, Reliance Jio had launched its 4G services for group employees. Jio has substantially optimized its network and is currently testing service offerings across the breadth of the country. The commercial launch is widely expected in March-April. Jio had last year given a contract worth $100 million (about Rs 670 crore) to Nokia for pan-India VoLTE deployment. It is primarily banking on VoLTE technology to provide voice services in India. VoLTE allows an operator to offer both voice and data without switching between bands, with voice being just another application that rides on an LTE data network, a technology that Jio has adopted. 

Country's largest private sector lender ICICI Bank has,said it has tied up with marquee sports car maker Ferrari to launch co-branded credit card."The 'Ferrari Credit Card' comes in two variants on the Visa platform and offers customers a host of offers including an all-expenses-paid trip for top spenders to Italy and also includes a Scuderia Ferrari watch as a joining gift.ICICI bank's General Manager Kusal Roy said this is the first-ever Ferrari range of credit cards in the country. The bank had over 34.69 lakh outstanding credit cards as of November, that saw transactions of over Rs 2,393 crore at ATMs and POS terminals. Other benefits which come with the card include discount on Ferrari branded products at the Ferrari Store in Maranello, Italy, and merchandise sold online at the Ferrari Store and Myntra.com, the statement said. The cardholder also gets complementary access to domestic airport lounges in the country and a 'buy one, get one free' offer on bookings done through bookmyshow.com, it added. 

According to the Ministry, till date 977 companies and 46 countries have registered for participating in the Expo. With more than 977 companies and 46 countries registering for the upcoming Defence Expo scheduled in Goa, the Defence Ministry has said the event is steering the path of steady growth. “Defexpo India 2016, the ninth in the series of biennial Land, Naval and Internal Homeland Security Systems Exhibition, will be held at Naqueri Quitol in Quepem taluka of South Goa from March 28-31, 2016,” the Ministry said on its website designed for this internationally famed event.“Defexpo India is clearly steering the path of steady growth and has been receiving overwhelming and unprecedented international response with each edition,” it said. This is for the first time that the Expo will travel to Goa from Delhi.According to the Ministry, till date 977 companies and 46 countries have registered for participating in the Expo. For this edition, countries like USA, Russia, Sweden, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and Portugal amongst others have confirmed their participation. The eighth edition of Defexpo India held in February 2014 recorded an unprecedented growth in foreign as well as domestic companies participation over its previous editions,” the Ministry said. “An impressive 232 foreign companies from 32 countries participated in the show in 2014 along with 15 country pavilions with a growth of 12.64 per cent in terms of space booking. This year, on the first day, March 28, hosts of seminars including that on “State of Art Technology in Shipbuilding Initiative and Requirements of Indian Defence Shipyards” would be held. There will also be a session on “International Cooperation in Futuristic Maritime Research and development” and “Advanced Technologies in Submarine Construction.” On next day, March 29, the Industrial body Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) will hold day-long Global Investors’ Summit on Defence sector. Similarly, there will also be a seminar on private sector participation in Defence development programme which will be chaired by Smita Nagraj, Director General (Acquisitions), Union Ministry of Defence. The event will also host a discussion on “Defence collaboration and joint ventures with global partners” to be chaired by K Nagaraj Naidu, Director, Investment and Technology Promotion Division of Union Defence Ministry. The Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) has also planned a seminar on “Defence Off set: Challenges and Opportunities” during the event. Another industrial body Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) will host “India Korea Defence Cooperation Seminar and business meet” and also discussion on modernization programme of Indian Army.

The number of child labourers in the country has gone down from 1.26 crore in 2001 to 43.53 lakh in 2011, Lok Sabha was informed.Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said while in the 2001 census, the number of child labourers was estimated at 1.26 crore, the figure went down to 43.53 lakh in the 2011 census.While working for total eradication of child labour, the government plans to link the Right to Education Act with their rehabilitation and settlement to bring them into the mainstream.Responding to questions on the difference in data available from International Labour Organisation and the Census on child labour, the minister said government will see to it that correct data is made available.He said a bill to amend the Child Labour(Prohibition and Regulation Act), 1986 was pending in the Rajya Sabha to improve on the existing law.The government will also move fresh official amendments when the amendment bill comes up for passage.A rehabilitation fund will also be created for such children who will need to be brought to the mainstream.

The Reserve Bank has asked banks to pay interest on savings banks account on quarterly basis or shorter duration, a move which will benefit crore of savings account holders.At present, the interest is credited in savings bank account on half-yearly basis. Interest rate on savings bank account is calculated on daily basis since April 1, 2010.“Interest on savings deposit shall be credited at quarterly or shorter intervals (on domestic savings deposits),” RBI said in a master circular issued on March 3.While public sector banks offer 4 per cent interest on savings deposit, private players offer as much as 6 per cent.In 2011, the central bank had decided to give freedom to commercial banks to fix savings bank deposit rates, the last bastion of the regulated interest-rate regime. While giving banks this freedom, RBI had said a uniform rate will have to be offered on deposits of upto Rs. 1 lakh.On higher amounts, banks are allowed to offer differential rates to depositors.As per estimates, the lower periodicity of interest payment may put a burden of Rs. 500 crore on banks.Earlier, banks used to give interest of 3.5 per cent on savings accounts on the basis of the least deposit in an account between the 10th and the last day of each month.

Smt. Smriti Irani, Union Human Resource Development Minister launched the National Web Portal at New Delhi for promotion of National Apprenticeship Scheme for Graduates, Diploma holders and 10+2 pass-outs vocational certificate holders. The Union Minister also released a Logo and a Slogan Sashakt Yuva, Samarth Bharat for the National Web Portal. The Union Minister stated that Ministry of Human Resource Development implements the apprenticeship training scheme for one year through Board of Apprenticeship Training (BOATs)/Board of Practical Training (BOPT) located at Mumbai, Chennai, Kanpur and Kolkata.

