December 14, 2014

GK & Current Affair Updates: December 11- 2014

11  December 2014
National:

Satyarthi calls for globalising compassion
Kailash Satyarthi and Malala YousafzaiIndo-Pak, Hindu-Muslim ‘champions of peace’ received the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 for their pioneering work on promoting child rights in the troubled sub-continent, as they made an impassioned plea to globalise compassion. “Satyarthi and Yousafzai are precisely the people whom Alfred Nobel in his will calls ‘champions of peace”, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee Thorbjorn Jagland said in his speech before awarding them the prestigious prize here. “A young girl and a somewhat older man, one from Pakistan and one from India, one Muslim, the other Hindu, both symbols of what the world needs: more unity. Fraternity between the nations!

Nod for 49% FDI in insurance
Chairman of the Rajya Sabha Select Committee Chandan Mitra tabled the report on the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2008, recommending a hike in FDI in insurance sector from 26 to 49 per cent. The report, carrying dissent notes from four of the 15 members, incorporated Congress party’s demand for a composite cap on such investments. The dissenting parties include the Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Janata Dal (United). These parties are opposed to further opening of the insurance sector to foreign investment. The report recommends that the composite cap of 49 per cent be inclusive of all forms of foreign direct investments and foreign portfolio investments. “Incremental equity should be ideally used for expansion of capital base so as to actually strengthen the insurance sector.


Approval for amendments to Lokpal Act
The leader of the largest opposition party in the LokSabha will be included on a committee to select the chairperson and members of the Lokpal under the amended law governing the functioning of the anti-corruption body, approved by the Cabinet. The approved amendments to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act pave the way for the inclusion of Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge in the selection panel. “The Act, as now proposed to be amended, seeks to provide for the alternative of leader of the single largest opposition party in the LokSabha.

Rashtrapati Bhavan’s art heritage to be made public
Rashtrapati Bhavan will introduce a slew of new initiatives including an electronic art catalogue that will make rare art accessible to people in a newly constructed ceremonial hall. The hall to be inaugurated  can house about 1,400 people and will form part of an integrated Rashtrapati Bhavan Cultural Center with an art gallery, multi-purpose halls and auditorium. Built as an extension of the existing auditorium, the hall has been built keeping in mind large public functions that the President hosts including the August 15 'at home' receptions and 'guards of honour' for visiting foreign dignitaries during inclement weather. In keeping with its promise of making the Rashtrapati Bhavan more accessible to people, President Pranab Mukherjee will inaugurate an e-art catalogue. The catalogue includes over 113 high quality photographs of paintings from celebrated artists like Jogen Chowdhury, Jamini Roy and MF Hussain, Lutyens sketches, portraits of former Presidents and national leaders, Chinese painting acquired by the British and select art objects from the Rashtrapati Bhavan collection.

International:

Verma is US envoy to India
Richard Rahul Verma was was unanimously confirmed as the next US ambassador to India by the Senate, making him the first-ever Indian-American to hold the post. Verma's nomination was approved by the Senate by a voice vote, reflecting a sense of bi-partisan support to the Indo-US ties and his popularity among senators across the aisle. The Senate raced through his nomination process ahead of more than 50 ambassadorial nominations to make sure that he is in New Delhi when US President Barack Obama travels to India for the Republic Day. Verma had played an important role in the Congressional passage of civil nuclear deal with India. And had advocated for strong Indo-US ties when in the administration and recently started "India 2020" project at Centre for American Progress a top American think tank.

World’s longest train journey ends
A goods train from China completed the world’s longest rail journey when it reached Madrid, its final destination. The train connecting China to Spain passed through seven nations in Asia and Europe, covering a mammoth 13,000 km. The train was flagged off from China’s international commodity hub of Yiwu on November 18 with 40 wagons, carrying 1,400 tonnes of cargo, consisting of stationery, craft products and Christmas market products. It will return to China filled with luxury Spanish produce such as cured ham, olive oil and wine. The historic first journey will be evaluated with the aim of opening a regular two-way rail link between China and Spain, which could commence operations in early 2015.

Business & Economy:

India to grow 5-6 per cent in 2015: Moody’s
Indian economy is expected to pick up pace in 2015, and grow in the range of 5-6 per cent, helped by strong domestic demand, rating agency Moody’s. “India will have stronger GDP growth in 2015, which we forecast at 5-6 per cent, up from around 5 per cent in 2014,” Moody’s said in a report titled ‘2015 Outlook: Global Credit Conditions’. The country , had enefited from a strong domestic demand base and diversified export markets that gav protection from the effects of a slowing Chinese economy and muted growth in the eurozone and Japan. “Employment and consumption are likely to rise in India, and the fall in global commodity prices will help to lower high inflation in the country.

Tata Power buys plant for 3,000cr
Tata Power, the power generator led by Cyrus Mistry, is buying a 540-megawatt (MW) thermal power plant in Maharashtra to ramp up capacity, highlighting how a lot of India's recent merger and acquisition (M&A) deals are being driven by the power sector. Tata Power's move comes close on the heels of JSW's purchase of a 1,391-MW unit (from Jaypee), Adani's acquisition of 1,200-MW and 600-MW plants (from Lanco and Avantha respectively) and GDF Suez's deal for a 1,000-MW facility (from a Hyderabad-based infra company).Tata Power, part of the Tata business conglomerate, is acquiring the thermal-based power project from the promoters of IRB Infrastructure, which will increase its total capacity to 8,885 MW.

Norms for refinancing existing projects soon: RBI
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) plans to come out with guidelines for banks on refinancing existing infrastructure projects, Deputy Governor S. S. Mundhra. In July, norms were put in place by the central bank for new infrastructure projects and affordable housing in response to representations made by banks, which were facing difficulties in providing long-tenor financing owing to asset-liability mismatch. Banks needed the flexibility to structure loans to mitigate risks as well as to ensure easy refinancing. Called the 5/25 system, this structure allowed banks to rewrite the terms of the loan of an asset (whose life may be of 25 years) every five years for the duration of the asset’s life cycle.

OPEC cuts 2015 global demand growth forecast
Global demand for OPEC crude in 2015 will be less than expected and far below its current output, pointing to a hefty supply surplus without OPEC output cuts or a slowdown in the U.S. shale boom. In a monthly report, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) forecast demand for the group’s oil will drop to 28.92 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2015, down 280,000 bpd from its previous expectation and over one million bpd less than it is now producing. The report follows OPEC’s decision last month not to prop up prices by cutting output. Top exporter Saudi Arabia urged fellow members to combat the growth in U.S. shale, which needs relatively high prices to be economic and has been eroding OPEC’s market share.


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