Current Affairs Update - 22 July 2017
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IMF approves USD 1.8 bn loan for Greece 'in principle'
- The International Monetary Fund has approved a new, USD 1.8 billion loan program for Greece but will not release any funds immediately, in a highly unusual compromise step.
- The IMF last month announced it would revive the seldom- used option of approving a loan "in principle," in order to convince eurozone finance ministers to release desperately- needed new funds to Greece.
- The latest 8.5 billion euro disbursement from the eurozone loan program for the crisis-hit nation was approved last week, just in time for Athens to avert a default on a seven-billion euro debt payment.
- The Washington-based IMF has insisted that Greece's debt load is unsustainable and will require significant debt relief from the eurozone.
Paytm to offer gold as cashback to consumers
- Paytm started its digital gold business about two months back in partnership with MMTCPAMP.
- It claims to have sold as much as 175kg of gold since launching this business.
- It is also in talks with jewellers across the country to enable consumers who can use the gold for making jewellery.
- Betting on Indian's love for the yellow metal, Paytm will now offer cash back in the form of gold on its platform. The Alibaba-backed company which started its digital gold business about two months back in partnership with MMTCPAMP, witnessed a significant chunk of its users opting to buy gold on its app using their cashback. This is what prompted Paytm to enable gold as cashback. Started in 2008, MMTCPAMP is a JV between Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation of India (MMTC) and PAMP of Switzerland.
- Paytm claims to have sold as much as 175kg of gold since launching this business. It is also in talks with jewellers across the country to enable consumers who can use the gold for making jewellery. The gold business was started as an anchor for the broader plan of building a wealth management business.
- "For every transaction on Paytm, you will be given the option of opting for regular cashbacks or gold. We have seen a significant uptick in this business with growth doubling in the last month," said Krishna Hegde, SVP, Paytm. He said the 'partnership with jewellery shops' work is in progress and would take some time before the option is rolled out. More than 60% customers of Paytm users are opting to buy and accumulate gold instead of selling or requesting delivery, the company said.
BoB signs MoU with DGS&D for services to govt's e-marketplace
- Bank of BarodaBSE -0.12 % has entered into an agreement with Directorate General of Supplies & Disposal (DGS&D) for extending various banking services to Government e-Marketplace (GeM).
- DGS&D has been mandated to set up GeM, an initiative intended to bring greater transparency and efficiency in public procurements, BoB said in a statement today.
- The relationship of the bank with GeM will immensely benefit all stakeholders and ensure a support system including a dedicated team for seamless functioning of the portal, it said.
- The Cabinet had in April 2017 approved creation of GeM Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), which will replace DGS&D, nodal purchase organisation of the central government.
- The GeM SPV has been established as National Public Procurement Portal to provide an end-to-end online marketplace for central and state government departments, their public sector undertakings, autonomous institutions and local bodies, for procurement of common goods and services in a transparent and efficient manner.
- The DGS&D shall be wound up and cease its functions by October this year. "In case it is not possible to wind up DGS&D by October 31, 2017, the department may extend the date of closure with proper justification latest up to March 31, 2018," the Cabinet had decided.
President of India inaugurates the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Paika Rebellion of Odisha
- The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Paika Rebellion of Odisha today (July 20, 2017) in New Delhi.
- Speaking on the occasion, the President said that it was indeed a privilege for him to be present on the occasion of inauguration of year-long celebration of Bi-Centenary of the Paika Bidroha of Odisha.
- He congratulated the people of the country and especially those of Odisha on the occasion. He stated that 40 years before the revolt of 1857, which was later termed as 1st War of Indian Independence against British Colonialism, a battle was fought under the leadership of Baxi Jagabandhu of Odisha.
- Many scholars, researchers and historians have opined that the Paika Rebellion of 1817 was India’s first organized armed rebellion against British Raj. He said that completion of two hundred years of this popular uprising was a special event. The legend of the heroics of Buxi Jagabandhu continues to inspire the people of Odisha. It is time, this struggle and sacrifice by a generation of Odia people got its due place in the annals of history.
Eco-bridges for the movement of tigers will be constructed in Telangana State.
- In a first of its kind, Telangana State will have eco-friendly bridges over a canal cutting across the tiger corridor linking the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) in the Chandrapur district of Maharashtra with the forests in Telangana's Kumram Bheem Asifabad district. The intervention requires the laying of fertile soil to grow grass and plants over the structure, so that fragmentation of the reserve forest is camouflaged.
- The ‘eco-bridges’ will be constructed at key spots along the 72 km-long, and at some places over a kilometre wide, right flank canal of the Pranahita barrage in the Bejjur and Dahegaon mandals, according to Chief Engineer (Projects) K. Bhagwanth Rao.
