Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Banking News 15/04/2014

FDI from Mauritius to India halves:

Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows from Mauritius have almost halved in April- January of the previous financial year to $ 4.11 billion on fears of impact of GAAR and possible renegotiation of the tax avoidance treaty. India had received $ 8.17 bn during April- January 2012- 13, according to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion.

India behind in IP generation: Cisco:

India is yet to reach the scale of intellectual property (IP) generation being seen in China and Israel, technology giant Cisco Chief Executive Officer John Chambers said. "The Indian market has to do a lot more (with) start-ups, create that entrepreneurial spirit at a faster scale. I am committed to India, but it has not taken off in terms of IP generated anywhere like China or Israel," Chambers told PTI in an interview.

Banks override credit card PIN requirement:

Some banks have been overriding the requirement of PIN (personal identification number) at card swipe machines as merchants are yet to put their infrastructure in place. As a result, cardholders are finding that they can continue paying with a mere signature, in some outlets. To ensure that business is not affected, banks have bypassed the requirement of PIN in some machines. Banks are also in a dilemma over new machines as RBI has made it mandatory that all new machines should be capable of biometric identification.  There are two banks involved in card transactions — the bank which has issued the card and the bank that has installed the POS terminals. The RBI directive making chip and pin mandatory was aimed primarily at card issuers. For the banks installing POS terminals, RBI has made it mandatory to implement security standards prescribed for payment industry internationally. Banks said that there were problems with POS machines capable of biometric reading. The first issue was that there were not many suppliers in the market. Secondly, their tests showed that the authorization using fingerprints took up to 20 seconds on a 3G connection as against less than five seconds earlier.

Banks offer women special loans, rates:

Taking a leaf out of home finance companies, banks are now wooing women with attractive auto loan offers. India’s first women’s bank, Bharatiya Mahila Bank, is in talks with Tata Motors to offer its customers cheaper auto loans across the latter’s entire car range.  Similarly, Axis Bank ran an auto loan campaign for women that included waiver of processing charges during the International Women’s Day weekend. Nearly one-fifth of the bank’s auto loan borrower base comprises women (who have either taken the loan jointly or alone). Moving forward, the bank will extend special offers to women during major festivals. With auto financiers targeting more customer niches, the search for women borrowers and special schemes is beginning to pick up speed. One reason why financiers are targeting women is their excellent loan record history.

Faster, Safer Payment Gateways Bring More Shoppers Online

Many technology start-ups are offering newer payment solutions aimed at weaning people away from paying cash for buying online. Their improved technology helps make the process faster and safer for shoppers. For instance, a watch retailer uses payment solutions offered by Citrus Pay and has seen its transaction rate improve almost 10%, according to its founder Peyush Bansal. By addressing both customer issues and meeting the needs of online retailers, payment gateways like Citrus Pay, PayU, and Zaakpay are stealing a march over older incumbents like EBS and CCAvenue that also offer payment gateway solutions for online retail. E-retailing in India is expected to grow to over $56 billion in the next decade from $2 billion now. While cash on delivery still dominates the e-commerce market, Pragya Singh, assistant vice president for retail at advisory firm Technopak is of the view that cash payments will account for just half of all transactions in the next five years from the current rate of 65%.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

