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Important Current Affairs 6th March 2015

Person in News
  • Raosaheb Dadarao Danve
    • President Pranab Mukherjee today accepted the resignation of Minister of State for Consumer Affairs and Food and Public Distribution, Raosaheb Dadarao Danve, from the Union Council of Ministers.
    • Danve, who was appointed as the new Maharashtra BJP Chief in January by party President Amit Shah, had submitted his resignation to the Prime Minister yesterday over the principle of “one-man, one-post”.
  • Ram Sundar Das
    • Former Bihar Chief Minister and senior JD(U) leader Ram Sundar Das died here today due to age-related problems. He was 95.
National Affairs
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will leave on March 10 on a three-nation visit – Seychelles, Mauritius and Sri Lanka – the External Affairs Ministry announced today with no mention, however, of the Maldives, which was being considered earlier.
  • Ahead of the UN climate conference in Paris later this year, India and Egypt have decided to form a “joint working group” for “cooperation on environment and climate change”.
    • Prakash Javadekar is attending the Fifteenth Session of African Ministerial Conference on Environment, which is being held here from March 4 to 6. India, China and France are special invitees for the conference.
  • Annual vaccination is the most effective solution for combating seasonal influenza infections such as swine flu, which has killed more than 1,200 people this year in India, the World Health Organisation has said.
    • The nationwide toll from swine flu stands at 1,239 while the state-wise data shows Gujarat to be the worst affected with more than 300 casualties.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the Sri Lankan parliament during his visit. He is the third Indian leader to be given the special honour.
    • The last time an Indian leader addressed the Sri Lankan parliament was in 1979 when then Prime Minister Morarji Desai visited the nation on the invitation of President R. Jayawardene to attend the island’s National Day celebration.
  • Ahead of the first Indo-U.S. Space Security Dialogue next week,Frank Rose, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Bureau of Arms Control, concern over China developing disruptive counter-space technologies and underscored the need for an early conclusion of a global code of conduct on use of outer space.
International Affairs
  • Israeli Jews, who are devotees of Lord Krishna, gathered in this small northern Israel township and celebrated Gaura Purnima with fanfare, commemorating the transcendental appearance of Lord Chaitanya.
  • China has invited Japan to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a brainchild of the Communist nation for which 27 countries including India have signed up to be its founding members.
    • India has joined the initiative to set up the Bank floated last year by China to step financing of infrastructure projects in the region.
    • The bank to be headquartered in Beijing is expected to be operational this year.
    • The authorised capital of AIIB is $ 100 billion and the initial subscribed capital is expected to be around $ 50 billion.
    • The bank together with BRICS Development Bank and $ 40 billion Silk Road development fund established by China was expected to fund large number of infrastructure projects in the region.
  • Twenty years after 189 countries adopted a blueprint to achieve equality for women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka the head of the U.N. agency promoting equality for women said in an interview with The Associated Press that not a single country has reached gender parity and equality.
  • India, the largest troop contributor to UN peacekeeping operations, will serve on the organisational committee of the world body’s peace building commission for a period of two years.
    • India has contributed more than 170,000 troops to 43 of the 68 UN peacekeeping missions since the inception of UN peacekeeping more than 60 years ago.
Economy
  • US employers extended a healthy streak of hiring in February by adding 295,000 jobs, the 12th straight monthly gain above 200,000.
    • The unemployment rate fell to 5 per cent from 5.7 per cent, the government said today.
  • com, India”s leading online fashion retailer, today said that 90 per cent of its traffic is being generated through mobile devices.
  • “Based on our inflation and growth forecasts, and the RBI’s inflation targets, we estimate that the average policy rate over the next three years should be around 7.4 per cent as the policy rates have reached neutral,” Japanese brokerage Nomura said in a note.
  • Three top US airlines groups accused Qatar and the United Arab Emirates of lavishing USD 42 billion in subsidies on their airlines to wrest business from competitors.
  • In an unusual auction, four islands in Fiji, Greece, Britain and Canada were put up for sale on China”s largest online shopping platform Taobao with three of them being sold within 12 hours.
Banking & Finance
  • The country’s umbrella body for all retail payments system, National Payments Corporation (NPCI), has reached a new milestone with successful linking of as many as 15 crore bank accounts with the Aadhaar numbers, moving closer to map the overall 17 crore DBT accounts before June 30.
    • The Reserve Bank-promoted NPCI agency’s chief A P Hota today said it expects that all beneficiaries of all government subsidies/benefit transfers will be brought under the linkage programme.
  • Reserve Bank Governor Raghuram Rajan has said the target band for retail inflation could tighten much further in the future as the central bank becomes more comfortable with it.
    • Rajan had said RBI will seek to bring the inflation rate to 4 per cent by the end of a two-year period starting 2016- 17.
  • With Non Banking Finance Companies- Microfinance Institutions (NBFC-MFIs) likely to have overall debt of Rs 360 billion to Rs 420 billion by March 2016, re-finance from MUDRA Bank could constitute a major portion of the overall debt of the MFIs, according to rating agency ICRA.
Sports
  • India defeated West Indies by four wickets in their Pool B match of the cricket World Cup, here today.
    • Mahendra Singh Dhoni today surpassed former skipper Sourav Ganguly as the most successful Indian captain in terms of ODI victories achieved on foreign shores.
Awards

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been named among the 30 most influential people on the internet by Time magazine in a list which also features US President Barack Obama.
    • The list, which analysed social-media followings, site traffic and overall ability to drive news, also includes British author of the Harry Potter series J K Rowling and singers Taylor Swift and Beyonce.
    • Time said the Indian Prime Minister has roughly 38 million followers on social networking sites Twitter and Facebook, putting him ahead of any other leaders in the world except Obama .
    • The list also includes reality star Kim Kardashian, singer Justin Beiber, actress Gwyneth Paltrow, Chinese actress Yao Chen, singer Shakira, photographer behind the hugely popular blog Humans of New York Brandon Stanton and TV personality Jimmy Fallon.

Important Current Affairs 5th March 2015

Person in News
  • Saurabh Gaur
    • IAS officer Saurabh Gaur was today appointed as Private Secretary to Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu.
  • Randip Surjewala
    • Congress spokesperson Randip Surjewala was today made in-charge of the AICC Communication Department in place of Ajay Maken.
  • Sunil Sabharwal
    • US Prez Obama has re-nominated Sunil Sabharwal, an independent Indian-American investor, to a key administration post as Alternate Executive Director at the IMF.
National Affairs
  • An upset government today served a legal notice on BBC over broadcast of controversial interview of  Delhi gangrape convict and said YouTube had removed the video even as it instructed telecom operators to ensure that it is not available to their subscribers.
  • A two-day international conference, commencing here tomorrow, will examine changing trade and commerce patterns in Asia and the United States and India’s roles in increasing trade and investment opportunities.
    • The conference is being organised by the US Consulate General Phillip Min in Chennai in association with the Centre for Public Policy Research.
  • The Defence Ministry tonight launched an e-book detailing its achievements, mandate and modernisation programmes to provide an easy and quick peek into its corridors.
    • Running into 50 pages, the digital book is titled “In Defence of the Nation“.
  • The Health Ministry will launch a three-day nationwide campaign next week as part of its initiative towards ensuring better health for women in the country and to mark the International Women”s Day.
  • Expressing concern over China developing “disruptive and destructive” counter-space capabilities, US today sought deeper cooperation with India ahead of the first Indo-US Space Security Dialogue here at New Delhi.
International Affairs
  • China today scaled back its growth target to around seven per cent after posting a 24-year low GDP rate of 7.4 per cent last year, signalling that the downward spiral of the world”s second largest economy would continue with “formidable” difficulties ahead.
  • Unveiling plans to make it a “maritime power”, China today hiked defence budget by 10.1 per cent this year to about USD 145 billion aimed at developing high-tech weapons amid unease among its neighbours over its growing military might and territorial ambitions.
  • The Sri Lankan government today temporarily suspended work on the construction of a controversial USD 1.5 billion Chinese port city project here at Colombo.
  • External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will undertake a two-day visit to Colombo tomorrow to set the stage for Prime Minister Narendra Modi”s visit to Sri Lanka, the first bilateral visit to the country by an Indian Prime Minister in over 25 years.
  • U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert was in stable condition after a man screaming demands for a unified North and South Korea slashed him on the face and wrist with a knife, South Korean police and U.S. officials said on Thursday.
  • Security, and talks with the Taliban, development and connectivity were at the top of the agenda when Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar visited Kabul on the last leg of this phase of his “SAARC yatra”
  •  US Secy of State John Kerry is in Saudi Arabia seeking to ease Gulf Arab concerns about an emerging nuclear deal with Iran as well as instability in Yemen & other nations.
Economy
  • Connaught Place in the national capital has become the world’s fifth most expensive office location, beating the central business districts of Russia, Japan and China, according to property consultant Cushman & Wakefield.
    • London’s West End is the most expensive office market for the third consecutive year globally.
    • Hong Kong’s CBD (central business district), New York’s Midtown (Madison/ 5th Avenue) and Rio de Janeiro’s Zona Sul. are at 2nd, 3rd and 4th positions.
  • European Defence major Airbus today announced an agreement with Kolkata-based Kadet Defence Systems (KDS) covering the sale and marketing of services and products in the field of aerial target.
  • IT firm Tech Mahindra today inaugurated its sales office in Vietnam”s capital Hanoi to expand its operations in the country where it plans to increase the headcount to 100 in the next 2-3 years.
  • The Union budget has proposed an additional tax deduction of Rs.50,000 for investments in National Pension Scheme (NPS) under Section 80 CCD. This will be over and above the deduction of Rs.1.5 lakh available under Section 80C of the Income-Tax Act.
    • The government has, however, not made investments in NPS tax-free at the time of withdrawal.
Banking & Finance

