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Current Affairs Today – November 19 2015

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Current Affairs Today 19 November 2015

INDIAN AFFAIRS

Tripartite Agreement of IBSA on the Alleviation of Poverty

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the signing of the Tripartite Agreement among India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA), on the IBSA Fund for the Alleviation of Poverty and Hunger.

  • The decision will help in strengthening the IBSA Fund which is a unique vehicle in the context of South-South cooperation.

DEA ‘s consent for 2nd Extension under IDEAS

Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given its nod for second extension to the Indian Development and Economic Assistance Scheme (IDEAS) for Lines of Credit (LOC) to African and other developing countries for another five years i.e. from 2015-16 to 2019-20 of US $ 589.34 mn.

  • The first extension to the scheme was granted in 2009-2010.

Delhi announced to host the first International Qawwali Festival 2016

Delhi will host the first International Qawwali Festival 2015. This was announced during the performance by Qawwali singers from India and Pakistan at India Islamic Centre providing a glimpse of the festival.

Name of the Festival : ‘Taali Ho’
Date : 12 February 2016 to 14 February 2016
Aim: To reinforce a notion that music is not restricted to any borders.

Participants :

  • Hailing from the Sikandrabad Gharana, the Nizami Brothers are going to perform at the event.
  • Other Qawwali singers who will be a part of the event are Warsi brothers from Hyderabad, Hamza Akram and Taimoor Akram from Pakistan, Tahir Hussain Faridi Qawwal from US and Ahmed Sham Sufi Qawwal from Afghanistan.

Cabinet approves long-awaited interest subvention scheme for exporters

The interest subvention (subsidy) scheme now re-named interest equalisation scheme was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).

  • It will be implemented with retrospective effect from April 1, 2015 and will cost the exchequer an estimated Rs.2,500 crore-Rs.2,700 crore, annually.

Interest Equalisation Scheme :

  • The scheme would be available to all exports of micro small and medium enterprises (MSME) and 416 other items spread across 25 sectors.
  • The sectors covered are mostly labour intensive and include agriculture/food items, auto-components, bicycle parts, handicrafts, electrical engineering items and machinery, telecom equipment, handmade carpet (including silk), handloom products, coir items, jute, readymade garments and made ups, toys, sports goods, paper and stationary, leather goods and ceramics. The scheme, however, will not be available for merchant exporters.

Union Cabinet approves setting up of NARF at Genome Valley in Hyderabad

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the proposal of the Department of Health Research in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for setting up of a National Resource Facility for Bio-medical Research (NARF) by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR).
Location : Genome Valley in Hyderabad
Project cost : Rs. 338.58 crores(102.69 acres)

  • The institution will be the first of its kind for quality laboratory animals for basic and applied biomedical research in the country.

Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR):
The Indian Council of Medical Research the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research, is one of the oldest and largest medical research bodies in the world.

  • The ICMR is funded by the Government of India through the Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • ICMR Headquarters : New Delhi

MoU between India and Germany on Security Cooperation

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its ex post facto approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Germany on Security Cooperation.

  • The MoU would further strengthen the relationship between India and Germany for building peace and stability in the region through exchange of information, expertise, best practices and technology.

Key points:

  • German Capital : Berlin
  • German Currency : Euro
  • German President : Joachim Gauck

Signing of revised Air Services Agreement between India and New Zealand

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval for signing of revised Air Services Agreement between India and New Zealand.

  • The Air Services Agreement signifies an important landmark in the civil aviation relations between India and New Zealand.

Key points :

  • New Zealand Currency : Dollar
  • New Zealand Capital : Wellington
  • New Zealand Monarch : Elizabeth II

Afghanistan to collaborate with India for Skill Development

An Afghanistan Deputy Foreign Minister Mr. Hekmat Khalil Karzai met the Union Minister for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Rajiv Pratap Rudy to explore possible collaborations between the countries to strengthen the skill ecosystem of Afghanistan.

Highlights:

  • He invited the delegation to nominate students from its country who could come and undertake 1 year skill development courses in India.
  • He offered Afghanistan with a platform where students could be enrolled in entrepreneurship development courses through the International Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme of the National Institute for Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development (NIESBUD).

Key points:

  • Afghanistan Capital : Kabul
  • Afghanistan Currency : Afghani
  • Afghanistan President :  Mohammad Ashraf Ghani

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Asia pacific economic cooperation (APEC) summit – 2015

23rd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) was held in Manila, Philippines. It marks the second time the Philippines is playing host to the APEC, first hosted in 1996 in Subic, Zambales.

Theme“Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World: A Vision for an Asia-Pacific Community”

  • As part of the APEC tradition, custom-made Barong Tagalog clothing were designed for the economic leaders to wear during the “family-photo” portion of the event to showcase Philippine fashion and talent.

