Monday, 23 May 2016 03:27


RMI'S Current Affairs - https://www.facebook.com/RMIS-Current-Affairs


21 - MAY - 2016



United Nations released a new report named On the Fast-Track to end the AIDS epidemic .

The report warns that the AIDS epidemic could be prolonged indefinitely if urgent action is not taken within the five years to come.

Highlights of the report

• It reveals that the extraordinary acceleration of progress made over the past 15 years could be lost.

• UN through report urges all partners to ensure that the global AIDS epidemic is ended as a public health threat by 2030.

• The report outlines that the rapid treatment scale-up has been a major contributing factor to the 42 per cent decline in AIDS-related deaths since the peak in 2004.

• It also notes that this has caused life expectancy in the countries most affected by HIV to rise sharply in recent years.

• It also underlines the critical role civil society has played in securing many of the gains made and the leadership provided by people living with HIV.

• The report also calls the shortfalls in the implementation of the 2011 Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS distressing.

• The report draws attention to regions where new HIV infections are continuing to rise, such as in eastern Europe and central Asia.

• The new HIV infections in these regions have increased by 30 per cent between 2000 and 2014.

• It was mostly among people who inject drugs in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in the Asia–Pacific region.

• The report also emphasizes the necessity of repealing punitive laws and repressive policies that criminalize same-sex sexual relations, drug usage as they impede access to services.

• The report gives strong emphasis to the links between the response to HIV and the success of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

• Finally, it urges countries to embrace the UNAIDS Fast-Track approach to ending the AIDS epidemic, which will require reaching an ambitious set of goals by 2020.


• To reach these goals include reaching the 90–90–90 treatment target for 2020.

• It calls for 90 per cent of people living with HIV to know their status, 90 per cent of people who know their HIV-positive status to access treatment, and 90 per cent of people on treatment to have suppressed viral loads.


The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released Draft Guidelines for on tap Licensing of Universal Banks in the Private Sector.

It also sought views and comments on the draft guidelines from banks, non-banking financial institutions, industrial houses, other institutions and the public at large latest by 30 June 2016.

RBI will issue the final guidelines will after receiving feedback, comments and suggestions on draft guidelines.

Salient features of the draft guidelines:

Eligible Promoters:

i. Existing non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) that are controlled by residents and have a successful track record for at least 10 years.

ii. The residents, individuals or professionals who have 10 years of banking and finance experience.

iii. Residents owned entities or groups in the private sector which have a successful track record for at least 10 years.

Fit and Proper criteria: Promoter or promoting entity or promoter group should have a past record of sound financials, credentials, integrity and have a minimum 10 years of successful track record.

Corporate structure:

i. The requirement of Non-Operative Financial Holding Company (NOFHC) is not mandatory for individual promoters or standalone promoting or converting entities that do not have other group entities.

ii. Individual promoters or promoting entities or converting entities that have other group entities, shall set up the bank only through an NOFHC.

iii. The NOFHC shall be owned by the promoter/promoter group to the extent of not less than 51 per cent of the total paid-up equity capital of the NOFHC.

Minimum capital requirement: The initial minimum paid-up voting equity capital for a bank shall be 5 billion rupees. Thereafter, the bank shall have a minimum net worth of 5 billion rupees at all times.

Foreign shareholding in the bank: The foreign shareholding in the bank would be as per the existing foreign direct investment (FDI) policy. The aggregate foreign investment limit is 74 per cent.

Corporate governance prudential and exposure norms:

i. The bank shall comply with the provisions of Banking Regulations Act, 1949 and the existing guidelines on prudential norms as applicable to scheduled commercial banks.

ii. The bank is precluded from having any exposure to its promoters, major shareholders who have shareholding to the extent of 10 per cent or more of paid-up equity shares in the bank.

Business plan for the bank: A realistic and viable business plan should be submitted that can propose the bank’s ability to achieve financial inclusion.

Other conditions: The bank shall get its shares listed on the stock exchanges within six years of the commencement of business by the bank.


• Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued guidelines for licensing of new banks in the private sector earlier on 22 February 2013.

• Consequently, the Reserve Bank issued in-principle approval to two applicants and they have since established the banks.