  • Giving a boost to affordable housing, the RBI today eased the norms for home loans for up to Rs 10 lakh by allowing banks to include stamp duty and registration charges to the cost of a unit.
    • These charges form around 15 per cent of the cost of the house and place a burden on borrowers.
  • “Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs)/Registered Foreign Portfolios Investors (RFPIs) can now invest up to 34 per cent of the paid up capital of Container Corporation of India Ltd under the Portfolio Investment Scheme (PIS),” RBI said in a notification today.
    • The RBI monitors the ceilings on FII/NRI/PIO investments in Indian companies on a daily basis.
    • FIIs, NRIs and PIOs (Persons of Indian Origins) can invest in primary and secondary capital markets in India through PIS.
  • In a major boost to India’s sovereign outlook, Moody’s today said the new ‘inflation targeting’ mechanism is a “credit positive” move and it would make RBI’s monetary policy tools much more effective.
    • RBI made public an agreement with the Finance Ministry that mandates the central bank to bring inflation below 6 per cent by January 2016, and 4 per cent (plus or minus 2 per cent) in the following years.
    • India currently has a Ba3 rating with stable outlook.
  • “The Reserve Bank of India will soon put in circulation currency notes in one rupee denomination. The notes will be printed by the Government of India,” Reserve Bank said in a statement on Wednesday.

Important Current Affairs 4th March 2015

Person in News
  • Haseeb Drabu
    • Armed with vast experience in the financial domain, Haseeb Drabu, an economist and former chairman of J&K Bank, today took over as the new Finance Minister of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Arun Pudur
    • Indian-origin billionaire Arun Pudur, CEO of software firm Celframe Technology Group of Companies, is among the Forbes world”s top ten richest individuals under 40, while Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has topped the list.
National Affairs
  • The government today launched a contest for taking suggestions from the public to develop a mobile application for the Prime Minister”s Office (PMO).
  • A Delhi court said that order restraining airing or broadcasting interview of Dec 16 gangrape convict, which was conducted inside Tihar jail, will continue till further orders.
  • AAP’s National Executive today decided not to have Yogendra Yadav in the party’s key Political Affairs Committee, days after he & Prashant Bhushan questioned the functioning of party chief Arvind Kejriwal.
  • The launch of India”s fourth Navigation Satellite, IRNSS-1D, scheduled for March 9 from Sriharikota, has been deferred after an anomaly was found in one of the telemetry transmitters of the spacecraft, ISRO
  • Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) has been accredited Grade A by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC).
International Affairs
  • Notwithstanding its slowing economy, China is set to hike its defence expenditure by around 10 per cent, posting a double-digit annual increase in its proposed military spending for the fifth year in a row.
  • Noting that development was a common strategic goal for both India and China, Chinese Ambassador to India Le Yucheng has said the two countries can complement each other”s advantages to make “dragon-elephant tango” possible.
  • US Ambassador to India Richard Verma today described Indian Muslims as “vital players” in advancing India and America”s shared value and vision.
  • Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar today arrived here in the Egyptian capital to take part in an important regional conference on environment and pledged India”s “solidarity” with Africa on climate change issues.
  • Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar arrived to hold talks with Afghan leadership as part of ”SAARC Yatra” aimed at firming up India’s ties with members of the grouping .
Economy
  • A surprise rate cut by RBI on Wednesday led the Sensex to cross the historic 30,000 mark but sustained selling dragged it down by a sharp 213 points at close, snapping 4-day rally.
  • In the biggest acquisition in the defence sector in the country, billionaire Anil Ambani-led Reliance Infrastructure today announced acquisition of Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering for Rs 819 crore.
    • Pipavav Defence has one of the world’s largest infrastructure facilities — spread over 841 acres of land in the Gulf of Cambay, Gujarat, including 250 acres developed to shipbuilding. The infrastructure is capable of building submarines and aircraft carriers on the back of a technological alliance with Swedish defence company SAAB.
  • Standing crops in over 50 lakh hectares in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan and West Bengal have been damaged by the recent unseasonal rains, government said today.
  • The European Union (EU) has lifted the ban on import of Indian mangoes that it had imposed in April last year, Parliament was informed today.
  • The Gross Domestic Product will remain a comprehensive measure to capture changes in the economic activity and it will not be replaced by Gross Value Addition (GVA), Parliament was informed today.
    • GVA of an enterprise is measured as the value of the output minus the value of goods and services used to produce output.
  • The much awaited spectrum auction, wherein 8 companies are bidding to acquire airwaves in four bands, started today.
    • Telecom companies are likely to commit USD 13 billion or over Rs 80,000 crore in the ongoing spectrum auction with Idea Cellular being the “most exposed” in the race as a bulk of its licences are getting expired soon, global ratings agency Fitch has said.
  • Global energy giant Shell today announced setting up of a global information technology centre at Bengaluru to provide IT support to all its business verticals.
Banking & Finance
  • RBI today slashed key policy (repo) rate by 0.25 per cent to 5 per cent, the second such surprise rate cut outside regular policy review in less than two months.
    • The RBI’s decision to cut its policy or repo rate to 7.5 per cent – after another cut from 8 per cent to 7.75 per cent on January 15.
    • Cash reserve ratio (percentage of deposits kept in government securities) has been left unchanged at 4 per cent.
    • The cut in the policy rate by RBI will help in lowering interest rate for individual and corporate borrowers and give a boost to the economy.
    • Repo rate is the rate at which the central bank of a country (Reserve Bank of India in case of India) lends money to commercial banks in the event of any shortfall of funds. Repo rate is used by monetary authorities to control inflation.
    • Inflation measured by the wholesale price index (WPI) was at 0.11 per cent in December.
  • Only 27 per cent of the candidates enrolled in five national skill development programmes managed to secure jobs, says a World Bank
    • The study was conducted by the World Bank on behalf of state-run National Skill Development Agency (NSDA).
  • The RBI on Wednesday flagged concerns over the government’s decision to postpone fiscal consolidation programme by a year, saying this could create demand management problems in an accelerating economy.
    • Finance minister Arun Jaitley opted for a fiscal deficit of 9 per cent in 2015-16 as against the earlier conceived target of 3.6 per cent to boost public spending. It now proposes to achieve 3 per cent fiscal deficit by 2017-18.
  • The Reserve Bank today said the uncertainty surrounding global oil prices can have an adverse bearing on the inflation outlook though it will endeavour to bring it down to the target of 4 per cent by 2016-17.
    • The RBI and the government had last month entered into an agreement to lower inflation to below 6 per cent by January 2016 and further to around 4 per cent by March next year.
  • Bandhan Financial Services, which had received a provisional licence from the Reserve Bank of India for launching banking business last April, has now applied for its formal licence,Bandhan Chairman and Managing Director Chandra Sekhar Ghosh
Sports
  • Australia thrash Afghanistan by 275 runs in their pool A ODI cricket match of the ICC World Cup here today.
    • Australia piled up a world record 417 for six in this match.
  • Iconic Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar has asked his fans to help him with the title of the upcoming docu-feature which is based on his life.
Report
  • According to consultancy firm Mercer’s ‘Quality of Living Report-2015′, notwithstanding its top rank among Indian cities, Hyderabad globally ranks at 138th position in a list of 230 cities around the world in terms of standard of living.
    • The list is topped by Vienna for the second consecutive year.
    • Besides Hyderabad, the list figures seven other Indian cities — Pune (145), Bangalore (146), Chennai (151), Mumbai (152), New Delhi (154) and Kolkata (160).
  • Facebook has developed a simple test that can help determine the intelligence level of an artificial intelligence software.
    • The test, developed by researchers at Facebook’s Artificial Intelligence lab, involves 20 tasks, which get progressively harder.
Awards

  • A top Indian-American physician has been selected for the prestigious Fulbright-Nehru Distinguished Chair to India.
    • Dr. Rahul Jindal is Professor of Surgery and Global Health at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.

