1. PRASAD and Swadesh Darshan schemes of Ministry of Tourism
i. PRASAD (National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive) and SWADSH DARSHAN schemes of the Union Ministry of Tourism were in news in the second week of November 2015. The two initiatives, along with Zonal Cultural Centres (ZCCs), were launched to achieve 1 per cent share of international tourist arrivals by 2016-17 from the present 0.68 per cent.
ii. Both the schemes are under implementation in mission mode and aimed at developing world-class tourism related infrastructure.
iii. PRASAD’s objective is to augment religious and spiritual tourism in the country as India is a land of many religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism and Sufism.
iv. As part of SWADSH DARSHAN scheme, theme based tourism circuits are identified for infrastructure development across the country. Theme Based Tourist Circuit (TBTC) is defined as a tourist circuit around specific themes such as religion, culture, ethnicity, niche, etc. A TBTC could be confined to a state or could be a regional circuit covering more than a state or union territory (UT).
2. Governing Council of NIIF constituted under the chairmanship of Finance Minister
i. Union Ministry of Finance on 13 November 2015 constituted the Governing Council (GC) of the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF). The GC will be chaired by the Union Finance Minister and the members included Secretary: DEA, Secretary: Financial Services, Arundhati Bhattacharya, Hemendra Kothari,T V Mohandas Pai.
ii. The GC was mandated to consider approval of guidelines for Investment of Trust property/Corpus of NIIF and parameters for appointment and performance of investment managers/ advisors among others.
iii. Its objective is to back new and stressed projects and help restart the investment cycle. It was proposed by the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his Budget 2015-16.
iv. It was approved by the Union Cabinet on 23 July 2015 with an initial corpus of 20000 crore rupees. It was set up as a fund under the provisions of the Indian Trusts Act, 1882.
3. VHP leader Ashok Singhal dead
i. The patron of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Ashok Singhal passed away on 17 November 2015 in Gurgaon due to a prolonged illness. He was 89. Singhal served as the international working president of the Hindu organisation for over 20 years.
ii. Singhal was a key organiser of the first VHP Dharma Sansad held at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi in 1984. The Sansad gave birth to the movement for reclaiming the Ramjanmabhoomi temple. Later, he became the main leader of the Ramjanmabhoomi movement.
iii. Born in Agra on 15 September 1926, Singhal obtained his bachelor’s degree in Metallurgical Engineering from the Benaras Hindu University Institute of Technology in 1950. After graduation, he became a full time pracharak of RSS.
iv. In 1980, the leader was deputed to the VHP and became its joint general secretary.
4. AMRUT Action Plans for 81 cities approved with total project outlay of 5748 crore rupees
i. An inter-ministerial Apex Committee on 16 November 2015 approved State Annual Action Plans (SAAP) of 81 mission cities in 5 states-Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha and Mizoram under AMRUT for 2015-16.
ii. The meeting of the committee was headed by Shri Madhusudan Prasad, Secretary, Union Ministry of Urban Development, which is the nodal ministry for implementation of Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT).
iii. As per the approved SAAPs, the Union, State governments and urban local bodies together will invest 5748 crore rupees. Out of this, Central assistance will be provided to an extent of 2440 crore rupees.
iv. And, Out of the five states, Tamil Nadu with 27 AMRUT cities would invest 3249 crore followed by Madhya Pradesh (32 cities)-1,656 crore, Odisha (9 cities)-456 crore, Jharkhand (7 cities)-313 crore and Mizoram will invest 73 crore rupees in the lone mission city of Aizawl.
v. With this approval, number of cities covered under AMRUT went up to 170 across 8 states with a total project expenditure of 8534 crore rupees.
5. Standard Chartered names Zarin Daruwala as new India CEO
i. Zarin Daruwala will join as the India chief executive officer at Standard Chartered Bank, the international lender said in a statement on Tuesday. Daruwala was president of the wholesale lending team at ICICI Bank Ltd. Daruwala will report to Ajay Kanwal, regional CEO, ASEAN & South Asia at Standard Chartered.
ii. In July, Standard Chartered had announced a revamp of its core management team. Sunil Kaushal, who was heading the India operations, was moved and appointed as regional chief for Africa and Middle East.
iii. Daruwala, who had taken over as head of ICICI Bank’s wholesale banking team in July 2010, has led teams in corporate banking, project finance, structured finance, financial institutions, government and public sector banking, and has also helped build ICICI’s rural and agri-finance offering.
iv. ICICI Bank said its board has appointed Vishakha Mulye as executive director. Mulye, who is managing director and chief executive officer of ICICI Venture Funds Management Co, will be in charge of the wholesale banking business at ICICI Bank, after her appointment.
6. Global cancer summit on Nov 18-20
i. Global Cancer Summit, a three-day programme focussed on understanding and suggesting strategies to tackle cancer, will be organised from November 18-20 at the Indian Institute of Science.
ii. The event is organsied by BioGenesis – the Euro-Indian Health Cluster (India), Global Cancer Foundation and supported by the Indian Council of Medical Research. iii. The conclave is expected to have 700 experts in the field of oncology and related sectors and is dedicated to the late US senator Ted Kennedy.