SBI PO -- GENERAL AWARENESS, COMPUTER KNOWLEDGE AND MARKETING - PREVIOUS PAPER

SBI PO SOLVED PAPER (Held on 28-4-2013)
- GENERAL AWARENESS, MARKETING & COMPUTER
1. Every year March 20 is celebrated as what day ?
(A) World Sparrow Day
(B) International Women's Day
(C) World Cuckoo Day
(D) International Child Day
(E) International Mother's Day
Ans : (A)
2. Invisible Export means export of–
(A) Services
(B) Prohibited goods
(C) Restricted goods
(D) Goods as per OGL list
(E) Other than those given as options
Ans : (A)
3. One of the famous Indian Sportsperson released his/her autobiography–'Playing to Win' in November 2012. Name the sports-person correctly–
(A) Saina Nehwal
(B) Mary Kom
(C) Yuvraj Singh
(D) Sachin Tendulkar
(E) Sushil Kumar
Ans : (A)
4. The NRIs while investing in the equity of a company cannot buy more than prescribed percentage of the paid up capital of that company .What is the prescribed percentage ?
(A) 2% (B) 3% (C) 4% (D) 5% (E) 6%
Ans : (D)
5. Government as part of the recapitalisation plan, infused capital in State Bank of India recently. Indicate the approximate capital infusion–
(A) Rs. 500 cr. (B) Rs. 1000 cr. (C) Rs. 1,500 cr.
(D) Rs. 2,000 cr. (E) Rs. 3,000 cr.
Ans : (E)
6. Prof. Muhammad Yunus, the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize 2006 is the exponent of which of the following concepts in the field of banking ?
(A) Core Banking (B) Micro Credit (C) Retail Banking
(D) Real Time Gross Settlement (E) Internet Banking
Ans : (B)
7. Banks in India are required to maintain a portion of their demand and time liabilities with the Reserve Bank of India. This portion is called–
(A) Statutory Liquidity Ratio (B) Cash Reserve Ratio (C) Bank Deposit
(D) Reverse Repo (E) Government Securities
Ans : (B)
8. The European Union has adopted which of the following as a common currency ?
(A) Dollar (B) Dinar (C) Yen
(D) Euro (E) Peso
Ans : (D)
9. Who is the Captain of Australian Cricket Team, which currently (March 2013) visited India ?
(A) Michael Clarke (B) Shane Watson (C) Shane Warne
(D) Michael Hussey (E) Ricky Ponting
Ans : (A)
10. Who is the author of the book 'Women of Vision' ?
(A) Ravinder Singh (B) Preeti Shenoy (C) Amish Tripathi
(D) Durjoy Dutta (E) Alam Srinivas
Ans : (E)
11. Which of the following term is associated with the game of Cricket ?
(A) Bouncer (B) Love (C) Goal
(D) Mid Court (E) Collision
Ans : (A)
12. The Holidays for the Banks are declared as per–
(A) Reserve Bank Act (B) Banking Regulation Act (C) Negotiable Instruments Act
(D) Securities and Exchange Board of India Act (E) Companies Act
Ans : (C)
13. In banking business, when the borrowers avail a Term Loan, initially they are given a repayment holiday and this is referred as–
(A) Subsidy (B) Interest Water (C) Re-phasing
(D) Interest concession (E) Moratorium
Ans : (E)
l4. One of IT Company from India has become the first Indian Company to trade on NYSE Euronext London and Paris markets from February 2013 onwards. Which is this company ?
(A) Wipro Infotech Ltd.
(B) L&T Infotech
(C) HCL Technologies LTD.
(D) Infosys Technologies Limited
(E) Polaris Financial Technology Ltd.
Ans : (D)
l5. Banking Ombudsman is appointed by–
(A) Government of India (B) State Governments (C) RBI
(D) ECGC (E) Exim Bank
Ans : (C)
l6. BSE (Bombay Stock Exchange), the oldest stock exchange in Asia has joined hands with one more International index in February 2013. This association has resulted in change of name of BSE index. What is the change of name effected ?
(A) Dow Jones BSE Index (B) NASDAQ BSE Index (C) S&P BSE Index
(D) Euronext BSE Index (E) Other than those given as options
Ans : (C)
17. Interest on Savings deposit now-a-days is–
(A) Fixed by RBI (B) Fixed by the respective Banks (C) Fixed by the Depositors
(D) Fixed as per the contract between Bank and the Consumer Court (E) Not pay by the Bank
Ans : (B)
18. The customers' by opening and investing in the Tax Saver Deposit Account Scheme in a bank would get benefit under–
(A) Sales Tax (B) Customs Duty (C) Excise Duty
(D) Professional Tax (E) Income Tax
Ans : (E)
19. Pre-shipment finance is provided by the banks only to–
(A) Credit Card Holders (B) Students aspiring for further studies (C) Brokers in equity market
(D) Village Artisans (E) Exporters
Ans : (E)
20. A non-performing asset is–
(A) Money at call and short notice (B) An asset that ceases to generate income
(C) Cash balance in till (D) Cash balance with RBI
(E) Balance with other banks
Ans : (B)
21. Interest below which a bank is not expected to lend to customers is known as–
(A) Deposit Rate (B) Base Rate (C) Prime Lending Rate
(D) Bank Rate (E) Discount Rate
Ans : (B)
22. Government usually classifies its expenditure in term of planned and non-planned expenditure. Identify, which is the correct definition of Planned expenditure ?
(A) It represents the expenditure of all the State Governments
(B) It represents the total expenditure of the Central Government
(C) It is the expenditure which is spent through centrally sponsored programmes and flagship schemes of Government
(D) It represents the expenditure incurred on Defence
(E) Other than those given as options
Ans : (E)