Lok Sabha on 15 March 2016 passed the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2015. The Bill seeks set up a Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) for the orderly growth of the real state sector.The bill aims at protecting the interests of the large number of aspiring house buyers and enhances the credibility of construction industry.Earlier, it was passed by the Rajya Sabha on 10 March 2016.The bill seeks to create a set of rights and obligations for both the consumers and developers.The mandatory registration for projects has been brought down to 500 sq m area, or those comprising eight flats. It also provides for a clear definition of carpet area and a system that would require the consent of two-thirds of the buyers in case there are changes in project plans.

India-based software engineer Abdulqadir Rashik on 15 March 2016 won the Unite Ideas #LinksSDGs Data Visualization Challenge.  Rashik, entrepreneur and founder of India-based Miavy Systems, was awarded the Challenge’s top prize for his submission Links to Sustainable Cities, an interactive visualization that identifies and maps the links between Sustainable Development Goal 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities, and the other 16 Goals.The project was a collaboration between the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ Division for Sustainable Development and the Office of Information and Communications Technology.  The global data science competition aimed to engage the public in sharing ideas about how to visualize the inter-linkages between the Sustainable Development Goals, a set of 17 global goals and 169 targets that form the basis of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.#LinksSDGs is the third challenge issued by Unite Ideas, a big data crowd sourcing platform developed by the Office of Information and Communications Technology.It was developed to facilitate collaboration among academia, civil society and United Nations offices and to mobilize data scientists and software developers worldwide to help tackle the complex issues faced by the Organization and its Member States though the creation of open source solutions

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on 15 March 2016 suspended Maria Sharapova as a goodwill ambassador.The five-time grand slam winner who became a goodwill ambassador in February 2007 was suspended after she tested positive for the banned substance meldonium at 2016 Australian Open.The New York based UNDP in a statement said that it was suspending Sharapova, who worked as a goodwill Ambassador, until the outcome of the investigation into her case is known.Maria Sharapova provisionally suspended after failing drug test at Australian Open.The statement said that the UNDP remains grateful to Maria Sharapova for her support of our work, especially around the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster recovery.On 7 March 2016, the Russian tennis player announced that she tested positive for a drug called meldonium, also known as Mildronate, at the Australian Open.

Mauritania on 14 March 2016 became the second African country to ratify the 2014 Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention 1930.Prior to Mauritania, Niger (Africa), Norway (Europe) and the United Kingdom (Europe) ratified the protocol.The protocol requires States to take effective measures for prevention of forced labour, protection of victims and ensuring their access to justice and compensation.The ILO estimates that about 21 million men, women, and children are in forced labour – trafficked, held in debt bondage, or working under slave-like conditions.The vast majority of these forced labourers – almost 19 million – are exploited in the private economy, by individuals or enterprises.Another 2.2 million (10 percent) are in state-imposed forms of forced labour, including forced labour imposed by paramilitary forces.To address the issue, governments, employers, and workers at the ILO International Labour Conference supported the adoption of the new ILO Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention, 1930.Besides, a Recommendation on supplementary measures for addressing forced labour was also adopted.If widely ratified and implemented by ILO member countries, the Protocol and Recommendation promise to act as a catalyst for achieving the vision of a world without forced labour.

The 59th Session of Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) was inaugurated on 14 March 2016 in Austria’s capital Vienna.The 9-day long session seeks to promote a comprehensive understanding of the world drug problem and evolve appropriate strategies to deal with it.Around 1500 delegates representing Member States, inter-governmental organizations, and civil society will be participating in the session.During the session, the Commission will discuss 10 draft resolutions and hold 74 side events and over 25 exhibitions.Among other things, the session’s work includes preparations for the UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem(UNGASS 2016) to be held in April 2016.The focus of the UNGASS 2016 will be on what actions Member States can take by 2019 to achieve the goals set forth in a policy documenttitled - Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem.The draft outcome document for the UNGASS is expected to be written at the this session.It was established by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in 1946, to assist the ECOSOC in supervising the application of the international drug control treaties. In 1991, the General Assembly further expanded the mandates of the CND to enable it to function as the governing body of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).It is also mandated to approve the budget of the Fund of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme, which accounts for over 90 per cent of the resources available to the United Nations for drug control.As per the UNODC, some 27 million people suffer from drug use disorders worldwide that include 12 million people who inject drugs.

Pope Francis on 15 March 2016 announced that Mother Teresa will be made a saint of the Roman Catholic Church at a ceremony on 4 September 2016.The pope cleared the way for sainthood to Mother Teresa, who was famed for her lifetime of service to the poor, establishing shelters for homeless, orphanages, soup kitchens and clinics around the world.The Vatican credited her with the 2008 cure of a Brazilian man who had been suffering from brain tumors.The first step toward making her a saint took place in 2002 when Mother Teresa was credited with the healing of a Bengali woman who suffered from tuberculosis and cancer.Originally, individuals were recognized as saints without any formal process. Later, different processes, such as those used by the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church were developed.There are four steps to canonization that the saints have to go through:Servant of God , Venerable , Blessed,Saint.Teresa was born Agnese Gonxha Bojaxhiu of Albanian parents in 1910 in what was then part of the Ottoman Empire and is now Macedonia. She lived in India for much of her life, where she founded a religious congregation called the Missionaries of Charity. She died in India in 1997 at the age of 87.She won a Ramon Magsaysay Peace and International Understanding (PIU) Award in 1962 and a Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.She was known as saint of the gutters.

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