Important Current Affairs 3rd March 2015

Person in News
  • Ranjib Biswal
    • Odisha Cricket Association president Ranjib Biswal will retain his position as the chairman of the cash-rich Indian Premier League in the new regime under Jagmohan Dalmiya.
  • Ghulam Ahmed Mir
    • Newly-appointed Jammu and Kashmir Congress chief Ghulam Ahmed Mir today vowed to forge unity and strength among cadre, who were hit by the party”s recent Assembly poll debacle.
National Affairs
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will dedicate to the nation two units each of 600 MW of Shree Singaji Thermal Power Plant in Khandwa district of M.P on March 5.
  • The government today said it has regularly taken up with Pakistan at the highest level the issue of ceasefire violation along the International Border and the Line of Control and the need for upholding sanctity of the border and abide by the ceasefire commitment of 2003.
  • A total of 69 NGOs have been blacklisted by the government from receiving foreign funds, Lok Sabha was informed today.
  • India”s Mars Orbiter Mission payload has viewed the albedo of Mars that will be useful to study it surface properties, Indian Space Research Organisation said today.
International
  • Russia and Ukraine reached a deal to supply gas to Europe until the end of March after President Vladimir Putin and Western leaders admitted there was still progress to be made in implementing a ceasefire.
  • PM Nawaz Sharif today said it is imperative that leadership in Pak & India should rise to the expectations of their people and the two nations need to start a “new chapter” in ties.
  • Sri Lanka today accepted India”s request to revive talks between the fishing communities of the two countries, days ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi”s first visit to the country.
  • US President Barack Obama has said the deaths of unarmed black men in Missouri and New York show that time has come for police to change practices to build trust in minority communities.
  • A bipartisan group of six US Congressmen has asked Secretary of State John Kerry to ensure that those behind the brutal murder of American-Bangladeshi blogger Avijit Roy is brought to justice.
Economy
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg today offered to partner with telecom operators to expand internet access, while lauding the efforts of Indian giant Airtel and other telcos on this front.
    • Facebook has helped set up with mobile equipment industry’s backing two years ago org, which aims to make basic Internet services available to the nearly two-thirds of the world’s population who are not yet connected.
    • Through the org app, more than 500 million people in six countries can now access useful health, employment and local information services without data charges.
  • The government will give a one-time ‘short window’ to holders of blackmoney abroad to declare their wealth, pay taxes and penalty and escape prosecution under the proposed stringent law to deal with the menace.
    • These provisions will be part of a Bill that the government plans to bring in the current session of Parliament to check the black money menace.
  • India is home to the fourth largest number of billionaires across the world, while the US tops the charts followed by China and Germany.
    • The number of Indian billionaires has increased to 90 with a total wealth of $ 294 billion
    • In comparison, the US has as many as 536 billionaires, followed by 213 from China and 103 from Germany.
  • To discourage premature withdrawal of provident fund by subscribers, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has proposed a tax on such early closures.
    • A new provision in his budget papers that allows for tax deduction at source (TDS) on provident fund withdrawal before five years of continuous service. Such withdrawal will attract tax at the rate of 10 per cent.
    • The new proposal of TDS deduction, however, will not be applicable if the provident fund withdrawal is less than Rs. 30,000.
    • The move is clearly aimed at promoting long-term saving. These changes will come into effect from June 1, 2015.
  • Indian telecom major Bharti Airtel and world”s largest telecom operator China Mobile today announced a partnership to work jointly on evolving high technologies like 5G and procuring telecom devices and equipment.
  • In 2014, sales of smartphones totaled 1.2 billion units, up 28.4 percent from 2013 and represented two-thirds of global mobile phone sales.
    • Samsung has lost the number one spot to Apple in the global smartphone market in the fourth quarter of 2014. Samsung has been in the top spot since 2011.
Banking & Finance
  • The Reserve Bank today extended the all-in-cost ceiling for external commercial borrowings to March-end, 2015.
    • The all-in cost involves every cost in a financial transaction. It can be used to explain the total fees and interest included in a financial transaction such as a loan.
  • Stating that bad loans from education segment are very high, Reserve Bank deputy governor R Gandhi today asked credit information companies (CICs) and banks to ‘counsel’ the youth on good credit behaviour.
    • He said the amount of non-performing assets of educational loans under Rs 4 lakh, which qualifies under the priority sector lending guidelines, was 7.54 per cent as of March 2014 as against the overall average of 4 per cent.
  • Welcoming the Government’s move to selectively allocate capital to lenders, Reserve Bank Deputy Governor R Gandhi today said PSBs will have to look at alternatives beyond the Centre’s support for raising money going forward.
    • The Government had announced an infusion Rs. 6,990 crore in nine better performing banks among the total 27, which was the first tranche of the Rs. 11,000 crore allocated in the Budget.
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has refused to share its banks’ inspection reports on alleged money laundering laws and other violations with Central Economic Intelligence Bureau (CEIB),an apex intelligence agency under the Finance Ministry, citing legal hurdles.
  • Pakistani carrier PIA purchased immovable property in the national capital without obtaining prior approval from the Reserve Bank, Parliament was informed today.
  • The government will soon set up an autonomous Banks Board Bureau (BBB), a super authority for PSU lenders to recommend board level appointments and advise on strategies for raising funds as well as mergers & acquisitions.
  • Rating agency Moody’s today downgraded state-run lenders Central Bank of India and Indian Overseas Bank’s local and foreign currency deposit ratings, anticipating low level of support from the government to these banks.
    • The rating agency downgraded local and foreign currency deposit ratings of the two banks to Ba1 and
The 2015 Forbes Billionaires List: Facts And Figures

  • Technology guru Bill Gates has once again topped as the world’s richest person on Forbes’ 29th annual ranking of the world’s billionaires . He has topped the list for 16 of the last 21 years, with a current net worth of $79.2 billion, up from $76 billion in 2014.
  • Gates has managed to beat out telecom mogul Carlos Slim Helu who came in at number 2.
  • Warren Buffett moved up one slot to number 3, with a net worth of $72.7 billion, ahead of Spanish clothing retailer Amancio Ortega came in at number 4.
  • Oracle’s Larry Ellison remained in the fifth spot as his net worth increased to $54.3 billion.
  • Compared to last year’s list, Mark Zuckerberg, with a net worth of $33.4 billion, made it into the top 20 for the first time at number 16.
  • The most recognizable athlete of all time, Michael Jordan at number 1741, is new to the billionaires list,
  • Mukesh Ambani holds the spot as the richest Indian with a fortune of $21 billion.
  • The new number 2 and this year’s biggest gainer among Indians, is pharma tycoon Dilip Shanghvi with $20 billion.
  • This year there are 90 Indians on the Forbes Rich List 2015, Ambani (39th globally) is closely followed by pharmaceuticals tycoon Dilip Shanghvi (44th rank, with a networth of $ 20 billion) and Azim Premji (48th with $ 19.1 billion).
  • Five Indian women have made it to the Forbes list of the world’s billionaires.
  • Of the total 1,826 billionaires, 197 are women.
  • Among Indian women, Savitri Jindal and family was ranked 283 on the list.
  • Indu Jain who chairs media conglomerate Bennett, Coleman & Co, was placed at the 603 rank globally.
  • Anu Aga regained her billionaire status on a jump in shares of engineering firm Thermax, in which she owns 62 per cent. Ms. Aga was ranked 1,312 on the list with a fortune of $1.5 billion.
  • Vinod Gupta ranked 1,533 with a fortune of $1.2 billion. Wife of Qimat Rai Gupta,
  • Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, the founder of Biocon — India’s largest publicly traded biopharma firm which she built from a garage startup into a maker of drugs for diseases such as cancer and diabetes — was placed at the 1,741 rank with a fortune of $1 billion.
  • Globally, Christy Walton, who inherited a stake in retailer Wal-Mart, retained the title of world’s richest woman at $41.7 billion.

