Current Affairs 23rd March 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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The tax concessions announced by Punjab and Haryana in their state budgets 2016-17 in past few days for the cotton spinning sector will bring the languishing units back in the saddle. Imports of cheaper cotton yarn by fabric and garmenting units (concentrated in Ludhiana and Gurgaon) in these states from other parts of India had rendered the local spinning units uncompetitive in their own territory due to higher manufacturing cost.The Punjab Government in its pre-poll budget (Assembly elections in Punjab expected in early 2017) has provided a partial rollback of VAT (value added tax) on cotton spinning. The new rate of VAT on cotton spinning will be 3.63% compared to the earlier 6.05%. Punjab has 165 spinning mills with 4.25 million active spindles and consume 6.5 lakh to 7 lakh cotton bales annually.Going one step ahead of Punjab, the younger sibling Haryana has decided a zero rated VAT on cotton spinning in the state that is currently 5%. Haryana has an estimated 2.5 lakh spindles, which consume only lakh bales per annum against the production of 25 lakh cotton bales annually.DCM Textiles, SEL Manufacturing and HP Cotton Textiles Limited are the three large units in cotton spinning in Haryana.The decision of the state government will provide protection to the Punjab based spinning units against the cheap imports from other states which have lower cost of production.Punjab is a major consumer of cotton yarn in north and due to higher tariffs on local manufacturing entities an estimated Rs 9,000 cr worth of yarn is being imported annually from other states. The new tax structure will be a bulwark against dumping from other states to Punjab.The manufacturers also hope to get higher net investment margins with lower VAT as their VAT outgo will decrease. Rajiv Garg, the Managing Director of Garg Acrylics is sanguine as his 3.5 lakh spindles in Punjab would become more competitive profitable with the VAT correction in the state.Having units in both the states of Punjab and Haryana, Neeraj Saluja, Managing Director of SEL Manufacturing Company Limited says that this will boost sales and profits of the manufacturers catering to domestic market.The exporters will also get the benefit as they will have higher working capital at their disposal, said Rakesh Goel, CEO of DCM Textiles Hisar. Adding that the time consumed in getting VAT refund will be saved, Goel said that a zero rated VAT would allow the units with twin advantage of tax waiver and input tax credit.

From Natasha Chaku Melbourne, Mar 22 (PTI) An Australian marathon runner will embark on a 76-day-long-run from Jaisalmer to Meghalaya in August to raise funds for the education initiatives in India.Samantha Gash, a corporate lawyer by profession, who is now an athlete, said "my mind and heart is determined to finish the physical and mental challenge that is 'Run India'.She has run through some of the most extreme and in hospitable locations from deserts in Chile, China, Egypt and Antarctica, to mountains of Nepal, New Zealand, South Africa and India.Her Indian challenge would include not a direct run from West to East India but would also include other parts to visit World Vision development programmes in Pauri and Darjeeling.Samantha said that she was fascinated with India after her 2011 trip when she ran non stop for a 222 kms in Leh.Samantha would be accompanied by her crew of Indians, a Britisher and an American who join her during sections of the run.On January 26, another Australian marathon runner,Pat Farmer commenced on his South to North India run in a bid to promote ties between the two sides and encourage tourism and people-to-people contact.With an aim to create awareness about India as a "must experience" destination for travellers from Australia, Farmer also would raise funds for the cause of the education of the girl child through this run, which began in Kanyakumari.He would be finishing the run in Srinagar on March 30.

