Current Affairs 5th November 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has issued Guidelines for transparent bidding process for setting up of 1000 MW Wind Power Project connected to inter-state transmission system (ISTS). The guidelines have been issued for implementation of Scheme launched in June 2016 for providing power purchase agreements for electricity generated from 1,000-MW wind power projects. Wind Power Projects will be selected through transparent and open competitive bidding followed by e-reverse auction for setting up of 1000 MW Wind Power Projects.  The capacity these Wind Power Projects may go higher than 1000 MW, if there is demand from Buying Entities. Under this Scheme, Discoms of non-windy State/UTs and also the bulk consumers of any State/UTs who intend to buy 10 MW or more can buy wind power. The PTC India Ltd, trading company will sign Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with wind projects at bidded tariff and back-to-back Power Sale Agreement (PSA) with Buying Entities at a pooled price of the total bids selected.  The term of PSA and PPA will be 25 years. Bidder can bid for a minimum capacity of 50 MW and maximum up to 250 MW. The selected bidder is required to injected wind power at ISTS interconnection point and will be also allowed to install 5% of additional rated capacity that will compensate auxiliary consumption and system losses up to interconnection point.

India and Venezuela have signed an oil production deals worth about 1.45 billion US dollar to increase oil production. The agreement was signed between Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Venezeulas Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), and Venezuela’s consortium Delta Finance BVin Caracas. The Indo-Venezuelan partnership created in 2009 is expected to double the daily oil production of San Cristobal field from 20,000 to 40,000 barrels of oil. The agreement comes amid a severe economic crisis in Venezuela. It is seen as a way to boost oil production, pay off debts, obtain funds from other foreign partners, and increase the country’s oil income. Venezuela’s economy relies on oil exports and it accounts for half of the Venezuelan government’s revenues. Recently, it has been severely hit by a drastic fall in oil prices and resulted in the Venezuela’s economic crisis. The inflation rate in Venezuela is out of control leading to hyperinflation like condition resulting in shortages of goods and essential commodities. The inflation rate of Venezuela is highest in the world which is expected to reach 475% by the end of 2016.

The sunrise state Andhra Pradesh has been ranked number one in the World Bank’s ‘Energy Efficiency Implementation Readiness’. The ranking of the states were released in the World Bank’s study report titled: ‘India’s State Level Energy Efficiency Implementation Readiness’. Andhra Pradesh topped with overall score of 42.01 followed by Rajasthan (41.89), Karnataka (39.34) and Maharashtra (39.29). Kerala, Gujarat, Delhi (UT), Punjab, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh are the other states in the top ten ranking in that order. Andhra Pradesh topped the list by achieving an energy saving of 1,500 million units (MU) i.e. around 650 MW in two years through use of LED lighting. The World Bank study suggests adoption of achievable energy savings targets against the identified energy efficiency interventions. It also calls upon the states to endeavour to bring sector-specific energy efficiency policies with definite goals and time-bound action plans.

The First World Tsunami Awareness Day was observed across the world on 5 November 2016. The theme for the year is Effective Education and Evacuation Drills. In December 2015, the United Nations General Assembly designated 5 November as World Tsunami Awareness Day. World Tsunami Awareness Day : The significance of the day to tsunami awareness can be traced back to the year 1854. A villager in Wakayama Prefecture, Japan, was concerned about an impending tsunami after a high-intensity earthquake on 5 November 1854. He set up a fire to rice sheaves on the top of a hill. Fellow villagers, who went atop to put off the fire, were saved even as a tsunami destroyed their village down below. This was the first documented instance of a tsunami early warning.  To commemorate that day of “Inamura no Hi” (the burning of rice sheaves), a resolution was jointly proposed by 142 countries including Japan as a follow up of the third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The United Nations designated the 5th November as World Tsunami Awareness Day. The observance of the day will help to spread awareness among people across the world in matters related to the dangers of tsunami. It will also stress on the importance of early warning systems in order to mitigate damage from the often devastating natural hazard. It also aims at reviving traditional knowledge about tsunamis. Awareness raising activities will be organized throughout the Conference through thematic events, exhibitions, and distribution of awareness materials.

