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Current Affairs Today – March 16 2017

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INDIAN AFFAIRS

Cabinet Approvals on March 15, 2017
i. The Union Cabinet under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi gave its approval for signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), Mussoorie and Namibia Institute of Public Administration and Management (NIPAM), Namibia on March 15, 2017
ii. The government was apprised of the Memorandam of Understanding (MoUs) signed between India with Indonesia for cooperation in youth and sports matters and Kyrgyz Republic for cooperation in the field of youth development
iii. Cabinet also gave its approval to the revised Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Mode of Operation (MoO) between India and Bangladesh on March 15, 2017 for establishing Border Haats on India-Bangladesh Border.
iv. Narendra Modi approved signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Directorate General of Lighthouses & Lightships (DGLL), Ministry of Shipping (GOI) and the Department of Shipping, Government of Bangladesh on Aids to Navigation (AtoNs)
v. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs gave its approval to provide marketing and pricing freedom to the Coal Bed Methane (CBM) Contractors to sell the CBM Gas at Arm’s Length Price in the domestic market.
vi. The Centre has approved to increase the Dearness Allowance (DA) to Central Government employees and Dearness Relief (DR) to pensioners to 4 percent from the existing rate of 2 percent with effect from January 1, 2017.
vii. Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved. Introduction of the Indian Institutes of Information Technology Public Private Partnership (IIIT PPP) Bill, 2017

Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Jayakumar Presents tax-free budget for 2017-18
The Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Jayakumar presented a tax free and revenue deficit budget for the fiscal 2017-18 on March 16, 2017 in the state Legislative Assembly.It is the first Budget presented by the state Finance Minister as well as the first budget of the AIADMK government headed by E. Palaniswami.
Salient Feature of the State Budget
i. Total Revenue Receipts (TRR): Rs 1,59,363 crore
ii. Total Expenditure: Rs 1,75,293 crore
iii. Revenue Deficit: Rs 15,930 crore
iv. Fiscal Deficit: Rs 41,977 core (2.79 percent of GDP)

Goa CM Manohar Parrikar wins floor test in Goa Assembly  
i. Goa Chief minister Manohar Parrikar won the floor test in the Goa state assembly with 22 legislators support out of legislators out of 40-member House while the opposition Manohar ParrikarCongress has only 16 votes
ii. The state assembly conducted the floor test on March 16, 2017 following an order by the Supreme Court.
iii. Manohar proved his majority with 12 legislators from the BJP, three from the Goa Forward Party (GFP), three from the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), three Independents and one from the NCP voting in favour of the trust motion.
iv. The test was passed through a clear division which was ordered by Pro-tem Speaker Siddharth Kuncolienkar(BJP)
v. The session will meet again to elect the Speaker on March 23 and followed by presentation of the state budget on March 24.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

India Among Other South East Asian Country Signs WHO’s Call To End TB By 2030
India along with other South East Asian Region countries signed a ‘Call for Action’ on March 16, 2017 to end tuberculosis (TB) and pledged to take efforts to end the disease by 2030.
♦ The  ‘call for action’ was signed by the Health ministers of the WHO’s South-East Asia Region countries and the World Health Organization (WHO) on the concluding day of the two day ministerial meeting towards ending TB in the region that began on March 15, 2017.
Features of ‘Call For Action’ for TB
The initiative envisages scale-up efforts and implementing adequately funded, innovative, multi-sectoral and comprehensive measures to achieve the global target to end the disease by 2030.
♦ The initiative also stresses on increasing government and partner budgetary allocations to enable national TB plans to be fully funded.
♦ Besides, the ministers discussed about setting up of a ‘regional innovation to implementation fund’ for accelerated sharing of knowledge, intellectual resources and innovations to reach out and treat all cases.
WHO South-East Asia Region
i. WHO’s South-East Asia Region comprises Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.
ii. Six of the region’s countries namely Bangladesh, DPR Korea, India, Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand are among the 30 high TB burden nations globally.
iii. India reports 2.8 million new TB cases annually and nearly half a million deaths due to the disease.
World Health Organization
♦ Founded: April 7, 1948
♦ Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland
♦ Head: Margaret Chan