Hinduja Group’s Ashok Leyland Defence Systems Ltd (ALDS) has tied up with US-based defence contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. to develop combat vehicles for the Indian Army, the company said in a statement on March22,2016.The base platforms of Lockheed combat vehicles will be used to develop light specialist and light armoured multipurpose vehicles for the Indian Army.“As the largest provider of logistics vehicles to the Indian Army, Ashok Leyland has a strong portfolio in the defence sector. This partnership will not just further India’s ambitions under the Make in India programme, but help us provide robust and meaningful solutions to armed forces across new domains and geographies. We are buoyant about the defence segment, and expect our play to increase manifold,” said Vinod K. Dasari, managing director of Ashok Leyland.With the Indian armed forces looking to modernize their armoured vehicle fleet, there could be more opportunities ahead.“A combination of their (Lockheed Martin) technical expertise and our proven vehicle platforms will enable us to offer versatile solutions to armed forces across segments,” said Nitin Seth, president, light combat vehicles and defence, Ashok Leyland.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on 22 March 2016 released its standardised electronic format for the exchange of Country-by-Country (CbC) reports between jurisdictions -- CbC XML Schema - along with the related user guide.The CbC reports are electronically transmitted between competent authorities in accordance with the CbC XML Schema. These will assist tax administrations in obtaining a complete understanding of the way in which Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) structure their operations.Through this format, tax authorities would be annually provided key information on the global allocation of income and taxes paid, together with other indicators of the location of economic activity within the MNE group.Information for the CbC report would be collected by the country of residence of the reporting entity for MNE group. Subsequently, the same would be exchanged under the relevant international exchange of information agreement, in particular the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement on the Exchange of CbC reports in the format of the CbC XML Schema.It also covers the information about the particular entities that will do the business in a particular jurisdiction and the business activities each entity engages in.CbC XML Schema is part of efforts to ensure the swift and efficient implementation of the BEPS measures, which was endorsed by the G-20 leaders as part of the final BEPS package in November 2015.The first exchanges of CbC reports will start in 2018, with information on the year 2016.The country-by-country reporting template does not apply to groups with annual consolidated revenue in the immediately preceding fiscal year of less than 750 million euros.The OECD/G20 BEPS Project seeks to ensure that profits are reported where economic activities are carried out and value created.The overall aim is to close the gaps in existing international rules that allow corporate profits to disappear or be artificially shifted to low or no tax environments, where companies have little or no economic activity.It is primarily designed to be used for the automatic exchange of CbC reports between competent authorities.In recent times, India and many other countries have strengthened their cooperation on tax matters as part of ways to prevent illicit fund flows.Paris-based OECD has prepared a standardised electronic format for information exchange to help tax authorities have a better understanding about the way multinational firms structure their operations as India and other countries are stepping up vigil against tax evasion.The move is part of larger efforts, agreed upon by G-20 countries, including India, to clamp down on activities that lead to Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS).

Nepal on 22 March 2016 became a dialogue partner of the Beijing-based regional security grouping, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).Nepal was officially made a dialogue partner after a memorandum was signed during the Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli visit to China.As a dialogue partner, Nepal will be able to participate in the multi-field cooperation of the Organisation.Beside Nepal, Azerbaijan also officially became a SCO dialogue partner on 21 March 2016 upon the signing of a similar memorandum.Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)  is a permanent intergovernmental international organization which was established on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai (China) by the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People’s Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan.India, Afghanistan, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan are observer states.Belarus, Turkey and Sri Lanka are the dialogue partners of the organization before the recently joined Nepal and Azerbaijan Its prototype is the Shanghai Five mechanism.Strengthening mutual confidence and good-neighbourly relations among the member countries;Promoting effective cooperation in politics, trade and economy, science and technology, culture as well as education, energy, transportation, tourism, environmental protection and other fields; Making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region, moving towards the establishment of a new, democratic, just and rational political and economic international order.