- One of the locations tentatively earmarked for the eco-bridge is a spot close to Sulgupalli in the Bejjur forest range. Here, the canal is over a kilometre wide and the need to facilitate the movement of wild animals is quite necessary.
DDA Inks MoU With NIUA for Preparing Delhi Master Plan 2041
- The DDA has signed an MoU with the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) for preparation of Master Plan for Delhi 2041, the urban body on Thursday said.
- The DDA informed this to Lt Governor Anil Baijal in an Authority meeting at the Raj Niaws. The L-G is also the chairman of the Delhi Development Authority.
- "The DDA has signed an MoU with the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) for preparation of Master Plan for Delhi (MPD) 2041, as an enabling strategic plan and other related policies or plans which would be the guiding framework of the planning and growth of Delhi till 2041," the DDA said.
- In a statement, it said, NIUA's approach for the project comprises four phases which though distinct from one and the other would "neither be exclusive nor sequential".
- "It would involve building a base line quantitative understanding of Delhi at local and regional levels with quantitative understanding gathered from historical data, primary data collection and data from the DDA and other city agencies.
Defence & Railway
Apple helping Indian Railways to increase train speeds over 600 km per hour
- Eyeing trains speeds of 600 km per hour, the government is working with global technology firms like Apple to help take Indian railways to the next level, Union minister Suresh Prabhu said on Friday.
- The railway minister also said the government’s premier think tank NITI Aayog had approved the ministry’s Rs18,000 crore proposal to increase speeds of the Gatiman Express on the two busiest corridors, Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Kolkata.
- With this approval, the speed of the Gatiman Express would increase to 200 km per hour, the minister said at an event organised by industry chamber ASSOCHAM.
- “You can yourself imagine how much travelling time this will save.” Sharing plans for the future, Prabhu said the government had six-eight months ago called major technology developers working on increasing train speeds to more than 600 km per hour.
- “We are already working with companies like Apple... technology will not only be imported in India but will be co- developed in India,” Prabhu said.
- Safety was also an important concern and Indian railways was planning to use self-propelled coaches that can detect rail fractures through ultrasonic technology, the minister added.
Schemes / Programme
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has formally launched the Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY), or a New 8% pension scheme, for senior citizens
- Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has formally launched the Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY), or a pension scheme, for senior citizens on Friday.
- Speaking after the launch of PMVVY, Mr Jaitley said that settlement ratio of LIC (Life Insurance Corporation of India) is near to the maximum.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier announced the launch of the scheme exclusively for the senior citizens aged 60 years and above.
- Under this scheme, senior citizens (60 years and above) in which they will get a guaranteed interest of 8 per cent for 10 years.
- Financial planners say that this pension scheme will offer more avenues to senior citizens to earn steady regular income at a time of falling interest rates. The scheme is exempted from GST or goods and services tax.
11 things To Know About Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana:
- LIC started offering the scheme from May 4, 2017. The scheme will remain open till May 3, 2018. The shortfall owing to the difference between the interest guaranteed and the actual interest earned and the expenses relating to administration shall be subsidised by the government of India and reimbursed to the LIC.
- PMVVY can be purchased offline as well as online through Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India which has been given the sole privilege to operate this scheme.
- The scheme will provide an assured return of 8 per cent per annum payable monthly (equivalent to 8.30 per cent per annum) for 10 years.
- The pension is payable at the end of each period, during the policy term of 10 years, as per the frequency of monthly/ quarterly/ half-yearly/ yearly as chosen by the pensioner at the time of purchase.
- There is a minimum and maximum limit for investment in Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana Scheme. The amount varies according to the pension payment mode chosen. For example, under the yearly pension mode, the minimum amount that has to be invested in the scheme is Rs. 1,44,578 and the maximum at Rs. 7,22,892. In monthly mode, the minimum amount that has to be invested is Rs. 1,50,000 and maximum at Rs. 7,50,000. For other modes, see the table below.
- Accordingly, Rs. 1,000 will be the minimum pension amount payable monthly for which Rs. 1,50,000 has to be invested. Similarly, the maximum monthly pension shall be Rs. 5,000 per month for which Rs. 7,50,000 has to be invested. For other modes, see the table above. (It should be noted that the ceiling of maximum pension - pensioner, his/her spouse and dependants - is for a family as a whole.)
- On survival of the pensioner to the end of the policy term of 10 years, purchase price along with final pension instalment shall be payable.
- Loan up to 75 per cent of purchase price (amount invested to earn pension) shall be allowed after three policy years to meet the liquidity needs. Loan interest shall be recovered from the pension installments and the loan to be recovered from claim proceeds.
- The scheme also allows for premature exit for the treatment of any critical/ terminal illness of self or spouse. On such premature exit, 98 per cent of the purchase price shall be refunded.
