Current Affairs for BANK, IBPS Exams - 19 February 2018

Bank Exam Current Affairs

Current Affairs for BANK, IBPS Exams - 19 February 2018


Dam on Twigem River in Mynamar

  • A dam being constructed by Myanmar across a river close to the boundary with India has stoked fears of submergence and water scarcity among border villagers in Kengjoi subdivison of Manipur’s Chandel district.
  • Last week, residents of Khangtung village reported to district officials about the dam being built by Myanmar authorities barely 100 metres from the zero line separating the two countries.
  • International rules warrant border countries to check activities in No Man’s Land – a 150-metre strip on either side of the boundary line.
  • The dam, called Tuidimjang, is on the Twigem river flowing into Myanmar from Manipur. Khangtung, inhabited by the Thadou tribe, is 137 km south of Manipur capital Imphal.
  • Houkholen Haokip, secretary of the Chandel unit of the Thadou Students’ Association (TSA), did not rule out the possibility of China assisting Myanmar in building the dam.
  • The topography of the area is such that Khangtung and other Indian villages will be submerged if the dam comes up.
  • The villagers, dependent on the river, are already facing water scarcity.
  • Efforts to get in touch with officials and contractors in Myanmar have been in vain.
  • The TSA has written to Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren, requesting intervention.
  • When the dam is completed, the entire Khangtung village will be inundated and the villagers will face untold miseries and require relocation and rehabilitation.
  • This project will have huge negative social, cultural and economic impact on the residents of Khangtung and other Indian villages.
  • Manipur has had issues with internal dams too.
  • In June 2015, a tribal village named Chadong in Ukhrul district was submerged by the Mapithel dam on river Thoubal.
  • Construction of the Mapithel dam, initially known as Thoubal Multipurpose Project that aimed to produce 7.5MW of power, irrigate 21,862 hectares of land and provide 10 million gallons of drinking water, began in 1989 amid protests from people downstream.
  • Elders of Chadong village had inked an understanding with the State government in 1996 for an alternative settlement, but the 800-odd villagers stayed put during the submergence 19 years later as the government had failed to provide a proper relocation site.
  • The Khuga dam south of Manipur’s Churachandpur town has hit turbulence too.
  • Taken up in 1980, the project lay dormant until 2002 leading to cost escalation from the initial Rs. 15 crore to Rs. 381.29 crore in 2009.
  • The project sanction by the Planning Commission was said to have inherent flaws, as a result of which the power component of 1.5MW incorporated in the initial design was scrapped despite near-completion of a powerhouse.
  • Controversy has also dogged Tipaimukh, the mega hydroelectric project proposed on river Barak in Manipur 35 years ago. Dhaka is against the project, as Barak flows into Bangladesh from Manipur through southern Assam and feeds the Surma and Kushiara rivers in the country.
  • At least three anti-dam organisations in Manipur and downstream Assam have been protesting against the Tipaimukh project to be built by the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Ltd. Apart from large-scale submergence, they fear ecological degradation, if the dam is built.

Navi Mumbai International Airport in Limbo

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday that projects worth Rs. 10 lakh crore were in a state of limbo when he took office in May 2014 and his government had broken the impasse on such investments during its tenure so far.
  • On a day-long tour to Mumbai, Mr. Modi unveiled the foundation plaque at the ground breaking ceremony for the Navi Mumbai International Airport.
  • He dedicated the fourth container terminal at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) to the nation.
  • Inaugurated the Magnetic Maharashtra investment summit.
  • He also launched a new centre for artificial intelligence.
  • “The first promise of this airport was made in 1997, during the government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and since then there were only promises which remained on paper. When I took over, I went over the papers. I took a detailed report of it and the work started. Now people will come to claim credit saying it was our project, but you now know what has happened,” said Mr. Modi.
  • The airport is likely to cost Rs. 16,704 crore and is estimated to attract at least 10 million passengers per annum, once its first phase is operational.
  • Since Independence, only 450 airplanes were in the sky including both from government and private sectors, and now companies have ordered 900 planes in just one year, Mr. Modi said, highlighting the growth that has taken place under his government’s watch.

