14, April 2017

1.Nation Pays Homage to Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar on his 127th Birth Anniversary
Source : PIB

127th birth anniversary of Dr. B.R.Ambedkar was celebrated at the Parliament House complex. The President, Vice President and Prime Minister paid floral tributes to the statue of Ambedkar present in the Parliament House Lawns. The celebrations were organized by Dr. Ambedkar Foundation, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.

About Dr.Bhimrao Ambedkar :

  • B R Ambedkar was born on 14 April 1891 at Mhow in Madhya Pradesh.
  • Ambedkar was elected as the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly.
  • He is called as the father of the Indian Constitution.
  • Bahishkrit Hitakarini Sabha was the first organization formed by Dr. Ambedkar in 1924.
  • Ambedkar was appointed as the first Law Minister of Independent India, but he resigned from the Cabinet on September 1951 due to differences with Nehru on the Hindu Code Bill. Ambedkar got himself converted to Buddhism on October 14, 1956.
  • He died on December 6, 1956 at Delhi due to severe diabetic neurosis.
  • After his death, his political party Scheduled Caste Federation was renamed as Republican Party of India in 1957 by his followers.

Some of his famous books are:

  1. ‘The Untouchable: Who are They and Why They Have Become Untouchables’;
  2. ‘Buddha and His Dhamma’;
  3. ‘The Rise and Fall of Hindu Women‘,
  4. ‘Emancipation of Untouchables’,
  5. ‘The Evolution of Provincial Finance in British India’;
  6. ‘Pakistan or Partition of India‘,
  7. ‘Thoughts on Linguistic States’, etc.

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2.Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) crosses the target of Rs. 1.8 lakh crore for 2016-17
Source : PIB

Loans extended under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) during 2016-17 have crossed the target of Rs. 1,80,000 crore for 2016-17. Sanctions currently stand at Rs. 1,80,087 crore with final data still awaited from some of the smaller non-banking lenders. Of this amount, Rs. 1,23,000 crore was lent by banks while non-banking institutions lent about Rs. 57,000 crore. Data compiled so far indicates that the number of borrowers this year were over 4 crore, of which over 70% were women borrowers. About 20% of the borrowers were from the Scheduled Caste Category, 5% from the Scheduled Tribe Category, while Other Backward Classes accounted for almost 35% of the borrowers.

Robust growth in bank loans to unfunded and underfunded segments of the society indicates that this category of borrowers has emerged as a key driver of demand for credit. Non-insistence of collateral/guarantor, simple documentation and quick processing are the three praiseworthy attributes of the MUDRA loans.

Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY):
The objective of this scheme to launch a Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency (MUDRA) Bank to support the entrepreneurs of Scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes entrepreneurs in the MSME sector. The scheme was launched on April 8, 2015. MUDRA cards are the unique feature of this scheme. The card permits access to working capital through ATMs and card machines. MUDRA loans can be availed for non-agricultural activities upto Rs 10 lakh and for activities allied to agriculture such as dairy, poultry bee keeping etc.

The scheme provides loans to micro units in three categories ranging from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 10 lakh.

Shishu: Loan up to Rs 50,000

Kishore: Loan ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 5 lakh

Tarun: Loan ranging from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh.

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3.BHIM-Aadhaar platform
Source : PIB

Prime Minister has launched BHIM-Aadhaar platform from Nagpur. BHIM-Aadhaar platform is the merchant interface of the BHIM App that has been launched for making digital payments using the Aadhaar platform. BHIM App was launched in December 2016 to provide a one-stop solution for all digital payments. The App created a new world record by registering 1.9 crore downloads within four months since its launch.

The newly launched BHIM-Aadhaar platform will help people to pay digitally using their biometric data like thumb imprint on a merchant’s biometric enabled device like a smart phone or a biometric reader. The App needs to be installed only by merchants and they need to connect their smartphones to the biometric scan machine to accept the payments from customers. The customers who want to pay using this app needs to link Aadhaar number and biometic fingerprint to complete a transaction.

Prime Minister has also launched two new offers rewarding BHIM users. Both the schemes will be administered by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and implemented by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).

BHIM – Referral Bonus Scheme
Under this scheme, both the existing BHIM users and the new users will get a cash bonus credited directly to their account. This scheme incentivizes the existing BHIM users to refer new users to BHIM. Upon completion of minimum 3 unique successful transactions amounting to Rs 50 to any 3 unique users, the bonus will be paid to both the referrer and the referee.

BHIM – Cash back Scheme
Under this scheme, merchants will get cash back on every transaction using BHIM. The merchants can get cashback of up to Rs 300 per month, with each merchant eligible to win up to Rs 1800 in 6 months.

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4.Income Tax department has launched the second phase of the ‘Operation Clean Money’ Source : The Hindu

The Income Tax department has launched the second phase of the ‘Operation Clean Money’ to investigate over 60,000 individuals with an aim to detect black money generation post demonetisation.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the policy-making body of the income tax department has detected flow of black money into the banks amounting to over Rs 9,334 crore between November 9, 2016 and February 28 this year.

