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Important Current Affairs of 2 March

NATIONAL:

Union Bank of India reduced the MCLR by 10 basis points

• Union Bank of India, the State-run lender, said it had reduced the Marginal Cost of funds-based Lending Rate (MCLR) by 10 basis points across all tenors.

• The lender has reduced its one-year MCLR or the minimum lending rate, against which most of the consumer loans are benchmarked, to 8.60% from 8.70% earlier. The bank has set the new six-month MCLR at 8.50% and two-year at 8.70%.

RBI has formed a task force on the offshore rupee market

• The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has formed a task force on the offshore rupee market. It will be headed by former Deputy Governor Usha Thorat and will recommend steps for ensuring the stability of the currency.

• The task force shall examine the issues relating to the offshore rupee markets in depth and recommend appropriate policy measures that also factor in the requirement of ensuring the stability of the external value of the rupee. The committee would submit its report by the end of June 2019.

• The task force will assess the causes behind the development of the offshore rupee market, and study the effects on the exchange rate and market liquidity in the domestic market. It would also recommend measures to address concerns arising out of offshore rupee trading.

Growth Rate in the Core Sector witnessed decline

• The data from the Ministry of Commerce and Industries reported that the growth rate eight core sectors which include coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilizers, steel, cement, and electricity witnessed a decline. The core sector which had witnessed a 6.2% growth in January 2018 witnessed a growth rate of 1.8% in January.

• The decline in the output of crude oil, refinery products, and electricity pulled down the growth of eight core sectors to 1.8%. Production of crude oil, refinery products, and electricity contracted 4.3%, 2.6%, and 0.4%, respectively. Coal and cement output slowed to 1.7% and 11% in January as against 3.8% and 19.6% in January 2018, respectively. Natural gas, fertilizers and steel output grew 6.2%, 10.5%, and 8.2 % respectively. The core sector growth would impact the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) as these segments account for about 41 percent of the total industry output.

Tata Steel has been recognised as one of World’s Most Ethical Companies

• Tata Steel has been recognised as one of World's Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute for 2019. Ethisphere Institute is a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices. For the eighth time, Tata Steel has got the recognition in the 'Metals, Minerals and Mining' category. Tata Steel is one of the only two honourees in the 'Metals, Minerals and Mining' industry.

• 128 companies are recognized for exemplifying and advancing corporate citizenship, transparency and the standards of integrity in the year 2019. The honourees are from 21 countries and 50 industries.

• The companies are listed World's Most Ethical Companies based on 5 factors:

♦ Leadership and Reputation

♦ Ethics Compliance Programme

♦ Culture of Ethics

♦ Corporate Citizenship

♦ Responsibility Governance

DCB Bank launches Open Banking Platform for next generation banking solutions.

•  Creating a collaborative ecosystem with enterprises, fintech and app developers, and enhancing customer-service delivery, DCB Bank announced the launch of its Open Banking Platform.

• More than 20 start-ups, fintech, merchants, enterprises and developers are set to partner with DCB Bank for access to its Open Banking Platform APIs (Application programming interface) and collaborate on innovation and customer centric products.

Mainamati Maitree Exercise 2019 held between BSF and BGB.

• Border Security Force (BSF) and Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) concluded a three-day Mainamati Maitree Exercise 2019 as a part of confidence-building measures between the two border guards. The exercise was held in Comilla district of Bangladesh.

• The objective of Mainamati Maitree Exercise 2019 was to plan and conduct anti-smuggling and anti-criminal activity related operations with an aim to achieve better joint operational efficiency and border management in the area. The exercise involved joint patrolling, anti-smuggling drills, and simulated raids on suspected places in both the countries and checking of goods and identity at international check posts.

PNB bank ranks highest in implementation of Reforms Agenda

• Punjab National Bank (PNB) secured top spot among all public sector banks in the implementation of ‘Reforms agenda’.

• PNB topped the list with a score of 78.4 out of 100 in the EASE-index which is followed by BoB (77.8), SBI (74.6), and Oriental Bank of Commerce (69).