State Bank of India, the nation's largest lender, is also the leader in digital banking in the country in both volume and value terms, handling over 38 per cent mobile banking transactions a month. The bank, quoting the Reserve Bank data for December 2015  Said in December 2015, SBI accounted for 38.44 per cent of total mobile banking transactions in terms of volume and 35.97 per cent market share in terms of value. SBI leads the mobile banking space with 151.83 lakh transactions worth Rs 17,636 crore in December 2015. As against this, the closest rivals, who are all private sector lenders, pale. ICICI Bank, the second largest lender, had just about 70.01 lakh transactions, followed by Axis Bank with 60.28 lakh and HDFC Bank with a low 39.13 lakh, in volume terms. Commenting on the achievement, SBI chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya said in terms of mobile banking volume, the bank has been consistently maintaining leadership position since April 2015. In May 2015, SBI launched mobile banking variant StateBankAnywhere-Saral which is meant for small and medium firms with single authorised signatory/user. Another variant StateBankAnywhere- Corporate for large corporate customers was launched in October 2015. These apps have been receiving significant response from on-the-move corporate customers and are facilitating a large number of high-value transactions through their mobiles. State Bank has a mobile app for each segment covering a wide range of customer needs. The app 'State Bank App Kart' gives its users a seamless user interface for installing, opening or upgrading mobile applications of the State Bank Group. Its another platform is SMS Banking with the app called SBI Quick that facilitates inquiry related options for everyone even from basic phones. Then the bank also has a mobile wallet 'State Bank Buddy' with a user base of around 2.5 million. 

India Post has released a customised commemorative stamp on HAL in recognition of the company’s 75 years services to the nation.The stamp was released by Usha Chandrashekhar, Chief Post Master General, Karnataka Circle, and V M Chamola, Director (HR), HAL in the presence of senior officials from both the organisations.The first time India Post is coming out with a customised 'My Stamp' and HAL is the first organisation to feature on it.The tagline 'HAL: The force behind the forces' for its platinum jubilee logo aptly represents the company's contribution to the nation's defence forces."HAL organised several events in the past few months as part of its platinum jubilee celebrations. The stamp depicts HAL's special 75-year logo that signifies HAL's journey over the past 75 years. The special logo depicts HAL's first indigenous aircraft programme from HT-2 to the light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas. "The logo also reflects HAL's rotary wing capabilities by displaying a watermark of HAL's star performer the advanced light helicopter (ALH) Dhruv," revealed VM Chamola.

State-run power major NTPC said its installed capacity has increased to 45,798 MW after commissioning of a 250 MW Unit-I of its arm at Nabinagar.The Unit-I of 250 MW of Nabinagar Thermal Power Station of Bhartiya Rail Bijlee Company Ltd (a subsidiary of NTPC) has been commissioned on March 20, 2016.With this, the total installed capacity of Nabinagar Thermal Power Station has become 250 MW and the total installed capacity of NTPC group has become 45,798 MW, it added. Bharatiya Rail Bijlee Company Ltd (BRBCL), a subsidiary of NTPC was incorporated on November 22, 2007 with 74:26 equity contribution from NTPC and Ministry of Railways, respectively for setting up of four units of 250 MW each of coal based power plant at Nabinagar, Bihar. The investment approval of the project was accorded in January, 2008. The 90 per cent power from this project is to be supplied to Railways to meet the traction and non-traction power requirements. 

Bajaj Finance is entering the Rs 20,000-crore life care segment under which it will finance expenses for stem cells storage units, cosmetics-based hair treatment, dental and eye care, IVF & maternity care, laproscopic cure for a dozen ailments, and elective medical/paramedical care for many other issues.The Pune-based company, which claims to be the first to enter this segment in the country, expects to net around Rs 1,000 crore in sales over the next five years from this business hoping to an encore of the massive demand for such segmental funding in the Western markets where life care segment is a booming business.Bajaj has already financed 400 customers for their expenses towards stem cell storage, cosmetics-based hair restoration therapy and dental care such as braces, whitening etc.A formal launch in the six top metros is expected within a month four weeks.The domestic life care category business is around Rs 20,000 crore and is clipping at 20-22 per cent and is likely to cost at a higher pace going forward with financing options now being available.While the hair restoration segment is a Rs 1,500-crore market, the stem cells storage market is around Rs 700 crore annually and that he expects to fund a large portion of this market with a national launch over the next six months when it hopes to be present in the 40 largest cities.On the costing side, the customer can avail of their financing at 5-6 per cent premium over the sale prices of the device or care.Its service is already available in Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru and over the next three months it hopes to enter Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad too.

