Current Affairs 22nd September 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has given its approval for initiating the process of winding up of Hindustan Diamond Company Private Limited (HDCPL).  The winding up of HDCPL will not affect supply of rough diamonds to Indian diamantaires as Indian diamond industry has grown in these years.  Besides, the HDCPL had become inconsistent with changing times to facilitate the constant supply of rough diamonds and to make India an International Diamond Trading Hub. Hindustan Diamond Company Private Limited (HDCPL) :  HDCPL was a 50:50 joint venture of the Central Government and De Beers Centenary Mauritius Limited (DBCML).  It was incorporated under the Companies Act, 1956 in 1978 to supply rough diamonds to diamond processing industry in India. Its objective was to supply rough diamonds particularly to small and medium diamond jewellery exporters, who had no direct access to rough diamonds from Diamond Trading Company (DTC), London.

The Incredible India Tourism Investors Summit (IITIS) 2016 has begun in New Delhi after it was inaugurated by Union Finance Minster Arun Jaitley. The three day summit has been organized by the Union Ministry of Tourism in association with Tourism Finance Corporation of India (TFCI) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). IITIS will provide a common platform for domestic and international investors to meet project owners from across Indian states and the private sector.  It will host presentations of investible properties, session on why invest in India, Micro of Small and Micro Enterprises (MSME) in tourism sector. Besides, it will also host panel discussions on core infrastructure for tourism, session on start-ups, digital India, Swadesh Darshan, PRASAD and niche tourism products, B2B meetings.  The summit will also have dedicated space for seminars, business to business (B2B) meetings and roundtables around focus themes. There will be participation from major stakeholders including states/UTs with their ready investible projects, banks and financial Institutions, business developers. It will also see domestic investors, entertainment companies, global investors, helicopter services, infrastructure-developers, hoteliers, international associations, restaurateurs, tour and travel operators, venture capitalists, urban developers and civic amenity providers.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni was named the captain of the all-time India Test XI chosen by cricket magazine Wisden in the third week of September 2016. Dhoni has received the honours ahead of Sourav Ganguly and Mohammad Azharuddin. The openers in the team are Sunil Gavaskar and Virender Sehwag, followed by Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, all-rounder Kapil Dev and Dhoni. Veteran Indian all-rounder Kapil Dev along with Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan have been named as pacers, while legendary Bishen Singh Bedi, Harbhajan Singh and Team India coach Anil Kumble are the spinners. Azharuddin has been named as the 12th man. Wisden is one of the most reputed cricket magazines in the world, announced the team to mark India's 500th Test match starting on 22 September 2016 against New Zealand at the Green Park Stadium in Kanpur. Wisden Test XI : Sunil Gavaskar, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Kapil Dev, MS Dhoni (captain, wicketkeeper), Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath, Zaheer Khan, Bishan Singh Bedi, Mohammad Azharuddin (12th man).  

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved the partial capital grant of 5176 crore rupees to GAIL (India) Limited for development of 2539 km long Jagdishpur-Haidia and Bokaro-Dhamra Gas Pipeline (JHBDPL) project on 21 September 2016. This grant is 40 percent of the total estimated capital cost of 12940 crore rupees. JHBDPL project will connect Eastern part of the country with National Gas Grid.  It will ensure the availability of clean and eco-friendly fuel i.e. Natural Gas to the industrial, commercial and transport sectors in the States of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal.  This Capital Grant will encourage the supply of eco-friendly fuel at affordable tariffs to industries and will encourage industrial development in these states. The CCEA also approved the simultaneous development of City Gas Distribution (CGD) networks in cities namely Varanasi, Patna, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Bhubaneswar, Kolkata, Cuttack etc. en-route of JHBDPL project.  These distribution networks will be developed by GAIL in collaboration with the concerned State Governments. It will bring clean cooking fuel at the door step of Domestic households as well as provide clean fuel to transport sector in the eastern region.