Important Current Affairs 2nd March 2015

Person in News
  • Arvind Virmani
    • Noted economist, Arvind Virmani, who served as the country”s Chief Economic Advisor and Principal Advisor in the Planning Commission, will now mentor Ficci”s public policy & economic work.
  • Dr Zakir Naik
    • Dr Zakir Naik, a renowned Indian Islamic scholar and an authority on comparative religion, has received one of Saudi Arabia”s most prestigious prizes from the country”s new King Salman for his service to Islam.
National
  • The total funds collected by national parties during Lok Sabha polls has grown nearly five times in the last ten years, with BJP and Congress topping the charts in terms of capital mop-up, a study said today.
  • Commander of the US Pacific Fleet Admiral Harry Harris will hold talks with top Defence Ministry officials here tomorrow as Oabma administration tries to “rebalance” to Asia and the Pacific.
  • The government today said it has released Rs 4,860.50 crore funds as sholarships to students belonging to minority community in three years including the current fiscal.
  • India”s total carbon emission rose from 15.39 million tonnes in 2012 to 15.63 million tonnes in 2013, marking an increase of 1.57 per cent, government told the Lok Sabha today but underlined that developing countries have no legal binding on reducing carbon emissions.
  • Foreign Secy Jaishankar arrived on a daylong visit during which he will hold talks with Bangladesh’s top leadership as part of ”SAARC Yatra” to firm up India ties with group members.
International
  • Indian Navy”s sail training ship, INS Sudarshini, arrived on a five-day visit as part of celebrations to mark the 50 years of diplomatic relationship between India and Singapore.
  • The Iraqi city of Mosul, which is held by Islamic State movement fighters, today became the second terrorist hot-spot to be declared off-limits to Australians under new counterterrorism laws aimed deterring foreign fighters.
  • A documentary highlighting China”s air pollution woes with claims that annually over half a million people die prematurely due to burning of coal has won praise after it went viral evoking mixed reactions.
  • Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has said that he deliberately avoided having Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with India on the agenda during his recent visit to New Delhi.
  • Energy production has been shut down at France”s oldest nuclear power plant after a pipe defect was discovered, the station”s operators said.
Economy
  • The government is likely to issue by May the guidelines on Gold monetisation scheme, which will replace the present gold deposit and gold metal loan schemes, a top finance ministry official said today.
  • Country”s leading taxi service aggregator Ola Cabs has acquired its rival TaxiForSure in a cash and equity deal worth USD 200 million.
  • India”s second largest software services firm Infosys has signed a five-year agreement with global express delivery company TNT to help it simplify and transform technology applications.
  • Country”s third largest software services firm Wipro has partnered with the World Economic Forum (WEF) to develop a cyber value-at-risk (VAR) framework that will allow organisations to assess threat landscape, the nature of assets needed protection and quality of defenses.
    • The cyber VAR concept suggests that organisations actively consider aspects like value of their   assets, profile of attackers and the existing security posture, as they build their cyber risk models.
  • The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Monday directed Vodafone to stop using ‘111’ for offering customer care services, as it violates the national numbering plan, and submit a compliance report by March 10.
    • In a direction to Vodafone, TRAI said that the Department of Telecom had issued the national numbering plan 2003, wherein the number 111 to 115 have not been allocated for any type of services and have been kept as ‘spare’
Banking & Finance
  • A Monetary Policy Framework Agreement, signed by the Centre and the Reserve Bank of India on February 20 but made public on Monday, veers round to Raghuram Rajan’s view that India too should move towards inflation targeting, which is common in developed economies. Currently, the Centre and the RBI give inflation estimates, but don’t set targets.
    • Now, the Framework Agreement says, “the Reserve Bank will aim to bring inflation below 6 per cent by January 2016. The target for financial year 2016-17 and all subsequent years will be 4 per cent with a band of +/- 2 per cent.” ●The agreement also said the Governor and in his absence the Deputy Governor (in charge of monetary policy) will determine the policy rate, as well as any other monetary measures, to achieve the target.
  • There will be a common Know- Your-Client (KYC) process for both commodity and stock markets henceforth as the Forward Markets Commission (FMC) has modified norms to make it easier for clients to register for trading in these two financial markets.
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Monday said loans to sanitation, health care and drinking water facilities and renewable energy would come under the priority sector ambit, as would incremental loans made to exports, with certain ceilings.
    • The target for lending to agriculture has been retained at 18 per cent of ANBC (adjusted net bank credit).
Sports

  • Jagmohan Dalmiya was Monday unanimously elected BCCI prez but N Srinivasan camp suffered a huge setback with rival faction”s Anurag Thakur beating Sanjay Patel for the post of Secretary at Board’s AGM.
  • Olympic medallist pugilist M C Mary Kom today said she has decided to quit boxing after the 2016 Rio Olympic Games as her body would not be able to cope with the rigours of the sport any further.
  • India”s top tennis player Sania Mirza has decided to partner former world number one Martina Hingis on the WTA circuit, splitting with Hsieh Su-wei after partnering the Chinese Taipei player in only four tournaments this season.
  • Rafael Nadal won his first title in nearly nine months, beating Juan Monaco 6-4, 6-1 to win the Argentina Open.

