Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Current Affairs November 18, 2015

FM Arun Jaitley to chair six member panel to oversee NIIF’s activities
  • The government has constituted a six member Governing Council under the chairmanship of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to oversee the activities of the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF).
  • The mandate of the Council is to approve guidelines for Investment of Trust property Corpus of NIIF and parameters for appointment and performance of investment managers and advisors.
  • Earlier, the Union Cabinet had approved creation of twenty thousand crore rupees National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) to attract investment from both domestic and international sources.
  • The fund aims at maximising economic impact mainly through infrastructure development in commercially viable projects including stalled projects.

Odisha implements NFSA in 14 districts
  • The National Food Security Act (NFSA) was implemented in 14 of the 30 districts of Odisha in first phase covering 26.33 lakh families.
  • As many as 93.35 lakh people would be benefitted from the scheme that was launched in 14 districts.
  • In the first phase, the NFSA is to be launched in the districts of Angul, Bargarh, Boudh, Balangir, Deogarh, Gajapati, Jharsuguda, Kandhamal, Kalahandi, Koraput, Malkangiri, Nuapada, Sambalpur and Sonepur.
  • The beneficiaries would get 5 kg of rice or wheat at Rs 3 and Rs 2 respectively from PDS centres in the 14 districts.
  • “There have been gross irregularities in selection of beneficiaries by the state government,” OPCC President Prasad Harichandan alleged.
  • The second phase of the NFSA will be implemented in 16 other districts from December 1.

AMRUT Action Plans for 81 cities approved with total project outlay of Rs 5,748 cr
  • Government said Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) Action Plans for 81 cities has been approved with total project outlay of Rs 5,748 crore.
  • As many as 81 cities in Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha and Mizoram will invest Rs 5,748 crore to enhance basic infrastructure including water supply and sewerage connections under AMRUT action plans for the year 2015-16.
  • An inter-ministerial Apex Committee headed by Mr Madhusudan Prasad, Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development has approved State Annual Action Plans(SAAP) of these five states which account for 81 mission cities.