Department of Consumer Affairs under the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution on 22 March 2016 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Industry Association for effective redressal of consumer complaints.Under the MoU, the Industry Association comprising ASSOCHAM, CII, DICCI, FICCI and PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry will implement six-point agenda to address consumer complaints.The MoU will broadly cover the following areas under six-point agenda: Collaborative programmes on developing and implementing a self-regulated code of fair business practices Establishing a Consumer Affairs division/vertical within the Industry Body Initiating advocacy action against unfair trade practices and preventing fake Counterfeit and sub-standard products and services and adoption of voluntary standards by Industry members Earmarking of Corporate Social responsibility (CSR) funds for consumer awareness and protection activities Partnering with the National Consumer Helpline and State Consumer Helplines for grievance redressal; Launching joint consumer awareness, education and training programmes under the “Jago Grahak Jago”.The six-point agenda will cover three priority areas, namely Redressal of consumer grievances Enhancement of consumer awareness Protection and action against misleading advertisements, fake and counterfeit products.A Joint Working Group will monitor the implementation of agenda.Besides, a self-regulation Code of ethical business conduct and video spots on consumer advocacy by the Industry Bodies was also released during the celebrations of World Consumer Rights Day 2016.

The abbreviation CPGRMS was in news on 22 March 2016 as the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Dr Jitendra Singh initiated a telephone feedback mechanism under the CPGRMS for the first time.Using this facility, feedback regarding the response given by the officials will be collected from the complainants who used the Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System.The Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS) is a web based portal to receive grievances from citizens on the functioning of Government.It was launched in 2007 to improve public service delivery and making governments citizen-centric.The portal also allows senior officials to monitor the progress of redressal of grievances at different levels.Between June 2014 and February 2016 around 12 lakhs grievances were registered. At present, on an average 1500 grievances are disposed off in a day and nearly 45000 grievances in a month.Around 12000 officers across the departments were designated by the Union Government for processing the grievances registered under the portal.It has been designed and implemented in all the Ministries and Departments of Government of India. A customized software with local language interface has also been designed for the state governments. This software is called CPGRAMS - States.The state module of CPGRAMS has been implemented in 9 States/Union Territories namely Haryana, Odisha, Rajasthan, Puducherry, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Uttrakhand, Jharkhand and Punjab.

The Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Justice HL Dattu has been appointed as member of the International Coordinating Committee Bureau (ICCB) of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI-ICC) Bureau in Geneva. He has been selected from the Asia-Pacific region and shall represent India along with Mongolia, Qatar and Australia from this region. He was nominated unanimously after no other NHRI from the region nominated candidate against him to fill vacancy created after the representative of NHRI of South-Korea vacated it.The ICC Bureau is an important human rights body that serves as the Management Committee of the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions (ICC). It implements all the decisions of the ICC General Meetings and directs the operations of the ICC between these meetings. ICC Bureau consists of sixteen ‘A’ status NHRIs four from each region namely, Americas, Europe, Africa and the Asia-Pacific. India’s NHRC has been an active Member of the ICC and regularly taking part in its activities, including Annual General Meetings.

Brussels was in news on 22 March 2016 as the city came under terrorist attack. A series of explosions, claimed by the Islamic State, took place at the Zaventem Airport and Maalbeek metro station killing at least 34 people and injuring more than 200.With this attack, Belgium became the second European capital that came under terrorist attack in a span of less than 5 months.Earlier, on 13 November 2015, Terrorists attacked six locations around Paris killing around 130 civilians and injuring another 200 people and security personnel.However, the attack on Belgium is of more strategic concern as the headquarters of both the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU) are located in this city.