Important Current Affairs Capsule for February 2015

Person in News
  • Bruce Aylward
    • The World Health Organization appointed its assistant director-general Bruce Aylward to head its overall response to the deadly Ebola outbreak.
  • LC Goyal
    • An IAS officer of 1979 batch LC Goyal assumed charge as new Home Secretary.
  • Dr Zakir A Naik
    • Dr Zakir A Naik, An Indian Islamic scholar, has won the prestigious King Faisal International Prize for his service to Islam.
    • The prize consists a commemorative 24-carat, 200-gram gold medal and a cash award of 750,000 Saudi Riyal (USD 199,901).
    • Naik, 49, is the founder of the Islamic Research Foundation of India.
  • M.O. Garg
    • M.O. Garg, Director, CSIR-Indian Institute of Petroleum (CSIR-IIP), Dehradun, has assumed charge asthe Director General of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR).
  • Ajay Banga
    • US President Barack Obama has announced he will appoint top Indian-American CEO Ajay Banga to a key administration position.
    • Banga has been appointed as member of the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.
    • He is president and CEO of MasterCard, since 2009.
  • Gurpreet Singh
    • An Indian-origin scientist Gurpreet Singh, assistant professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering at Kansas State University, has received a USD 500,000 National Science Foundation CAREER award to develop ultrathin metal sheets that can help produce better rechargeable batteries.
  • Ashton B. Carter
    • The Senate confirmed Ashton B. Carter to be the next defense secretary of USA.
    • Carter, a former deputy defense secretary replace Chuck Hagel, was approved by a vote of 93 to 5.
  • Bhupathy Krishna Murthy
    • Veteran freedom fighter and Telangana supporter Bhupathy Krishna Murthy, also known as ‘Telangana Gandhi’,died of a heart attack.
    • Krishna Murthy is credited with reviving the Telangana Praja Samithi Party (TPS) when Dr Chenna Reddy merged it with Congress in 1972.
  • Yogaraj CP
    • PM today congratulated Hong Kong-based Indian Yoga instructor Yogaraj CP, who created a Guinness World Record by performing Yoga continuously for 40 hrs non-stop.
  • Nitish Kumar
    • JD-U leader Nitish Kumar today returned as Bihar CM, 9 months after he resigned, ending days of political drama following a bitter power struggle with Jitan Ram Manjhi.
  • Ajay Singh
    • SpiceJet airlines said Ajay Singh has become the promoter after acquiring the entire 58.46 per cent stake from the Marans.
  • Ravi Chaudhary
    • An Indian American has been appointed to a key position in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
    • Ravi Chaudhary has been made in charge of oversight and execution of aviation operations in nine different regions.
  • Malminderjit Singh
    • The newly appointed Executive Director of Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SICCI) Malminderjit Singh today said that he looks forward to positioning his organisation as a relevant and useful platform for companies to make in-roads into India.
  • Kshatrapati Shivaji
    • Kshatrapati Shivaji, a 1986 batch IAS officer, has taken over as the Chairman and Managing Director of Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI).
National Affairs
  • India and China during the discussions between Prime Minister (Modi) and President Xi had agreed to an additional route between India and Kailash Mansarovar through the Nathula Pass earlier this month.
  • India and China during the discussions between Prime Minister (Modi) and President Xi had agreed to an additional route between India and Kailash Mansarovar through the Nathula Pass.
  • The first LCA (Navy) Fighter, Naval Prototype (NP2) made under The Indian Naval Aviation Carrier borne aircraft development program LCA (Light Combat Aircraft), made its maiden flight from HAL, Bangalore airport.
    • The flight was piloted by Captain Shivnath Dahiya.
  • Delhi Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) Election Results 2015
    • Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has won 67 of the 70 seats in the Delhi Assembly elections.
    • Result Status
      • Status For 70 out of 70 Constituencies
      • Aam Aadmi Party          -67 ,Bharatiya Janata Party- 3, Total         -70.
      • Partywise Vote Share
      • AAP{54.3%,4879127}, BJP {32.2%,2891510}, INC {9.7%,867027}
      • BSP {1.3%,117124}, INLD {0.6%,54464},IND {0.5%,47623}
      • SAD {0.5%,44880}, NOTA {0.4%,35924}
  • Union Minister of Tribal Affairs Shri Jual Oram on 11th of feb announced that his ministry will be organizing the first National Tribal Festival “VANAJ” from 13th to 18th February, 2015 featuring participants across the country.
  • The Brigade of The Guards and the Sikh Regiment were collectively awarded the “Best Marching Contingents Trophy for Republic Day Parade 2015” by Chairman Chief of Staff Committee, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, during an award ceremony held at Ministry of Defence, New Delhi.
  • President Pranab Mukherjee on 13th of feb appointed Arvind Kejriwal as Chief Minister of Delhi along with Manish Sisodia, Asim Ahmed Khan, Sandeep Kumar, Satyendar Jain, Gopal Rai and Jitender Singh Tomar as  six cabinet ministers.
  • The Government has constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) for investigating/re-investigating the cases of 1984 riots.
    • Special Investigation Team under the Chairmanship of Shri Pramod Asthana, IPS (MT:86). Shri Rakesh Kapoor, Retd. Distt & Sessions Judge and Shri Kumar Gyanesh, Addl. DCP (Security/PM) are appointed as Members
    • Special Investigation Team SIT will submit its report within a period of 6 months.
  • India and Sri Lanka  signed on a civil nuclear pact besides deciding to expand defence and security cooperation.
  • This is Sri Lanka’s first nuclear partnership with any country.
  • The RE-INVEST 2015 which concluded today . The three day RE-INVEST 2015 attended by 2800 delegates from 41 countries.
    • RE-INVEST 2015 showcased India’s manufacturing capabilities and technologies in solar , wind & bio-mass being used to provide an idea to the foreign investors about the potential areas of investment in renewable energy sector.
  • National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and the Ministry of Home Affairs are undertaking a special recruitment drive in Kupwara area of Jammu and Kashmir. Over 10 corporates from across India will be visiting Kupwara for a two day recruitment drive on 18th and 19th February 2015.
    • Special Industry Initiative or Udaan was conceived with two objectives of providing exposure to the graduates and post graduates of Jammu and Kashmir to the best of corporate India and providing corporate India with access to the rich talent pool available in the state.
    • The scheme is based on the recommendations of the Rangarajan Committee for setting up a progressive programme for training of the youth of Jammu and Kashmir by the Corporate located in different states of the country and making these youth employable.
  • The 10th biennial edition of International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition – Aero India 2015 – took place at Air Force Station, Yelahanka in Bengaluru.
    • Organised by the Department of Defence Production, 635 aerospace companies and nearly 300 CEOs from India and abroad including delegates from 42 countries are participating in the five-day aerospace exhibition.
  • Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi formally inaugurated the event that has ‘Make in India’ as its theme.
    • Prime Minister Narendra Modi  launched a Soil Health Card scheme, under which the Centre plans to target over 14 crore farmers in the next three years to check the excess use of fertilisers.
    • The card, to be issued after testing soil, would help them save up to Rs 50,000 in 3 acres of land, he added.
  • India and the US have held their first ever bilateral dialogue on the UN and multilateral issues in the spirit of the “Delhi Declaration of Friendship“.
    • US was led by Assistant Secretary of State for International Organisation Affairs Sheba Crocker.
    • Indian delegation was led by Ministry of External Affairs Joint Secretary Vikas Swarup.
  • Chief Election Commissioner Shri H.S. Brahma and Election Commissioner Dr. Nasim Zaidi along with the senior officials from the Commission presented the first copy of Commission’s prestigious publication ‘INDIA VOTES’ to Honourable President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee.
  • Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar will undertake ‘SAARC yatra’ from Sunday starting with Bhutan and will travel to Pakistan on March 3, marking the resumption of Indo-Pak talks with India maintaining it stands ready to discuss all outstanding issues including Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Dreaded terror group ISIS and all its affiliate organisations, responsible for series of savage attacks and killings in Iraq and Syria, have been banned in India under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
  • Navy on 27th feb  concluded its month-long annual Theatre Level Readiness and Operational Exercise (TROPEX), which saw around 50 ships and submarines in action along with over 70 aircraft from three Naval Commands.
International Affairs
  • Pakistan today successfully test-fired a new indigenously developed cruise missile The Ra’ad , capable of delivering nuclear and conventional warheads up to 350 km.
  • Iran launched an observation satellite, its first since 2012.
    • The Fajr (Dawn) satellite was successfully placed 450 kilometres (280 miles) above Earth.
    • Fajr satellite, weighing 52 kilos (114 pounds), would be able to take accurate pictures from space.
  • According to The budgetary proposals released by the State Department US President Barack Obama has proposed over USD 1 billion in civilian and military aid to “strategically important” Pakistan for fighting terror, economic development, safety of nuclear installations and improving ties with India among other objectives earlier this month.
    • Increase in the foreign military financing (FMF) to Pakistan from USD 42.2 million in 2014 to USD 265 million in 2016.
    • Obama Administration proposed USD 334.9 million for economic support fund and USD 143.1 million especially for counter-terrorism and non-proliferation efforts.
  • China has appointed top officials to manage a USD 40 billion fund to finance its ambitious global plan – the Silk Roads and Maritime Silk Road.
    • Silk Road is a plan to build major infrastructure projects aimed to enhance its strategic influence counter the US’ big push into Asia-Pacific.
  • Football legend and male model David Beckham on 9thof  feb launched a new fund for the UN children’s organisation UNICEF named “7” — the number on the jersey he wore when he played for Manchester United.
    • The fund is aimed at children living in warzones. UNICEF estimates that one in 10 children in the world — around 230 million — live in such states.
  • China  on 9th  of  feb said it has completed a successful ground test on the power system of the country’s next-generation carrier rocket for its ambitious space programme expected to begin early next year.
    • Scientists test-fired the engines of Long March-5, which uses non-toxic and no-polluting liquefied propellant, on a ground facility to test “coordination and reliability” of the power system .
  • Hollywood actress-director Angelina Jolie has opened Europe’s first academic centre to combat the brutality faced by women in war zones, in London.
    • A special envoy for the UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR).
  • The Republican-controlled Congress approved a bill to construct the Keystone XL oil pipeline, setting up a confrontation with President Barack Obama, who has threatened to veto the measure.
    • 1,900 kilometre pipeline would carry oil from Canada’s western tar sands to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.
  • A cease-fire began in Ukraine at midnight Saturday (12 a.m. Sunday local time, 2200 UTC Saturday) after hours of intense fighting in the eastern part of the country.
  • Japan, reeling from the murder of two nationals by Islamic State extremists, offered an extra USD 15 million in aid to fight terrorism in Middle East and Africa.
