04 July 2017 Current Affairs

ICICI Bank ends joint venture pact with Fairfax Financial

In pursuance of the proposed sale of a part of its shareholding in ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company (ICICI General) via an initial public offering, ICICI Bank said its joint venture agreement with Canada-based investment firm Fairfax Financial Holdings has been terminated. In May 2017, Fairfax Financial Holdings offloaded 12.18 per cent in ICICI General to a clutch of investors, including Warburg Pincus, Tamarind Capital Pte and IIFL Special Opportunities Fund, for ₹2,473 crore. In 2015, Fairfax Financial Holdings had increased its stake in the Indian insurance firm to 35 percent by picking up an additional 9 per cent stake in ICICI Lombard for about Rs. 1,600 crore. The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has already given its initial approval to Fairfax’s new insurance venture.

Achal Kumar Joti Appointed Next Chief Election Commissioner

Achal Kumar Joti has been appointed as the next Chief Election Commissioner, the Law Ministry informed. Mr. Zaidi will demit office on July 5. Mr. Joti, a 1975-batch IAS officer joined the three-member Commission as an Election Commissioner on May 8, 2015, will be in office till January 17, 2018. He was retired as the Gujarat Chief Secretary in January 2013. A CEC or an EC can have a tenure of six years or hold office till the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. Mr. Joti, who will be the 21st CEC, has also served as the Gujarat Vigilance Commissioner and worked in various capacities in the State, including as the chairman of the Kandla Port Trust between 1999 and 2004 and the managing director of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd. (SSNNL).

Kambala’ Buffalo Race Gets President’s Assent

The President gave his assent to the bill passed by Karnataka Assembly to legalise traditional buffalo race ‘Kambala’. In pursuance of the proviso to clause (1) of article 213 of the Constitution of India, the President of India hereby approves the promulgation of ‘The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Amendment) Ordinance, 2017′ by the Governor of Karnataka. Bowing to public pressure, a bill to legalise traditional buffalo race ‘Kambala’ and bullock cart races in Karnataka was passed by the state Assembly in February with all parties backing the move. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, was amended in its application to Karnataka by the bill which was tabled after the clamour for Kambala grew, spurred by the success of pro-jallikattu (taming of bull) stir in Tamil Nadu. Kambala, held from November to March, involves a pair of buffaloes tied to the plough and anchored by one person.

Centre extends AFSPA in Nagaland for six months

Nagaland has been declared as “disturbed area” for six more months under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), which empowers security forces to conduct operations anywhere without any prior notice to the civil administration. In a gazette notification, the home ministry stated it is of the opinion that the area comprising the whole of Nagaland is in such a “disturbed and dangerous condition” that the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary. Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, the central government hereby declares that whole of the said state to be a ‘disturbed area’ for a period of six months with effect from 30th June 2017 for the purpose of that Act. There have been demands from civil groups in the Northeast for repealing the AFSPA, which they say gives sweeping powers to the security forces to act against civilians. The AFSPA has been in force in Nagaland for several decades.

India scores well on Financial Stability Board reform report card to G20

The Financial Stability Board (FSB), an international body for the global financial system, has placed India in the league of countries that are ‘compliant or largely compliant’ on the implementation of priority area reforms. The report listed India as a ‘compliant’ jurisdiction with regard to Basel III reforms in the risk-based capital and as ’largely compliant’ on liquidity coverage ratio. Other countries that have been found to be ‘compliant or largely compliant’ on these metrics include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkey and the US. At the same time, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK have been found to be ’materially non-compliant’ on at least one parameter.

Nilekani, Helion’s Agarwal launch $100 mn venture fund to assist startups

Infosys co-founder, Aadhaar architect Nandan Nilekani along with venture capitalist Sanjeev Aggarwal has launched a $100 million venture fund called Fundamentum to back mid-stage startups that solve unique Indian problems in the consumer technology space. The corpus may be extended to $200 million if the fund sees more opportunities. The fund, which has so far closed $50 million, will see one-third of the corpus coming from Nilekani and Aggarwal. Fundamentum has already brought on board six entrepreneurs who will also invest in the fund.

India Successfully Test-Fires Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile

India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) added another feather to its cap by successfully test-firing the Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile (QRSAM) from ITR Chandipur, off the Odisha Coast. The technologies and subsystems incorporated in the missile met all the mission requirements. All the radars, Electro Optical Systems, Telemetry Systems and other stations have tracked the Missile and monitored all the Parameters. The missile has a strike range of 25 km to 30 km. Designed to be a quick reaction missile, it involves an all- weather weapon system capable of tracking and firing. The missile was test-fired from a truck-mounted canister launcher from launch complex-3 at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur, Odisha.

Centre, ADB sign 220 million dollar loan

The Centre and Asian Development Bank (ADB) has signed a 220 million dollar loan for improving connectivity as well as transport efficiency and safety on State Highways of Rajasthan. A 500 million dollar for Rajasthan State Highways Investment Program, approved by ADB Board in May this year. It will improve about one thousand kilometres of State Highways and major district roads. The Asian Development Bank started in 1960 as a financial institution to improve economic growth and cooperation in one of the poorest regions in the world.

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