Current Affairs: 22 March 2017

Published on Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Idea merges with Vodafone to create India's largest, world's 2nd largest telecom company

  • India's telecom industry will soon ring in a new order. Vodafone India and the Kumar Mangalam Birla-owned Idea Cellularare to merge to create the country's biggest phone company by subscribers, dislodging Bharti Airtelwhich has been at the top for 15 years. 
  • The new Rs 1.55 lakh crore entity will also be the world No. 2 after China Mobile. 
  • The deal will see Aditya Birla Group, the promoters of Idea, gradually raising its stake in the combined entity while Vodafone Group will reduce its own, with the aim of both holding equal stakes over a period of time. 


  • As a first step, AB Group will acquire 4.9 per cent from Vodafone for Rs 3,874 crore, or Rs 108 a share, to take its stake to 26 per cent, with Vodafone holding 45.1 per cent. 
  • Further, the company will have the right to buy another 9.5 per cent (at Rs 130 a share or the prevailing market price, depending on the time of purchase) in the combined entity over four years from the British telecom firm. 

Governing Entity

  • Kumar Mangalam Birla will be the chairman of the new entity. Vodafone will name the chief financial officer while the two companies will jointly name the CEO and operations head before the closure of merger, expected within 24 months. 

International Cricket Council name Ankur Khanna as new Chief Financial Officer

  • The International Cricket Council (ICC) announced the appointment of Ankur Khanna as its Chief Financial Officer (CFO).
  • Khanna will join the ICC at the end of March leaving Air Asia India where he has held the post of CFO for the last one year.
  • Prior to Air Asia India, Khanna worked in senior roles at Air France / KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and ITC, an associate company of British American Tobacco.

The International Cricket Council (ICC)

  • The International Cricket Council (ICC) is the international governing body of cricket. It was founded as the Imperial Cricket Conference in 1909 by representatives from England, Australia and South Africa, renamed the International Cricket Conference in 1965, and took up its current name in 1989.
  • Headquarters: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • President: Zaheer Abbas
  • CEO: David Richardson

2 Indians in Forbes list of US’ richest under-40 entrepreneurs

  • Two Indian-origin men have figured in Forbes magazine’s second annual list of wealthiest entrepreneurs under the age of 40, which is topped by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
  • Biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy has been ranked 24th on ‘America’s Richest Entrepreneurs Under 40 2016’ list with a networth of $600 million, and Instacart co-founder Apoorva Mehta, stands at the 31st spot with a $360-million networth.
  • Vivek Ramaswamy has been ranked 24th on ‘America’s Richest Entrepreneurs Under 40 2016’ list with a networth of $600 million
  • Instacart co-founder Apoorva Mehta, stands at the 31st spot with a $360-million networth.

Cabinet approves SBI merger with Bharatiya Mahila Bank

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the merger of Bharatiya Mahila Bank (BMB) with State Bank of India.
  • BMB’s total business of Rs 2,000 crore and its 103 branches will be merged with the country’s largest bank 
  • The approval comes after last month’s Cabinet approval for the merger of SBI’s five associate banks with the larger entity, which will be effective from April 1.
  • At present, SBI has an exposure of more than Rs 46,000 crore to women customers. 
  • In the three years since the BMB was established in 2013, it has extended loans of Rs 192 crore to women borrowers.
  • Along with the merger of the five associate banks with SBI, this merger constitutes an important step towards strengthening the Indian banking sector through consolidation of public sector banks.

Bharatiya Mahila Bank 

  • Bharatiya Mahila Bank (BMB) is an Indian financial services banking company based in Mumbai, India. Former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh inaugurated the system on 19 November 2013 on the occasion of the 96th birth anniversary of former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
  • Key people: S. M. Swathi (ED) 
  • Owner: Government of India

Karthik stars as Tamil Nadu lifts Vijay Hazare Trophy

  • Tamil Nadu regained the Vijay Hazare trophy after beating Bengal by 37 runs in the final of the 2017 edition.
  • With this win, they become the only team to win the tournament five times (one of them was shared with Uttar Pradesh in 2004-05). 
  • Tamil Nadu put managed to score 217 in spite of an early batting collapse. Dinesh Karthik, who was the leading run-scorer of the tournament, scored a match-winning 118.
  • Bengal were dismissed for 180.