• On recommendations of the Narasimham Committee, Raghuram G. Rajan Committee and other viewpoints to have an explicit policy on banking structure in India, the RBI came out with a policy discussion paper on Banking Structure in India The Way Forward on 27 August 2013.

• After a thorough examination of the pros and cons, the discussion paper made out a case for reviewing the current Stop and Go licensing policy and for considering a continuous authorisation policy on the grounds that such a policy would increase the level of competition and bring new ideas into the system.

• The feedback on the discussion paper broadly endorsed the proposal of continuous authorisation with adequate safeguards.

• The first Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement 2014-15 announced on 1 April 2014.


The Union Government released a commemorative coin of hundred rupees and a circulation coin of ten rupees on Maharana Pratap. The coin was released as a part of 475th Birth Anniversary celebrations of Maharana Pratap.

The coin was released by Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Culture and Tourism Dr Mahesh Sharma in New Delhi.

Maharana Pratap

• Maharana Pratap was a brave warrior, successful organizer and ingenious strategist, who fearlessly fought the Mughals and protected his people until his death.

• He was a ruler of Mewar, a region in north-western India in the present day state of Rajasthan.

• His birth anniversary is celebrated every year on the 3rd day of the Jyestha Shukla phase.

• He was the eldest son of Maharani Jaiwanta Bai and Udai Singh II, founder of Udaipur.

• He belonged to the Sisodia clan of Rajputs.

Union Ministry of Culture has been celebrating the 475th Birth Anniversary of Maharana Pratap during 2015-16 in association with the State Government of Rajasthan.


US President Barack Obama signed National Bison Legacy Act into law officially making the American bison the country’s first national mammal.

With this, Bison, the animal that once roamed North America, joins the ranks of the Bald Eagle as the official symbol of the country.

Its designation as national mammal do not hampers bald eagle’s position as the national animal because eagle that is birthed through eggs in not a mammal.

American bison

• Once million’s of bison’s roamed North America in its territory that stretched from forests of Alaska and the grasslands of Mexico to Nevada’s Great Basin and the eastern Appalachian Mountains.

• The animal remains the largest mammal in North America, with mature male bulls weighing up to 2000 pounds, while females (called cows) weigh up to 1000 pounds.

• Despite their size, the animals are surprisingly quick, reaching speeds of up to 35 miles per hour.

• In late 1800s, the animal was hunted by the European settlers to few hundred and also reduced its habitat.

• National Park is the only place in the US where bison have continuously lived since prehistoric times.

• As of July 2015, Yellowstone’s bison population was estimated at 4900, making it the largest bison population on public lands.

• Bison claves are nicknamed as Red Dogs because the orange-red colour that it carries at the time of birth.

• Characterized by their long, shaggy brown coats, they have poor eyesight but acute hearing and an excellent sense of smell.

• Bison mainly eat grasses and sedges.

• Historically, the American bison played an essential role in shaping the ecology of the Great Plains. They graze heavily on native grasses and disturb the soil with their hooves, allowing many plant and animal species to flourish.


Dr Manvendra K Singh, a scientist from Uttar Pradesh's Gorakhpur city, was awarded a grant of SGD 3 million (about 14.7 crore rupees) by Singapore’s National Research Foundation (NRF).

Dr. Singh in the first week of May 2016 announced that he is among the seven young scientists from across the world to be endowed with the Singapore NRF fellowship.

The scientist has been awarded the fellowship to pursue research in the field of congenital and adult cardiovascular diseases.

Who is Dr Manvendra K Singh?

He works as an assistant professor in the cardiovascular and metabolic disorders programme at Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore.

He is also an adjunct assistant professor at National Heart Research Institute Singapore and Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Pennsylvania, USA.

He obtained his masters degree in Biotechnology from Madurai Kamaraj University.

After completing his masters, he joined MD/Ph.D program in Molecular Medicine at Hannover Medical School, Germany.

About National Research Foundation, Singapore

The National Research Foundation was set up on 1 January 2006.

It is a department within the Prime Minister's Office.

The NRF sets the national direction for research and development (R&D) by developing policies, plans and strategies for research, innovation and enterprise.

It aims at transforming Singapore into a vibrant R&D hub.


