Thursday, August 21, 2014

Starred Articles

Australian State Approves $2 Billion Rail Line for Adani Coal Project
World > Adani Coal Project
Adani Mining has got the state approval to build a rail line for its $15 billion Carmichael coal project in Australia, bringing it a step closer towards making a final decision on whether to go ahead with the massive scheme. The state of Queensland approved the A$2.2 billion ($2 billion) North Galilee Basin Rail project, a 300 kilometre (186 mile) railway to connect the Carmichael mine and potentially other mines in the untapped Galilee Basin to the east coast port of Abbot Point.

Adani recently signed an agreement with POSCO Engineering & Construction Co Ltd to build the rail line. Costs and other details of the contract are due to be set by the end of this year.

RBI imposes restriction on free usage of same-bank and cross-bank ATM transactions
Bank Specific > ATM Transactions
The usage of ATMs will become expensive as the RBI has imposed a restriction of three transactions per month from ATMs of other banks and five transactions from ATMs of same bank in six metropolitan cities. The customers will be required to pay a fee of up to Rs. 20 for using ATMs beyond the permitted numbers of transactions in Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. These rules will not be applicable to customers having basic or small savings bank accounts in these cities. Transactions can be both financial and non-financial. Taking out a mini-statement or even changing PIN will amount to a transaction. Currently, banks are not allowed to charge their own customers for use of the ATM network, regardless of the number of transactions. However, RBI has said that a bank may offer more than three free transactions at other bank ATMs to its account holders if it so desires. The RBI has imposed the limit following a request by the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) to levy charges on transactions at other banks’ ATMs to cope with the growing cost of ATM deployment and maintenance incurred by banks. At present, each balance enquiry costs the bank Rs. 11, while a transaction costs around Rs. 18.

Dot Bharat domain to roll out on August 21
India > Dot Bharat Domain
Minister of Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad would be unveiling the dot Bharat domain name on August 21 in New Delhi, which would facilitate multi-lingual Internet access. It is being said that having domain names in the Indian languages would boost Internet penetration in the country and would help drive the local content and related services in the remote and rural areas of the country.

The autonomous body National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) and the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) is working together to provide the dot Bharat domain name and it can be registered in several languages with Devnagari scripts. Some of the languages include Marathi, Nepali, Konkani, Bodo and Maithili.


Vijayawada likely to be interim Andhra capital
India > Andhra Capital
Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu has decided to make Vijayawada the temporary capital until a permanent one is constructed. In a meeting with the central government’s advisory committee on the new Andhra Pradesh capital, Naidu said that the new capital should be built in a way that it should have world class infrastructure and other facilities and should also become a tourist attraction.

Meanwhile, the K S Sivaramakrishnan committee appointed by the Centre to examine and recommend suitable places to build the new AP capital is all set to submit its report on August 26 or 28. After receiving the report, the final decision of the state government on the new capital will be made public.

RBI board approves Rajan’s proposal for overhaul, Nachiket Mor frontrunner for COO
Bank Specific > RBI
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) board has approved RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan’s proposal for major reforms aimed at revamping the Central Bank and removing bottlenecks. Among his recommendations is the appointment of a Chief Operating Officer (COO) who will be responsible for pushing financial inclusion, differentiated banks and developing new structures for financial markets. It will not interfere with the existing structures that administer banks and financial markets. The new position may not be ranked at deputy governor level as sought by Rajan, at least for the time being. Nachiket Mor is the front-runner for the COO's job. Mor is a former executive director of ICICI Bank and also headed the RBI committee on financial inclusion. Rajan also proposed bringing all aspects of the RBI under 5 functional departments to be supervised by the COO and 4 Deputy Governors. He also wants to merge similar departments of the bank to avoid overlap and is keen on making lateral hires from the private sector.

