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Current Events 16 March 2017

 

NEWS

16 March 2017


Sr. No.

Topic

News

1.

GS III: SECURITY

NIA hunts for 6 men who received IS funds

2.

GS III: S&T  SPACE

Team Indus picks Italian, Indian experiments for moon

3.

GS III: ECONOMY  INDICATORS

Exports climb for a sixth straight month

4.

GS III: ECONOMY   BANKING

‘Bad loans slowing, remain a challenge'

5.

GS III: ECONOMY   BANKING

Banks against farm loan waiver in U.P.

6.

GS III: INFRASTRUCTURE

Road Ministry wants core status for multi-modal logistics parks

7.

GS III : INFRASTRUCTURE

Centre unveils plan for export infra

8.

GS III: ENVIRONMENT  BIODIVERSITY

India hosts world's oldest algae fossil

 

GS III: SECURITY

NIA hunts for 6 men who received IS funds

  • The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is looking for six men who have gone off the radar after their names surfaced for receiving and sending funds on behalf of the Islamic State (IS) to establish its presence here.
  • At least eight persons belong to Tamil Nadu and one person is from Telangana.
  • An official said the accused had helped a dozen people leave for Syria and Iraq by mobilising funds for them.
  • Their names had surfaced during the interrogation of Adnan Hassan Damoodi, 36, a resident of Bhatkal in Karnataka and a former Indian Mujahideen operative, who was deported from the UAE last year for propagating the ideology of the IS on social media platforms.

 

National Investigation Agency (NIA)

  • It is a central agency established by the Indian Government to combat terror in India.
  • The agency is empowered to deal with terror related crimes across states without special permission from the states.
  • The Agency came into existence with the enactment of the National Investigation Agency Act 2008 by the Parliament of India on 31 December 2008.
  • NIA was created after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks as need for a central agency to combat terrorism was realised.

 


 

GS III: S&T  SPACE

Team Indus picks Italian, Indian experiments for moon

  • Space4Life, a student team from Naples in Italy, has won the contest to send an experiment to the moon on the TeamIndus spacecraft in December this year.
  • A second experiment from the Central University at Thiruvarur has also been chosen.
  • It will be sponsored by Bengaluru-based biopharmaceuticals company Biocon Ltd., TeamIndus announced.
  • TeamIndus is itself taking part in the $20-million Google Lunar X Prize contest along with four other global teams.
  • Its lander is scheduled to take off on the Indian PSLV rocket tentatively on December 28 and land on the moon on January 26 next year, carrying its own cameras and these experiments.
  • The GLXP contest is for the first private-funded spacecraft that will land on the moon, briefly roam its surface and send pictures and videos.

 

 

GS III: ECONOMY  INDICATORS

Exports climb for a sixth straight month

  • India's goods exports rose for a sixth consecutive month in February even as the trade deficit widened due to a jump in the value of imports of gold and oil.
  • Exports, which grew 17.5% year-on-year to $24.5 billion, increased due to higher shipments of engineering goods and petroleum products among others, according to data released by the Commerce Ministry.
  • Imports went up 21.76% to $33.4 billion during the month owing to a surge in gold and oil imports.
  • This led to the trade deficit widening to $8.9 billion last month, from $6.5 billion in February 2016.
  • However, the trade shortfall was narrower than the $9.84 billion posted in January 2017.
  • Oil imports jumped 60% to $7.68 billion. Incidentally, the global Brent prices ($/bbl) and Gold ($/troy oz) increased by 67.14% and 2.89% respectively in February 2017 vis-à-vis February 2016 as per World Bank commodity price data.

Brent Prices

  • Brent is the leading global price benchmark for Atlantic basin crude oils.
  • It is a major trading classification of sweet light crude oil that serves as a major benchmark price for purchases of oil worldwide. ...
  • It is used to price two thirds of the world's internationally traded crude oil supplies.



GS III: ECONOMY BANKING

‘Bad loans slowing, remain a challenge'

  • Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the resolution of banks' non performing assets (NPAs) remained a challenge even though the rate of increase of such bad loans had slowed in the last quarter of the current financial year.
  • The idea of a ‘bad bank' for such assets was still under discussion, Mr. Jaitley said, even as the Centre was considering multiplication of the oversight committee mechanism set up by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to process cases referred by different banks.
  • Chief Economic Adviser (CEA) Arvind Subramanian, who had floated the idea of a ‘bad bank' to take over stressed assets in the Economic Survey for 2016-17, said that the government must sometimes consider bailing out large corporate borrowers even at the risk of being charged of crony capitalism in order to surmount the NPA problem.
  • A few MPs said the Centre must ‘go ahead' and establish a Public Sector Asset Rehabilitation Agency (PARA) mooted by the CEA, but said such an agency should only consider those NPAs where sector specific reforms do not help, and called for taking tough action against wilful defaulters, including naming and shaming them.
  • "The core problem of NPAs is with very large corporates, though few in numbers, predominantly in the steel, power, infrastructure and textile sectors. They had expanded their capacity during the boom period (2003- 08), but could not face the onslaught of global financial crisis and consequent slowdown thereafter," the Finance Minister said.
  • The government, Mr. Jaitley said, is taking sector-specific measures to deal with bad loans and the steel sector is on the recovery path, while several decisions have been taken to help resolve problems faced in the infrastructure, power and textile sectors.