Edelweiss Asset Management announced on March 22,2016, it had agreed to acquire the onshore fund schemes managed by JPMorgan Asset Management India (JPMAM), including its India-based onshore mutual fund business and the international fund of funds. The buyout is subject to regulatory approvals.JPMorgan is the seventh global financial services firm to exit the Indian mutual fund (MF) sector in the past three years. Last year, Goldman Sachs sold its MF business to Reliance Capital for Rs 243 crore in a deal valued at 3.4 per cent of the former's Indian assets under management (AUM). Deutsche MF sold its business to DHFL Pramerica reportedly for Rs 400 crore.The AUM of JPMAM is Rs 7,081 crore, while that of combined entities amounts to Rs 8,757 crore as on December 31. Edelweiss Asset Management, which has long been among the bottom 10 fund houses in terms of assets managed, now stands to enter the top 20 club.Edelweiss is committed to absorbing a majority of employees of JPMAM," the brokerage said. "Except for three to four senior staff, we are absorbing pretty much everyone, including the entire investment and sales teams," said Jain.According to experts, Edelweiss will get about Rs 1,500-2,000 crore of equity assets of JPMorgan, which is a good thing. "It can leverage the foreign bank network of JPMorgan," said Manoj Nagpal, CEO, Outlook Asia Capital.JPMAM had been scouting for buyers for many months. However, the plan had taken a backseat after the crisis caused by the Amtek Auto default. The fund house had an exposure of nearly Rs 200 crore to Amtek Auto debt paper through two of its debt schemes.Earlier this month, Tata Mutual Fund was reportedly in the race for buying the fund's assets at one per cent of JPMAM's AUM. In March last year, Reliance Capital Asset Management and at least two other large and two mid-sized asset management companies were reportedly keen on buying JPMAM's assets.that JPMAM has built, this acquisition is a natural win for both Edelweiss and JPMorgan. There will be planned investments in the business in terms of products, technology, distribution, and a clear strategy to compound growth.

The Punjab government on March 22,2016, passed a Bill with a framework to regulate and settle agriculture debts.The House also passed the Punjab Gau Sewa Commission Bill to protect cows. Neighbouring Haryana had passed a cow protection Bill earlier, after the BJP government had come to power.According to a Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) study of 2013, rural indebtedness in Punjab was around Rs 35,000 crore. This was the main reason for the death of more than 5,000 farmers in the past 10 years.Meanwhile, moving the Punjab Settlement of Agricultural Indebtedness Bill on the floor of the House on the concluding day of the Budget session, Agriculture Minister Tota Singh said the Bill aimed to provide a forum to determine and expedite settlement of debts of agriculturists and others dependent on agriculture.These people raised loans from institutional and non-institutional resources, he said, adding that institutional loans were regulated through various special legislation. However, non-institutional loans were largely unregulated with no easily accessible forum for remedy.According to the Bill, the interest payable on the debt shall be calculated at such rate as may be notified by the government," he said. "The interest payable on the debt shall be simple interest calculated on a yearly basisThe government would establish a District Agriculture Debt Settlement Forum at every district of the state to implement the Act, Singh said. The chairman of the forum would be a retired district and sessions judge or a retired additional district and sessions judge.

Union finance minister Arun Jaitley on March 22,2016 launched the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana and Unified Package Insurance Scheme in Mumbai. The revamped schemes would help farmers insure their crops against natural calamities in an efficient way because insurance companies will reverse bid for higher sum insured and lower premium. Uttarakhand became the first state to adopt this scheme as insurance companies bid for a 2% premium. Both schemes would target crop insurance as well as accidental insurance for farmers, insurance for tractors as well as farm equipments. With the country having suffered two back to back poor monsoons the FM launched this programme saying that its success should remove the blot on the government that it has done nothing to protect the livelihood of the farmers.This scheme would enable the farmer to pay less and in the event of crop failure will allow him to get paid more. This scheme will give volumes hence would require lesser amount as premium from farmers," said Jaitley. Launching the scheme the minister said that with 50% of the farmers being targetted for coverage under the scheme. He also added that these schemes are a part of the government's efforts to convert India into an insured and pensioned society

Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Uma Bharti on 22 March 2016 released the Detailed Project Report (DPR) on Forestry Intervention for Ganga.The DPR envisioned policy and law interventions, concurrent research, monitoring and evaluation, and mass awareness campaigns to rejuvenate and develop forests in the Ganga River basin.Extensive plantations in natural, agriculture and urban landscapes besides conservation interventions such as soil and water conservation, riparian wildlife management, wetland management, and supporting activities were proposed in the report.Altogether, 40 different plantation and treatment models have been selected for implementation by Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal.The project will be implemented over a period of five years by the State Forest Departments of these five states in Phase-I (2016-2021).The project envisages active involvement of two battalions of Eco Task Force in the states of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh for raising plantations in difficult terrains.The State Forest Departments in five states are also expected to involve ITBP, Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan and Civil Society organizations for various proposed activities including monitoring and awareness campaigns.The DPR has been prepared by Forest Research Institute (FRI) Dehradun after extensive consultations with various stakeholders and incorporating science based methodology.This included use of remote sensing and GIS technologies for spatial analysis and modeling of pre-delineated Ganga riverscape covering 83946 out of a much larger Ganga River basin within the country. FRI designed four sets of field data formats to obtain the site based information on proposed forestry plantations in natural, agriculture and urban landscapes along the river course and other conservation interventions.More than 8000 data sheets were obtained from five states along the river course.The FRI also developed software to collate, analyze and report generation on potential plantation and treatment models.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change on 22 March 2016 notified new environment standards for Gensets running on Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG)/Natural Gas (NG), Diesel with LPG/NG and Petrol with LPG/NG operated in various cities/towns in India.The standards for Gensets running on LPG/NG, or in combination with diesel/petrol have been notified for the first time.The primary aim of the new standards for Gensets is to control air and noise pollution emanating from the operation of Gensets. These standards were recommended by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) after consultations with industries and other stakeholders.In all, the three fuel modes of operation, a three-tier classification have been adopted.These standards will control the air and noise emission profile across different category of Gensets and will be revisited in 4-5 years once air and noise emission quality data and technological details pertaining to Gensets are available.These standards have mandated certification for Gensets in terms of Type approval and Conformity of Production for air emission as well as noise emission. The manufacturers are required to obtain the certification for engine products by empanelled agencies, which will help in regulating the unorganised sector thereby help in curbing the illegal import of Gensets in the country, which were observed to have higher air and noise emission values.

The World Meteorological Day (WMD) 2016 was observed across the world on 23 March 2016. The theme for the WMD 2016 was Hotter, Drier, Wetter. Face the Future.The theme of WMD 2016 tries to bring focus on the climate change that is disrupting the natural pattern of the seasons. The climate change is also increasing the frequency and intensity of certain extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, droughts and heavy rainfall. These ongoing changes provide a foretaste of a hotter, drier, wetter future.Every year on the occasion of WMD, awards for meteorological research are also given. These awards include The International Meteorological Organization Prize, Professor Dr. Vilho Vaisaila Award and The Norbert Gerbier-Mumm International Award.23 March is celebrated as World Meteorological Day to commemorate the entry into force of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Convention in 1950 aimed at creating the organisation.WMO became the UN's specialized agency for meteorology, operational hydrology and related geophysical sciences in 1951. It originated from the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), which was founded in 1873.  At present, WMO is represented by 189 member states and territories.The theme for World Meteorological Day 2015 was Climate Knowledge for Climate Action.