The Vijay Hazare Trophy

  • The Vijay Hazare Trophy, also known as the Ranji One Day Trophy, was started in 2002–03 as a limited-overs cricket domestic competition involving state teams from the Ranji Trophy plates. It is named after the famous Indian cricketer Vijay Hazare.
  • Tamil Nadu have won the trophy 5 times.

Yes Bank partners with Payjo for artificial intelligence solutions 

  • Private sector lender Yes BankBSE -1.51 % has partnered with Payjo, an artificial intelligence banking platform based out of Silicon Valley, California to adopt its intelligence products. 
  • The YES Pay Bot will be the first AI-driven Bot for a wallet and will complement the already trusted and popular YES Pay wallet service with over half-a-million users. 
  • Yes Bank is launching its wallet services through a chat-based financial assistant in partnership with Payjo on Facebook Messenger. This will soon be available on other popular social media channels like Skype, Slack and WhatsApp. With widespread use of instant messaging, YES Pay will be an effortless way to recharge mobile and DTH services, send-request money and pay utility bills. 
  • The AI-powered YES Pay Bot not only carries out financial transactions over a friendly chat but also answers banking queries and requests in a conversant manner. 
  • The technology enables the bot to give quick, personalized responses and real-time insights on transactions. 
  • Further, it works harmoniously across multiple channels like web, mobile and IVR. 
  • Over time, AI-powered Bots become more astute and can act as personalised banking assistants which can forecast customer requirements and provide a personalised panoramic view of spending trends. 

Vidya Pillai pots silver in Women World Snooker

  • India's Vidya Pillai produced a spirited performance before settling for silver in the World Women Snooker Championship in Singapore
  • Vidya cleared all league matches and later knocked out former European Champion, Tatjana Vasiljeva of Latvia 4-1 (last 16), Katrina Wan of Hong Kong 4-1 (quarterfinal) and Rebecca Grenger of England 5-1 
  • Hong Kong's Ng On Yee, clinched the gold medal 

Canadian wins $1m Global Teacher Prize for work with Inuit students

  • A Canadian who teaches at a school in a fly-in-only village in the Arctic has won a $1m (£800,000) Global Teacher Prize at a ceremony in Dubai.
  • Maggie MacDonnell, praised for “changing the lives of her students and transforming her community”, was among 10 finalists chosen from 20,000 nominations and applications from 179 countries.
  • She has taught for the past six years in the Inuit village of Salluit, Québec, in the Canadian Arctic, which has a high rate of suicide, according to her biography provided by the award organisers.
  • MacDonnell has created a life-skills programme specifically for girls in a region where teenage pregnancies are common, alongside high levels of sexual abuse, according to her biography. 
  • Many teachers leave their posts midway through the academic year due to stress and the harsh conditions endured by the indigenous community.
  • The Nobel-style award was set up three years ago by the Dubai-based Varkey Foundation. The prize is paid in instalments and requires the winner to remain a teacher for at least five years.

Varkey Foundation

  • The Varkey Foundation has partnered with a variety of major global organizations including UNESCO, UNICEF, and the Clinton Global Initiative.
  • In 2013 it launched the Global Education and Skills Forum, an annual education summit dedicated to addressing the world's educational needs. 
  • After analyzing the public status of teachers worldwide, in 2014 it launched the annual Global Teacher Prize, a $1 million award to an outstanding pioneering teacher who has had a widespread impact.