• The EASE (Enhanced Access and Service Excellence) report shown significant enhancement in PSB performance on the back of Government’s 4 R's strategy- recognition, recovery, recapitalisation and reforms.

Cabinet approves setting up of 22nd AIIMS at Manethi, Haryana

• The new All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Manethi, District Rewari, and Haryana will be established at a cost of Rs 1,299 crore.

• Like other AIIMS in the country, the AIIMS Rewari will also be set up under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY).

• The new AIIMS will add 100 Undergraduate (MBBS) seats and 60 B.Sc (Nursing) seats.

IRCTC launched its own digital payment gateway 'IRCTC iPay'.

• With a view to promote Government’s Digital India initiative,  the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation(IRCTC) has launched its much awaited own payment aggregator system called "IRCTC iPay”.

• The new system will provide payment options like Credit Card, Debit card, Unified Payment Interface (UPI) and International card.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONAS:

Ajay Narayan Jha became Member of the 15th Finance Commission.

• Shri Ajay Narayan Jha joined the 15th Finance Commission as its Member in place of Shri Shaktikanta Das resigned as a Member of the Commission after being appointed as Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

• A 1982 batch IAS officer of Manipur cadre, he was the Finance Secretary to the Government of India and served as Secretary to the 14th Finance Commission, headed by former RBI Governor, Shri Y.V. Reddy.

• The 15th Finance Commission was constituted by a Presidential Order in November 2017 under the Chairmanship of Shri N. K. Singh to decide the formula for devolution of revenue between Centre and States.

Naresh Goyal agreed to step down as Jet Airways chairman

• This comes weeks after reports suggested that the cash-strapped Jet airline has agreed to most of the conditions set by its second-largest shareholder Etihad for its revival.

• Etihad had agreed to invest in Jet Airways if Goyal stepped down from the board.

• Etihad Airways owns a 24% stake in Jet Airways

• Jet  airline had a gross debt of ₹8,411 crore as of September-end, including aircraft debt of ₹1,851 crore

AGREEMENTS:

RBI have signed a bilateral swap agreement with the Bank of Japan

• Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have signed a bilateral swap agreement with the Bank of Japan. The Swap agreement will provide India access to 75 billion US dollars against the 50 billion dollars under earlier BSA.

• The bilateral swap agreement will provide India to access the reserves if at any point of time when the need arises. The currency swap makes it easier to improve liquidity conditions. Currency swap agreements help when the economic crisis arises.

• The swap agreements also contribute towards stabilizing the country's balance of payments (BOP) position. The agreement aids in improving confidence in the Indian market.

POLICY:

India’s first policy to protect bank locker launched by IFFCO Tokio General Insurance.

•  IFFCO Tokio General Insurance launched ‘bank locker protector policy’, the first stand-alone bank locker cover offered by any insurance company with a plan to protect the contents of a bank locker such as jewellery, title documents, and other valuables.

• The policy offers a cover against various risks including fire, earthquake, burglary, and holdup, infidelity by a bank staff or any act of terrorism.

• Important documents kept in a locker can also be insured under the policy as an add-on cover.

• The policy can be sold both as a retail and a group policy for banks

SPORTS:

Deepak Singh Wins Gold At Makran Cup In Boxing

•  National Boxing champion Deepak Singh (49kg) is the only Indian boxer who won gold medal at Makran Cup in Boxing held at Chabahar, Iran.

The five others claimed silver medals in the Makran Cup in Chabahar, Iran P. Lalitha Prasad (52kg), Commonwealth Games silver-medallist Manish Kaushik (60kg), Duryodhan Singh Negi (69kg), Sanjeet (91kg) and Commonwealth Games silver-medallist Satish Kumar (+91kg) claimed silver medals.

INTERNATIONAL:

Russia, China blocked a US resolution on Venezuela in the UN

• Russia and China vetoed a US resolution at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on addressing the crisis in Venezuela.

• Russia's draft resolution -- which urged a settlement "through peaceful means" and insisted that all humanitarian aid be agreed by Maduro's government -- won only four votes: Russia, China, South Africa and Equatorial Guinea.

• Seven countries including the United States, European countries and Peru opposed the Russian measure and there were four abstentions.

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