Sebi is mulling doing away with the requirement of a fresh KYC (Know Your Client) for opening of new accounts in securities market if the investor has got a bank account. Under the proposed move that may take a couple of months to come into effect, the market intermediaries - be it brokerage firms, mutual funds or any other Sebi-registered entity - would rather be allowed to use KYC checks conducted by the bank with which the investor has got an account. Sebi is currently discussing the proposal with the RBI and the government, and a final decision would depend on these consultations, as also on various regulatory aspects, a top official said, while adding that the central bank has in-principle agreed to the proposed move.According to Sebi Chairman U K Sinha, the common KYC for the entire financial sector is also in works, but the regulator in the meantime is considering allowing banks' KYC for the securities markets. After Sebi's recent board meeting here, the regulator has created KYC Registration Agency or KRA and now one KYC is enough for all intermediaries in the securities markets. Already, Aadhaar has made it very simple for KYC procedures to be conducted. Now, our next target is why can't we use the banks' KYC because all the transactions of securities market, except mutual fund transactions up to Rs 50,000, have to take place through banks. Therefore, we can provide that since a person has a bank account that was opened after a KYC, there would not be any need for a fresh KYC to be done. We have taken up this matter with the RBI and with the government. RBI is also in-principle agreeable to it .This would mean that if a person has a bank account, he would not need to go through a fresh KYC for any securities markets account.

Swedish furniture retailing giant IKEA will contribute 12.4 million euro (Rs 92.84 crore) to provide safe water and sanitation to one million people in India and Indonesia through Water.Org.IKEA Foundation has announced a new grant of 12.4 million euro to Water.Org on the occasion of the World Water Day, it said in a statement."IKEA Foundation is committing 12.4 million euro to Water.Org to expand its WaterCredit model, helping families have access to small, affordable loans so they can get safe water and sanitation," it added.IKEA Foundation is the philanthropic arm of INGKA Foundation, the owner of the IKEA Group of companies.Commenting on the development, Matt Damon, co-founder of Water.Org said: "Our work at Water.Org has never been more important, and thanks to this grant and to IKEA Foundation, we are going to help hundreds of thousands of kids gain access to safe water and sanitation and impact their lives forever."IKEA Foundation CEO Per Heggenes said: "We believe that every child deserves a healthy start in life and this is why we are supporting Water.Org's innovative programmes to help families in India and Indonesia access safe water and better sanitation facilities, giving them improved health and a life of dignity."The World Bank estimates that 2% of communicable diseases in India are linked to unsafe water and the lack of hygiene practices, and 50% of India's population continues to practice open defecation, the statement said.In Indonesia, more than 33 million people lack access to safe water and 100 million lack access to improved sanitation facilities.

Hepziba, who won three medals, including a gold, at the Street Child Games in Rio She sprinted to win in the 100-metre dash at the Street Child Games held in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Hepsiba, now 16, earlier lived on Sydenhams Road in Chennai.The tournament is a global movement for street children to receive the protection and opportunities that all children are entitled to unite street children from across five continents to play football and unite in a unique international conference.The first Street Child World Cup was held in Durban, South Africa, in March 2010 and participants were between 14 and 16 years old at the time of the event and all had experience of living full-time on the streets without family.

In a first, researchers have shown that a fungus can transform manganese into a mineral composite with favourable electrochemical properties - paving the way for a better rechargeable battery in the near future.The findings suggest that fungus Neurospora crassa present in a red bread mold could be the key to producing more sustainable electrochemical materials for use in rechargeable batteries.We have made electrochemically active materials using a fungal manganese biomineralisation process," said Geoffrey Gadd from the University of Dundee in Scotland.The electrochemical properties of the carbonised fungal biomass-mineral composite were tested in a supercapacitor and a lithium-ion battery.The compound was found to have excellent electrochemical properties. This system, therefore, suggests a novel biotechnological method for the preparation of sustainable electrochemical materials.Gadd and his colleagues have long studied the ability of fungi to transform metals and minerals in useful and surprising ways.In earlier studies, they showed that fungi could stabilise toxic lead and uranium.That led the researchers to wonder whether fungi could offer a useful alternative strategy for the preparation of novel electrochemical materials too.We had the idea that the decomposition of such biomineralised carbonates into oxides might provide a novel source of metal oxidesthat have significant electrochemical properties," Gadd added in a paper published in the Cell Press journal Current Biology."We were surprised that the prepared biomass-Mn oxide composite performed so well," he noted.In comparison to other reported manganese oxides in lithium-ion batteries, the carbonised fungal biomass-mineral composite "showed an excellent cycling stability and more than 90 percent capacity was retained after 200 cycles," the authors noted.The team will continue to explore the use of fungi in producing various potentially useful metal carbonates.