  •  India has ceremonially handed over to Bangladesh a vintage Dakota aircraft, which played a crucial role in the country’s 1971 liberation war.
    • Primarily, a civil passenger plane, the Dakota was converted into a war plane which the freedom fighters used for a crucial para drop operations in central Tangail on December 11, 1971.
  • Over 60 countries including India participated in a White House summit on “countering violent extremism” beginning  in the backof alarming growth of ISIS and recent terrorists” attacks in France and Denmark, senior administration officials have said.
  • The World Health Organization has approved the first rapid test for Ebola in a potential breakthrough for ending an epidemic.
    • The test, developed byCorgenixMedical Corp, is less accurate than the standard PCR test but is easy to perform.
  • Greece and Eurozone nations have agreed a deal to extend financial aid after bailout talks in Brussels.
    • Eurozone finance ministers reached an agreement to extend Greece’s financial rescue by four months.
  • Israel said Sunday it will purchase 14 additional next-generation F-35 fighter jets for approximately $3 billion.
    • The F-35 is the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program, with an estimated cost of nearly $400 billion. The program aims to replace a wide range of existing aircraft for the U.S. and several partner countries.
  • Israel said Sunday it will purchase 14 additional next-generation F-35 fighter jets for approximately $3 billion.
    • The F-35 is the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program, with an estimated cost of nearly $400 billion. The program aims to replace a wide range of existing aircraft for the U.S. and several partner countries.
  • Ten Indian-Americans are among the 67 new members and 12 foreign associates elected to America”s prestigious National Academy of Engineering (NAE) for their pioneering works in the field of technology.
  • The U.S. government has confirmed that effective May 26, 2015, some holders of the H-4 visa, who are spouses of high-skilled workers on the H-1B visa, will be eligible for work authorisation, a potential boon for approximately 179,600 individuals in the first year alone.
    • The move has particular relevance to India, as 76 per cent of the 96,753 people who received an H-4 in 2013 were from South Asia, many from India, a natural consequence of the fact that a large proportion of H-1B visas are also given to Indians.
Economy
  • Hurun Global Rich List-India 2015.
    • India has for the first time managed to find a place among the top three countries generating most number of billionaires in the world.
    • While US tops the list, China is in second place followed by India, as per the list prepared by Huran Global Rich list report .
    • Mukesh Ambani with a a wealth of Rs 1.2 lakh crore tops the list among billionaires in the country, followed by
    • Dilip Shanghvi of Sun PharmaBSE -0.04 % with an estimated wealth of Rs 1.02 lakh crore.
    • Pallonji Mistry and family of Tata Sons with Rs 96,000 crore assets are in the third place.
  • Economic think-tank NCAER said in The NCAER Business Confidence Index (BCI) that India’s business confidence index (BCI) moved up by 4.1 per cent in the third quarter of the current fiscal.
    • BCI increased by 4.1 per cent over the previous quarter, from 142.5 in October 2014 to 148.4 in December.
    • The BCI rose for all five sectors of the economy (consumer durables, consumer non-durables, intermediate goods, capital goods and services) over the previous quarter,
  • Chinese telecom gear maker Huawei today launched a research and development (R&D) campus in Bengaluru  with an investment of $170 million.
    • The campus being the first by any Chinese company.
  • The Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money headed by Justice (retd)    M B Shah on 9th of feb decided to widen its probe as new names of Indians with Swiss bank accounts have come up after they were published by media organisations that are part of the ICIJ project.
    • Key industrialists and politicians figuring in the list include the two Ambani brothers — Mukesh and Anil, NRI businessman Naresh Goyal and politician Narayan Rane.
    • New names which were apparently obtained through leaks from a Geneva-based branch of HSBC bank, show that there are 1,668 Indians on it .Collectively, these accounts had a balance of USD 4.1 billion (Rs 25,420 crore) till 2007.
    • The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) is a global network of 185 investigative journalists in more than 65 countries who collaborate on in-depth investigative stories.
    • Founded in 1997 by the respected American journalist Chuck Lewis, ICIJ was launched as a project of the Center for Public Integrity to extend the Center’s style of watchdog journalism, focusing on issues that do not stop at national frontiers: cross-border crime, corruption, and the accountability of power.
  • As per the latest report by regulator TRAI, Telecom subscriber base of the country reached all-time high of 97 crore at the end of December 2014. Number of telephone subscribers in India increased from 964.20 million at the end of November, 2014 to 970.97 million at the end of December, 2014.
    • At the end of December, the total mobile subscriber base reached 94.39 crore.
    • Bharti Airtel has maintained its leadership with 21.72 crore mobile customers.
    • Followed by Vodafone with 17.86 crore mobile subscribers, Idea Cellular 15.05 crore, Reliance Communications 10.62 crore, BSNL 8.13 crore, Aircel 7.86 crore, Tata Teleservices 6.61 crore and Uninor 4.36 crore.
  • Engineering major Siemens Ltd has bagged orders worth Rs 450 crore from Varanasi-based Diesel Locomotive Works.
    • It will supply and supervise the installation and commissioning of three-phase propulsion systems for Diesel Electric Locomotives and three-phase traction motors.
    • Diesel Locomotives Works is a production unit of Indian Railways located at Varanasi and manufactures around 300 diesel electric locomotives every year.
  • The former HSBC employee who leaked sensational secret documents alleging the bank helped wealthy customers dodge millions of dollars in taxes .
    • Published at the weekend, the files claim HSBC’s Swiss division helped clients in more than 200 countries evade taxes on accounts containing $119 billion (104 billion euros).
    • Herve Falciani, an IT worker turned whistleblower, stole the files in 2007 and passed them to French authorities, but they had not been previously made public.
    • The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) obtained the files via French newspaper Le Monde and shared them with more than 45 other media organisations worldwide.
  • With a view to ease the availability of market-priced kerosene, the government has freed sale of non-PDS kerosene from regulatory control.
    • Subsidised kerosene sold through public distribution system (PDS) is blue in colour while the market priced fuel is colourless.
    • While PDS kerosene is priced at Rs 15.14 per litre, the non-subsidised or market-priced fuel comes for Rs 27.68 a litre.
  • Telecom operator Reliance Communications and Facebook  announced a tie-up to provide free access to 33 websites – an initiative that aims to encourage more people to use the Internet.
    • These websites are across eight categories– social media, news, career, education and knowledge, sports, health and social welfare and search engine Bing.
    • The service has been initially launched for Reliance customers in Mumbai, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Chennai, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
  • India is the second most optimistic nation among the Asia Pacific Region after Myanmar, says a study.
    • According to the MasterCard consumer confidence index, the country scored 91.6 in the index which is calculated with zero as the most pessimistic and 100 as the most optimistic, while Myanmar’s score is 97.2.
    • Among the cities polled in the survey, Bengaluru topped the list as India’s most optimistic city with a score of 98.1 followed by Delhi with 97.3 points and Mumbai with 87.2.
  • The Finance Minister of India Arun Jaitley and U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Mr Jacob J. Lew met on 12th   of  feb for the Fifth Annual India-U.S. Economic and Financial Partnership.
  • The Ministry of Railways has decided to constitute a Committee to identify factors and issues affecting growth of traffic (Freight & Passenger) and suggest a plan of action for Traffic Optimization in short term (during 2015-16) and long term (during 2018-19).
    • This eight member Committee headed by Shri Mohd. Jamshed, Additional Member Railway Board.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi today here at Chakan(Maharashtra)  inaugurated American giant GE Corporation’s first multi-modal integrated manufacturing site which will export 50 percent of its output to other GE sites around the world and generate around 1,500 direct and indirect jobs.
    • In the first phase of operations, the facility named ‘Brilliant Factory’,will manufacture products and solutions for power sector, oil & gas and transportation industries, the company said.
    • In Phase II, the facility will include manufacturing capability for new generation aviation engine components and machining and sub-assembly for the latest rail locomotives and diesel engines.
    • The Chakan plant is the first of its kind, multi modal plant of GE anywhere in the world, where the same set up will be used to manufacture for different verticals like aviation, energy, health care, oil and gas etc.
  • According to a study by the Assocham-NILERD (National Institute of Labour Economics Research & Development) , around 7.2 million Indians are being added to the workforce annually since 2012-13, which will take the total size of the workforce to 485.6 million by 2016-17, with manufacturing being the largest job creator.
  • Minister for Civil Aviation, Ashok Gajapathi Raju, launched four dual use radar systems developed by OIS-AT at the ”Aero India” show.
    • These advanced radar systems have been designed, developed, and manufactured entirely by OIS-AT.
    • The four surveillance radar systems leverage advanced technology developments that are under patent filings and have been under development and manufacture for a number of years.
  • The Tax Administration Reform Commission (TARC) submitted its fourth and final report to the government on 21st of feb, pointing out a tendency to fix unrealistic revenue targets by the finance ministry.
    • The commission set up by the previous UPA government and headed by Parthasarathi Shome gave recommendations on revenue forecasting, predictive analysis and research for tax governance.
  • The expert committee on National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN), set up to suggest ways to fast track the project and best possible technology options, is likely to submit its report by February-end or next month.
    • The eight-member committee, which includes former Deity Secretary J Satyanarayana and former IT-ITeS industry body Nasscom Presidents Kiran Karnik and Som Mittal.
    • The ambitious NOFN project, which aims to connect 2.5 lakh gram panchayats with broadband by December 2016 with an estimated cost of Rs 30,000 crore.
  • In a bid to boost fixed line phone connections in the country, telecom regulator Trai  removed charges that a landline service provider has to pay to the other service providers for transmitting its customers’ phone calls
    • Now, calls made from landline-to-landline or landline-to-mobiles will not include the interconnection charge, which was 20 paise.
  • The 14th Finance Commission has recommended a record 10 per cent increase in the states’ share in the Union taxes to 42 per cent from 32 per cent previously , which has been accepted by the Centre and will give the states an additional Rs 1.78 lakh crore in 2015-16.
    • The report of the Commission, headed by former RBI Governor Y V Reddy, also recommended a grants-in-aid of Rs 48,906 crore for 11 revenue deficit states, including Andhra Pradesh post division, West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir, for 2015-16.
  • Long distance domestic telephone calls are set to become cheaper as regulator TRAI today slashed a network charge that one operator pays to another for carrying the call by about 50 per cent to 35 paise a minute.