Rajni Razdan appointed chairman of UPSC
India > UPSC
Rajni Razdan, a 64-year-old former Indian Administrative Service officer from the Haryana cadre, has been appointed the next Union Public Service Commission chairman. She will replace Professor D.P. Agrawal. Razdan has been a UPSC member since April 19, 2010 and has held several important administrative posts throughout her long career. She worked as Joint Secretary, Ministry of Food, and Additional Secretary, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions. She retired as Secretary, Department of Pension and Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances in 2007.

Government launches insurance, pension scheme for senior citizens
India > Pension Scheme for Senior Citizens
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has re-launched an insurance scheme for senior citizens that will provide monthly pension ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 5,000. The revived scheme, called the Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana (VPBY), would be available between August 15, 2014 and August 14, 2015 for the benefit of citizens aged 60 years and above. The scheme would be administered by LIC and the minimum investment (purchase price) for the scheme would be Rs 66,665 and the maximum over Rs 6.66 lakh. The pension will start from next year of purchase of insurance. The full purchase price will be refunded to the nominee in case of death of the insured. VPBY introduced earlier in 2003-04 by then NDA Government, covered 3.83 lakh senior citizens. LIC collected Rs 7,100 crore under the scheme.

The Finance Minister hoped LIC will cover a much larger number of people this time.

HDFC Bank unveils `ForexPlus’ card for Haj, Umrah pilgrims
Corporate > HDFC Bank
HDFC Bank Ltd has launched an exclusive ‘ForexPlus’ card for people making the Haj and Umrah pilgrimages.

Pilgrims can use the card to make all payments during the pilgrimage in a convenient and secure manner and thus avoid carrying Saudi Riyals, which might get misplaced. ForexPlus card can be used to withdraw money from ATMs as well. Both HDFC Bank customers and the general public can avail of the product.

Google acquires image-recognition startup Jetpac
Corporate > Google
Google has acquired Jetpac, makers of an app that recommends destinations based on an analysis of publicly shared Instagram photos. The Jetpac employees will join Google's Knowledge team, which is attempting to build a more sophisticated understanding of the real world into search results.

It's not clear exactly what Google will do with Jetpac's technology for finding things like popular bars and scenic vistas, but the startup has several technologies that mesh with Google's priorities. First, its technology works automatically, extracting information from large numbers of publicly available photos instead of relying on curation or other human processes. Google's search algorithms use the same broad approach to analyzing the Web, working at a scale and speed impossible for humans.

Jetpac's City Guides app offers personalized recommendations based on photo attributes like smiles, lipsticks, and blue skies.

34 state-owned PSUs operate without a chief executive despite Companies ACT 2013 mandate
Politics and Government > PSUs
As of July 15, more than 34 central PSUs are operating without a chief executive or a full-time chairman or managing director for the last 4 years. Reasons for the vacancies include the scrapping of recommended panel of candidates by the government, delays in obtaining vigilance clearance or approval of competent authority and court cases filed by those lower down in the empanelment process. According to the new Companies Act 2013, delays in appointments of the top posts in companies are in violations of the provisions of the legislation. Also according to the Companies Act 2013, appointment of a MD, chairman or CMD is vital to the enforcement of corporate governance norms. The CMD’s post is lying vacant in such state-owned companies as Coal India Ltd, , BSNL, NHPC, IRCTC, ONGC Videsh and MTNL to name a few.

Government revamping rules for senior-level appointments in PSU Bank boards
Bank Specific > Appointments
Following the alleged Syndicate Bank bribery scandal, the government is taking prompt action to revamp and clean-up the entire process of senior-level appointments in state-run bank boards. The government has decided to split the post of the chairman and managing director. The chairman would be a reputed person from the industry or a professional while the MD would have a fixed term of three years, which would be extendable by two more years. The primary focus would be to make the boards free of any political interference and induct reputed professionals such as economists, management professionals and other experts. A new set of guidelines will also be announced for the appointment of independent directors. They are expected to bring in expertise from their respective fields and provide an oversight on the management. Similarly, a person appointed as an executive director must be an expert on risk management. The government is also likely to bring a provision to transfer an MD if a bank slips, marking a clear shift from the past practice.


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