23. Which of the following organization is made specifically responsible for empowering Micro, Small and Medium enterprises in India ?
(A) NABARD (B) RBI (C) SIDBI
(D) ECGC (E) SEBI
Ans : (C)
24. The Union Budget for 2013-14 proposed by the Finance Minister on February 28, 2013 announced introduction of new variety of bonds by the Government. What is the name of these bonds ?
(A) Deep discount bonds (B) Zero Coupon bonds (C) Bullet Bonds
(D) Inflation Indexed Bonds (E) Inflation Variable Bonds
Ans : (D)
25. RBI has released its guidelines for entry of new banks in the private sector in the month of February 2013. One of the norms is at least a prescribed percentage of branches of new bank should be set in unbanked rural centres with a population of upto 9,999 people. What is the percentage of such branches prescribed in the norms?
(A) 10% (B) 15% (C) 18%
(D) 25% (E) Other than those given as options
Ans : (D)
26. A joystick is primarily used to/for–
(A) Control sound on the screen (B) Computer gaming (C) Enter text
(D) Draw pictures (E) Print text
Ans : (B)
27. The CPU comprises of Control, Memory and …………….. units.
(A) Microprocessor (B) Arithmetic/Logic (C) Output
(D) ROM (E) Input
Ans : (B)
28. Which of the following uses a handheld operating system ?
(A) A super computer (B) A personal computer (C) A laptop
(D) A mainframe (E) A PDA
Ans : (E)
29. To display the contents of a folder in Windows Explorer you should–
(A) click on it (B) collapse it (C) name it
(D) give it a password (E) rename it
Ans : (A)
30. 'C' in CPU denotes–
(A) Central (B) Common (C) Convenient
(D) Computer (E) Circuitry
Ans : (A)
31. …………….. is the most important/powerful computer in a typical network.
(A) Desktop (B) Network Client (C) Network server
(D) Network station (E) Network switch
Ans : (C)
32. Which is not a storage device ?
(A) A CD (B) A DVD (C) A Floppy disk
(D) A Printer (E) A Hard disk
Ans : (D)
33. Which bf the following refers to the rectangular area for displaying information and running programs ?
(A) Desktop (B) Dialog box (C) Menu
(D) Window (E) Icon
Ans : (B)
34. …………….. devices convert human-understandable data and programs into a form that the computer can process.
(A) Printing (B) Output (C) Solid state
(D) Monitor (E) Input
Ans : (E)
35. The software that is used to create text-based documents are referred to as–
(A) DBMS (B) suites (C) spreadsheets
(D) presentation software (E) word Processors
Ans: (E)
36. …………….. is a Windows utility program that locates and eliminates unnecessary fragments and rearranges files and unused-disk space to optimize operations.
(A) Backup (B) Disk Cleanup (C) Disk Defragmenter
(D) Restore (E) Disk Restorer
Ans: (C)
37. Which of the following refers to too much electricity and may cause a voltage surge?
(A) Anomaly (B) Shock (C) Spike
(D) Virus (E) Splash
Ans: (C)
38. A (n) …………….. appearing on a web page opens another document when clicked.
(A) anchor (B) URL (C) hyperlink
(D) reference (E) heading
Ans: (C)
39. A successful marketing Person requires one of the following qualities–
(A) Empathy (B) Sympathy (C) Insistence
(D) Aggressiveness (E) Pride
Ans: (B)
40. Market segmentation can be resorted to by dividing the target group as per–
(A) Income levels of customers (B) Age of the employees (C) Needs of the sales persons (D) Marketing skills of the employees (E) Size of the Organisation
Ans: (A)
41. Innovation in marketing is same as–
(A) Abbreviation (B) Communication (C) Creativity
(D) Aspiration (E) Research work
Ans: (E)
42. Effective Selling Skills depends on–
(A) Number of languages known to the DSA (B) Data on marketing staff (C) Information regarding IT market
(D) Knowledge of related market (E) Ability to talk fast
Ans: (D)
43. A Direct Selling Agent (DSA) is required to be adept in–
(A) Surrogate marketing (B) Training Skills (C) Communication skills (D) Market Research (E) OTC Marketing
Ans: (C)
44. Leads can be best sourced from–
(A) Foreign customers (B) Yellow pages (C) Dictionary
(D) List of vendors (E) Local supply chains
Ans: (B)
45. Value added services means–
(A) Low cost products (B) High cost products (C) At par services
(D) Additional services for the same cost (E) Giving Discounts
Ans: (D)
46. Post-sales activities includes–
(A) Sales presentation (B) Customer Feedback (C) Customer indentification
(D) Customer apathy (E) Product design
Ans: (B)
47. The target market for Debit Cards is–
(A) All existing account-holders (B) All agriculturists (C) All DSAs
(D) All vendors (E) All outsourced agents
Ans: (A)
48. The Competitive position of a company can be improved by–
(A) increasing the selling price (B) reducing the margin (C) ignoring competitors
(D) increasing the cost price (E) understanding and fulfilling customers’ needs
Ans: (E)
49. A good Brand can be built up by way of–
(A) Customer grievances (B) Break-down of IT support (C) Old age
(D) Large number of products (E) Consistent offering of good services
Ans: (E)
50. The ‘USP’ of a product denotes–
(A) Usefulness of the product
(B) Drawback of a product
(C) Main functions
(D) Number of allied products available
(E) High selling features of a product
Ans:(E)
THANKS TO 
https://www.facebook.com/groups/Bankinterviewprep/permalink/762952587056169/