China, Saudi Arabia ink deals worth about $65 billion  
China and Saudi Arabia officials on March 17, 2017 have signed Memorandums of Understanding(MoU) and Letters of Intent(LoI) potentially worth about $65 billion during Saudi King Salman’s visit to China.
♦ This was announced by Zhang Ming, Deputy Chinese Foreign Minister
♦ Aim : To promote investment opportunities in the kingdom
The agreements seeks co-operations in the field of investment, energy, space and other areas.
Highlights of MoU :
i. For Saudi Arabian Oil Company Saudi Aramco, the potential investments fit with its strategy to expand its refining and chemicals portfolio
ii. Norinco will look into building refining and chemical projects in ChinaChina & Saudi Arabia
iii. Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) and Sinopec have agreed to develop petrochemical projects in China and Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia:
♦ Capital: Riyadh
♦ Currency: Saudi riyal
♦ King: Salman of Saudi Arabia

BANKING & FINANCE

HDFC Bank Launches India’s First Digital Loans Against Securities
HDFC Bank in collaboration with National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL) has launched an instant Digital Loan against Securities (LAS) product on March 15, 2017.
♦ LAS will reduced the time to disburse the overdraft facility in just 3 minutes rather than several days previously. This is a first-of-its-kind initiative in India and probably the first in the world as well.
Key Features of the LAS
i. Under the facility, customers can pledge shares directly through their demat accounts and give necessary approvals while applying for the loan.
ii. Shares dematerialised by NSDL and executed through HDFC Bank demat account could be used for pledging.
iii .The bank will instantly approves the loan and the money will be credited to their bank accounts. Once shares are pledged, a customer cannot sell them unless the loan against them has been cleared.
iv. The loan amount ranges from Rs 1 to 20 lakh for a period and every year the loan amount will be reevaluated.
v. The overdraft will be offered at an interest rate of 10.5 percent, same as the non-digital loans.
vi. Initially the facility is restricted to only HDFC Bank demat account holders so customers need to open accounts with the bank to avail the digital service.
vii. Besides, the facility will be available for Demat shares in the beginning which will soon be extended to other securities such as mutual funds, bonds and insurance policies.
HDFC Bank
♦ CEO: Aditya Puri
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai, India
♦ Founded: August 1994, India

UCO Bank, Future Generali tie up
i. Private insurer Future Generali India Insurance Company (FGII) has announced tie-up with Kolkata based UCO Bank for its products on March 15, 2017
UCO Bankii. Target : To achieve a growth of 80 per cent by FY18.
iii. According to the agreement, UCO bank will provide a window at its bank branches for marketing FGII’s offerings.
FGII :
♦ Future Generali General Insurance is a joint venture between India’s leading retailer Future Group and Italy based insurance major Generali.
♦ It offers a wide spectrum of general insurance products like Motor Insurance, Health Insurance, Travel Insurance, Personal Accident & Home Insurance.

SEBI Issues Guidelines for Celebrities to Endorse Mutual Fund Products At Industry Level
i. The market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) reviewed advertisement guidelines for mutual funds on March 15, 2017, with regard to disclosing performance-related information about such products.
ii. SEBI also issued new advertising code that will require fund houses to communicate simply and effectively with the public.
iii. As per the new guidelines, SEBI has permitted celebrities to endorse mutual fund products at the industry level for the purpose of increasing awareness of mutual funds as a financial product category.
iv .However, the capital market watchdog has restricted the endorsement to following conditions:
1.Such endorsements should not promote a scheme of a particular mutual fund or be used as a branding exercise of an asset management company (AMC).
2.Expenses towards such celebrity endorsements for increasing awareness of Mutual Funds shall be limited to the amounts that are aggregated by Mutual Funds at industry level for the purpose of conducting investor education and awareness initiatives
3.Prior approval of SEBI shall be required for issuance of any endorsement of Mutual Funds as a financial product, which features a celebrity for the purpose of increasing awareness of Mutual Funds.
Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI)
♦ Founded: April 12, 1988
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai
♦ Present chairman: Ajay Tyagi

State Bank of India and CREDAI sign MoU related to real estate sector
i. India’s public sector banking and financial services company State Bank of India(SBI) and real estate developers’ body CREDAI have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) which is valid for a period of 3 years.
ii. Aim of MoU :
1.To jointly conduct various initiatives towards development of the realty sector.
2.To promote housing for all
iii. SBI will be a national partner for all CREDAI activities and both will jointly work together for various marketing activities like conclaves, seminars, exhibitions, campaigns and CSR activities as well.
Key People:
♦ Chairperson: Arundhati Bhattacharya
♦ CREDAI president : Geetambar Anand