42 Indian Languages at extinction: UNESCO

  • More than 40 languages or dialects in India are considered to be endangered and are believed to be heading towards extinction as only a few thousand people speak them, officials said.
  • According to a report of the Census Directorate, there are 22 scheduled languages and 100 non-scheduled languages in the country, which are spoken by a large number of people — one lakh or more.
  • However, there are 42 languages which are spoken by fewer than 10,000 people.
  • These are considered endangered and may be heading towards extinction, a Home Ministry official said.
  • A list prepared by UNESCO has also mentioned about the 42 languages or dialects in India that are endangered and they may be heading towards extinction, the official said.
  • The languages or dialects which are considered endangered, include:
  1. 11 from Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Great Andamanese, Jarawa, Lamongse, Luro, Muot, Onge, Pu, Sanenyo, Sentilese, Shompen and Takahanyilang),
  2. seven from Manipur (Aimol, Aka, Koiren, Lamgang, Langrong, Purum and Tarao),
  3. four from Himachal Pradesh (Baghati, Handuri, Pangvali and Sirmaudi).
  • The other languages in the endangered category are Manda, Parji and Pengo (Odisha), Koraga and Kuruba (Karnataka), Gadaba and Naiki (AP), Kota and Toda (Tamil Nadu), Mra and Na (Arunachal Pradesh), Tai Nora and Tai Rong (Assam), Bangani (Uttarakhand), Birhor (Jharkhand), Nihali (Maharashtra), Ruga (Meghalaya) and Toto (West Bengal).
  • The Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore, has been working for the protection and preservation of endangered languages in the country, under a central scheme, another official said.

Hopes still alive in nuclear deal with WH: NPCIL

  • India is confident of concluding the nuclear deal with reactor-maker Westinghouse Electric very soon as it expects the company to come out of bankruptcy very soon, said Satish Sharma, Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL).
  • “The discussions are happening and they are of a very complex nature. Any progress will happen only after bankruptcy which is likely to happen very soon. That is why we are continuing the discussions,” Mr. Sharma said.
  • Some officials said they were hopeful that Toshiba, which had acquired the U.S.-based Westinghouse in 2006, was too big to fail and would be bankrolled either by the Japanese government or the Japanese Development Bank.
  • Following the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal, India has been in discussion with Westinghouse since 2005 to build six AP1000 nuclear reactors.
  • After protracted negotiations and concerns on the nuclear liability, NPCIL and Westinghouse had agreed to “work toward finalising the contractual arrangements by June 2017.”
  • However, the process was stalled after Toshiba Corp declared bankruptcy and decided to move out of reactor-building business.
  • Meanwhile, the second site for constructing additional Russian reactors in Andhra Pradesh is yet to be finalised.
  • Stating that the process is under way, the official said that various factors such as land type, earthquake potential, availability of water should all be factored in.

New Weapons to fight poachers in Assam

  • Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said for the first time in the country, 10 wildlife fast-track courts have been set up to exclusively deal with poaching and other related crimes against wild animals.
  • “We have put protection of wildlife in high priority. Accordingly, we have today launched a new programme - modernisation of arms and equipment for protection, rescue and rehabilitation of rhinos, tigers and other wildlife,” he said.
  • According to the plan, forest guards were given 954 SLRs, 272 INSAS rifles, 133 rifles of .12 bore, 20 of 9 MM pistols and 91 Ghatak rifles.
  • The Chief Minister said ever since the BJP came to power in Assam nearly two years ago, 197 poachers have been arrested and eight have been killed by security guards, while as many as 59 poachers have been convicted for crimes against wildlife.
  • Mr. Sonowal said wildlife fast-track courts have been set up in 10 districts and such courts have been set up for the first time in the country.
  • “We hope that speedy trial and conviction of poachers will go a long way in protecting wildlife in the State,” he said.
  • Assam has five national parks and 19 wildlife sanctuaries.
  • It is home to more than 91% of Indian rhinos (2,431 rhinos as per 2015 census).
  • It is also home to 167 tigers, 248 leopards, 1,169 swamp deer besides a large number of wild buffaloes, different varieties of deer and other animals.
  • According to an estimate tabled in the Assembly this month, altogether 74 rhinos have been killed by poachers since 2015 and 316 poachers arrested during 2015-17.