  • The Centre is examining the possibility of making a bank of all its surplus land holdings across the country from which parcels could be auctioned to private industry.
  • The move will ensure that non-availability of land doesn’t dampen new investments and economic growth. Other than for private industry such land identified in Delhi, Mumbai and other metros could be used for urban renewal projects.
  • A committee set up under Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das is inventorying all the holdings, including that of government companies, in coordination with the Urban Development Ministry.
  • The decision comes in the wake of the Centre’s legislation on land acquisition reforms failing to clear Parliament even a year after an ordinance for it was allowed to lapse. Even the Government’s allies are opposed to this Bill.


  • The Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, 2016, turned into a diplomatic war of words when India “firmly” rejected Pakistan’s objections to the draft Bill, saying Islamabad does not have any right to object to an internal matter of India.
  • “The proposed bill is an entirely internal legislative matter of India, since the whole of the State of J&K is an integral part of India. Pakistan or any other party has no locus standi in the matter,” said Vikas Swarup.
  • The draft Geospatial Information Bill plans to bring in a set of legally binding regulations regarding the geospatial information of India which may include provisions to penalise inaccurate depiction of India in maps. .
  • The MEA’s response came after Pakistan wrote to the UN Secretary General raising “serious concerns” over the draft Bill, specifically criticising the depiction of Jammu and Kashmir in the bill as “incorrect and legally untenable”.
  • The Pakistan Foreign Office issued a statement saying it has expressed “serious concern” to the UN over a draft bill in the Indian Parliament over the map of Kashmir and has asked the world body to uphold its resolutions and urge India to stop such acts which are in “violation of international law.”
  • Reacting to Pakistan’s letter, Union Minister of State for Home KirenRijijusaid it was the duty of the government to ensure that India’s geography is projected properly.


  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to Iran, the government announced, he might follow it up with a visit Afghanistan in June.
  • Both visits — in what India considers its “extended neighbourhood” — will focus on infrastructure development.]
  • The Chabahar port development project will top Mr. Modi’s agenda in Iran, while he is expected to visit Afghanistan to inaugurate the $300-million Salma dam and hydroelectric power plant, known as the Afghanistan-India friendship dam.
  • Mr. Modi’s visits will complete the triangle as he is expected to sign the trilateral trade treaty with Iran and Afghanistan for Chabahar, which was finalised during External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s trip to Tehran last month.
  • The transmission lines [for the hydroelectric plant] have been handed over, and we are conducting the final testing for power generation
  • The exact dates for the Prime Minister’s visit, that would come five months after his last visit to Kabul when he inaugurated the Parliament building, were “still being finalised.”
  • The Ministry of External Affairs announced that Mr. Modi would visit Iran on May 22-23 to meet President Hassan Rouhani in an official visit that would “provide a timely thrust to the ongoing efforts of the two countries and their business entities.
  • Visit will also expand bilateral cooperation and mutually benefit from new opportunities in the wake of lifting of secondary sanctions against Iran earlier this year.
  • The Prime Minister will also meet the ‘Supreme Leader’ Ali Khamenei, marking his first visit to the country after the historic nuclear agreement with world powers was signed, and the U.S. lifted secondary sanctions in January 2016.
  • Among issues on the agenda are agreeing on a channel for repayment of $6.5 billion in unpaid dues from India to appropriate corresponding banks in Iran, an Memorandum of Understanding on developing the Chabahar port project.
  • Other issues will be trilateral transit trade agreement with Afghanistan, India’s stake in the Farzad-B oilfields, the announcement of investments from Indian companies in the Chabahar “Free Trade Zone,” and security and defence pacts.
  • Mr. Modi’s visit to Iran is a rare stand-alone visit indicating that India hopes to fast-track ties and build on the alternative route for trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia.


  • The State Bank of India has kick-started the process of merging its five associate banks with itself at one go.
  • The merger is expected to be completed by the end of the current financial year.
  • The SBI board discussed the issue, and also explored the possibility to merge BharatiyaMahila Bank.