Justice Girish Chandra Gupta was sworn in as the Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court on 22 September 2016. West Bengal Governor K.N. Tripathi administered the oath of office to Justice Gupta at the Raj Bhavan. Justice Gupta replaced Manjula Chellur, who has taken over as Chief Justice of Bombay High Court. Justice Gupta was functioning as the acting Chief Justice of the high court since 22 August 2016 after Chellur's transfer. It is after 30 years that a sitting judge of the Calcutta High Court has been made its Chief Justice. On 1 November 1986, Justice Chittatosh Mookerje was elevated as the Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court. Justice Girish Chandra Gupta : Justice Girish Chandra Gupta was born on 1 December 1954. He enrolled as an advocate on 20 September 1982.He practised in the Calcutta High Court for 17 years in civil, constitutional, company, arbitration and commercial matters.  He was made a permanent Judge of the Calcutta High Court on 15 September 2000.He is slated to retire in December 2016.  

The Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) has lifted the title of the Obaidullah Khan Heritage Cup Hockey Tournament on 21 September 2016. In the final clash at Aishbagh Stadium in Bhopal, BPCL defeated Railways by 3-0. The match was decided by penalty shoot-outs as both the teams scored one goal each till the end of prescribed time. Air India got the third place in the Tournament. It defeated ONGC in a match played to decide third place. Winning team received 51 lakh rupees. Man of the Match - Amit Rohidas Best Goalkeeper of the Tournament Award - Gurpreet Singh of Air India  Best Defender of the Tournament - Manpreet Singh from BPCL  Best Midfielder of the Tournament - Chinglensana Singh from Railways Best Forward of the Tournament - Affan Yousuf from Railways Player of the Tournament - Tushar Khandker from BPCL

The Union Cabinet gave its approval for signing and ratification of agreement between India and Samoa for the exchange of information with respect to Taxes on 21 September 2016. This agreement will stimulate the flow of exchange of information between the two nations for tax purposes which will help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance. As of now, there are no financial implications between the two nations. Only in the event of extraordinary costs exceeding 500 US dollars, the same will be borne by India. India has similar provisions in other such tax information exchange agreement. Features  :  It enables the competent authorities of the two nations to provide assistance through exchange of information that is relevant to the administration and enforcement of the domestic laws of the two countries concerning taxes covered by this Agreement.The information received under the Agreement shall be treated as confidential and may be disclosed only to persons or authorities (including courts or administrative bodies) concerned with assessment, collection, enforcement, prosecution or determination of appeals in relation to taxes covered under the Agreement. Information may be disclosed to any other person or entity or authority or jurisdiction with the prior written consent of the information sending country. The Agreement also provides for Mutual Agreement Procedure for resolving any difference or for agreeing on procedures under the Agreement.The Agreement shall enter into force on the date of notification of completion of the procedures required by the respective laws of the two countries for entry into force of the Agreement. Negotiations for entering into an Agreement for the exchange of information with respect to Taxes were finalized between India and Samoa in June 2016 and both countries have agreed on the text of the Agreement.

Book titled Democrats and Dissenters authored by Ramachandra Guha was released in September 2016. The book is a work of rigorous scholarship on topics of compelling contemporary interest, written with elegance and wit. Democrats and Dissenters covers a wide range of themes: from the varying national projects of India’s neighbours to political debates within India itself, from the responsibilities of writers to the complex relationship between democracy and violence. It has essays critically assessing the work of Amartya Sen and Eric Hobsbawm, essays on the tragic predicament of tribals in India who are, as Guha demonstrates, far worse off than Dalits or Muslims, yet get a fraction of the attention and on the peculiar absence of a tradition of conservative intellectuals in India. Each essay takes up an important topic or an influential intellectual, as a window to explore major political and cultural debates in India and the world. Democrats and Dissenters is a book that is certain to be widely read and even more widely discussed.

The Kerala government has objected to Genetically-Modified (GM) mustard being considered for commercial cultivation in India. We are not for AGM mustard as it has been proved to be unhealthy. We will inform the Centre that this should not be given the nod for it to be cultivated in India.Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told. This is the first time that the Kerala government has openly expressed its concern about GM mustard.