  • The government today approved setting up of 15,000 MW grid-connected solar power projects through state-run NTPC under the National Solar Mission.
    • They will be executed by NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN), an arm of NTPC, in three tranches.
  • Mobile subscribers from May 3 will be able to port their numbers anywhere in the country while changing service providers, as telecom regulator Trai has amended the regulation on it.
  • India’s per capita income rose by 37.6 per cent to Rs 88,533 in the last four years to 2014-15, Parliament was informed today by Minister of State for Statistics and Programme Implementation V K Singh .
    • The national income in 2014-15 stood at Rs 11,217,079 crore.
  • Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDA) today said insurance companies can appoint individual agents on their own without license from the regulator from April 1.
Banking and finance
  • The Reserve Bank has allowed banks to install cash deposit machines (CDMs) and Bunch Note Acceptor Machines (BNAMs) at their selected locations without getting its prior permission.
    • For ATMs (Automated Teller Machines), RBI has already allowed banks to install off-site ATMs at places of their choice without getting its permission.
  • Reliance Industries has join hand with state-run SBI to apply for a payments bank licence.
    • SBI, which has 15,869 branches and 43,515 ATMs, has tied up with over 45,487 business correspondents.
  • Aditya Birla Nuvo Ltd. said it has applied in partnership with group telecom company, Idea Cellular  for a Payments Bank license with the Reserve Bank of India.
  • RBI kept repo rate and CRR unchanged, while cutting SLR by 50 basis points to 21.5% from 22%.
  • RBI has allowed banks to offer deposit schemes up to Rs 1 crore which cannot be broken prematurely — so-called noncallable deposits, to earn a slightly better rate of interest than on a deposit which can be broken, or a callable deposit.
  • RBI estimated the current account deficit (CAD) for 2014- 15 at 1.3 per cent of the GDP, significantly lower than the earlier projection.
    • The first bi-monthly monetary policy statement for fiscal year 2015-16 is scheduled on Tuesday, April 7, 2015.
  • Government of India has decided to infuse Rs.6990 crores in nine Public Sector Banks (PSBs) for which orders are being issued. The methodology for arriving the amount to be infused in these banks has been based on efficiency parameters.
    • First, weighted average of return on assets (ROA) for all PSBs for last three years put together was arrived at and all those who were above the average have been considered.
    • The second parameter that has been used is return on equity (ROE) for these banks for the last financial year. Those who have performed better than average have been rewarded.
  • The Reserve Bank on 9th of feb directed banks to report all kinds of Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP) transactions on a daily basis, failing which bank or their branches may face penal action, including de-authorisation.
    • As per RBI rules, banks needs to directly credit KVP dealings such as receipt, payment, penalty to government’s account at the Central Account Section of the RBI in order to maintain uniformity for reporting, reconciliation and accounting.
  • ICICI Bank on 10th of feb launched a mobile phone-based product that offers a slew of new-age services.
    • The new integrated mobile banking service is called ‘Pockets‘.
    • ‘Pockets’ integrates a digital wallet, a physical pre- paid card and a basic savings bank account.
    • ICICI Bank Managing Director and Chief Executive Chanda Kochhar claimed that this is the country’s first digital bank on a mobile phone.
    • One can fund the e-wallet from any bank account in the country and start transacting immediately. It requires no documentation or branch visit.
  • Ratnakar Bank Ltd. (RBL) has signed a contract with technology major IBM to use the latter’s MobileFirst Platform to build, deploy and manage its applications, aimed at improving the overall customer experience
    • RBL is a fast-growing scheduled commercial bank with an expanding presence across the country. It currently has a network of over 180 branches and 350 ATMs across 12 Indian states.
  • ICICI bank has tied up with UAE Exchange to offer an instant bank transfer “FLASH remit service” to the Indians residing in the Gulf nation.
  • Nabard has reduced its long term refinance rate by 10 to 20 basis points (bps) on their long term refinance facility depending on the repayment period.
    • Nabard has also reduced Prime Lending Rate from 9.25% to 9.00 % on loan to private sector under the Warehouse Infrastructure Fund and Food Processing Fund.
  • The Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation (MOSPI) has briefed the RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan about the new method which the government has started for calculating economic growth and inflation figures.
    • On February 9, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) under MOSPI estimated the real GDP growth (with 2011-12 as the new base) at 7.4 per cent in 2014-15 as against 6.9 per cent in 2013-14.
    • For measuring retail inflation based on Consumer Price Index (CPI), government would henceforth calculate it with a shift in base year to 2012 from 2010.
    • CPI based inflation is an important figure for the Reserve Bank to take decisions on policy rates during monetary policy review.
  • The World Bank has barred an Indian firm from participating in its projects for indulging in fraudulent activities, taking the total number of banned India-based entities to 13.
    • The latest Indian entity to face debarment is Puducherry-based KRG Associates as it was found to have provided “forged” certificates with respect to a tsunami reconstruction project funded by the World Bank.
  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India signed here today a $50 million loan agreement for the second Assam Power Sector Investment Program which aims to build up the capacity of power generation and distribution systems to meet the growing energy demand in the state of Assam.
  • The World Bank has launched a $600 million, 10-year fixed rate green bond, its largest ever such issue in US dollars.
    • Green bonds are designed to raise capital for low-carbon, or green, investments
  • The World Bank said it has now issued nearly $8 billion via 80 green bond transactions in 18 currencies since its first such offering in 2008.
  • The Government of India and the Asian Development Bank signed an agreement for a $350 million loan to upgrade district roads in Madhya Pradesh.
  • The loan will cover 70 per cent of total project cost of USD 500 million, while Madhya Pradesh will provide balance of USD 150 million.
  • RBI on 21st of feb fixed minimum subscription per investor at Rs 20,000 for private placement of Non-convertible debentures (NCDs) with maturity of more than one year by non-banking financial companies.
  • NBFC (excluding core investment companies) should issue debentures only for deployment of funds on its own balance sheet and not to facilitate resource requests of group entities, parent company or associates.
  • State Bank of India (SBI) will provide finance totaling Rs 100 crore benefiting 3,000 small Tea growers in the North East soon, a senior official of the public sector bank said on 21st of feb.
    • Finance will be provided to tea growers who have proper basic documents of their existing garden as per Tea Board of India norms.
  • Reserve Bank of India said it will shortly issue Rs 10 denomination banknotes in the Mahatma Gandhi Series-2005.
    • It will incorporate rupee symbol on the obverse and the reverse, with inset letter ‘N’ in both the numbering panels, bearing the signature of Raghuram G Rajan, Governor, Reserve Bank of India and the year of printing ‘2014’ printed on the reverse of the Banknote .
  • Public sector bank employee unions  withdrew their call for a four-day nationwide strike, with the management agreeing to a 15 per cent hike in wages at an extra burden of Rs 4,725 crore a year and acceding to the demand for holiday on second and fourth Saturdays.
  • The Asian Development Bank has inked two loan agreements worth USD 400 million with India to upgrade district roads in Madhya Pradesh and to support improvements to power transmission and distribution systems in Assam.
  • Insurance sector regulator IRDA has given in-principle approval for setting up of Rs 1,500 crore nuclear liability pool for providing risk cover to nuclear reactors.
  • RBI today said Asset reconstruction companies (ARCs) will have to take its approval for change in shareholding pattern beyond 10 per cent to safeguard interest of investors.
    • Internationally Asset Reconstruction Companies (ARCs) have been created to bring about a system for cleaning up Non Performing Assets (NPAs) from the books of secured lenders and bring the locked assets in circulation into the economy.
    • Accordingly, Asset Reconstruction Company is a company registered under Section 3 of the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SRFAESI) Act, 2002. It is regulated by Reserve Bank of India as an Non Banking Financial Company .
  • Giving a big boost to Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), the RBI today said bank overdrafts of up to Rs 5,000 in accounts opened under this financial inclusion mission will be treated as priority sector lending.
    • Under priority sector lending, RBI ask banks to provide a specified portion of loans to few specific sectors.
    • Priority sector refers to those sectors of the economy which may not get timely and adequate credit in the absence of the special dispensation.
  • Claiming that two-third of Bihar population is yet to get access to electricity, a World Bank study report has asked the state government to augment generation capacity and ramp up investment in transmission and distribution infrastructure to ensure affordable power to the consumers.
Corporate
  • Bharti Airtel on Tuesday launched its first pan-Africa customised 3G smartphone for $53 to tap mobile Internet users.
  • Europe-based RUAG Aerostructures and Tata group firm TAL Manufacturing Solutions have joined hands for production and supply of aero structural components and sub-assemblies for Airbus 320 programme.
    • As part of the contract, TAL will manufacture and supply over 550 sheet metal components, machined parts and sub-assemblies to RUAG, for Airbus’ A320 programme.
    • The Nagpur-based TAL Manufacturing is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tata Motors and focuses on precision components, assemblies and tooling for aero-structures, aero – engines and ground support.
  • Snapdeal, the home-grown online retailer, has acquired luxury fashion portal Exclusively.com for an undisclosed amount, expanding its presence in the high-end fashion segment.
    • Snapdeal has so far raised over USD 1.5 billion from a clutch of investors that include Japan’s Softbank and Ratan Tata, among others.
    • The acquisition of Exclusively is similar to that of domestic e-commerce firm and Snapdeal’s rival, Flipkart acquiring online fashion retailer Myntra for an estimated Rs 2,000 crore deal in May last year, marking it the biggest consolidation in the e-commerce space in India.
    • Exclusively today retails hundreds of India’s leading designers on its site, including Manish Malhotra, Tarun Tahiliani, Manish Arora, Anita Dongre, Rohit Bal, JJ Valaya, Ritu Kumar, Varun Bahl and Neeta Lulla.
    • According to a recent KPMG-ASSOCHAM report Luxury products and services is a $14 bn market in India and it is growing at 30 per cent YoY,.
  • U.S.-headquartered news portal Mashable on Wednesday announced its foray into the Indian market in partnership with Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd’s JV firm India.com.
    • Mashable, which termed India as one of its top five global markets, said its Indian arm would have an editorial team based in the country for localised content.
    • Web portal India.com is a joint-venture between Penske Media Corporation (PMC) and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd.