News schemes PRASAD and SWADESH DARSHAN launched by the government to promote Tourism
  • In pursuance of the budget announcement 2014-15, the Ministry of Tourism has launched two new plan schemes (i) “National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive (PRASAD)” and (ii) “SWADESH DARSHAN”.
  • Both the schemes are to be implemented in mission mode. Developing world-class infrastructure in the respective destinations/circuits is one of the mission objectives of the schemes.
  • Under PRASAD, initially, twelve cities namely Amritsar, Ajmer, Amaravati, Dwaraka, Gaya, Kanchipuram, Kedarnath, Kamakhya, Mathura, Puri, Varanasi and Vellankani have been identified for development.
  • This information was given by the Union Minister of State for Culture (Independent Charge), Tourism (Independent Charge), & Civil Aviation, Dr. Mahesh Sharma in a reply to an Unstarred question in theLok Sabha .
Ban Ki-moon to visit North Korea next week
  • U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will visit North Korea next Monday and stay for about four days, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency said on Wednesday, citing the North’s official KCNA news agency.
  • Xinhua had initially said he would visit on Tuesday, but then corrected their story.
France launches fresh air raids in Islamic State stronghold in Syria
  • French warplanes carried out fresh raids overnight against the Islamic State stronghold of Raqa in northern Syria, destroying a command centre and training centre, the defence ministry.
  • “For the second time in 24 hours the French military conducted an air raid against Daesh in Raqa in Syria,” it said in a statement, using another name for the jihadist group.
  • President Francois Hollande has vowed to hit back at IS “without mercy” after Friday’s attacks in Paris, the bloodiest on its territory.
  • Ten Rafale and Mirage 2000 fighters carried out the raid at 0030 GMT, dropping 16 bombs, the defence ministry.
  • “Both targets were hit and destroyed simultaneously,”.
Fifa bans Nepal FA president Ganesh Thapa for 10 years over bribery
  • One of the most influential figures in Asian football over the last two decades has been banned for 10 years for bribery by Fifa’s ethics committee.
  • Ganesh Thapa, president of the All-Nepal FA and a former Asian Football Confederation vice-president, is also under investigation by Nepalese authorities after being accused of embezzling millions of pounds of football development money.
About Ganesh Thapa:
  • Thapa was found by Fifa’s ethics committee to have “committed various acts of misconduct over several years, including the solicitation and acceptance of cash payments from another football official, for both personal and family gain”.
  • These were connected to the 2009 and 2011 elections for the Fifa executive committee at the Asian confederation’s congress.
  • Nepal’s government is investigating Thapa after he was accused of embezzling around £4m during his 19-year tenure – much of it money from Fifa and the AFC earmarked for football development projects.
Former ICICI Banker Zarin Daruwala Named StanChart India CEO
  • Standard Chartered Plc named Zarin Daruwala, a senior banker at India’s ICICI Bank, as new chief executive of its India operations as the British bank looks to halt rising losses on loans in the country.
  • Standard Chartered’s India unit, which was one of the most profitable markets for the Asia-focussed bank a few years ago, has seen a sharp spike in loan losses in the last couple of years, denting its global balance sheet.
  • The bank’s loan impairment in India in the first half of this year rose to $483 million, up from $56 million in the same period last year, Standard Chartered said in an earnings presentation this month.
About Ms Daruwala
  • Ms Daruwala, who has worked in the Indian banking industry for 25 years, will be expected to turn around the bank’s business in India, where Standard Chartered’s loan exposure to corporates stand at $33 billion.
  • As president of the wholesale banking group at ICICI Bank, India’s top private sector lender, Ms Daruwala led teams including corporate banking, project finance, structured finance and financial institutions, Standard Chartered said in a statement.
  • Ms Daruwala, who will take over from Sunil Kaushal, the newly appointed Standard Chartered regional CEO for Africa and the Middle East, was also responsible for building out ICICI Bank’s rural and agri-finance offering.
  • She will report to Standard Chartered’s regional CEO, ASEAN and South Asia, Ajay Kanwal.
Global cancer summit on Nov 18-20
  • Global Cancer Summit, a three-day programme focussed on understanding and suggesting strategies to tackle cancer, will be organised from November 18-20 at the Indian Institute of Science.
  • The event is organsied by BioGenesis – the Euro-Indian Health Cluster (India), Global Cancer Foundation and supported by the Indian Council of Medical Research. The conclave is expected to have 700 experts in the field of oncology and related sectors and is dedicated to the late US senator Ted Kennedy.