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Canadian PM to India

  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s much-anticipated trip to India began amid uncertainties over his meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.
  • Mr. Trudeau took his family to the Taj Mahal on Sunday and is scheduled to tour the Golden Temple in Amritsar during the week-long visit.
  • Asked about Mr. Trudeau’s meeting with Capt. Singh, a source familiar with the Canadian side, said that “uncertainties prevail” on this.
  • The Canadian leader’s problems with the Punjab Chief Minister stems from the latter’s criticism of alleged pro-Khalistan sentiments of Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan.
  • During the April 2017 India visit of Mr. Sajjan, a prominent Sikh member and Defence Minister of the Canadian government, the Chief Minister described him and other Sikh Cabinet members of Canada as sympathetic to Sikh separatist groups or the Khalistanis.
  • Mr. Sajjan is accompanying Mr. Trudeau on this trip along with other Sikh Cabinet colleagues, Amarjeet Sohi and Navdeep Singh Bains.
  • On reaching India, in a social media message, the Canadian Defence Minister posted a photograph of him with other Indian-origin Ministers and said, “Looking forward to spending the next few days here to further strengthen Canada and India’s strong cultural and economic ties.”
  • Problems over the meeting with the Chief Minister came while the External Affairs Ministry indicated that “all issues of bilateral interest” would be discussed with Mr. Trudeau.
  • In response to a question over the growing Khalistan-related activities in Canada, the External Affairs Ministry spokesperson said, “I can tell you that all issues that are of interest to us, which are of bilateral interest will be up on the agenda between the two sides.”
  • Earlier, media reports from Canada had indicated that the Chief Minister was expected to accompany Mr. Trudeau during his Amritsar trip, but the programme was not firmed up.
  • The visit by Mr. Trudeau was anticipated since 2014 but did not materialise even though other Cabinet colleagues had come here during the past four years.


RBI-PNB-Other Banks

  • Banks are planning to approach the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to break the impasse with the fraud-hit Punjab National Bank (PNB).
  • The PNB is declining to pay them the dues till investigations into the Rs. 11,500-crore LoU scam are completed, according to an official who attended a meeting of major lenders on the issue.
  • The banks have decided to approach the central bank through the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA).
  • The state-run lender informed the stock exchanges about the detection of $1.77 billion (Rs. 11,500 crore)-worth unauthorised transactions where fraudulent letters of undertaking (LoUs) were issued from a branch in Mumbai to secure overseas credit.
  • Bankers, at the meeting, pointed out that LoUs were issued by PNB for buyers’ credit.
  • Since the other banks had extended loans to PNB (the amount was credited to PNB’s NOSTRO account) which, in turn, gave the funds to firms involved in the fraud, the state-run lender was liable to pay the other lenders.
  • Allahabad Bank, for example, had an exposure of $366.87 million and State Bank of India $212 million to PNB.
  • If PNB did not pay them, these lenders would have to classify the loans (given to PNB) as NPAs.
  • In that case, the total loan impairment arising out of this particular case could rise to Rs. 20,000 crore, banking industry sources said.
  • Public sector banks, already reeling under huge non-performing assets (NPAs), do not want to their books to be impaired further by this issue which, they said they believed, is not of their making.
  • As a result, they now want the regulator to break the deadlock as soon as possible.
  • “They (RBI) have already issued a guideline in 2015 for similar kinds of cases. They have to just reiterate the guideline which covers all these kinds of scenarios,” said another banker.
  • RBI had pointed out to the failure of internal control of PNB as being the main reason for the fraud taking place.
  • It said it was assessing the situation and would take appropriate supervisory action.
  • It may be reaclled that the banking regulator had already undertaken a supervisory assessment of control systems in PNB.
  • Some of the banks that had exposure to the companies of Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi — the main accused in this fraud — said their loans were backed by the assets of companies such as Gitanjali Gems.
  • The Enforcement Directorate had conducted searches at several properties belonging to Mr. Modi and reportedly seized diamond and gold jewellery worth more than Rs. 5,000 crore.

Financial Conditions Index

  • The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)-Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) Financial Conditions Index, a key indicator in assessing short-term financial conditions in the Indian economy.
  • The ongoing fourth quarter of 2017-18 registered 53.2, an improvement of five points year-on-year.
  • However, it marked a significant fall of 12.1 over the third quarter of this fiscal.
  • There has been also been a major compression in two sub-indices — the Cost of Funds Index (22.8 in Q4 FY’18 versus 55.6 in Q3 FY’18) and Funding Liquidity Index (60.3 in Q4 versus 85.9 in Q3).
  • Two other sub-indices, viz. the External Financial Linkages Index (67.2 in Q4 versus 64.5 in Q3) and Economic Activity Index (62.5 in Q4 versus 55.2 in Q3) have shown an improvement in the Q4 FY2017-18 quarter vis-à -vis the last quarter.
  • “Industrial activity and consequent linkages to financial sector are contingent on intervention in fiscal, sectoral and monetary policy space,” said Chandrajit Banerjee, director general, CII.
  • “There is a clear acknowledgement of actions that have been taken by the government in fiscal and sectoral space,” the director general said.

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