Current Affairs: 18 February 2017

‘Science Express’ train flags off to create climate change awareness in India

  • A ‘Science Express’ train was flagged off  a seven-month journey that will cover 68 stations across the country, including Agartala and Lumding in the northeast, to spread awareness about climate change.
  • Named ‘Science Express Climate Action Special’, with the collaborative efforts of ministries of Railways, Environment and Science and Technology, the 16-coach train will travel to Tripura and to the north bank of the Brahmaputra for the first time.
  • Exhibits of eight coaches of the train are devoted to information, caste studies and materials related to various aspects of climate change. 
  • The exhibitions mounted by the Environment Ministry will also showcase the underlying science, impacts, adaption activities, mitigation solutions and policy approaches in a manner that is easy to understand and interesting for not just school students but also the masses.
  • Since railways is focusing on clean energy, three coaches are fitted with solar panels on the roofs. The train will stop at each station for students and others to visit the exhibitions in coaches. 
  • The train will cover 68 stations ending the journey at Gandhinagar station on September 8.
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Ace shuttler PV Sindhu attained her career best BWF women’s singles ranking, jumping to the fifth spot.

  • Sindhu, who was previously on the sixth spot, surged ahead of Akane Yamaguchi of Japan, to attain her career best ranking.
  • Saina Nehwal, who stayed put at No. 9, is the second Indian in the top 10 spots of the BWF rankings, which is headed by Tai Tzu Ying of the Chinese Taipei.
  • Meanwhile, Spain’s Carolina Marin remains the only non-Asian in the top 10 spots of the BWF women’s rankings.

Corporation Bank bags ‘National MSME Excellence Award 2017’

  • Corporation Bank has been awarded once again ‘National MSME Excellence Award 2017’ organized by the Federation of Industry, Trade and Services (FITS). 
  • D V Subramanya Varma, General Manager, Corporation Bank received the award from Haribhai P Choudhary, Honourable Union Minister of State, Ministry of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises in New Delhi
  • Federation of Industry Trade and Services (FITS) is a national industry body working in the form of a bridge between the industry and the state/central governments. 
  • Corporation Bank has taken several initiatives recognizing the constructive role played by MSME Sector in the nation development like, online loan facility for MSME borrowers, online facility for revival and rehabilitation of MSME, campaign for growth with various concessions, collateral free loans up to Rupees two crore under Credit Guarantee Scheme of CGTMSE with 50 bps concession in interest rate is offered to such guarantee covered accounts, concessions in interest rate are also offered to women beneficiaries and rated MSME units and others.

SIB bags award for tech security practices

  • South Indian Bank has been awarded with ISO 27001: 2013 certification for its Information Security Management System (ISMS).
  • V.G. Mathew, MD and CEO of the bank received the certificate from Venkataram Arabolu, Managing Director, BSI Group India
  • The certification process involved an extensive audit, which was conducted by British Standards Institution against the criteria set out by the ISO 27001:2013 standards on various domains of IT functions. 
  • The bank had already received ISO 9001 Quality Management certification for its Credit Department, Personnel Department and Data Centre.
  • The certification demonstrates the bank’s total commitment to benchmarking technology framework and processes with international standards, and forms part of our long term vision for security best practices. 
  • Adhering to the internationally recognized ISMS standards adds yet another layer of security for Bank’s customer data and assures customers of the quality of our service

Karnataka Bank launches National Pension System in Mangaluru 

  • Karnataka BankBSE 0.09 % has launched 'National Pension System' (NPS) at its corporate office in Mangaluru
  • NPS was introduced by the Government of India with an intention to provide old age financial security by way of regular income in the form of pension. 
  • While earning, one can contribute to the NPS and start receiving pension after attaining the age of 60 years, to meet one's financial needs. 
  • Any individual between the age 18 years and 60 years can register his name with the bank's branch to contribute and to get the pension benefit under this scheme. 
  • With the flexibility and tax exemption feature, it is most suitable to the earning unorganised sector employees, 
  • The bank has introduced this scheme at select branches initially and plans to introduce it in a phased manner at all of its branches 

UAE announces 100-year plan to finish building ‘first city on Mars’ by 2117

  • The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will build the first city on the Red Planet as part of the 2117 Mars project in collaboration with specialised international organisations and scientific institutes.
  • The Mars 2117 Project was announced by Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces
  • The 100-year plan will involve scientific research programmes to nurture national cadres specialised in space sciences at universities in the UAE.
  • In 2015, the UAE announced its Mars Probe mission, which will send the Arab world’s first spacecraft to the Red Planet in a scientific exploration mission that will land on planet in 2021.

Canara Bank signs MoU with HRD Ministry to start higher education financing agency

  • Canara Bank has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to operationalise the Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA).
  • In September 2016, the Union Cabinet had approved the establishment of HEFA to give a major push for the creation of high quality infrastructure/capital assets in premier educational institutions.
  • HEFA has been jointly promoted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and Canara Bank with an authorised capital of Rs. 2,000 crore..
  • HEFA has been formed as a special purpose vehicle. 
  • It would leverage the equity to raise up to Rs. 20,000 crore for funding projects for infrastructure and development of world class Labs in IITs/IIMs/NITs and such other institutions.
  • HEFA would also mobilise CSR funds from PSUs/corporates, which would in turn be released for promoting research and innovation in these institutions on a grant basis.
  • The principal portion of the loan will be repaid through ‘internal accruals’ (earned through fee receipts, research earnings etc.,) of the institutions. 
  • The Government would service the interest portion through regular Plan assistance.
  • All the centrally funded higher educational institutions would be eligible for joining as members of HEFA.
  • For joining as members, the institution should agree to escrow a specific amount from their internal accruals to HEFA for a period of 10 years.