‘The IMF’s special drawing rights should go digital’
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) should create a digital version of its global reserve currency that could be more widely used across the world’s financial markets and payment systems, a senior Chinese central bank researcher.
  • Yao Yudong, head of the People Bank of China’s Research Institute of Finance and Banking, said in a column in the state-backed Shanghai Securities News that the eSDR the electronic version of the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights (SDR) would help address flaws in the current global monetary system.
  • Additionally, the role of the SDR should be expanded, Yao said, echoing suggestions made by central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan in 2009.
  • His proposals include establishing a settlement system between SDR and other currencies, and promoting the use of SDR in global trade, financial transactions, commodities pricing and bookkeeping.
7th Pay Commission to submit report on Nov 19
  • The 7th Pay Commission will submit its report to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley recommending increase in remuneration of central government employees as well as pensioners.
  • “We are ready with the report and will submit it on November 19,” the Commission’s Chairman Justice A K Mathur.
  • The Commission was set up by the UPA government in February 2014 to revise remuneration of about 48 lakh central government employees and 55 lakh pensioners.
  • Its recommendations will also have a bearing on the salaries of the state government staff.
  • Government constitutes the pay commission almost every 10 years to revise the pay scale of its employees and often these are adopted by states after some modifications.
  • The recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission are scheduled to take effect from January 1, 2016.
World Bank, AP ink $75-m credit deal for rural project
  • The Centre, Andhra Pradesh and the World Bank have inked a $75 million (₹500 crore) credit deal for the Andhra Pradesh Rural Inclusive Growth Project.
  • The project seeks to enhance agricultural incomes of small and marginal farmers and ensure increased access to services related to health, nutrition, sanitation and social entitlements.
Focus areas
  • It will focus on increasing economic opportunities for small and marginal farmers, especially from Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) households in the 150 most backward mandals.
  • In addition, it will invest in developing a network of social enterprises for food, nutrition, sanitation and other social enterprises which operate at community and district level. The agreement was signed by Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary (Department of Economic Affairs), Ministry of Finance; Sunitha Kolaventy, Finance Secretary, Andhra Pradesh; and Onno Ruhl, World Bank Country Director in India.
  • “Over the years, women-led community institutions in AP have made significant impacts in helping communities gain higher access to credit, education and assets. However, inclusion remains a challenge,” Onno Ruhl.
  • The Project will help link small and marginal farmers to urban markets and make them competitive across the value chain. Investments will be made for increasing the nutritional content of products such as milk, vegetables and poultry.
Axis Mutual Fund launches fund exclusively for minors
  • Axis Mutual Fund is launching its first goal-based investment plans with the Axis Children’s Gift Fund. Investments can only be made for a minor, represented by a parent or a legal guardian.
  • The NFO opens on November 18 and will close on December 2.
  • The fund has also received special exemption from equities and commodities market regulator SEBI that allows for a ‘donor’ (a grandparent or a scholarship fund, for instance) to gift units of the fund to the minor’s account. There’s no cap on such gifts.
India’s Siril Verma wins silver at World Junior Badminton Championships
  • Young Indian shuttler Siril Verma clinched a silver medal at the BWF World Junior Championships after suffering a narrow defeat against Chinese Taipei’s Chia Hung Lu.
  • The 15-year-old Indian, who trains at the Pullela Gopichand Academy, had a giant-killing run at the tournament where he defeated The Netherland’s Niels Veenstra, France’s Thomas Baures, Thailand’s Kantaphon Wangcharoen, Denmark’s Anders Antonsen, Malaysia’s Satheishtharan R and Thailand’s Adulrach Namkul to reach the finals.
  • But Siril could not cross the final hurdle as his fight ended with a 21-17 10-21 7-21 loss to Chia in a 50-minute battle at the Centro de Alto Rendimiento (CAR).
  • Siril, who had lost to Chia at the Badminton Asia Junior Championship in Bangkok in June, dominated the proceedings early on, leading 7-4 at one stage. But Chia clawed back with three points. The Indian then once again surged ahead to a 11-7 lead at the break.
  • After the interval, Chia slowly crafted his way to turn the tables, leading 15-12. However, Siril engaged in a tense fight and from 17-17, he broke off to pocket the opening game with a four-point burst.
  • With this medal, Siril now joins the elite list of Indians such as Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, RMV Gurusaidutt, HS Prannoy and Sameer Verma, who have won medals for India in the Junior World Championships.
Former RAW chief Shankaran Nair passes away
  • Former chief of the country’s external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), K. Shankaran Nair, passed away in his sleep at Mallige Hospital in Bengaluru in the wee hours.
  • He was 94 years old and survived by a daughter, with whom he was staying in the city for the past eight years. His wife passed away three years ago.
  • Shankaran Nair, from Ottapalam village in Kerala, was part of the Intelligence Bureau and was later inducted into Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) in 1968, as the deputy to Rameshwarnath Kao, its founder.
  • Mr. Nair succeeded R N Kao, as the chief of RAW in 1977. He resigned just three months after taking over, protesting against the then Prime Minister Morarji Desai downgrading the post of chief of RAW, to director from Secretary (R), earlier.
VHP leader Ashok Singhal passes away
  • Vishva Hindu Parishad leader Ashok Singhal (89), passed away at Medanta Hospital in Gurgaon at 2.30 p.m. following multi-organ dysfunction and sepsis.
  • Mr. Singhal had been diagnosed with right lower lobe pneumonia, carbon-dioxide retention, sepsis and drowsiness.
  • Mr. Singhal had been suffering from respiratory problems for over a month. He was earlier admitted to Medanta on October 20, after his condition deteriorated in Allahabad and was flown to Delhi in an air ambulance.

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