Himalai Celebrating 20th-year celebration, on this eve Himalai extending helping hands to the UPSC-IAS Aspirants of June 2018.

Most important exam oriented Current Affairs Concepts:

1. Monetary Policy Committee (MPC)

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is a committee of the Central Bank in India (Reserve Bank of India), headed by its Governor, which is entrusted with the task of fixing the benchmark policy interest rate (repo rate) to contain inflation within the specified target level.

Monetary Policy Committee is defined in Section 2(iii)(CCI) of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 and is constituted under Sub-section (1) of Section 45ZB of the same Act.

The MPC replaces the current system where the RBI governor, with the aid and advice of his internal team and a technical advisory committee, has complete control over monetary policy decisions. A Committee-based approach will add a lot of value and transparency to monetary policy decisions.

Functions of the MPC

Under the Monetary Policy Framework Agreement, the RBI will be responsible for containing inflation targets at 4% (with a standard deviation of 2%) in the medium term. Under Section 45ZA(1) of the RBI Act, 1934, the Central Government determines the inflation target in terms of the Consumer Price Index, once in every five years in consultation with the RBI. This target would be notified in the Official Gazette. Though the central bank already had a monetary framework and was implementing the monetary policy, the newly designed statutory framework would mean that the RBI would have to give an explanation in the form of a report to the Central Government, if it failed to reach the specified inflation targets. It shall, in the report, give reasons for failure, remedial actions as well as the estimated time within which the inflation target shall be achieved. (The factors that constitute failure shall be such as may be notified by the Central Government in the Official Gazette.) Further, RBI is mandated to publish a Monetary Policy Report every six months, explaining the sources of inflation and the forecasts of inflation for the coming period of six to eighteen months.

Given this backdrop, MPC decides the changes to be made to the policy rate (repo rate) so as to contain the inflation within the target level specified to it by the Central Government.  Each Member of the Monetary Policy Committee has to write a statement specifying the reasons for voting in favor of, or against the proposed resolution, and the same along with the resolution adopted by the MPC is published as minutes of the meeting by RBI after 14 days of the said meeting. In addition, subsequent to the MPC meeting, RBI has to publish a document explaining the steps to be taken by it to implement the decisions of the Monetary Policy Committee, including any changes thereto.

2. Hamraaz aap

This ANDROID based mobile App has been developed exclusively for serving soldiers of Indian Army by the technical team of Army jawans (Adjutant General’s Branch (MP-8)) for communication of their service and pay related information to them on their mobile phones.  This App cannot be used by civilians.

3. First Environmental Research Satellite

The first Israeli satellite for environmental research was launched early Wednesday morning from the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The satellite is a joint effort by the Israel Space Agency, under the aegis of the Science and Technology Ministry, and the French Space Agency (CNES) and was built in Israel by Israel Aerospace Industries.

It is considered the smallest satellite of its kind in the world and is built to survey and monitor large areas to study soil, vegetation, forests, agriculture, water and air quality and other aspects of the environment.

The satellite, which weighs only 265 kilograms and was launched on a Vega platform, was dubbed Venus, an acrostic that stands for Vegetation and Environment monitoring on a New (µ) Micro-Satellite. It will have taken one hour, 37 minutes and 18 seconds to reach orbit, and two days to reach sun-synchronized orbit at an altitude of 720 kilometers. The first images Venus captures, which will show Israel, will be received in a week after launching. The satellite is meant to remain in operation for four and a half years, after which it will be diverted to a lower orbit.

Venus will orbit the earth 29 times in 48 hours. It will produce dozens of photographs every day, each one covering 730 square kilometers. The fact that Venus will be able to take pictures of the same areas once every two days will enable it to monitor many environments, from the atmosphere to the depths of seas.

Every photo is created by 12 different sensors, each of which photographs on different wavelengths, which means each picture is composed of 12 different layers of data. Because of a large number of colors, its camera can capture, which are beyond the range of the human eye, the photos will be able to show details that cannot be seen on earth with an ordinary camera. For example, the photos will reveal when vegetation lacks water, the presence of pests, salt depressions, leaking irrigation systems, water pollution in reservoirs, forest fires and post-fire scarring, among other things.

4. Amendments to National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development Act, 1981

a) The Amendments include provisions that enable Central Government to increase the authorized capital of NABARD from Rs. 5,000 crore to 30,000 crores and to increase it beyond Rs. 30,000 crore in consultation with RBI, as deemed necessary from time to time.

b) Transfer of 0.4 percent. equity of RBI in NABARD amounting to Rs. 20 crores to the Government of India.

The proposed amendments in NABARD Act, include certain other amendments including changes in long title and certain Sections to bring Medium Enterprises and Handlooms in NABARD’s mandate.