    • Mashable India will have an editorial team based in India for localised content. It will offer the best global coverage from mashable.com and augment it with extensive editorial coverage from India.
  • Online classified company Quikr today announced its tie up with automobile sales and service provider Carnation Auto to offer inspection reports of used cars sold on its website.
    • Started in 2008, Quikr is one of India’s largest oline classified company with presence in more than 1000 cities acroos the country. It operates in more than 13 categories and in 170 sub-categories that include mobile phones, household goods, cars, real estate, jobs, services and education.
    • Carnation Auto, founded by Khattar, a former MD of Maruti Suzuki, is a leading independent automobile sales and service network.
  • RailTel, the telecom arm of railways, has partnered with global networking giant Cisco to offer video conferencing platform to government agencies and public sector units.
  • IBM  said it had signed a strategic agreement with Tech Mahindra to build a platform for the development of applications for its clients. The platform will be built using IBM’s cloud infrastructure — Bluemix Dedicated.
  • In order to provide convenient online shopping experience to customers, IRCTC has tied up with Amazon.in to sell various products.
Sports
  • Novak Djokovic won his fifth Australian Open title and his eighth career Grand Slam by beating  Andy Murray’s 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-0.
    • Roy Emerson, the only other man with five or more Australian titles.
  • Leander Paes and Martina Hingis beat French-Canadian pair of Kristina Mladenovic and Daniel Nestor in straight sets by 6-4, 6-3 in the 62-minute  mixed doubles final of Australian Open in Melbourne.
  • Top seed Dipika Pallikal reclaiming the WSA squash title in the Winnipeg Winter Club Women’s Open.
    • The world no. 13 Dipika Pallikal had also won the title here in 2013 before compatriot Joshana Chinappa lifted the trophy last year.
  • National Games mascot Ammu, the Great Hornbill, has immortalised itself by finding a mention in the Limca Book of Records.
  • National men’s team captain Sunil Chhetri was presented with All India Football Federation’s 2014 Player of the Year award.
    • This was the fourth time he received the award having earlier won it in 2007, 2011 and 2013.
  • National women’s team striker Bala Devi, was presented with 2014 AIFF Women’s Footballer of the Year.
    • She scored 47 goals in 2014, including 18 in international matches.
  • Sandesh Jhingan, awarded as the 2014 Emerging Player of the Year.
  • FIFA Referee Santosh Kumar from Kerala, was awarded the 2014 AIFF Award for Best Referee.
  • 35th National games
    • Kerala was declared the best among all the states for an unprecedented 162 medals, which included 54 gold.
    • The Services Sports Control Board was presented with the overall trophy for a third year running, for an unprecedented 159 medals, which included 91 gold.
    • Swimming sensations Sajan Prakash and Akanksha Vora were declared the best athletes .
    • Prakash was adjudged the best male athlete of the Games for winning an astonishing six gold and three silver medals with four new meet records.
    • Akanksha, , was declared the best female athlete for her feat of five gold medals and a silver.
  • India beat Pakistan by 76 runs in their opening Cricket World Cup match of the cricket World Cup at the Adelaide Oval.
    • Virat Kohli became the first Indian batsman to score a century against Pakistan in a World Cup match.
  • With his famed baritone, supertsar Amitabh Bachchan  made an impressive commentary debut in the high-voltage India-Pakistan World Cup cricket match.
  • Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland beat defending champion Tomas Berdych for the sixth straight time, winning 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to clinch the World Tennis Tournament for his ninth career title.
  • Yuvraj Singh set a new record as he emerged as the costliest-ever buy in the Indian Premier League by going for a whopping Rs 16 crore to Delhi Daredevils
    • Yuvraj, had been bought for Rs 14 crore by Royal Challengers Bangalore last year.
  • Anil Kumble, India’s leading wicket-taker in Tests and ODIs, will be inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame. Kumble will become only the fourth Indian after Sunil Gavaskar,  Kapil Dev and Bishan Singh Bedi to bag this honour.
    • Kumble’s induction will take place at Melbourne on Sunday.
  • The premium readymade apparel brand Allen Solly from the Aditya Birla Group-owned Madura Fashion and Lifestyle has entered into an exclusive partnership with the famed tennis grand slam tournament Wimbledon to sell men”s wear.
  • Former India captain Anil Kumble was  inducted into the International Cricket Council Hall of Fame at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
  • Riding on another strong batting display powered by Shikhar Dhawan”s strokeful century, India today crushed South Africa by a massive 130 runs to beat them for the first time in World Cup cricket.
  • A retired judge of either Supreme Court or High Court will now head the Selection Committee for Arjuna Awards as the government has revised the schemes of various awards it present to sportspersons.
  • West Indies opener Chris Gayle became the first batsman to score a World Cup Double century on Tuesday and admitted he had never felt such pressure to perform.
  • Skipper A B de Villiers hammered the fastest 150 in ODI history as he led South Africa to a record-equalling 257-run win over the West Indies in a Pool B cricket World Cup match, here today.
Awards
  • 57th annual Grammy Awards
  • British singer Sam Smith was the big winner.
  • His Stay With Me won Record of the Year & Song of the Year, best new artist prize and his album In the Lonely Hour  won best pop vocal album.
  • Yash Bharti Samman 2015
  • Distinguished journalist Vinod Mehta awarded with the Yash Bharti Samman 2015 by Uttar Pradesh (UP) Government.
    • Vinod Mehta has launched a number of successful publications such as the Sunday Observer, Indian Post, The Independent, The Pioneer (Delhi edition) and Outlook. He has authored a biography of Meena Kumari (movie actress and poet) and Sanjay Gandhi- The Sanjay Story (2012).
    • Yash Bharti Samman was instituted by Mulayam Singh Yadav Government in 1994.
    • The award is conferred by the Uttar Pradesh Government for excellence in literature, fine arts, folk and classical music and sports.
  • Bafta Awards (British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards)2015:
    • Best film : Boyhood
    • Outstanding British film: The Theory of Everything
    • Best Actor : Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
    • Best Director : Richard Linklater – Boyhood
  • Charleston-EFG John Maynard Keynes Prize
  • Eminent Indian economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has been named as the first winner of a newly established award in the UK, in recognition of his work on welfare economics.
    • The award involves a sum of 7,500 pounds. He will also give the annual Charleston-EFG Keynes Lecture at the Charleston Festival on May 23, titled ‘The Economic Consequences of Austerity’.
    • This new global prize will award an individual of any nationality of exceptional and inter-disciplinary talents in the spirit of John Maynard Keynes’ work, life and legacy. Reflecting that legacy, the winner will be widely recognised as having made an outstanding contribution to society through his or her work in economics, the arts, international relations, politics or a combination of these.
  • During the Renewable Energy Global Investors Meet (RE-Invest) Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented the award to Principal Secretary of Chhattisgarh’s Energy department, for renewable power development.
    • Chhattisgarh has won three national awards in power sector including investments in power sector and infrastructure development.
    • Principal Secretary of Energy Department Aman Kumar Singh has won the award of best bureaucrat for distinguished services in power sector.
  • An Indian-American, who developed an environment friendly field analyser for checking toxic arsenic levels in water, has been awarded a prestigious award for his special contribution in the field of chemistry.
    • Purnendu Dasgupta, a Jenkins Garrett professor of chemistry at The University of Texas at Arlington, has been awarded the 2015 American Chemical Society Division of Analytical Chemistry J. Calvin Giddings Award.
  • A young Indian scientist Gurumoorthy Krishnamoorthy based in Germany has been awarded a grant of 1.5 million euros to investigate the role of gut microbiota in autoimmune diseases of the central nervous system such as Multiple Sclerosis.
    • The Starting Grants of the European Research Council (ERC) seek to give talented scientists at an early stage in their careers the freedom to pursue their most creative ideas.
    • Gurumoorthy Krishnamoorthy, group leader at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, was one of this year’s successful Starting Grant applicants.
    • Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, is the most common inflammatory disease of the central nervous system.
  • Oscars 2015: Full list of winners
    • Best picture Birdman
    • Best actress Julianne Moore for Still Alice
    • Best actor Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything
    • Best director= Alejandro González  for Birdman
    • Best supporting actress Patricia Arquette for Boyhood
    • Best supporting actor JK Simmons for Whiplash
    • Best foreign-language film: Ida – Paweł Pawlikowski
    • Best animated feature film: Big Hero 6
  • An Iranian journalist has received a Human rights award in Geneva for creating a Facebook page inviting women in Iran to post pictures of themselves without their headscarves in defiance of rules requiring them to wear a hijab.
    • Masih Alinejad (38) launched Stealthy Freedoms of Iranian Women last year, attracting more than half a million likes on Facebook in a matter of weeks. Thousands of women took off their veils in public and sent in their photos to be published.
  • ”Power Businesswomen”
    • Six Indian women CEOs and Managing Directors, including State Bank of India head Arundhati Bhattacharya and ICICI CEO Chanda Kochchar, have been named by Forbes magazine in its 50 ”Power Businesswomen” from Asia.
    • The Indian executives on the list are Akhila Srinivasan, MD/Non-Executive Director of Shriram Life Insurance/Shriram Capital, Biocon Founder, Chairman and MD Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Axis Bank CEO and MD Shikha Sharma and Life Insurance Corp. of India MD Usha Sangwan 56 (India).
    • Two of Alibaba’s top female decision-makers – Maggie Wu and Lucy Peng – made the grade (a first for any company).
  • Ratan Tata has been honoured with an honorary Doctorate of Automotive Engineering by the Clemson University at the South Carolina Automotive Summit this week.
Science & Technology

  • Code Gladiators, a national-level contest for computer programmers, is expected to witness over 40,000 coders from more than 7,000 domestic and global firms for the title of ”Code Gladiator 2015”.
    • Code Gladiators — one of India’s biggest contest for programmers — is hosted by TechGig, a social media platform for IT professionals.
  • ICAR-Indian Institute of Soil Science, Bhopal, a research institute under the Natural Resource Management (NRM) Division of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), has developed ‘Mridaparikshak, a MINILAB that can determine soil health. The MINILAB was presented by Shri Radha Mohan Singh, Union Minister of Agriculture in Annual General Meeting (AGM) of ICAR on 18th February, 2015.
  • Social networking giant Facebook has paid over $3 million since 2011 to security researchers who report bugs on its website, with India topping the tally with the largest number of valid threats reported.
    • “India contributed the largest number of valid bugs again this year at 196, with an average reward of $1,343,” Facebook said in a post.
    • Facebook also paid security researcher Laxman Muthiyah a reported $12,500 (around Rs 7.5 lakh) for discovering a bug that allowed him to delete any user’s photos or albums on the social network, without their permission.

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