Banking News 12/04/14

Relief on cards for home loan borrowers:

The RBI has suggested that banks must effect any change in floating rate loans only at the agreed-upon reset date. This is aimed at ushering in transparent and appropriate pricing of credit, according to an RBI working group. The group has suggested that floating rate loan agreements can have interest rates reset monthly, quarterly, half-yearly, etc. What this means is that any change in the base rate (the minimum rate below which banks cannot lend) need not result in an immediate change in the floating interest rate on existing loans.

Citibank says no to subsidiary model:

Citibank will not take the subsidiary route to operate in India, according to top officials of the bank. The central bank had even promised near-national treatment — in terms of opening of branches, among other things — to foreign banks that converted into subsidiaries of their parent banks.

Poor customer service at ATMs flayed:

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in a survey of ATMs, has found several deficiencies in services. These relate to messages showing insufficient cash and non-availability of contact details for lodging complaints at the ATM centres. Another area of service deficiency related to ATM identification numbers not being displayed at the centres, causing inconvenience to customers, according to the survey, the contents of which were described to this paper by a senior official at a public sector bank. Many a time, customers do not know what to do when money from the account is debited, but the cash is not dispensed from ATMs.

Banks get stick for lapses in realty deals at foreign branches:

The Reserve Bank of India has urged banks to stick to policies approved by their respective Boards while investing in real estate or carrying out transactions related to realty at overseas branches. The directive has come after the central bank learnt of lapses by Indian banks in the purchase/sale of real estate as well as in acquiring/letting out property on lease/rental basis at some overseas locations. The central bank has said that the policy should require that any agreement for acquiring/letting out premises on rental/lease basis must incorporate a suitable exit clause.

Bandhan Financial starts training its staff for role change:

With the banking licence in its kitty, microfinance institution Bandhan Financial Services is gearing up to groom its 13,000-odd employees to become bankers. The non-banking micro-lending firm plans to train around 1,500 employees every month under the guidance of 30 trainers at its 8 centres, said Chandra Shekhar Ghosh, Chairman and Managing Director.


Ratnakar Bank infuses Rs. 328 crore as fresh funding:

Private sector lender Ratnakar Bank (RBL Bank) has infused about Rs. 328 crore capital into the bank by selling shares to a group of four global investors. These new funds will assist the Kolhapur-based bank in expanding its branch network in semi-urban and rural areas as well as in providing a suite of financial products and services to the unbanked sections of society.


Ratan Tata member of China- backed Boao Forum:

Ratan Tata was on Thursday inducted as a member of the Board of Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), a rare distinction for an Indian in the Chinese government backed influential body. The 15- member board of BFA included former Japanese prime minister Yasuo Fukuda, former Malaysian prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, former Singapore prime minister Goh Chok Tong and former prime minister of France Jean- Pierre Raffarin, beside former US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. BFA was formed in 2001 on the lines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

India's Banking Sector --- A review

India’s Banking Sector -  A review

Ever since the 2008 global economic crisis, the Indian banking sector has encountered several challenges due to the weakening domestic macro-economic condition, increasing spill-over risks and subdued global growth. The Reserve Bank of India, as also the financial planners took several policy initiatives to meet the challenges, both on the supervisory and regulatory fronts. In the short term, however, the stress asset quality of banks continues to remain a major challenge. Most banks experienced rise in asset impairment, on the one hand, and dip in profitability, on the other. The only silver lining has been the comfortable capital base.

A RBI discussion paper, "Banking Structure in India—The Way Forward”, suggests far reaching changes in the banking structure so that it better serves the growing needs of the real economy.