The proposed increase in the authorized capital would enable NABARD to respond to the commitments it has undertaken, particularly in respect of the Long Term Irrigation Fund and the recent Cabinet decision regarding on-lending to cooperative banks. Further, it will enable NABARD to augment its business and enhance its activities which would facilitate promotion of integrated rural development and securing prosperity of rural areas including generation of more employment.

The transfer of entire shareholding in NABARD held by RBI to the Central Government will remove the conflict in RBI’s role as a banking regulator and shareholder in NABARD.

functions and its duties NABARD is a Development Bank with a mandate for providing and regulating credit and other facilities for the promotion and development of agriculture, small-scale industries, cottage and village industries, handicrafts and other rural crafts and other allied economic activities in rural areas with a view to promoting integrated rural development and securing prosperity of rural areas, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

In discharging its role as a facilitator for rural prosperity, NABARD is entrusted with

  1. Providing refinance to lending institutions in rural areas
  2. Bringing about or promoting institutional development and
  3. Evaluating, monitoring and inspecting the client banks

Besides this pivotal role, NABARD also:  Acts as a coordinator in the operations of rural credit institutions

Extends assistance to the government, the Reserve Bank of India and other organizations in• matters relating to rural development Offers training and research facilities for banks, cooperatives, and organizations working in the

  • Field of rural development Helps the state governments in reaching their targets of providing assistance to eligible
  • Institutions in agriculture and rural development Acts as a regulator for cooperative banks and RRBs

5. Ordinance {Banking Regulation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017}

An Ordinance {Banking Regulation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017} has been promulgated on 4th May 2017 authorizing RBI to issue directions to any banking company to initiate insolvency resolution process in respect of a default, under the provisions of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC). It also enables the Reserve Bank to issue directions with respect to stressed assets and specify one or more authorities or committees with such members as the Bank may appoint or approve for appointment to advise banking companies on the resolution of stressed assets.

The Overseeing Committee (OC) has been brought under the aegis of the Reserve Bank and the membership of the same has been enlarged to five. The reconstituted OC has been mandated to review resolution of cases where the aggregate exposure of the banking sector to the borrowing entity is greater than Rs.500 crore.

An Internal Advisory Committee (IAC) was constituted by Reserve Bank of India, which arrived at an objective, non-discretionary criterion for referring accounts for resolution under IBC. In particular, the IAC recommended for IBC reference of all accounts with fund and non-fund based outstanding amount greater than Rs.5000 crore, with 60% or more classified as non-performing by banks as of March 31, 2016. Accordingly, Reserve Bank of India has issued directions to certain banks for referring 12 accounts, qualifying under the aforesaid criteria, to initiate insolvency process under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.  As regards the other non-performing accounts which do not qualify under the above criteria, the IAC recommended that banks should finalize a resolution plan within six months. In cases where a viable resolution plan is not agreed upon within six months, banks should be required to file for insolvency proceedings under the IBC

6. Banking Regulation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017

Has been promulgated on 4th May 2017 authorizing RBI to issue directions to any banking company to initiate insolvency resolution process in respect of a default, under the provisions of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC). It also enables the Reserve Bank to issue directions with respect to stressed assets and specify one or more authorities or committees with such members as the Bank may appoint or approve for appointment to advise banking companies on the resolution of stressed assets.

The Overseeing Committee (OC) has been brought under the aegis of the Reserve Bank and the membership of the same has been enlarged to five. The reconstituted OC has been mandated to review resolution of cases where the aggregate exposure of the banking sector to the borrowing entity is greater than Rs.500 crore.

An Internal Advisory Committee (IAC) was constituted by Reserve Bank of India, which arrived at an objective, non-discretionary criterion for referring accounts for resolution under IBC. In particular, the IAC recommended for IBC reference of all accounts with fund and non-fund based outstanding amount greater than Rs.5000 crore, with 60% or more classified as non-performing by banks as of March 31, 2016. Accordingly, Reserve Bank of India has issued directions to certain banks for referring 12 accounts, qualifying under the aforesaid criteria, to initiate insolvency process under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.  As regards the other non-performing accounts which do not qualify under the above criteria, the IAC recommended that banks should finalize a resolution plan within six months. In cases where a viable resolution plan is not agreed upon within six months, banks should be required to file for insolvency proceedings under the IBC.

7. NISAR, satellite

Using advanced radar imaging that will provide an unprecedented, detailed view of Earth, the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar, or NISAR, satellite is designed to observe and take measurements of some of the planet’s most complex processes, including ecosystem disturbances, ice-sheet collapse, and natural hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and landslides.

Data collected from NISAR will reveal information about the evolution and state of Earth’s crust, help scientists better understand our planet’s processes and changing climate, and aid future resource and hazard management. The mission is a partnership between NASA and the Indian Space Research Organization.

