Current Affairs India - 1 February 2014

1. Harish Rawat, a Union Minister, was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Uttarakhand today, succeeding Vijay Bahuguna who was asked by the Congress high command to step down in a bid to boost the party's prospects in the state ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha polls this year. He was administered the oath of office by Governor Aziz Qureshi at Raj Bhawan.

Earlier incumbent Chief Minister of Uttrakhand, Vijay Bahuguna, submitted his resignation to the Governor of the state yesterday after a meeting of senior party leaders of the party in Delhi that was headed by Congress President, Sonia Gandhi.

2. Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavanon inaugurated the monorail in Mumbai today. The country's first Monorail service is commencing operations after a delay of over two years. The monorail route would be thrown open for public use in Mumbai from Sunday morning. It will connect Wadala in Central Mumbai with Chembur in suburban Mumbai. The services will run from 7 am to 3 pm, which would be increased gradually. One rake will carry about 560 passengers.

3. Mumbai Police Commissioner, Satyapal Singh resigned from his role on Thursday as he plans to explore a career in politics. He has sought Voluntary Retirement from service and wants to be relieved from his duties by the second week of February. The BJP is keen to field Mr. Singh for a Lok Sabha seat from Meerut. With this he becomes the first police chief to quit the force. He was due for retirement in 2015.

4. US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) downgraded the safety ratings of Indian aviation from top to the second category. The downgrading would affect expansion of flights by Indian carriers to the United States. The downgrade from Category I to II means that Indian aviation regulator does not meet the safety standards set by the UN agency, International Civil Aviation Organisation. The downgrading of Indian aviation was taken after Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) failed to address all the 33 concerns raised by the FAA in its safety audit conducted in September 2013 and December 2013.

5. Rajasthan Government also scrapped its approval for the foreign direct investment in multi-brand retailing after Delhi following BJP forming government there. The approval was given earlier by the previous Congress state government. Vasundhara Raje, the Chief Minister of Rajasthan has written a letter to Commerce and Industry Minister of India to notify the government-s modified decision regarding FDI in multi brand retail.

6. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Thursday laid out a road map to deal with a surge in bad loans in the Rs.82 trillion banking system. The framework outlines a corrective action plan that will offer incentives for early identification of stressed assets by banks, timely revamp of accounts considered to be unviable, and prompt steps for recovery or sale of assets in the case of loans at the risk of turning bad. These guidelines will be effective from 1st April 2014.

In the document called Framework for Revitalizing Distressed Assets in the Economy, RBI has asked banks to form a committee called Joint Lenders forum to formulate a plan for early resolution of stress in an account. The committee should also consider an option to transfer the promoters' holdings to a security trustee or an escrow arrangement till turnaround of company. The RBI also said that restructuring of a bad loan should be done in such a manner that shareholders, including promoters, bear the first loss and not the lenders. The guidelines ask banks to make future loans more expensive for borrowers who don't cooperate in resolving existing bad loans.

The RBI diluted rules for accelerated provisioning it had proposed for non-performing accounts. Now lenders will make 25% provision for unsecured loans that remain unpaid for six months. Initially, RBI had proposed 30% provisions. Plus, for loans that have remained unpaid for two years, banks have to set aside 40%, instead of 50%.

7. Samsung has emerged as the most trusted brand in India, followed by Sony, Tata and LG according to Brand Trust Report, India Study 2014 (BTR 2014). Nokia slipped to fifth position in 2014 BTR report compared to top slop in BTR 2013. Hewlett Packard has jumped 14 places to become the sixth most trusted brand. Hero, Honda, Reliance and M&M secured 7th to 10th positions respectively in the same order.

This year's study involved 2,500 consumer-influencers across 16 cities in India and generated 5 million data-points and 20,000 unique brands from which the top 1,200 brands were culled. The brands have been classified in 284 different categories against 213 categories in 2013.

8. Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into India jumped by 54.8% in November to USD 1.64 billion compared with USD 1.06 billion in the same month last year. Total FDI inflows in the first eight months for the current fiscal year were down 2% from a year earlier at USD 15.46 billion, compared with USD 15.85 billion during the year-ago period. India-s FDI inflow declined in the recent months due to lack of corporate investment and adverse macro-economic condition.

9. India overtook Japan to become the third largest crude oil importer in the World, as per the data released by Reuters.  India imported 3.86 million barrels-per-day of crude oil in the year 2013 which is slightly higher than 3.64 million barrels per day imported by Japan. China and USA secured the first and second place with 6.30 million barrels per day and 6.24 million barrels per day imports respectively.

10. Manoj Vaish took charge as Managing Director and CEO of the country's leading commodity exchange MCX today. Commodity markets regulator FMC has conveyed its approval to the appointment of Dr Manoj Vaish as MD and CEO of the company. MCX in now under the regulatory glare following troubles at the promoter group after 5,600-crore scam at its sister concern National Spot Exchange (NSEL).

11. Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni became the fourth fastest batsman to complete 8,000 runs in one-day cricket during the fifth and final ODI against New Zealand in Wellington. He reached the milestone in 214 innings after Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Brian Lara. It is a great achievement by the wicketkeeper-batsman who comes in lower down the order and considered one of the greatest finished ever in the ODI form of Cricket.