2 Indian-Americans among Forbes Richest Entrepreneurs Under 40

Two Indian-origin businessmen have been ranked by Forbes magazine among the richest entrepreneurs in America under the age of 40.

  • List has been topped by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
  • Vivek Ramaswamy (30), founder of “Roivant Sciences” has been ranked at 33rd position with net worth of $500 mn.
  • Apoorva Mehta (29), founder and CEO “Instacart” ranked at 40th position with net worth of $400 mn.

MoU between India and Vietnam for cooperation in the field of Animal Health

PM Narendra Modi given its ex-post facto approval for signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Vietnam
For :  Cooperation in the field of Animal Health.
Aim : To promote mutual cooperation between India and Vietnam in the areas of Animal Health

Both Countries has agreed to

  • Exchange special information on animal health in general.
  • Exchange of special information on meat processing, meat products and slaughter houses/abattoirs, Set up Mutual Recognition Agreement on Veterinary hygiene, health certificate between competent authorities of the two Parties.
  • Cooperate in the training and upgrading human resources in the field of animal health.

Key points:

  • Vietnam Capital : Hanoi
  • Vietnam Currency : Vietnamese dong
  • Vietnam PM : Nguyen Tan Dung

Government extends currency swap facility for SAARC members

The government extended the currency swap facility for SAARC members, under which the RBI offers the facility of varying sizes not exceeding $2 billion in total.

  • The decision was taken by the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Under the facility, RBI offers swaps of varying sizes to each SAARC member country (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) depending on their two months import requirement and not exceeding USD 2 billion in total, in US dollar, Euro or domestic currency.

  • These bilateral agreements would be signed by RBI after obtaining prior government approval.
  • In the 27th SAARC Finance Group meeting held in Washington on October 9, 2013, the Central Bank Governors of the SAARC member nations approved certain amendments made to the framework based on the experience gained from operationalizing the framework and with the intention to bring more clarity on the clauses of the framework.

China inks $15 billion nuclear deal with Argentina

A Chinese state-owned company will finance and build two nuclear power plants in Argentina  cost $15 billion. China National Nuclear Corp will work with Argentina’s state-owned company Nucleoelectrica to build the South American nation’s fourth and fifth reactors, CNNC .

Highlights:

  • The agreement was reached over the weekend at the G20 summit in Turkey.
  • Last month, China vowed to take a one-third stake in Britain’s first nuclear power plant in decades, and will provide $9.1 billion in financing for the project hailed by Prime Minister David Cameron as a “historic deal”.

BANKING & FINANCE

Govt approves six FDI proposals worth Rs. 1,810 crore

The Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) has cleared six FDI proposals envisaging foreign investment  including the IIFL Holdings.

Outlay : Rs 1,810 crore

Approved Proposals : IIFL Holdings, Agile Electric Sub Assembly, Sharekhan Ltd, SeQuent Scientific and US-based Monsoon Capital for investment Alternative Investment Trust (AIF).

Rejected proposals : Volkswagen Finance for investment in treasury bills, government securities, mutual funds and corporate debts.

Foreign Investment Promotion Board :
The Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) is a national agency of Government of India, with the remit to consider and recommend foreign direct investment (FDI) which does not come under the automatic route. It provides a single window clearance for proposals on FDI in India.

BUSINESS

Cabinet approves 10% stake sale in Coal India

Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved a 10% disinvestment in Coal India, the third government stake sale in the company’s history. The government is expected to get around Rs.20,000 crore from the disinvestment said by Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal.

  • If the government attains its target amount from the Coal India stake sale, this will go a long way in meeting the disinvestment target of Rs.69,500 crore for this financial year.Highlights :
  • The government has been able to pare its stake in only four companies such as Power Finance Corporation, Rural Electrification Corporation, Dredging Corporation and Indian Oil Corporation and has earned only Rs.12,600 crore.
  • From this Cochin Shipyard will offload 3.4 crore equity shares in the IPO, with a fresh issue of 2.26 crore equity shares and sale of 1.13 crore shares by the government.About Coal India:
    It is the largest coal producer company in the world and contributes around 82% of the coal production in India. It produced 494.24 Million tonnes of coal during FY 2014–15.
    Coal India Chairman : Sutirtha Bhattacharya

Intel India launches initiative for rural digitisation

Intel India announced the launch of ‘Ek Kadam Unnati Ki Aur’, an initiative aimed at working with the government to create the blueprint for the digitisation of rural India.

Aim : To create the framework for the Telangana Model Digital Village.