Under the second phase of Operation Clean Money, more than 60,000 persons including 1,300 high risk persons has been identified for detailed investigation. The department has deducted more than 6,000 transactions of high value property purchase and 6,600 cases of outward remittances.

The first phase of ‘Operation Clean Money’ was launched on January 31, 2017. In the first phase, the department went through e-verification of large cash deposits into the banks after the demonetisation and had sent online queries and investigated around 17.92 lakh persons.

Significance:

This operation will help in eliminating black money and widen the tax base. The impact of the operations carried out by the income tax department has resulted in a 21.7% increase in the income tax returns in the financial year 2016-17. Also, 16% growth in the gross collection has been observed, which is the highest in the last five years. Besides, 14% growth in net collection has been realized, which is the highest in the last three years.

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5.Right to access Internet cannot be curtailed, says SC

 Source : The Hindu

SC hearing a petition for strict adherence by search engines to Section 22 of PCPNDT Act.

Supreme Court observed

Citizens have the right to access the Internet to gain information, wisdom and knowledge and their right cannot be curtailed unless it encroaches into the boundary of illegality

A general prohibition on all online content about pre-natal sex determination will curtail the fundamental right to know of a genuine information-seeker

Section 22

  • A three-judge Bench held that the prohibition should kick in only if the content found online is violative of Section 22 (prohibition of advertisement relating to pre-natal determination of sex) under the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) (PCPNDT) Act of 1994.
  • Backdrop: The Bench was hearing a petition filed by Sabu Mathew George for strict adherence by search engines to Section 22

Assurance to SC

  • The three Internet search engines — Microsoft, Google India and Yahoo! India — gave their assurances to the Supreme Court that they would neither advertise nor sponsor advertisements violative of the PNPCDT Act.
  • The trio said they had already appointed ‘in-house’ experts to spot illegal content and pull them down
  • Nodal officers had been appointed at State levels to keep tabs on the Net for offensive material contravening Section 22 of the Act
  • In case the nodal officers detect illegal online content, they would communicate with the search engine’s experts, which would take it off within the next 36 hours of receiving the information
  • These experts would then follow it up by providing the nodal officers concerned with an action taken report

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6.U.S. drops ‘mother of all bombs’ for first time in Afghanistan
 Source : The Hindu

GBU-43, nicknamed as the ‘Mother of All Bombs’, has been dropped by the United States over an ISIS complex in Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border. The bomb was dropped using a Lockheed MC-130 transport plane. GBU-43 is one of the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in the battlefield. The bomb has been dropped to destroy a system of tunnels and caves used by the ISIS fighters to move around freely making easier for them to target US military advisers and the Afghan forces. The strike was carried out with MOAB to maximize the destruction suffered by the IS fighters and their facilities as well as to minimize the risk for Afghan and US forces conducting cleaning operations in the area.

Some Facts:

  • The official name used by the US Air Force for GBU-43 is the ‘Massivmoab-afghanistan-onlinee Ordnance Air Blast bomb (MOAB)’.
  • MOAB weighs 9,797 kgs and is a GPS-guided munition.
  • MOAB is bout 20 feet long and is capable of burrowing through 200 feet of earth and 60 feet of concrete before detonating.
  • According to Pentagon, MOAB is the largest non-nuclear bomb that has ever been used in the combat.
  • MOAB was first tested in March 2003 at the time of US led invasion of Iraq. The test resulted in a huge mushroom cloud that could be seen as far away from 32 km.
  • MOAB, however, is not the largest bomb ever made.

Russia in 2007 tested ‘Aviation Thermobaric Bomb of Increased Power’, nicknamed as the “Father of All Bombs”. It is estimated to be 4 times more powerful than MOAB.

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7.Life on Saturn’s moon?

 Source : The Hindu

NASA’s Cassini mission is soon about to wind up with the craft whirling into saturnGN35296-Artboard_1‘s environs. scientists working on the mission have released the news that form of chemical energy that can support life is available on one of saturn’s moons – Enceladus.

Hydrogen gas is pouring into the subsurface seafloor of Enceladus, due to hydrothermal activity. This hydrogen can be used by microbes, to produce food by means of chemical reactions combining it with dissolved carbon dioxide.

Enceladus could contain all the necessary ingredients for life – water, a source of energy and essential elements such as carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen , oxygen, phosphorus and sulphur. Water is known to exist on this moon of saturn. In addition now, there is proof that a source of energy, namely hydrogen, exists. The remaining ingredients are also believed to exist there.

 

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8.Why no paper trail in EVMs, SC asks Centre

 Source : The Hindu

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Centre and the Election Commission to comply with a 2013 court directive to introduce paper trail in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

  • EVMs can be hacked as any technology can be.
  • Votes not verified in the EVMs

If the EVM was fixed to a vote-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machine, the voter could see whether the symbol the voter had pressed was the symbol the EVM had registered in the system

Verification a must

  • Verification of the vote was an indispensable part of voting
  • Only a paper trail can restore the confidence of the people

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9.India plans to buy three more Scorpenes
 Source : The Hindu

India and France will step up negotiations to expand the Scorpene submarine contract after the presidential elections in France in May. India will push for incorporating several upgrades in the proposed three new submarines.