7. Axis MF launches Children’s Gift Fund
i. Axis Mutual Fund today announced its new fund offer, the Axis Children’s Gift Fund. This is Axis’ first goal-based investment option, the MF house said. Investments can only be made for a minor, represented by a parent or guardian.
ii. According to the company, such an investment would be better than taking an education loan in the future for a child’s education. The NFO comes with an optional lock-in period till the child turns 18 years old.
iii. The open-ended balanced scheme will invest up to 60 per cent in equity and equity derivatives, a maximum of 55 per cent in debt and a maximum of 15 per cent in cash arbitrage.
iv. The minimum application amount is Rs. 5,000. The fund will be benchmarked against the Crisil Composite Bond Fund Index.
8. World Bank, AP ink $75-m credit deal for rural project
i. The Centre, Andhra Pradesh and the World Bank have inked a $75 million (₹500 crore) credit deal for the Andhra Pradesh Rural Inclusive Growth Project. The project seeks to enhance agricultural incomes of small and marginal farmers and ensure increased access to services related to health, nutrition, sanitation and social entitlements.
ii. It will focus on increasing economic opportunities for small and marginal farmers, especially from Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) households in the 150 most backward mandals.
iii. In addition, it will invest in developing a network of social enterprises for food, nutrition, sanitation and other social enterprises which operate at community and district level. The agreement was signed by Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary (Department of Economic Affairs), Ministry of Finance; Sunitha Kolaventy, Finance Secretary, Andhra Pradesh; and Onno Ruhl, World Bank Country Director in India.
iv. The Project will help link small and marginal farmers to urban markets and make them competitive across the value chain. Investments will be made for increasing the nutritional content of products such as milk, vegetables and poultry.
9. Syed Akbaruddin appointed as next Permanent Representative of India to UN
i. Syed Akbaruddin was on 16 November 2015 appointed as the next Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations at New York. He will replace Asoke Kumar Mukerji who assumed the office in April 2013.
ii. In this position, Akbaruddin will head India’s diplomatic mission in the UN and articulates the country’s stand on critical issues at the global forum.
iii. Akbaruddin is a 1985 batch officer of Indian Foreign Service and currently, he is serving as Additional Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs. He also served as MEA spokesperson and was Chief Coordinator of successful India Africa Foreign Summit held in New Delhi from 26 October to 29 October 2015.
iv. So far, excluding Akbaruddin, 19 diplomats served as Permanent Representative of India to the UN. Notable among them are the incumbent Vice President of India Mohammad Hamid Ansari (1993-95), Brajesh C Mishra (1979-81), Nirupam Sen (2004-09) and Hardeep Singh Puri (2009-13) among others.
10. FIFA banned Nepal football Chief Ganesh Thapa for 10 years for corruption
i. FIFA, the governing body of football, on 16 November 2015 banned Nepal’s football chief Ganesh Thapa for 10 years for corruption. The body also banned the president of the Laos federation Viphet Sihachakr for two years for bribery.
ii. In the context of the 2009 and 2011 elections at the Asian Football Confederation congress, FIFA accused Thapa of committing various acts of misconduct, which includes the solicitation and acceptance of cash payments from another football official, for personal and family gain.
iii. FIFA’s ethics committee also stated that he had specifically been bribed over elections for the FIFA executive committee in 2009 and 2011.
iv. Earlier, it was revealed by The Associated Press that Thapa received an illegal gift of 100000 US dollars from Bin Hammam in 2009. The money was deposited into the personal bank account of Thapa’s son. Apart from the ban, Thapa was fined 20000 Swiss francs by the ethics committee’s adjudicatory chamber.
11. Siril Verma clinched silver at World Junior Badminton Championships
i. Young shuttler Siril Verma on 15 November 2015 grabbed a silver medal at the BWF World Junior Championships held in Lima, Peru. China’s Chia Hung Lu clinched the gold medal at the Boys’ singles event.
ii. With this, Verma joined the ranks of Saina Nehwal, P.V. Sindhu, R.M.V. Gurusaidutt, H.S. Prannoy and Sameer Verma, who have won medals for India in the World junior championships.
iii. Verma came into limelight when he clinched the Junior U15 Asian Championships title in 2013. He also became the first Indian player to win the Badminton Asia Youth Championships in 2013.
iv. The 15-year-old shuttler trains at the Pullela Gopichand Academy. Verma was born on 25 December 1999 in Andhra Pradesh (now Telangana).
v. The BWF World Junior Championships is also known as the World Junior Badminton Championships. It is a tournament organized by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) to crown the best junior badminton players (under-19) in the world.
12. Australian cricketer Mitchell Johnson retires from International cricket
i. Australian fast bowler Mitchell Johnson (age 34) has announced his retirement from all forms of international cricket. He made this announcement after conclusion to the second Test match against New Zealand at WACA.
ii. With this, he has joined his fellow team mates who had recently retired from international cricket including Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, Chris Rogers and Shane Watson.
iii. In his test career, he had scored 2,036 runs at a batting average of 22.35 and his top score was 123 (not out). He had scored one century and 11 half centuries. He had bowled 15,409 balls in his test career and had taken 311 runs at bowling average of 28.1.
iv. He had made his ODI debut in 2005 against New Zealand and had played 153 ODI matches. In his ODI career, he had scored 951 at an average of 16.12, with to score of 73 runs. He had bowled 7,066 balls and had taken 239 wickets at an average of 25.3.
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