Ek Kadam Unnati Ki Aur:

  • ‘Unnati’ Kendra has been set up at a Common Services Center (CSC) in Nadimpalle village of Mahabubnagar district of Telangana
  • Intel will work with Central and state governments to create a blueprint to drive technology enabled transformation at the grassroots in 10 states in India.
  • The first centre is already up and running in Mahabubnagar. Over 800 villagers have been using it.Managing Director, South Asia, Intel  : Debjani Ghosh

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

T. S. Thakur sworn in as the 43rd Chief Justice of India

President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee has appointed Justice Tirath Singh Thakur, Judge of Supreme Court to be the 43rd Chief Justice of India with effect from 3rd December, 2015 while exercising his powers conferred by clause (2) of article 124 of the Constitution of India.

  • He will succeed H.L. Dattu.
  • His tenure will be till 3rd January, 2017.

Prithvi Raj Singh elected to Board of Governors of World Water Council

Prithvi Raj Singh of Jal Bhagirathi Foundation elected to Board of Governors of World Water Council (WWC) for 2016-18. The elections took place during the triennial 7th General Assembly of WWC Members in Marseille, France.

About Jal Bhagirathi Foundation

  • It was established as a trust in 2002 by eminent water conservationists Rajendra Singh and Prithvi Raj Singh in partnership with The House of Marwar. It operates from Bijolai in Jodhpur, Rajasthan.
  • In April 2015, it was conferred with the World Water Council’s Daegu Gyeongbuk Prize in South Korea.World Water Council :It is an international multi-stakeholder platform to facilitate the efficient conservation, protection, development, planning, management and use of water in all its dimensions. It was established in 1996 and its headquarters is in Marseille, France.

Vijay Keshav Gokhale appointed as India’s ambassador to China

Vijay Keshav Gokhale appointed as India’s ambassador to ChinaSenior diplomat Vijay Keshav Gokhale, has been appointed as the Ambassador to China to replace Ashok Kantha.

  • A 1981 batch IFS officer, Mr. Gokhale is expected to take up the assignment shortly announced by External Affairs Ministry .
  • Presently he was working as the country’s Ambassador to Germany. Before taking up position in Germany as Indias top envoy, he has served in Indian missions in Hong Kong, Hanoi, Beijing and New York.

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Prez conferred Indira Gandhi National Service Scheme Awards

President Pranab Mukherjee presented the Indira Gandhi National Service Scheme Awards for the year 2014-15 to individuals, universities and volunteers for their active participation in social awareness camps.

  • The awards recognize the contribution in running literacy camps, blood donation camps, spreading awareness of diseases like HIV, cancer, tree plantation and environmental awareness.

Murakami wins Danish literature prize

Haruki Murakami wins Danish literature prize17Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami (66) won Denmark’s top literary award, the Hans Christian Andersen Prize.

  • The award, named after Denmark’s famous fairytale creator H.C. Andersen, comes with a cheque for 500,000 kroner ($71,400).
  • The prize-giving ceremony will take place in Odense, Denmark in October 2016.

The jury honored Murakami’s bold mix of classic narrative, pop culture, Japanese tradition, dreamlike realism and philosophical debate.

  • His works includes “Kafka on the Shore” and “Norwegian Wood” and was awarded with Franz Kafka prize in 2006 and many others.

This award has been previously been conferred on Paolo Coehlo in 2007, J.K. Rowling in 2010, Isabel Allende in 2012 and Salman Rushdie in 2014.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

I&B ministry launches official app for IFFI 2015

The Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting launches International Film Festival India (IFFI) 2015 official Mobile App in Panaji.

  • The IFFI 2015 smartphone App brings a myriad spectrum of colours from the 46th IFFI. The App has been designed and maintained by the New Media Wing of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
  • The extremely user-friendly App hosts multi-faceted features including film trailers, film screening schedules, reminders of favorite movies.

Alphabet revamps Google+ online social network

Alphabet has revamped Google+ online social network focused on people’s interests and tuned for smartphones or tablets. Google’s social network was rebuilt for fast, consistent performance whether accessed through computer web browsers or mobile devices powered by Apple or Android software.

  • Google+ users interested in the new version will need to opt in at the social network.
  • Google+ launched in mid-2011 in a challenge to Facebook.
  • Ambitions for Google+ were scaled back earlier this year when the California-based Internet giant stepped back from using social network log-ins as credentials across a wide array of its offerings, including YouTube.

IMPORTANT DAYS

World Toilet Day

World Toilet Day (WTD) is a campaign to motivate and mobilize millions around the world on issues of sanitation and is observed on November 19 annually.

Establishment – 2001
Theme – Toilets and nutrition

  • This year, World Toilet Day is focusing on the link between sanitation and nutrition, drawing the world’s attention to the importance of toilets in supporting better nutrition and improved health.
  • Lack of access to clean drinking water and sanitation along with the absence of good hygiene practices, are among the underlying causes of poor nutrition.

How event is celebrated
People are encouraged to take action and help promote the idea that more needs to be done. They can host an exhibition, write a toilet song, host a dinner or draw a cartoon.