Daily GK Updates 22 May 2015 Top current Affairs Career Launcher Tirupati
First Environmental Democracy Index (EDI)
India has ranked 24th out of 70 countries in the first Environmental Democracy Index (EDI) that is topped by Lithuania and evaluates nations’ progress in enacting laws to promote transparency, accountability and citizen engagement in environmental decision making.
Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, the US, South Africa, the UK, Hungary, Bulgaria, Panama and Colombia are the top 10 nations in the list launched by Washington-based World Resources Institute (WRI) and Access Initiative.
Half of Syria now under Islamic State’s control
Islamic State now controls over half of Syria’s landmass after its seizure of Palmyra, where it has begun massacring a rebellious tribe and faces no opposition to its entry and sacking of the historic city’s ancient ruins. IS seized Palmyra after a week-long siege by the forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad collapsed, drawing IS closer to the President’s strongholds of Homs and Damascus.
Palmyra, once a Silk Road hub and also one of the cultural centers of the ancient world that had given mythological status to Syria, is home to some of the most beautiful and well-preserved ruins of antiquity, including the Temple of Bel, built in the first century.
South Korea names new PM
South Korean President Park Geun-hye named incumbent Justice Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn as the new Prime Minister following the resignation of the former premier over an alleged bribery scandal.
Science and Technology
INS Sindhukirti submarine begins voyage
Hindustan Shipyard Limited commenced sea trials of Russia-made INS Sindhukirti, the seventh Sindhughosh class diesel electric submarine of Indian Navy, after completion of retrofitting. HSL, which is under Ministry of Defence, is a premier shipyard set up in 1941. The submarine was fitted with indigenous advanced sonar suite USHUS and communication suite CCS Mk-II from Bharat Electronics, upgraded AC plants from KPCL, 400 bar HP air compressor from Burkhadt India, apart from Russian supplied weapon and navigational package.
INS Sindhukirti was built at Admirality Shipyard and Sevmash in the erstwhile Soviet Union and commissioned on January 4, 1990.
SBI signs pact with Snapdeal
India’s largest commercial bank the State Bank of India announced its tie up with Snapdeal for funding MSMEs to boost Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make-in-India initiatives by putting more funds in the hands of the small entrepreneurs enabling them to boost their industries. Under this pact, SBI will offer easy loans to MSME traders and manufacturers on the Snapdeal platform enabling them to scale up operations. There will be concessional interest rate for women entrepreneurs and zero collateral security for loans up to Rs.1 crore. Traders will get collateral free loans up to Rs. 25 lakh.
SBI announced another partnership in the digital space with Paypal, the open digital payments company, to promote cross-border trade and payments facilitation for SBI and Paypal users in India and overseas. It would help Indian merchants gain a global audience. This would enable Indian exporters to gain access to a global audience.
RBI wins battle to keep debt management role
With the Union Finance Ministry reworking its proposal for setting up the Public Debt Management Authority, the Reserve Bank of India has won its biggest battle in its 80-year history. The watered-down proposal no longer envisages the RBI to relinquish control over the task of managing the Centre’s borrowings. Instead, the proposed authority, to be housed in the Finance Ministry and staffed mainly by government officials, is being given “limited functionality”. It will take over merely the “front office” for the management of the Centre’s borrowings, while the control over the “back office” will remain with the RBI.
Union Government relaxes FDI norms for NRIs, PIOs, OCI
Aiming to attract overseas funds, government has decided that non-repatriable investments by NRIs, OCIs and PIOs will be treated as domestic investments and will not be subject to foreign direct investment caps. The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had approved amendments, including changes in definition of NRIs, to be incorporated in the FDI policy.
The measure is expected to result in increased investments across sectors and greater inflow of foreign exchange remittance, leading to economic growth of the country. This will enable investments by NRIs, OCI cardholders and PIO cardholders under Schedule 4 on a non-repatriation basis, across sectors, without being subjected to any of the conditions associated to foreign investment.