Madhabi Puri Buch appointed as SEBI whole time member

  • The government on Tuesday announced Madhabi Puri Buch as new whole time member of Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi). 
  • This appointment also marks a departure from the regular practise of hiring Sebi board members, who typically were men coming from the public sector.
  • This is the first time that a women and a person from private sector has been chosen for a key post with the market regulator.
  • Buch, who is currently serving at the New Development Bank in Shanghai has been appointed for a period of three years, the department of personnel and training (DoPT)
  • Under the corporate governance standards issued in 2015, Sebi had mandated one women to be a part of the board of a listed company
  • Till now, the highest post occupied by women at the market regulator was the position of executive director.
  • So far, members and chairman at Sebi were mainly appointed from public sector, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Administrative Services (IAS).

Securities and Exchange Board of India 

  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is the regulator for the securities market in India. It was established in the year 1988 and given statutory powers on 30 January 1992 through the SEBI Act, 1992
  • It was formed on 12 April 1988
  • Ajay Tyagi was appointed chairman on 10 January 2017 replacing U K Sinha
  • The SEBI is managed by its members, which consists of following:
  • The chairman who is nominated by Union Government of India.
  • Two members, i.e., Officers from Union Finance Ministry.
  • One member from the Reserve Bank of India.
  • The remaining five members are nominated by Union Government of India, out of them at least three shall be whole-time members.

Bill Gates tops Forbes richest list again, Mukesh Ambani leads India's 101 billionaire club

  • India is home to world's fourth highest number of billionaires with Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani leading the club of more than 100 super-rich Indians, according to a new list released by Forbes magazine.
  • The Forbes list of the World's Billionaires 2017 consists of 2,043 of the richest people in the world who have a combined net worth of USD 7.67 trillion, a record 18 per cent increase over the past year.
  • The list has been topped by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates for the fourth year in a row. He has been the richest person in the world for 18 out of the past 23 years.
  • Mukesh Ambani Tops Forbes’ India Rich List of 101 Billionaires
  • Next on the list of Indian billionaires is ArcelorMittal chairman and CEO Lakshmi Mittal on the 56th spot with a net worth of USD 16.4 billion.
  • The list includes only four women billionaires from India, led by Savitri Jindal and her family at the 303rd position, with a net worth of USD 5.2 billion.
  • The other Indians on the list are Azim Premji, Wipro (72) Gautam Adani, Adani Group (250) NR Narayana Murthy, Infosys (1161) Vivek Chand Burman, Dabur (1290) Nandan Nilekani, Infosys (1290) Rana Kapoor, Yes Bank (1795)

ISRO commissions two major facilities at VSSC

  • ISRO commissioned two major facilities-- a Hypersonic Wind Tunnel and Shock Tunnel-- at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre here as part of its continuous and concerted efforts to minimise cost of access to space.

Role of the facilities 

  • Commissioning of such facilities would provide adequate data for design and development of current and future space transportation systems in the country
  • symbolises the country's capability in establishing such world class facilities wherein technology from outside is restricted or not available.
  • The one meter Hypersonic Wind Tunnel and one meter Shock Tunnel have been established with a wide spectrum of simulation capabilities in terms of Mach number, Reynolds number and re-entry velocities,
  • These facilities, indigenously designed, developed and 'Made in India' with the support of Indian industries, are the third largest in terms of size and simulation capability in the world
  • The facilities were dedicated in the memory of Satish Dhawan, a pioneer in the field and named as the Satish Dhawan Wind tunnel Complex.

Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre

  • The Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre is a major space research centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), focusing on rocket and space vehicles for India's satellite programme.
  • It is located in Thiruvananthapuram, 
  • It was formed on November 21, 1963;

Maj. Rohit Suri awarded Kirti Chakra

  • The military investiture ceremony held in the Durbar Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhavan
  • While the second highest peacetime gallantry award ‘Kirti Chakra’ went to a young officer, Major Rohit Suri, who was part of the surgical strikes last year, the seniormost Lieutenant General Eastern Army Commander Praveen Bakshi, who was side stepped in the appointment of the Army Chief, was awarded the Param Vishisht Seva Medal, the highest Distinguished Service Medal.
  • Another member of the surgical strikes team Nb Sub Vijay Kumar was conferred the Shaurya Chakra
  • The Kirti Chakra is an Indian military decoration awarded for valour, courageous action or self-sacrifice away from the field of battle. 
  • It may be awarded to civilians as well as military personnel