Adani Green Energy, part of the Adani Group, has dedicated to the nation the world's largest 648-mw solar power plant in Tamil Nadu entailing an investment of Rs 4,550 crore.  The solar power plant, producing 648 mw at a single location, was formally dedicated to the nation . The plant is set up at Kamuthi, Ramanathapuram, in Tamil Nadu with an investment of Rs 4,550 crore. It is part of the state government's ambitious target of generating 3,000 mw as per the solar energy policy unveiled by the government in 2012 . The entire 648-mw plant is now connected with Kamuthi 400 kv sub-station of Tantransco, making it the world's largest solar unit at a single location . This is a momentous occasion for Tamil Nadu as well as for the entire country. A plant of this magnitude reinstates the country's ambitions of becoming one of the leading green energy producers in the world 

The North East Connectivity Summit 2016 in Agartala also features a special Pre Summit Conclave on 21st September, 2016 which will mobilize industry and government and catalyze investment promotion in the state through policy debate, B2B and G2B meets and focused sessions on development and investments. Highlighting the opportunities in infrastructure and other potential areas like Tourism, Information Technology, Manufacturing, Food Processing, etc. Apart from focusing on improving connectivity in the region, this year the summit will also highlight the investment opportunities, opportunities in international trade and commerce that improved connectivity will bring about especially with countries like Bangladesh. Among other issues, the summit will have a major focus on development of international trade and commerce of North Eastern states including Assam, Improving connectivity with Bangladesh and other neighbouring countries with a special emphasis on developing connectivity in border areas.  

State-run life insurance behemoth LIC said managing director V K Sharma has taken additional charge as chairman, replacing S K Roy who was relieved of his duties. Roy resigned in June, nearly two years ahead of his retirement. Sharma has been serving as the managing director of the company since November 2013. Having joined the body as a direct recruit officer in 1981, Sharma has served as the chief executive of its mortgage subsidiary LIC Housing Finance and zonal manager in charge of the south zone. Roy, appointed by previous UPA government, had resigned nearly two years ahead of completion of his five-year term. He was serving as the chairman since June 2013. The exact reasons for his sudden exit have not been ascertained yet. Sources had said he had made similar request some months ago but the Finance Ministry asked him to reconsider that. Roy joined Life Insurance Corporation of India in 1981. On May 31, 2013, he assumed charge as Managing Director of LIC. Prior to his elevation, he was head of the International Operations division.

SS Mallikarjuna Rao has taken charge as executive director of Syndicate Bank. Prior to joining the bank, Rao was General Manager and CFO of Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC), looking after alternate delivery channels, marketing and publicity.  He started his career as probationary officer in Bank of Maharashtra in 1985.  He has been a professional banker for over 31 years.  Syndicate Bank is one of the oldest and major commercial banks of India. It was founded by T M A Pai, Upendra Pai and Vaman Kudva. At the time of its establishment, the bank was known as Canara Industrial and Banking Syndicate Limited.

The central government has approved nine highway projects at a cost of Rs 2,600.31 crore. The projects, cleared by the Standing Finance Committee (SFC), includes Rehabilitation and Up-gradation of Allahabad-Mirzapur section (Km 400.878 to Km 450) of NH-76 in Uttar Pradesh to two-lane at the total project cost of Rs 241.37 crores. Construction of two-lane with paved shoulder of Pilibhit-Puranpur section from Km 0.000 to Km 38.000 (excluding Tiger reserve area from Km 20.200 to Km 23.400) of NH-730 in Uttar Pradesh has been approved at a cost of Rs 176.94 crore The construction of capital road (Bypass road from Dimapur to Kohima of 34.171 Km length) under Inter State Connectivity Scheme in Nagaland during 2016-17 has also been approved at a total cost of Rs 325.81 crore. The other highways approved are in the states of Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.  

Social networking giant Facebook has appointed former chief product officer at Snapdeal and Bharti Airtel, Anand Chandrasekaran for its Messenger platform. In a global role, Chandrasekaran will be working out of the Silicon Valley headquarters of the company and will help develop strategies and partnerships for the platform that already boasts of a billion users globally.  Facebook is a for-profit corporation and online social media and social networking service based in Menlo Park, California, United States. The Facebook website was launched on February 4, 2004, by Mark Zuckerberg, along with fellow Harvard College students and roommates, Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes

Multilateral funding agency Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved $631 million loan for building India’s first coastal industrial corridor between Visakhapatnam (Vizag) and Chennai.  The fund will help develop the first key 800-km section of the planned 2,500-km East Coast Economic Corridor. The coastal industrial corridor is expected to boost development on eastern coast of India and enable seamless trade links with other parts of Southeast and South Asia. The total cost of the project is 846 million dollars and work on it is expected to be over by 2031.  The remaining 215 million dollars will be funded by Andhra Pradesh government. The loan fund from ADB will help to build state-of-art industrial clusters, roads, efficient transport, reliable water and power supplies with skilled workforce and good business policies.  The new infrastructure will be built in the four main centres — Visakhapatnam, Amaravati, Kakinada and Yerpedu-Srikalahasti — along the corridor. It will include 138 km of state highways and roads, 10 power substations, 488 km of drinking water pipeline, 47 km of storm drains, water treatment plants, and 281 km of power transmission and distribution lines. Visakhapatnam-Chennai Industrial Corridor (VCIC)  : The VCIC section of the East Coast Economic Corridor (ECEC) connects four economic hubs and nine industrial clusters. It will be first industrial corridor developed along India’s coast. The ECEC will extend from Kolkata (West Bengal) in the northeast of India to Tuticorin (Tamil Nadu) near the southern-most point of the country. Asian Development Bank (ADB)  : The ADB is a regional development bank established on 19 December 1966. It promotes social and economic development in Asia. It is headquartered in Manila, Philippines. ADB now has 67 members, of which 48 are from within Asia and the Pacific and 19 outside. The ADB has been modelled closely on the World Bank. It has similar weighted voting system where votes are distributed in proportion with members’ capital subscriptions. As of 2014, Japan is the largest shareholder (capital subscription) of ADB having 15.7% shares. US holds 15.6%, China (6.5%), India (6.4%), and Australia (5.8%).  

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for provision of a direct communication link through a dedicated submarine Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) between Chennai (mainland India) and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.  The submarine OFC will connect mainland with Port Blair and five other islands viz. Little Andaman, Havelock, Car Nicobar, Kamorta and Great Nicobar. The estimated cost of the project is 1102.38 crore rupees including operational expenses for 5 years. The project will be be completed by December 2018.  It will equip Andaman & Nicobar Islands with appropriate bandwidth and telecom connectivity. It will help the islands to implement the e-Governance initiatives also enterprises & e-commerce facilities. It will also provide adequate support to educational institutes for knowledge sharing, fulfil the vision of Digital India and availability of job opportunities. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are strategically located in the Bay of Bengal and their geographical configuration safeguard India’s eastern seaboard. Provision of secure, robust, reliable, and affordable telecom facilities in these islands is of importance from a strategic point of view to the country. Besides, the internet connectivity is also an important requirement for the socio-economic development of the islands. Currently the only available medium of providing telecom connectivity between Mainland and Andaman & Nicobar Islands is though satellites, but bandwidth is limited to 1 Gbps. Satellite bandwidth availability is limited and is very costly.  Thus future bandwidth requirement of islands cannot be met solely through it. Besides there is issue of redundancy with the satellite communication and there is no alternate media is available in case of any emergency.  Lack of telecom connectivity and bandwidth is also hampering socio-economic development of the islands. Thus, it is essential to provide submarine OFC connectivity between Mainland India and Islands for catering to projected future bandwidth requirements.

The Union Cabinet has approved the proposals of Ministry of Finance to merge of Railway budget with the General budget.  Merger of Railway Budget with the General Budget will be effective from the Budget 2017-18.  It will end 92-year-old tradition as the presentation of separate Railway budget started in year 1924.  Since then it has continued after independence as a convention rather than under Constitutional provisions. The merger has been approved with the following administrative and financial arrangements of Railways. It will continue as a departmentally run commercial undertaking to maintain its distinct entity as at present. It will retain its functional autonomy and delegation of financial powers etc.  as per the existing guidelines. Its existing financial arrangements will continue wherein it will meet the revenue expenditure from revenue receipts.  The Capital at charge estimated at 2.27 lakh crore rupees on which Railways pays annual dividend will be wiped off. Consequently, Railways will not have dividend liability from 2017-18 and the Union Ministry of Railways will get Gross Budgetary support.  It will save Railways from the liability of payment of approximately 9,700 crore rupees as an annual dividend to the Central Government. The unified budget presentation will bring the affairs of the Railways to centre stage and present a holistic picture of the financial position of the Government. It is expected to reduce the procedural requirements and instead bring into focus on the aspects of delivery and good governance. The appropriations for Railways will form part of the main Appropriation Bill due to the merger.

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