Sunday, 15 November 2015

Current Affairs November 15, 2015


EPFO invests Rs 2,300 crore in ETFs in August-October
  • Retirement fund manager EPFO has invested Rs 2,322.1 crore in exchange traded funds (ETF) till October as part of its planned investment of Rs 5,000 crore in equities this fiscal.
  • The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) invested Rs 2,322.1 crore in ETFs in August-October period through SBI Mutual Funds in Sensex and Nifty.
  • The EPFO’s apex decision making body, the Central Board of Trustees’ (CBT) headed by Labour Minister, will review these investments during its meeting scheduled on November 24.
  • The CBT has decided to invest in ETFs which are considered safer than making investments in single equity shares of a company. Trade unionist on its board had opposed the move in view of volatility of stock markets.
  • Being cautious on investment in stock market, EPFO decided to invest 5 per cent of its incremental deposits in the ETFs during the current fiscal.
  • EPFO is estimated to receive about Rs 1 lakh crore as incremental deposits during 2015-16. Thus, it may end up investing around Rs 5,000 crore in stock market this fiscal.

Rs 15K cr North East connectivity project struggling to take off
  • The ambitious Rs 15,000 crore North East connectivity project is struggling to take off even one year after an agreement between India and Japan to jointly work on it for quickly transforming the region into a manufacturing hub with the help of better road infrastructure.
  • India had chosen Japan as a partner in the project due to the latter’s renowned expertise in building durable and environmentally sustainable roads on tough mountainous terrain, like those found in the North East. The government also wanted Japanese help due to their prowess in manufacturing.
  • The first phase of the project is estimated to cost around Rs 5,000 crore for improving two highways (380 km of NH54 in Mizoram and 50 km of NH51 in Meghalaya) and an additional Rs 1,700 crore for activities including compensation for land acquisition. About 500 hectares is to be acquired for the first phase.

Volkswagen fined $13.1 million for breaching Brazilian environmental regulations
  • German automaker Volkswagen was fined 50 million reais ($13.1 million) by the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) for modifying vehicles to falsely pass environmental regulations, the government announced.
  • The company was notified and will have to present a plan on how it will fix its vehicles to comply with Brazilian norms.
  • Vehicles needing to be recalled in order for this fix to take place will only see a particular piece changed, in order to register accurate emissions, with no change being done to the function of the engine.
  • On September 18, the US Environmental Protection Agency announced that Volkswagen AG, Audi AG and Volkswagen Group of America had all flouted the country’s environmental regulations.
  • Volkswagen will also now have to share detailed information about the production and sales of vehicles in Brazil, which are concerned by the violation, similarly to actions taken by the US government.
  • So far, Volkswagen has recognised that its Amarok line of vehicles, manufactured in 2011 and 2012, did carry the same illicit software as that found in the US.
  • The 50 million reais fine is the highest amount permitted for such violations by the country’s Environmental Crimes Law.
Air India announces direct Ahmedabad-London flight from December 15
  • National carrier Air India said it will connect London with a direct flight from Ahmedabad from December 15, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that there will be a direct flight between the two cities.
  • Air India already operates four frequencies to London – three from Delhi and one from Mumbai.
  • The daily flight will be a boon to the 1.5 million-strong Indian diaspora living in Britain, catering to the strong demand of more than six lakh Indians from Gujarat, Air India said in a statement.
  • “From December 15, there will be direct flights between London and Ahmedabad,” Modi had said in his address to 60,000 wildly cheering British Indians at the iconic Wembley Stadium in London.
  • The flight will operate with a B-787 Dreamliner aircraft, on the route Ahmedabad-Mumbai-London-Mumbai-Ahmedabad, Air India said, adding the passengers travelling by the direct flight will not need to change aircraft at Mumbai.

Isro to launch 5 Singapore satellites on Dec 16: Chairman
  • AS Kiran Kumar, chairman of Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) lauded the yeomen services of the KLE society rendering for the society since past one century in the fields of education and health.
  • Inaugurating the 100th Foundation Day of KLE Society, Kiran Kumar compared works of KLES with the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Bengaluru which celebrating its golden jubilee. Both organizations have done remarkable works for the society to improve living quality of the people, he said.
  • Saptarishis (seven founders) established KLE society 99 years ago to provide educational services to the society. Being from poor financial background, they collected donation and ran the institutions. The small sapling planted century ago is now turned into banyan tree of 250 institutions. Similarly, space scientist Vikram Sarabhai established space centre five decades ago along with friends from India and abroad five decades ago. Now the centre has grown up to the extent of launching indigenous Mangalyan satellite.