The Level 1 Science Requirements describe NISAR’s scientific measurements. These are developed with greater specificity at Level 2.NASA selected a Science Team in 2012 to work with the NISAR project to develop science requirements. In March 2015, a solicitation for recompetition of this team was announced. Plans for Science Team activities in the upcoming project phase are described here. A new solicitation will be announced in early 2018 to recompete the Science Team

8. First private sector entity to manufacture such weapon systems in the country.

Kalyani group and Israel’s state-run Rafael Advanced Defence Systems commissioned a Rs 70 crore anti-tank guided missile production facility here.

Kalyani Rafael Advanced Systems, the joint venture between the two with 51 percent ownership resting with Kalyani group, would be the first private sector entity to manufacture such weapon systems in the country.

The Spike missile is a fully-built ATGM (anti-tank guided missile) unit except for the explosives and the propellants, and we can supply this weapon which has a 2.5 km range to the Army within a couple of weeks of getting orders

9. AGRI UDAAN- Food and Agribusiness Accelerator 2.0

ICAR-NAARM Technology Business Incubator (TBI), a-IDEA and Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad’s (IIM-A) incubator Center for Innovation, Incubation, and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) announces “AGRI UDAAN”- Food and Agribusiness Accelerator 2.0. This programme will help to selected innovative startups who will be mentored in to scale up their operations in agri value chain for effective improvement in agriculture. This is a 6-month program in which shortlisted agri startups with promising innovative business models will be mentored & guided to scale up their operations.

Accelerators are 4-8 month program aiming at scaling up innovative startups with a working prototype and initial market traction. This is done through education, mentorship, and financing. Startups enter accelerators for a fixed-period of time, and as part of a cohort. The cohort is shortlisted by evaluation panel comprising of industry veterans, business experts, R&D scientists.  Four distinct factors that make accelerators unique are fixed term, cohort-based, mentorship-driven and they culminate into demo day.

Forthcoming Food & Agribusiness accelerator: AGRI UDAAN

Looking at the impact created through NAARM TBI a-IDEA India’s first Food & Agribusiness accelerator 2015 in partnership with IIM-A CIIE, National Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB), DST has come forward to support AGRI UDAAN – a unique initiative for the upliftment of agri startups

Through AGRI UDAAN we will be reaching out to agri-startups across the country with a series of roadshows in Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Pune, Bangalore, Kolkata & Hyderabad. This initiative is backed by Caspian Impact Investments as Platinum Partner, Yes Bank as Banking Partner, NCDEX eMarkets Ltd (NeML) & Marico Innovation Foundation as Silver partners. AGRI UDAAN also received support from National Research Development Corporation (NRDC), Agrinnovate as tech transfer partners, and FICCI as an outreach partner.

Rigorous mentoring and acceleration

The shortlisted cohort of startups will undergo a capacity building (CB) workshop in ICAR-NAARM. During this period, the startups will be trained in different aspects of technology commercialization, product validation, business plan preparation, risk analysis, customer engagement, finance management, fundraising etc. There will be a matchmaking between startup-mentor. The accelerator program will culminate with a demo day/ investors meet at Hyderabad and Mumbai.

10. BHARAT 22

The new Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) by the name BHARAT 22. Bharat 22 consists of 22 stocks of CPSE’s, PSB’s & strategic holding of SUUTI (list as in Annexure). Compared to energy heavy CPSE ETF, Bharat 22 is a well Diversified portfolio with 6 sectors (Basic Materials, Energy, Finance, FMCG, Industrials & Utilities).   The Bharat 22 Index will be rebalanced annually. ICICI Prudential AMC will be the ETF Manager and Asia Index Private Limited (JV BSE and S& P Global) will be the Index Provider.

In the Budget 2017-18, targeted for CPSE’s disinvestment in 2017-18 was set at Rs 72,500 crore. During the current Financial Year 2017-18, the Government has realized approx Rs 9,300 crore through nine disinvestment transactions so far.

Globally ETF Assets have grown significantly. Globally today there is 4 trillion dollar worth Assets Under Management (AUM). These are expected to touch $7 trillion by 2021. Large Investors (Sovereign/Pension Funds) prefer investing in ETFs due to the benefits of  ETF being Low cost & Less risky; being Highly Liquid assets; Transparent Investment and that these can be traded at Real Time Market Price

Highlights of Growth of ETF market in India include:

  • Flexibility in Investment guidelines of PF to invest in equity/ETF
  • ETF Assets Under Management (AUM) has grown ~5 times in last 3 years

Month AUM (Rs. in crore)

 

Jun-17 53,917
Mar-17 50,215
Mar-16 20,698
Mar-15 12,838
Mar-14 11,403
  • ETF has been a preferred instrument for investment by PF’s following flexibility given to them by govt. for their investments.
  • The government raised Rs.8500 crore by divesting through CPSE ETF in FY’16-17.

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