BUSINESS

Government Proposes Revised Building Code; Makes Builders Responsible
The Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan unveiled the new National Building Code on March 16, 2017 in New Delhi.
♦ The revised code has been prepared by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) under the aegis of the Consumer Affairs Ministry.
♦ The code contains provisions on use of new/innovative materials and technologies and on prefabricated construction techniques that can give boost to speedier construction to meet the objectives of Housing for All by 2022.
Salient Features of the Revised Code
i. As per the revised code, in addition to planners, structure designers and supervisors, the builders will also be made responsible for the safety of the structure. Earlier, geo-technical engineers and builders were not responsible.
ii .Builders will have to give a certificate saying that the building has been constructed as per the planned design submitted to the local bodies.
iii. The code also has provision for universal accessibility for senior citizens and differently abled citizens besides encouraging use new building material and alternative smart technologies.
iv.  Besides, it includes norms for solar energy utilisation, inclusion of modern lighting technique including LED, updated provision on piped gas supply in houses and hospitals, solid waste management and rain water harvesting, besides high speed lifts for tall buildings.

ONGC Set to Invest Rs 21,500 Crore in India’s Deepest Gas Find
i. Dehradun based Indian multinational oil and gas company, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) has planned to invest Rs 21528 crore to develop India’s deepest gas discovery in UD-1 find by 2022-23.
ii. The company has submitted a declaration of commerciality (DoC) to the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons for the UD-1 find. It will submit a final investment plan called the field development plan by end-2017 and hope to bring the discovery to production by 2022-23.
iii. Under the project to explore oil and gas, ONGC plans to drill nine wells on the discovery that lies in water depths of 2,400-3,200 metres and aims to produce a peak output of 19 million standard cubic metres per day.
Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC)
♦ ONGC is an ONGC is an Indian multinational oil and gas company and a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) of the Government of India, under the administrative control of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
♦ It is India’s largest oil and gas exploration and production company. It produces around 77% of India’s crude oil (equivalent to around 30% of the country’s total demand) and around 62% of its natural gas.
♦ Headquarters: Dehradun, Uttarakhand
♦ Founded: August 14, 1956
♦ CEO: Dinesh K Sarraf

TDSAT refuses to stay Reliance Jio’s free offer 
i. The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) was asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to re-examine the approval for Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd’s free offers Welcome Offer and Happy New Year Offer which will continue till the end of March 2018.
ii. TDSAT has taken step after hearing appeals filed by Bharti Airtel Ltd and Idea Cellular Ltd questioning Reliance Jio’s free services.
Jio Offers :
♦ Jio offers initially introduced from 5 September to 5 December,2016 and then extended till 31 December, and further extended until 31 March, 2017
♦ Last month, Reliance Jio announced that who all are join by 31st March 2017 will be eligible for its Happy New Year Offer until 31st March, 2018 by paying a one-time fee of Rs.99 and thereafter, by paying Rs.303 a month

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru Placed Among Top 50 in THE’s Asia Universities Ranking
i. The Times Higher Education (THE) released its Asia University Rankings 2017 on March 16, 2017.The top rank in the Asia University Rankings was attained by the National University of Singapore (NUS) for the second consecutive year.
ii. According to the 2017 ranking, Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru has been ranked best Indian University and has been placed at 27th position among the universities in Asia.
iii. Besides, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay was another Indian university among top 50 placed at 42 position followed by Chennai-based private institute Veltech University at 43.
Asia’s Top 5 Universities in the List

Rank University Country
1 National University of Singapore Singapore
2 Peking University China
3 Tsinghua University China

Singapore’s Changi Airport Named World’s Best Airport for 5th Consecutive Year
i. Singapore based Changi Airport was named as the World’s Best Airport for the fifth consecutive year at the 2017 Skytrax World Airport Awards on March 14, 2017 held at the Passenger Terminal EXPO in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
ii. The award was received by Mr Lee Seow Hiang, CEO of Changi Airport Group from Mr Edward Plaisted, CEO of Skytrax.
iii. Besides, this is the eighth time that Changi Airport has been awarded the top international title at the World Airport Awards since it was introduced in 2000.
iv. Changi Airport was also named the Best Airport in Asia and the Best Airport for Leisure Amenities which it has held since the award category was introduced in 2009.
Singapore’s Changi Airport Named World's Best Airport for 5th Consecutive YearWorld’s Top 5 Airports
1 Changi Airport Singapore
2 Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport)
3 Incheon International Airport
4 Munich Airport
5 Hong Kong International Airport

