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Insights Daily Current Events, 24 April 2015

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Insights Daily Current Events, 24 April 2015

Indo – French Naval Exercise Varuna Commences at Goa

Fourteenth (14th) edition of Indo-French naval exercise (VARUNA) has begun at Goa.

  • VARUNA aims at deriving mutual benefit from the experiences of the two navies.
  • The confidence gained through such exercises helps develop Standard Operating Procedures, particularly in the fields of Joint Maritime Air Operations Planning with exchange of Carrier Operational Capabilities.
  • The other joint exercises include Coordinated Anti-Submarine Exercises, Surface Exercises, Cross Deck Flying, Damage Control and Fire Fighting, Air Defence, Firing Drills, Air to Sea Firing, Tactical Exercises and Visit Board Search and Seize Operations, which further hone the fighting efficiency of the two combat forces.
  • The scope of Exercise VARUNA includes the entire gamut of maritime operations from Aircraft Carrier Operations, Anti Submarines Warfare Exercises, Maritime Interdiction Operations to multi-ship replenishment exercise.

Sources: PIB.


Nai Roshni Scheme

The Minister of Minority Affairs recently said that the government has been successfully implementing the “Nai Roshni” Scheme for Leadership Development of Minority Women from 2012-13.

About the Scheme:

  • The scheme aims to empower and instill confidence among minority women by providing knowledge, tools and techniques for interacting with Government systems, Banks and other institutions at all levels.
  • The scheme is implemented through Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). The scheme is implemented with the involvement of the Gram Panchayat at village level and Local Urban bodies at the District level.

Sources: PIB.


Gorkha Rifles complete 200 years

The Gorkha Rifles, who have made a name for themselves across the globe with their exemplary courage and bravery, have completed 200 years of soldiering.

Brief history:

  • It was raised in 1815.
  • During the early 18th century, the Gorkhas from Nepal had extended their empire into Kumaon, Garhwal and Kangra Hills. This led to a confrontation with the British East India Company, resulting in the Gorkha War of 1815.
  • Impressed by the fighting qualities of the Gorkhas, the East India Company offered to raise a Gorkha Regiment from the remnants of General Amar Singh Thapa’s army after the treaty of Sigauli.
  • Thus, the First Nusseree (meaning friendly or loyal) Battalion came into being on April 24, 1815 at Subathu in Shimla Hills, the present home of the 14 Gorkha Training Centre.
  • Since its raising, the Regiment has undergone a number of changes in its titles, the present being Third Gorkha Rifles.
  • The war cry of the Battalion is “Aayo Gorkhali”.

There are roughly around 30,000 Nepalese Gorkhas currently serving in the Indian Army’s seven Gorkha Rifles or regiments (Ist, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th, and 11th), each of which has five to six battalions (around 600 fighting soldiers each). The 200 years of service of the Gorkhas is also being marked by the British Army.

Sources: The Hindu, BS, IE.


Chile volcano erupts after 50 years

A volcano in Chile that had been inactive for 50-plus years has suddenly erupted, blasting huge clouds of ash into the air and forcing the evacuation of some 5,000 people.

  • Chile has about 90 active volcanoes, of which Calbuco is considered one of the most dangerous.

Chile is an American country in the south-west point of South America occupying a long, narrow strip of land between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far south. Chilean territory includes the Pacific islands of Juan Fernández, Salas y Gómez, Desventuradas, and Easter Island in Oceania. Chile also claims about 1,250,000 square kilometres (480,000 sq mi) of Antarctica, although all claims are suspended under the Antarctic Treaty.

Barren Island Volcano is the only confirmed active volcano in India.

Sources: The Hindu, TOI, Wiki.


Reserve Bank revises norms for priority sector lending

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has revamped priority sector lending (PSL) norms.


  • Now, loans to sectors such as social infrastructure, renewable energy and medium enterprises will also be treated as PSL.
  • The distinction between direct and indirect agriculture has been done away with. This means banks can meet their entire agriculture lending target – 18% of their net loans disbursed in the previous year – by funding to indirect agriculture, which includes loans to companies engaged in the agriculture sector.
  • Loans to build agriculture infrastructure such as storage, as well as those for soil conservation and watershed development, will now be considered as farm lending. Loans for ancillary activities such as setting up agro clinics and agribusiness centres will also be part of farm lending.
  • In the renewable energy segment, bank loans of up to Rs 15 crore for solar-based power generators, biomass-based power generators, wind mills, micro-hydel plants, etc, will be considered part of PSL. For individual households, the loan limit will be Rs 10,00,000 a borrower.
  • On the home finance front, loans of up to Rs 28 lakh to individuals in metropolitan centres and up to Rs 20 lakh in other centres will qualify as PSL, provided the overall cost of the dwelling unit is Rs 35 lakh in the metropolitan centres and Rs 25 lakh in other centres.
  • Bank advances to microfinance institutions (MFIs) for lending to individuals, members of self-help groups and joint liability groups will also qualify as PSL, provided the MFIs meet the norms prescribed for micro lending (loan pricing, amount, etc).

Direct agriculture refers to individual farmers or groups directly engaged in agriculture and allied activities. Now, food and agro processing units will form part of agriculture.


Priority Sector Lending is an important role given by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to the banks for providing a specified portion of the bank lending to few specific sectors like agriculture or small scale industries. This is essentially meant for an all round development of the economy as opposed to focusing only on the financial sector. Typically, these are small value loans to farmers for agriculture and allied activities, micro and small enterprises, poor people for housing, students for education and other low income groups and weaker sections.

What is meant by Priority Sector?

Priority sector refers to those sectors of the economy which may not get timely and adequate credit in the absence of this special dispensation.


  • Agriculture
  • Micro and Small Enterprises
  • Education (educational loans granted to individuals by banks)
  • Housing
  • Export Credit
  • State sponsored organizations for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes
  • Consumption loans (under the consumption credit scheme for weaker sections)
  • Loans to the software industry (having credit limit not exceeding Rs 1 crore from the banking system)

Minimum Limits:

The limits are prescribed according to the ownership pattern of banks. While for local banks, both the public and private sectors have to lend 40 % of their net bank credit, or NBC, to the priority sector as defined by RBI, foreign banks (with 20 branches) have to lend 32% of their NBC to the priority sector.

Specific targets within the priority sector:

  • Domestic banks have to lend 18 % of NBC to agriculture and 10 % of the NBC has to be to the weaker section. However, foreign banks have to lend 10 % of NBC to the small-scale industries and 12 % of their NBC as export credit.

The rate of interest on various priority sector loans will be as per RBI’s directives issued from time to time, which is linked to Base Rate of banks at present. Priority sector guidelines do not lay down any preferential rate of interest for priority sector loans.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB, Wiki.


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