The government of India has notified new norms for plastic waste management across the country. The Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, which is aimed at curbing the over 6,000 tonnes of uncollected plastic waste generated daily, will target plastic manufacturers and industries that use it.Environment minister Prakash Javadekar said this will be brought about by a new principle of Extended Producers Responsibility Act.Those industries using plastic will have to pay proportionately towards collection through the same distribution system they use for retailing their products.Such industries will be liable to lose their certification for operations if they do not abide by the norms.However he could not specify the extent of fines that would be imposed on the manufacturers or how exactly the monitoring system will operate.The government also aims to standardise the 50 micron size plastic bags as opposed to the 40 micron ones, which was the minimum permissible limit earlier.

Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu recently released a set of model building bye-laws (MBBL), which provide for a structural framework to create an online single window system, thereby reducing corruption.It also makes it mandatory for states to provide all building clearances within 30 days.As per the guidelines, one does not require to come to the national capital to get green clearance for the projects involving built up area of up to 1.5 lakh sq meter.It also focuses more on building adequate number of toilets in buildings, particularly for women, keeping in mind their participation at work place.Currently, there are over 35 different kinds of clearances required from various agencies before initiating any new project. Besides getting clearances from the state-based agencies, the investors in certain projects require clearances from central ministries, including Defence, Civil Aviation, Environment and Forests, Culture and Consumer Affairs.The new model building bye-laws also offer incentives to real estate developers for adopting smart energy solutions. Provision for rainwater harvesting, roof top solar energy harvesting and smart metering have been proposed in the new bye-laws.The local bodies can provide incentives in the form of discounts and tax rebates to those complying with green norms," said Naidu."The aim is complete elimination of human interaction of the applicant with the urban local body, including online approvals of various kinds of no-objection certificates. The time limit for approvals is proposed in the model regulations to be 30 days," he added.To make the system corruption-proof, the new guideline recommends an online system, which eliminates person-to-person interaction.The MBBL provides for integration of various types of environmental considerations. MBBL provides for three categories of buildings based on the built-up area - 5,000 to 20,000 sqm; 20,000 to 50,000 sqm and 50,000 to 150,000 sqm - and different set of environmental conditions are provided for each category.For the first time, a risk based matrix for different types of buildings has been introduced in the bye-laws."The objective of this analysis is that small buildings with low risk criteria should be approved on a fast track and the high risk buildings like mall, multi-story or big comp complexes should be examined in the required detail.

World Poetry Day was observed across the world on 21 March 2016. The main objective of the Day is to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression and to offer endangered languages the opportunity to be heard within their communities.It is the occasion to honour poets, revive oral traditions of poetry recitals, promote the reading, writing and teaching of poetry, foster.UNESCO first adopted 21 March as World Poetry Day during its 30th General Conference in Paris in 1999 to recognise the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirit of the human mind.Each country is invited to celebrate the day of 21 March in its own way, with the active participation of National Commissions, NGOs and the public and private institutions concerned (schools, municipalities, poetic communities, museums, associations, publishing houses, local authorities and so on).For its part, UNESCO will endeavour to encourage and support national initiatives designed, inter alia, to: further the introduction of poetry as an important feature of arts education in school curricula;raise awareness in schools so that World Poetry Day will be celebrated in the most interdisciplinary way possible by and in schools;encourage the award of poetry prizes;mobilize municipal authorities so that they will contribute actively to the preparation and celebration of World Poetry Day; and promote the creation of a network of prizes in each Member State (and Associate Member);elaborate an electronic repertoire of poetic institutions and/or associations in different.

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