- On death of the pensioner during the policy term of 10 years, the purchase price shall be paid to the beneficiary.
- Manoj Nagpal, CEO of Outlook Asia, says senior citizens should take advantage of PMVVY pension scheme as well as another popular senior citizens scheme called Senior Citizen Savings Scheme (SCSS). "If one has to choose one over the other, then the PMVVY is better as one has a longer time frame need of 10 years while the SCSS is better for higher liquidity it provides," he says. Though the interest earned from both the schemes are taxable, effective tax planning and higher tax slabs can greatly reduce the impact of tax for senior citizens, he adds.
Source: NDTV Official Website
Ministry of Rural Development to launch Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana
- The Ministry of Rural Development will launch a new sub-scheme under Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) which will be named as Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana (AGEY)".
- Replying to a question in the Lok Sabha, the Minister of State for Rural Development Shri Ram Kripal Yadav said that the main objectives of AGEY are to provide an alternative source of livelihoods to members of Self Help Groups (SHGs) under DAY-NRLM by facilitating them to operate public transport services in backward rural areas.
- This will provide safe, affordable and community monitored rural transport services like e-rickshaws, 3 and 4 wheeler motorised transport vehicles to connect remote villages with key services and amenities including access to markets, education and health for the overall economic development of the area.
- The Minister said that the sub-scheme will be implemented in 250 blocks in the country on a pilot basis for a period of 3 years from 2017-18 to 2019-20. The States have been informed about the number of blocks allocated to them to take up this sub-scheme in the pilot phases. One of the options proposed to be given under the sub-scheme is that the Community Based Organisation (CBO) will provide interest free loan from its own corpus to Self Help Group member for purchase of the vehicle.
SEBI signs a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding with The European Securities and Markets Authority
- The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) under the European Markets Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR).
- The MoU establishes cooperation arrangements, including the exchange of information regarding Central Counterparties (CCPs) which are established and authorised or recognised in India by SEBI, and which have applied for EU recognition under EMIR. EMIR provides for signing of a cooperation arrangement between ESMA and the relevant non-EU authorities, whose legal and supervisory framework for CCPs have been deemed equivalent to EMIR by the European Commission. Signing of MoU is one of the conditions for recognition of third country CCPs by ESMA under EMIR
Jio Phone, free with Rs 1,500 deposit, unlimited 4G Data launched
- The Reliance Annual General Meeting (AGM) addressed by RIL chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani saw the announcement of what is possibly the world’s cheapest 4G VoLTE feature phone with support for voice input.
- The phone is the third step in Ambani’s three-step plan to bring an end to “digital disempowerment and unfairness.” Pointing out that there are 78 crore phones in India, of which more than 50 crore are feature phone users, Ambani expressed his regret that so many users will be left out of the “digital revolution.” His three-step plan aims to address just this issue.
- The first two steps of the plan involve improving connectivity and data affordability. Ambani promised that Jio 4G network coverage will cover 99 percent of India’s population, surpassing 2G networks in that regard.
- 2G networks are legacy networks and are data inefficient. Bandwidth is severely limited and expensive. By Jio’s estimate, 2G data costs per GB exceeds Rs 4,000 to Rs 8,000 as opposed to the Rs 10 per GB that 4G users are paying. The obvious solution is to simply migrate these 50 crore users to 4G networks.
- This is where the newly announced Jio Phone comes in.
- A free, 4G VoLTE feature phone
- The hardware that powers the phone is unknown, but we do know that the phone will fully support 4G VoLTE and that it will feature voice input. Better yet, the phone will support 22 Indian languages and incorporates the entire suite of Jio content apps including Jio Music, and Jio Cinema.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Mann Ki Baat app will also be present on the device.
- The device features a 2.4-inch QVGA display and looks very much like your average feature phone. Additional features like FM radio support, a microSD card slot and a torch are present.
- The phone itself will be offered for free to all Jio users. Yes, free. A user will only need to pay a refundable deposit of Rs 1,500 when picking up the phone. At the end of three years, the user will simply have to return the used device and collect the entire deposit.
- The voice input feature of the phone was demoed on stage at the AGM, and we witnessed the phone responding to voice inputs in Hindi as well as English. Voice commands can be used to get the phone to place calls, send messages, play music in apps, respond to queries, etc.
- As a safety feature, pressing and holding the five button will send a message with your location to your emergency contacts. Later on, the feature will be expanded to integrate with police and other emergency services.
- Interestingly, the device also includes NFC, which will be enabled via a software update. A user can link their bank accounts, UPI, and other such payment options with the phone and use it for digital transactions.
- A "Jio Phone TV Cable" accessory for the phone will enable any user to connect the device to any TV, even if they have an ancient CRT unit. Content from the phone will be directly viewable on the TV via this accessory.
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