  • The Obama administration has opposed the Republican-controlled Congress’s move to block $450 million in aid to Pakistan for failing to “demonstrate its commitment” and taking action against the Haqqani network.
  • A White House statement in this regard came as the bill made its way to the House of Representatives from House Armed Services Committee.
  • The White House asserted that it shares the view of the lawmakers with regard to the Haqqani network, but such a move would “unnecessarily complicate progress” in bilateral ties.
  • According to the National DefenseAuthorization Act 2017, of the total amount of reimbursement and support authorised for Pakistan during the period beginning on October 1 this year, and ending on December 31, 2017, $450 million would not be eligible for a national security waiver unless the Secretary of Defence certifies that Pakistan continues to conduct operations against Haqqanis.
  • Under this new proposed provision, the Defense Secretary also needs to certify that Pakistan is demonstrating commitment to prevent the Haqqani Network from using North Waziristan as a safe haven.
  • It also needs to show that it is actively coordinating with Afghanistan to restrict the movement of terrorists, including the Haqqani Network, along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
  • There is similar certification requirement in the year ending on September 31, 2016, but the amount is $300 million.
  • The Defence Secretary has not been able to give necessary certification for the release of the fund to Pakistan so far.
  • The House Armed Services Committee says that it will continue to review the reimbursements made to Pakistan and how it aligns with the future of U.S. policy, including key counter-terrorism objectives, in the region.
  • The Obama Administration has opposed any move to either restrict or condition U.S. military aid to Pakistan, arguing that its ties with Islamabad are very important.


  • A conference on the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, due to be held on May 30 in Paris, has been postponed, French President Francois Hollande said.
  • U.S. Secretary of State cannot come on May 30 so it has been delayed. It will take place in the summer,” he told French radio.
  • He also said it was vital for France to take “a strong initiative” in the dispute. “If not... what will happen? Settlement building, attacks.
  • The original date for the conference falls on the U.S. Memorial Day holiday honouring members of the armed forces who died in combat.
  • French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault was in Jerusalem and Ramallah to present the French peace initiative to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas.
  • Ms. Ayrault received support from the Palestinians but objections from Israel. Mr. Netanyahu questioned French “impartiality” after Paris voted in favour of making Palestine a UNESCO member five years ago.
  • Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said on Twitter that Mr. Hollande’s announcement of the delay was “further evidence of the failure of the [peace settlement] option and the project of [Palestinian President] Mahmud Abbas”.


  • One hundred years ago on Monday, Britain and France signed a secret agreement carving out “spheres of influence” that ultimately created the modern Western Asia.
  • Yet no one was celebrating the anniversary as Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterparts from Europe, the Arab States and Iran began gathering in Vienna for the latest international effort to end the civil war in Syria.
  • The effort is also supposed to usher in what is delicately called a “political transition” that would ease out President Bashar Al-Assad.
  • The Sykes-Picot Agreement, named for its British and French authors and the map it produced, is now widely considered a low point in colonial efforts to manipulate the region to fit the interests of outsiders.
  • And yet the remnants of the agreement, which came to light after documents proving its existence emerged during the Russian Revolution in 1917, loom over everything Mr. Kerry and his fellow foreign ministers are doing here.
  • Rarely in the past century have the shifting borders established by the agreement looked blurrier, and the effort to maintain them shakier.
  • One of the few players who observed the anniversary at all was MasoudBarzani, the president of the Kurdistan Autonomous Region.
  • He allowed for the possibility of a form of decentralisation in which different groups — the Kurds, Mr. Assad’s government and the opposition — receive some autonomy. But the goal, he said, was an intact Syria.
  • While the official American position is that he has to go, the reality is that few in Washington are in a rush: The last thing they want is a power vacuum in Damascus that the Islamic State would try to fill.
  • Still, it seems safe to say that if anyone has come out of the Syrian debacle nearly as hated in the region as Mr. Assad, it is probably the diplomats who rearranged the region: Sir Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot.
  • Sykes, an aristocratic racehorse breeder and Boer War veteran, died three years after the agreement was reached, killed by the Spanish flu while in Paris during the 1919 peace talks after World War I.
  • Picot, the son of a historian and known for his skills as a lawyer and a diplomat, lived to be 80. He died in 1951, three years after the creation of Israel.
  • Out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, the British ultimately obtained mandates over Palestine and Iraq; the French got what is now Syria.
  • Areas experiencing some of the hardest-fought battles now, like Mosul, were attached to the Kingdom of Iraq.