International Day of Forests: 21 March

  • This global celebration of forests provides a platform to raise awareness of the importance of all types of woodlands and trees, and celebrate the ways in which they sustain and protect us. 
  • This year we highlight the importance of wood energy in improving people's lives, powering sustainable development and mitigating climate change.
  • 2017 Theme: Forests and energy

BIRAC Celebrates Its 5th Foundation Day on 20th – 21st March, 2017 

  • The Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC); a Public Sector Undertaking of Department of Biotechnology (DBT) is completing 5 years and will be celebrating its 5th Foundation Day on 20th – 21st March, 2017.
  • The Theme of the Foundation Day is “BIRAC@5: Impacting the Biotech Ecosystem”.
  • During these 5 years, BIRAC’s efforts have been focused on enhancing the innovation research capacities within the biotech industries, and encouraging young entrepreneurs to take their innovation ideas towards scale-up and commercialization, so as to meet the country’s challenge for Affordable Product Development for masses without undermining the quality.
  • The Foundation Day will be followed by the Grand Challenges India Meeting 2017 being organized by the BIRAC – PMU of DBT – BMGF and Wellcome Trust. 
  • BIRAC was incorporated on 20th March, 2012 as a non-profit Public Sector Enterprise under the aegis of Department of Biotechnology (DBT). BIRAC completed 5 years of establishment in March, 2017.

World Poetry Day: 21 March

  • Held every year on 21 March, World Poetry Day celebrates one of humanity’s most treasured forms of cultural and linguistic expression and identity. Practiced throughout history – in every culture and on every continent – poetry speaks to our common humanity and our shared values, transforming the simplest of poems into a powerful catalyst for dialogue and peace.
  • UNESCO first adopted 21 March as World Poetry Day during its 30th General Conference in Paris in 1999, with the aim of supporting linguistic diversity through poetic expression and increasing the opportunity for endangered languages to be heard.

ICMR head named to UN group on antimicrobial resistance

  • Indian Council of Medical Research director Soumya Swaminathan has been named to a high-level group set up by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to provide expertise on and coordinate the global fight against antimicrobial resistance. 
  • Swaminathan, 57, has been named to the ad hoc Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance, which will be co-chaired by Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed and World Health Organisation Director-General Margaret Chan.
  • Swaminathan is also Secretary, Department of Health Research in India's Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. 
  • Last September, UN Member States adopted the Political Declaration of the High-Level Meeting on Antimicrobial Resistance that contained a request for the UN Secretary-General to establish such a body. 

Salman Khan tops Forbes India Celebrity rich list

  • Bollywood superstar Salman Khan has unseated his actor Shah Rukh Khan to become the top earning celebrity of 2016 in the Forbes India Celebrity 100 List with an estimated income of Rs. 270.33 crore.
  • The other leading names in the list include skipper Virat Kohli, actor Akshay Kumar and M S Dhoni chronologically.
  • However, the 50-year-old Salman is ranked at No 2 in terms of fame, which is topped by ace cricketer Kohli.
  • In the fifth rich 100 celeb list released by Forbes India, the ranking is based on two parameters: estimates of entertainment-related earnings and estimates of fame during the period October 2015 to September 2016.
  • SRK at No 2, has reportedly earned Rs. 221.75 crore and also comes at No 3 in terms of fame. He lost his perch at the top in what was a mixed year for him both in terms of box office success and brands endorsed.
  • When it comes to fame ranking, Test cricket captain Virat Kohli is the most popular celebrity and this has improved his earnings rank to No 3 with a reported Rs. 134.44 crore earnings. In 2015, Kohli was ranked No 7.

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