 

 

Bad Bank

  • A bad bank is essentially a government-driven asset reconstruction company where banks can park their stressed assets.
  • The concept was pioneered at the Pittsburgh-headquartered Mellon Bank in 1988 in response to problems in the bank's commercial real-estate portfolio.
  • According to McKinsey & Co, the concept of a "bad bank" was applied in previous banking crises in Sweden, France, and Germany.

 

 

 

 

 

GS III: ECONOMY BANKING

Banks against farm loan waiver in U.P.

  • Bankers plan to write to the finance ministry voicing reservations over possible implementation of a pre-poll promise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to waive farm loans in Uttar Pradesh if voted to power.
  • The BJP, which won elections in the State, had promised a waiver of loans given to small and marginal farmers. BJP president Amit Shah said the party would honour its promises.
  • The magnitude of the problem, if the proposal is implemented, can be seen from the fact that U.P. ranks third in India in terms of agricultural credit exposure, bankers said.
  • Bank of Baroda is the leading bank at the State-level and its branch network is as high as the country's largest lender State Bank of India (SBI).
  • Arundhati Bhattacharya, chairman, SBI, said such schemes disturb credit discipline and raise hope for more waiver by other States.
  • She said SBI had announced a one-time settlement (OTS) scheme worth Rs. 6,000 crore in the tractors segment to speed up loan recovery.
  • The bank had also announced such OTS schemes in education and SME segments.
  • She said the recovery due to OTS scheme in these segments had been fairly good.

 

 

GS III: INFRASTRUCTURE

Road Ministry wants core status for multi-modal logistics parks

  • The Road Transport and Highways ministry has demanded infrastructure status to multi-modal logistics parks in a bid to avail long-term funding for various projects at lower rates of interest.
  • The Finance Ministry has to take a final call based on recommendations from the Commerce Ministry.
  • released a concept note last year short listing 15 locations for development of multi-modal logistics parks worth over Rs. 32,000 crore in Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Telangana.
  • "We need to encourage manufacturing and focus on boosting exports. The biggest obstacle here is the high logistics cost. Whereas in China, the logistics cost is 8-10% in India it is near 18%. We need to integrate road, railways, waterways and air transportation to create facilities so that logistics costs reduce to 12% and we become competitive," Mr. Gadkari said.
  • The Ministry has signed an agreement with Petronet LNG Limited to set up liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuelling stations across the country, he said.



GS III : INFRASTRUCTURE

Centre unveils plan for export infra

  • The Centre unveiled a scheme to create export-related infrastructure and boost the competitiveness of India's shipments.
  • The scheme would have a budgetary allocation of Rs. 600 crore, with an annual outlay of Rs. 200 crore per year, and it would be implemented from FY'18 till FY'20, according to a Commerce Ministry statement.
  • "The objective of the proposed scheme - Trade Infrastructure for Export Scheme (TIES) - is to enhance export competitiveness by bridging gaps in export infrastructure, creating focussed export infrastructure, first mile and last mile connectivity for export- oriented projects and addressing quality and certification measures."
  • The scheme replaces a centrally sponsored scheme - Assistance to States for creating Infrastructure for the Development and growth of Exports (ASIDE).
  • Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said: "The focus is not just to create infrastructure but to make sure it is professionally run and sustained. There will be an (inter-ministerial) Empowered Committee (chaired by the Commerce Secretary) to periodically review the progress of the approved projects in the Scheme and will take necessary steps to ensure achievement of the objectives of the Scheme."
  • Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia said the scheme would provide assistance for setting up and upgrading infrastructure projects with overwhelming export linkages - like border haats, land customs stations, quality testing and certification labs and cold chains. She said last and first mile connectivity projects related to export logistics will also be considered.



GS III: ENVIRONMENT BIODIVERSITY

India hosts world's oldest algae fossil

  • Scientists in India have uncovered a pair of 1.6 billion year-old fossils that appear to contain red algae, which may be the oldest plant-like life discovered on Earth.
  • Until now, the oldest known red algae was 1.2 billion years old, said the paper in the journal PLOS Biology.
  • Scientists often debate the question of when complex life began on Earth, but they generally agree that large multicellular organisms became common about 600 million years ago.
  • The fossil structurally resembles red algae, embedded in mats of cyanobacteria inside a 1.6 billion-year-old phosphorite, a kind of rock, found in the Chitrakoot region of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
  • "You cannot be a 100% sure about material this ancient, as there is no DNA remaining, but the characters agree quite well with the morphology and structure of red algae," said Professor Bengtson.
  • Scientists used x-rays to observe recurring platelets in each cell, which they believe are parts of chloroplasts, the organelles within plant cells where photosynthesis takes place.

 

 

 

 

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