Indian-American teen wins top science award worth USD 250,000
An Indian-American teen Indrani Das(17) won the US’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition Regeneron Science Talent Search Awards Gala on March 16, 2017
♦ Das has received USD 250,000 award for her research on preventing death of neurons due to brain injuries or neurodegenerative diseases.
♦ Four other Indian-origin students were among the top ten finalists to be honoured at the annual Award for their research projects demonstrating exceptional scientific and mathematical ability
Four Other Indians are 
i. Arjun Ramani(18) from Indiana won the third place honours worth USD 150,000 for blending the mathematical field of graph theory with computer programming to answer questions about networks.
ii. Archana Verma(17) from New York, received a USD 90,000 award for her study of the molecular orbital energy dynamics of dyes, which may someday result in windows that produce solar energy.
iii. Prathik Naidu(18) from Virginia, received a USD 70,000 award for his creation of a new machine learning software to study 3D interactions of the human genome in cancer.
iv. Vrinda Madan(17) from Florida, received a USD 50,000 award for her study of 24 potential compounds for the treatment of malaria.

Central Bank won Official language policy award
i. Mumbai based Central Bank of India won the first prize in the implementation of Official Language Policy in the western region for the year 2015-2016  at the Official Language Conference of Central and Western Regions in Udaipur
ii. Rajasthan governor , Kalyan Singh has presented the trophy and certificate to Sudhir Pathak, Chief Manager, Central Bank of India
Central Bank of India:
♦ Central Bank of India, a government-owned bank, is one of the oldest and largest commercial banks in India.
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai
♦ Tagline: Central To you Since 1911

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

Amarinder Singh Takes Oath as Chief Minister of Punjab
i. Captain Amarinder Singh took oath as the 26th chief minister of Punjab on March 16, 2017 at the Raj Bhawan in Chandigarh thus paving way for the return of the Congress to power in the state after a gap of ten years.
ii. The oath of office was administered by Punjab governor VP Singh Badnore.
iii. This is the second time that Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Amarinder Singh takes oath as chief minister. Earlier he served in that capacity in 2002-2007.
iv. Some of the other ministers who took oath include Manpreet Singh Badal, Razia Sultana, MLA from Malerkotla, Aruna Chaudhary, Rana Gurjit Singh and Brahm Mohindra.
v .In 117- Assembly seats of the Vidhan Sabha, the Congress was victorious in 77 seats to form the new government.
vi. Ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party  (SAD-BJP) won 18, AAP won 20, while two seats went to Lok Insaaf Party.

Boy from sleepy hamlet, Bibhu Prasad Kanungo, becomes deputy governor of RBI  
i. Bibhu Prasad Kanungo from Odisha has been appointed as Deputy Governor in Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for three years by the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) .
ii. Prasad is the succeedor of R Gandhi.He will take charge on or after April 3, 2017.
iii. Presently, he is working executive director of the central bank.
iv. Prior to that, he has been earlier the RBI’s regional director in Jaipur and Kolkata and the banking intermediary for Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
RBI Deputy governors :
Viral Acharya,  N. S. Vishwanathan and S. S. Mundra

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Pakistan successfully test-fires land based anti-ship missile
i. Pakistan Navy has successfully test-fired ground-to-sea missile from the coastal region on March 16, 2017.
ii. The trial was witnessed by Vice Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Khan Hisham Bin Siddique.
iii. The missile is equipped with modern technology avionics,  secured a hit on a target placed at sea with a high degree of accuracy .
iv. would strengthen Pakistan’s defence and operational capabilities . Hence officials didn’t give any detail about the missile include it’s name.

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Launches EchoStar 23 Satellite
i. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket conducted its third flight of the year on March 16, 2017 to launch a commercial communications satellite in the geosynchronous transfer orbit.
ii. The launch took off from NASA’s Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida and carried the EchoStar 23 communications satellite into orbit.
iii. Having a mass of around 5,500 kilograms (12,000 lb), EchoStar XXIII was the heaviest geosynchronous payload yet launched by the Falcon 9 and will operate at 45 degrees west in geostationary orbit.
iv. The launch was SpaceX’s second launch from historic pad 39A at KSC, from which astronauts first launched to the surface of the moon on Apollo 11 in 1969.
v. The satellite has been built by Space Systems Loral for EchoStar Corporation to operate for at least 15 years.
vi. EchoStar Corporation, headquartered at Englewood in Colorado will use EchoStar 23 to provide deliver direct-to-home television service to Brazil.