Global Media and Information Literacy Week 2016 observed from 31 October to 5 November 2016. The Global MIL Week was organised under the theme Media and Information Literacy: New Paradigms for Intercultural Dialogue. This was the sixth MIL Week and was jointly organised by UNESCO, UNAOC, Global Alliance for Partnerships on Media and Information Literacy (GAPMIL) and the Media and Information Literacy and Intercultural Dialogue (MILID) International University Network, in partnership with the University of Sao Paulo. Feature of the event held during the week included The Sixth MILID Conference and the First General Assembly of GAPMIL The Global MIL Week 2016 was hosted by the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and it took place from 2 to 5 November 2016

The Tata group decreased in ranking on India’s most attractive brands index, which has been topped by South Korean consumer electronics maker LG. Tata, which was at number 4 in 2015and number 5 in 2014, is ranked at number 7 in India’s Most Attractive Brands 2016 study, carried out by TrustResearch Advisory (TRA) and based on primary research conducted on close to 3,000 consumers across 16 cities. The top three ranks were occupied by LG,Sony and Samsung Mobiles repectively.LG has gradually but steadily been increasing its rank over the three issues of India’s Most attractive Brands reports, going from being fourth in 2013 to being second in 2016 and ultimately first this year. India based firms Bajaj, Tata and Maruti Suzuki were ranked sixth, seven and eight respectively. Airtel and Nokia took the ninth and tenth spot respectively in the TRA’s most attractive brands list. In the sub-category of FMCG diversified, as per TRA, Patanjali cracked Hindustan Unilever (HUL) to be the most the attractive brand.

Private sector lender Yes Bank has launched “Yes Mobile 2.0” its new mobile banking app with multiple new features and extensive support for banking transactions on Apple and Android based SmartWatches. The app is compatible with all mobile devices including Android tablets and Apple iPads in addition to smartphones and wearables.  With multiple added functionalities and a customisable interface Yes Mobile 2.0 will replace the older Yes Mobile application that was being used by bank customers.  The new application is filled with features like comprehensive bill payments, speech to text capabilities for registering complaints and queries and even bill payments from wearables. The app will allow customers to undertake most transactions on the app including NetBanking registration, thereby eliminating the need to visit the website or a banking branch.  As an Innovative design-driven Bank, Yes Bank aims to capitalise on the rapid adoption of mobile internet, smartphones and wearables. Over the next 12 months, Yes Mobile will play a vital role in providing a seamless omni-channel experience to our customers with a close integration with Yes Bank's payment offerings including UPI & Yes Pay Wallet, Yes Tag Chatbot, Virtual Cards, Credit Cards and superior NetBanking capabilities .  

Google has tied up with Archaelogical Survey of India (ASI) for 360 degree virtual tour of 280-odd monuments across the country, an official of the tech giant said. We have a tie-up with ASI for 360 degrees virtual tour of 280 monuments across the country of which 30 are in West Bengal,” Sanket Gupta, programme manager of Google Maps told reporters here today. He said ASI had given the permission to Google for creating the virtual tour, which would be available in the maps. Some of the major monuments are Taj Mahal, Victoria Memorial and the ruins of Hampi, he said, adding eight were from Kolkata. He said Google has launched an array of products in India like offline view of maps, live traffic alerts and inclusion of unknown places on the maps by local guides. Asked about Google Street View, Mr. Gupta said that authorities at the central and state levels were denying permission. In India we are trying to work with the state and central levels for allowing Street View,he said, adding neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had allowed the same. Mr. Gupta said one billion people across the globe were using Google maps and India was among the top five.  

The ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) will launch 'Jana Chaitanya Yatra' from today in Andhra Pradesh to highlight the welfare and developmental initiatives of the government. Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu will also launch the membership drive of the party in Koppolu village in Prakasam district. The TDP national president will take the party membership first followed by his Cabinet colleagues and other senior party leaders and workers. The TDP is targeting to double its membership base this year from the present 50 lakh.

The Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers(ICANN), which is a private non-profit organisation managing internet protocol numbers and domain name system roots, began its 57th annual general meeting in Hyderabad. The seven-day-long meeting, which is the first gathering after the United States relinquished its stewardship over internet governance, focuses on enhancing its outreach and engagement with a global audience, besides improving capacity building measures. The conference, scheduled to take place between November 3 and 9, would discuss the transition of internet governance into a multi-stakeholder community model, besides speaking about issues related to domain name system. As per the recommendations of the meeting's strategy group, this meeting will showcase the work of ICANN. It will feature two public forum sessions and eight community-driven high-interest topic sessions. apart from other outreach and engagement activities. He added that the event will also recognise contributions from within the community through its recognition programmes. This is the second time India is hosting the meeting. The first time when an ICANN meeting was held in India was in 2008. The Union Ministry of Electronics and Communication, which has been hosting the annual meeting, is pursuing some of the issues with the company that involve establishing a root server that handles domain name functions. The ministry  is also pushing for the usage of scripts of Indian languages internet domain names. The process of finalising the necessary rule sets for 22 Indian languages, which have been identified by the Centre, for this very purpose and is currently underway. The Union Minister of Law and Justice and Electronics and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, will be addressing the ICANN's inaugural session, which is scheduled on Friday. ICANN's India head Samiran Gupta said there will be 385 sessions on various topics, including internet governance and multilingual internet services, during the seven-day-long event.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Mangat Ram Sharma died after a prolonged illness. Sharma, 85, is survived by six sons. Sharma was not well for the past some time and breathed his last this morning at his residence. The six-time legislator also served as speaker of Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly.  He served as Deputy Chief Minister in the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed led PDP-Congress coalition government and later served as Health Minister in 2006, when Ghulam Nabi Azad took over as Chief Minister of J&K.  He also held important positions in the Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee. Azad, who is here to meet border dwellers, visited his residence and expressed condolence with the family members of Sharma. 

Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu has inaugurated the International Conference on Decarbonisation of Indian Railways – Mission Electrification in New Delhi on November 3, 2016. It was organised byInstitution of Railways Electrical Engineer (IREE) in partnership with ASSOCHAM India. Indian Railways is looking forward to make Railways greener by electrifying another 24000 km of Rail Tracks to the existing 28000 km in the next few years. The biggest user of energy Indian Railways consumes about 18 billion units of electricity and about 2.4 billion liters of fuel oil which is more than 2% of country’s energy consumption. Energy demand of Indian Railways is expected to triple by 2030 from current levels to 49 billion units of electricity. Decarbonising the Railways will help achieve the commitment made by India under Paris agreement to reduce its Green House Gas emissions by 33-35% by 2030 from the 2005 levels. The Railways will change significantly with the initiatives to produce greener energy & by electrifying the railways substantially. Consumption of imported oil will come down with electrification, thereby reducing burden on the exchequer. The Increase in the pace of electrification will reduce its fuel bill by Rs. 10000 Crore annually as against the business as usual approach. Indian Railways has embarked upon Mission Decarbonisation and Mission Electrification with an aim to reduce dependence on imported fuel and rationalize the cost of energy for Railways. The Conference aims at bringing various stakeholders on a common platform for exchange of ideas and to deliberate on implementable technological solutions and financing options to significantly increase pace of electrification and achieve the target for setting up of renewable energy installations with total capacity of 1000 MW by 2020.  The Conference also projected Indian Railways as an attractive investment destination considering its plans for huge investment in next 5 years towards modernization of its electrified network and use of renewable energy. The Conference shall cover aspects relating to policy, technological modernization, mechanization, innovations and financing models for railway electrification and de-carbonization. National Transport Development Policy Committee (NTDPC), in its report, has identified electrification of railway tracks as a means to reduce fuel consumption. The report has recommended for taking up electrification on priority through systematically tackling the bottlenecks in progress of electrification projects.

Five new banks have joined the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) bandwagon, thereby taking the total number of banks using UPI to 26. The five latest entrants include public sector lenders, State Bank of India, Allahabad Bank and Bank of Baroda and two private banks HDFC Bank and IDFC Bank.  These applications are currently in their final testing phase being active only in closed user groups, they are expected to go live for the public within the next six weeks  The applications are currently live only for the banks’ own customers and after being tested till they will be made available to the public through the android play store, said bankers.  UPI is being provided by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) which runs the domestic card transaction platform RuPay. It is supposed to do away with the entire business around adding beneficiaries for peer to peer online transactions. UPI apps can be downloaded from the android Play Store for transfer of funds in real time using the IMPS (Immediate Payments Service) railroads.  UPI had gone live with 21 banks in August this year but few of the major ones like State Bank of India, HDFC Bank and Bank of Baroda did not go live in the first tranche, thereby leaving a huge chunk of the bank customers deprived of the new service. Now more people are expected to use the payments interface.  There was initial scepticism among banks regarding the settlement of disputes between various parties in case of failed transactions on UPI,” said one of the bankers quoted above.   

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