Air Asia signs MoU with Odisha in connection with two-ways direct flights

  • Thailand-based airliner Air Asia signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Odisha government in connection with beginning of two-ways direct flights from Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur to Odisha capital Bhubaneswar. 
  • The airline will begin its flight service from the Biju Patnaik International Airport by end of next month.
  • Earlier last year, the Odisha government had allowed the Thai Air Asia to receive subsidy support of 1 lakh 70 thousand per round trip for starting air serviceoperations from Bhubaneswar to Singapore/Bangkok/ Kuala Lumpur. 
  • Recently, the Odisha government had reduced Value Added Tax (VAT) on Aviation Turbine Fuel to zero per cent for direct international flights. 
  • Earlier in January this year, international cargo operations began from Bhubaneswar airport.

Veteran Hindi Scholar and Novelist Surendra Verma Selected for 2016 Vyas Samman7

  • Renowned Hindi litterateur and playwright Surendra Verma has been selected for 2016 Vyas Samman for his novel Kaatna Shami Ka Vriksha Padma Pankhuri Ki Dhar Se. 
  • This novel was published in the year 2010.
  • Mr Verma would be presented a cash prize of Rs. 3.50 lakh a citation and a logo for the prestigious award instituted by K K Birla Foundation.
  • Surendra Verma will be the 26th recipient of the honor.
  • Surendra Verma was born on September 7, 1941 in Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh. 
  • He is an M.A in linguistics.
  • He started his career as a teacher and soon started writing stories. His first play was Surya ki antim kiran sesurya kipahli kiran tak (From the Sun’s Last Ray to the Sun’s First Ray).
  • This play was premiered in Marathi by Amol Palekar in 1972.
  • He had been associated with the National School of Drama for long and has published about fifteen titles of short stories, novels, satires and play.

Eight Executive Directors appointed in various banks 

  • Eight Executive Directors (EDs) have been appointed in various public sector banks on the recommendations of Banks Board Bureau. 
  • Neelam Damodharan and Atanu Kumar Das have been appointed as EDs in Bank of India. Damodharan is General Manager in Bank of Baroda and Das is GM in Vijaya Bank. 
  • K Swaminathan, General Manager in Indian Overseas Bank, has been appointed as ED in the same bank
  • Ashok Kumar Pradhan will be .ED in United Bank of India. He is at present Chief General Manager with State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur. 
  • P Ramana Murthy will be Executive Director of Central Bank of India. 
  • He is GM of Allahabad Bank. 
  • Fareed Ahmed Khan, General Manager of Corporation Bank, will be ED in Punjab and Sind Bank. M K Bhattacharya and S Harishankar have been appointed EDs of Indian Bank and Allahabad Bank respectively. 
  • Bhattacharya and Harishankar are working as Chief General Managers of State Bank of Mysore and State Bank of Travancore respectively. 
  • The appointments are initially for a three-year period. 

JLL named to FORTUNE’s 2017 World’s most admired companies list 

  • Reinforcing its reputation for excellence, JLL (NYSE: JLL) has again been named to FORTUNE magazine’s World’s Most Admired Companies list. The list is a major authority on corporate reputations compiled each year by FORTUNE and Korn Ferry Hay Group through a survey of top executives, directors and financial analysts. 
  • FORTUNE's list of World’s Most Admired Companies determines the companies with the strongest reputations within and across industries.
  • KornFerry Hay Group, a global consulting firm, has worked with FORTUNE each year since 1997 to select and rank the Most Admired Companies and identify why they are highly regarded. 
  • Nine key attributes are measured to compile the rankings, which include investment value, quality of management, innovation, products, social responsibility and ability to attract talent
  • JLL is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. A Fortune 500 company, JLL helps real estate owners, occupiers and investors achieve their business ambitions. 

Mastercard to provide payment processing solutions to Airtel Payments Bank

  • Mastercard will provide payment processing solutions to Airtel Payments Bank.
  • An online debit card has been launched to enable Airtel Payments Bank customers make digital payments at over 1 lakh online merchants.
  • Shashi Arora, MD & CEO, Airtel Payments Bank, said: “Mastercard’s globally proven expertise and technology solutions will enable us to provide innovative, secure and convenient online digital payments solutions to our customers.
  • This partnership will contribute to our vision of serving customers with a differentiated banking model that provides them a simple and convenient form of merchant payments.”

Cash credit limit for MSMEs raised to 30 per cent

  • The government has increased the cash credit limit for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to 30 per cent of turnover from the existing 20 per cent to encourage such ventures conduct businesses digitally 
  • By taking up digital transaction, the balance sheet of companies would be "clean" and MSMEs would get loans from banks. 
  • Take your balance sheet. Banks and financial institutions will sanction loans up to 30 per cent of your turnover. That is a good move towards ease of doing business
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