MTNL to soon launch free roaming
  • State-run telecom firm MTNL, which offers services in Delhi and Mumbai, will soon launch free roaming scheme, allowing customers to receive calls at no extra cost while travelling across the country.
  • BSNL already has such a scheme in place.
  • At present, MTNL customers have to pay roaming charges for incoming calls when they go outside of Delhi and Mumbai.
  • MTNL Chairman and Managing Director NK Yadav told PTI the scheme will be announced soon and they are finalising the dates.
  • The government under National Telecom Policy 2012 has set a goal to achieve free roaming gradually.
  • Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad during a meeting of consultative committee attached to the Ministry of Communication and IT informed Members of Parliament (MPs) that MTNL is planning to launch free roaming soon.
  • Moreover, MTNL has also increased minimum broadband speed to two mega bit per second (Mbps) and is offering free broadband for one month to its landline customers.

PM Modi leaves for Turkey after three-day UK visit
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrapped up his three-day UK visit and left for Turkey where he will attend the G20 Summit.
  • After visiting a Tata Motors-owned Jaguar Land Rover factory in the West Midlands region of England, Modi boarded a flight from Heathrow Airport to Antalya in Turkey to take part in the G20 summit.
  • Modi’s three-day tour had a packed schedule that included delegation-level talks with his British counterpart Cameron, lunch with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, a speech to British MPs and an address to the Indian diaspora at the Wembley Stadium.
  • In Turkey, Modi will attend the G20 Summit, chaired by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The summit will focus on the current state of the global economy, sustainable growth, development and climate change, investment, trade and energy.
  • Participating leaders are also expected to discuss political issues such as global terrorism and the refugee crisis in addition to the economic agenda.

Saina storms into China Open final
  • Another stupendous performance saw defending champion Saina Nehwal enter the women’s singles final of the $700,000 China Open Superseries Premier with a victory over local girl and former World Champion Yihan Wang.
  • The top seed needed just 42 minutes to ease past the former World No.1 Chinese 21-13, 21-18 at the Haixia Olympic Sports Centre. This is Saina’s third consecutive victory against the reigning Asian Games gold medallist, all coming in 2015, bettering her record to 4-9.
  • Also, this is World No.2 Saina’s fifth final of the year. She won two at the India Open Super Series and India Grand Prix Gold but lost the All-England and World Championships final to World No.1 Carolina Marin of Spain.
  • In the summit clash, the Hyderabadi will take on another Chinese, reigning Olympic champion Li Xuerui, who has a domineering 9-2 record against Saina, also having won the last five encounters between them. Saina’s last victory against Xuerui came in 2012 but this year Saina has been a force to reckon with.
  • The 25-year-old Saina was easily the superior player on court against Yihan. Her agility, movement, speed and shots just could not be matched by the Olympic silver medallist.

BCCI officially invited Pakistan to play in India: Shaharyar
  • BCCI has officially invited Pakistan to play its ‘home’ series in India in December, Shaharyar Khan said.
  • The PCB chief, however, said he had informed Manohar that Pakistan would prefer to play the series in UAE.
  • Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has officially invited Pakistan to play its ‘home’ series in India in December, Shaharyar Khan, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman, said. Shaharyar told the media in Lahore that he was given a formal proposal by his Indian counterpart Shashank Manohar during a phone call.

Michael Phelps wins 200m medley in Minneapolis
  • ichael Phelps posted a comfortable victory in the 200 metres individual medley on the last day of the Arena Pro Swim Series meet in Minneapolis.
  • In an event he has dominated at the Olympics, winning three times, Phelps led from start to finish to clock one minute, 59.30 seconds.
  • Though well off his world-leading time this year of 1:54.75, the 30-year-old was satisfied with his performance.
  • In the women’s competition, Olympic 200m backstroke champion Missy Franklin recorded 2:07.24, less than one second outside her 2015 best that ranked her third in the world.
  • Katie Ledecky, winner of four golds at this year’s world championships, cruised to victory in the 800m freestyle in a relatively pedestrian 8:19.16.
Filmmaker KS Gopalakrishnan no more
  • Well-known Tamil director and producer K.S. Gopalakrishnan breathed his last at a private hospital. He was 86.
  • “He passed away due to respiratory problems,” a family source told IANS.
  • Known for making films with social and devotional themes, Gopalakrishnan was known for working legendary Tamil stars such as Gemini Ganeshan, Sivaji Ganeshan, K.R. Vijaya and Jayalalithaa among others.
  • Besides directing, he had also penned several chartbuster songs.
  • The popular yesteryear Tamil hit ‘Unnazhagai Kanniyargala’ from the film ‘Uttama Puthiran’ was penned by him.
  • As a lyricist, he had worked on Tamil films ‘Amaradeepam’, ‘Deiva Piravi’ and ‘Padikkadha Pannaiyar’.
  • He was also a popular writer and had written dialogues for the films ‘Padikkadha Medhai’, ‘Annai’ and ‘Per Sollum Annai’.
  • Some of his directorial ventures include ‘Deivathin Deivam’, ‘Pesum Deivam’, ‘Chitthi’, ‘Panama Pasama’ and ‘Kurathi Magan’ among others.
  • He is survived by six sons. His funeral will be performed.

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