  • Mazgaon Docks Ltd. (MDL), Mumbai, is manufacturing six Scorpene conventional submarines with technology transfer from DCNS under a $3.75-billion deal signed in October 2005
  • After a series of delays, the first submarine Kalvari is now in advanced stages of sea trials and expected to be commissioned in a few months. The second submarine Khanderi was launched in January

The Upgrades Will help address concerns of any compromise in the submarine’s capability following the leak of its technical specifications in Australia last year.

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10.Loyalty benefit for EPFO members

 Source : The Hindu

  • Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation subscribers for 20 years or more will get a loyalty-cum-life benefit of up to Rs. 50,000 at the time of retirement
  • The Central Board of Trustees (CBT) of the organisation has recommended a minimum sum assured of Rs. 2.5 lakh in the event of the death of a subscriber
  • The suggested benefits will be available to members after government approval. Initially, these will be provided for two years on a pilot basis and will be reviewed thereafter
  • The benefit will also be provided in case of permanent disability
  • In these cases, the members who have contributed to the EDLI scheme for less than 20 years will be eligible
  • Those members whose average basic wages are up to Rs. 5,000 will get a loyalty-cum-life benefit of Rs. 30,000
  • The members with wages of Rs. 5,001-10,000 will be eligible for a Rs. 40,000 benefit
  • All those members getting more than Rs. 10,000 monthly wage will be eligible for Rs. 50,000 loyalty-cum-life benefit under the proposed scheme
  • The board has recommended such benefits in view of the EDLI corpus of Rs. 18,119 crore
  • Provident fund deposits for 2016-17 would get an 8.65 per cent interest as decided by the CBT

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11.RBI tightens norms on bank performance
 Source : The Hindu

The RBI has come out with a revised prompt corrective action (PCA) framework for banks, spelling out certain thresholds, the breach of which could invite resolutions such as a merger with another bank or even shutting down of the bank .

Thresholds: The revised norms have set out three thresholds. The thresholds are based on capital, net non-performing assets, profitability and leverage ratio

Breach:The breach of the third one on capital would identify a bank as a likely candidate for resolution through tools like amalgamation, reconstruction, winding up etc

  • The breach of the first threshold will invite restriction on dividend distribution or require parents of foreign banks to bring in more capital
  • This will get triggered if capital adequacy ratio (including capital conservation buffer) falls below 10.25% or common equity tier-I (CET1) capital ratio falls below 6.75%
  • Breach of either CAR or CET1 would trigger corrective action
  • The trigger for net NPA is 6% and 4% for leverage ratio. Two consecutive years of negative return on assets (RoA) will also be classified in threshold one
  • The breach of the second threshold will occur when the capital adequacy ratio falls below 7.75% or CET1 goes below 5.125%
  • The net NPA threshold is breach of 12% and leverage ratio below 3.5%
  • Three consecutive years of negative ROA will also trigger threshold two
  • Breach of threshold two will result in restrictions on expansion of branches and higher provisions
  • The breach of the last threshold happens when CET1 falls below 3.625% and net NPA goes above 12%
  • Negative ROA for four consecutive years will also be considered as a breach of the third threshold vis-a-vis the profitability parameter
  • Restrictions, in addition to that of threshold one and two, will be put on management compensation and directors’ fees if the the third level is breached
  • Corrective action that can be imposed on banks includes special audit, restructuring operations and activation of recovery plan
  • Promoters of banks can be asked to bring in new management, or even can supersede the bank’s board, as a part of corrective action

To be Effective from:The provisions of the revised PCA framework will be effective from April 1, 2017 based on the financials of the banks for the year ended March 31, 2017

Review Timeframe: The framework would be reviewed after three years

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12.Sagarmatha Friendship-2017
Source : PIB

Nepal and China is all set to hold their first ever joint military exercise named ‘Sagarmatha Friendship-2017’ from April 17 to April 26. The 10 day long joint exercise will focus on combating terror and disaster management. Although, Nepal conducts joint exercises with other countries like India and United States, this is the first time it is holding a joint exercise with China. The joint exercise comes at the backdrop of Nepal’s proposal of such exercise having focus on disaster management during Chinese Defence Minister, General Chang Wanquan’s official visit to Nepal on March 24.

Sagarmatha is the Nepali name for Mt Everest, which stands in between both the countries. Even though the bilateral military engagement between Nepal and China does not violate India-Nepal treaty of peace and friendship (1950), the exercise does appear unconventional as Nepal has conducted exercises with India earlier. Nepal can have military exercises with other countries without violating the pact with India, but at the same time, military engagement with China is worrisome as China’s definition of terrorism includes Tibetan agitators as well.
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