  • The government has amended rules and introduced several measures including a system similar to ‘tatkal’, to expedite examination of patent applications by start-ups as well as entities choosing India for the first filing of patent.
  • This comes in the backdrop of 2.37 lakh patent applications pending in the country.
  • The government, incidentally, is aiming to bring down the time period for initial examination of patent applications from the present 5-7 years to 18 months by March 2018.
  • It had also announced the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy to push IPRs as a marketable financial asset and economic tool, promote innovation and entrepreneurship/start-ups, while protecting public interest.
  • Under the ‘tatkal’ like system applicants can opt for the ‘expedited examination’- route on the grounds that they have chosen India as the competent International Searching Authority or International Preliminary Examining Authority.
  • The ‘expedited examination’-route is also available to all entities that qualify as a start-up as per the definition for start-up provided in the Patent Rules. The applications for this route have to be filed only electronically.
  • Under the ‘expedited examination’ route, the fees for individuals and start-ups have been fixed at Rs.8,000, while for small firms it is Rs.25,000 and for large companies, the fee is Rs.60,000.


  • The government is finding it difficult to identify willing members for its recently announced high-level panel to suggest recovery and sale of non-performing assets (NPA) of public sector banks.
  • According to bankers privy to the discussion with the government, the finance ministry had sounded out former Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), former Judge of Supreme Court, Justice B.N. Srikrishna and a former central vigilance commissioner to be a part of the committee.
  • The formation of the panel was aimed at advising banks on bad loan recovery and one time settlement offers from defaulters.
  • Banks often show reluctance in one time settlement offers from defaulters as they have to take haircut if such offers are accepted. They fear questions will raised by the investigative agencies if they settle for less.
  • While banks owe over Rs.9,000 crore to the defunct airline, Mr Mallya had offered Rs 4,000 crore as one-time settlement.
  • Banks had rejected the Mr Mallya’s settlement offer as they fear adverse public opinion if the entire money is not recovered.
  • Moreover, public sector banks come under the purview of the investigative agencies, and bankers fear these agencies could hound them if they settle for what was offered by the liquor baron.
  • Anil Sinha, director of the Central Bureau of Investigation recently came down heavily on banks for not reporting frauds to the investigators, indicating that lenders had given wilful defaulters and fraudsters a long rope to escape law.
  • The finance ministry has been advising banks to beef up their recovery efforts in the wake of sharp rise in non-performing assets.
  • The stressed assets for the banking system as a whole, which stood at 9.8 per cent at the end of March 2012, moved up sharply to 14.5 per cent at the end of December 2015.


  • Only Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha would be eligible for additional borrowings of 0.5 per cent of Gross State Domestic Product (GDSP) in FY17 while Gujarat, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh would be eligible for additional borrowings of 0.25 per cent, according to rating agency ICRA.
  • With a limited number of states likely to be eligible for the additional borrowing in FY17, ICRA said that the ceiling for the gross market borrowing limit of the state governments would rise to Rs 3.5 lakh crore in FY17 against the actual borrowings of Rs.2.94 lakh crore in FY2016.
  • However, if a majority of states revise pay scales in FY17 itself, the actual borrowings may be higher than this figure, given the flexibility to adjust borrowings raised in excess of the entitlement from the net borrowing limit for the subsequent year.
  • The government has recently permitted eligible states to undertake a higher fiscal deficit and additional borrowings of up to 0.5 per cent of GSDP above the anchor of 3 per cent of GSDP.
  • The eligibility criteria that decides the rate is the states’ compliance with a curb in interest payments at or below 10 per cent of their revenue receipts, their ability to curtail debt below 25 per cent of their GSDP and the maintenance of a balanced or surplus revenue account.
  • The government has also permitted the states to avail of any unutilised fiscal deficit amount, between FY17 and FY19, in the following year within the Fourteenth Finance Commission’s (FFC’s) award period.
  • Similarly, borrowings raised in excess of their entitlement would get adjusted from the net borrowing limit for the subsequent year.




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