Globally, several initiatives have been taken for ring-fencing commercial banking activities and combat systemic risks. The proposed measures range from moving businesses identified as too risky and complex into standalone entities to prohibiting banks from engaging in these activities altogether. Major global initiatives of structural reforms include Volcker Rule under the Dodd-Frank Act in the US, Vickers Reform proposals in the United Kingdom and Liikanen reform proposals in the EU. The main aim of all the proposals is to construct a firewall between the deposit taking and the core banking activities, on the one hand, and investment banking/ proprietary trading activities, on the other.

The Volcker Rule restricts deposit-taking banks from engaging in proprietary trading and complex activities. It also forbids the co-existence of such trading activities and other banking activities in different subsidiaries within the same group.

The Vickers reform proposal has recommended ring-fencing of retail banking operations of large UK banks into separate legal subsidiaries.

The Liikanen Report seeks to carve out proprietary trading and market-making activities beyond a threshold on a stand-alone basis from the deposit taking bank, but allow these activities to co-exist with other banking business within the same group as long as these are carried out in separate subsidiaries.

These reforms will help to limit capacity of bank managements for excessive risk taking, as also shield systemically important financial services from excessive or abusive investment risk shocks. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

current affairs descriptive

1. INTERNATIONAL
Scotland Becomes 17th Country To Approve Same Sex Marriages
The Scottish Parliament on 3 February approved the Same Sex Marriage Bill. The Scotland became the 17th country to give the green signal to same sex marriages which was an important step for equal rights. Scotland has joined the group of countries which have allowed same-sex marriage. The Netherlands was the first country that allowed same sex marriage in 2001.

Libya Destroyed All Chemical Weapons
Libya has completely destroyed the chemical arsenal it inherited from Moamer Kadhafi, 10 years after the now slain dictator signed the Chemi­cal Weapons Convention, Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdelaziz announced on 5 February. Now the Libya has become totally free of usable chemical weapons that might present a potential threat to the security of local communities, the environment and neighbouring areas.

Sushil Koirala Elected As New Prime Minister of Nepal
The leader of Nepal's largest political party, Sushil Koirala was on 10 February elected as new Prime Minister of Nepal with the support of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML), ending months of political instability following last year's elections. Koirala, the sole con­testant in the premier race, was elected with 405 votes in the 601-member Constituent Assembly. As many as 148 lawmakers from UCPN-Maoist, Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal and some small parties in the Maoist-led alliance voted against Koirala. After the voting, Parliament Speaker Surya Bahadur Thapa declared that Koirala had secured the majority. Koirala, the country's sixth Prime Min­ister since monarchy was abolished in May 2008.

China and Taiwan Held Historic Talks
China and Taiwan have on 12 February concluded their first ever government-to- govern­ment talks in the eastern city of Nanjing (China). The two regions had split in 1949 as communist conquered the mainland China and the Kuomintang (KMT) government took refuge in Taiwan in the wake of a brutal civil war. Both parties agreed to set up representative offices in each other territories to foster closer ties.

Belgium Becomes First Country To Grant Terminally ill Children 'Right to Die'
Belgium became the world's first country to allow terminally ill children the right to die. A new legislation was passed on 13 February that granted euthanasia for terminally ill children regardless of age. The legislation will come into effect when signed by the country's monarch, King Philippe. Belgium is one of only three countries that permit euthanasia. The others are its neighbours the Neth­erlands and Luxembourg. In 2002, the Belgium had legalized euthanasia for 18 years and above, to relieve them from pain and sufferings.

North and South Korea Agreed To Hold Family Reunions
North and South Korea have held their high­est level talks on 12th and 14th February 2014 at the border village of Panmunjom. Both nations high-level talks ended with a rare agreement to go ahead as planned with a reunion for divided families, despite the North's objections to overlap­ping South Korea-US military drills. It was the first such high-level sit-down between the two sides since 2007.

Matteo Renzi Named new Italian Prime Minister
The leader of Italy's centre-left Democratic Party (PD), Matteo Renzi, was appointed as the country's new prime minister on 17 February.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk Elected As Ukrain Interim PM
The Ukrainian parliament has on 27 Febru­ary elected former opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk as the country's Interim Prime Minister. He was backed by 371 of 417 participat­ing deputies in the Parliament.

Ugandan President Signed Anti Gay Law
Uganda's President Yoweri-Museveni has signed a controversial anti-gay bill on 24 Febru­ary that allows harsh penalties for homosexual offences, calling them mercenaries and prostitutes. Yoweri Museveni signed the bill, which holds that homosexuals be jailed for long terms, outlaws the promotion of homosexuality and requires people to denounce gays.

2. INDIA & WORLD

India and Nepal Amended Bilateral Transit Treaty
India and Nepal have amended a bilateral transit treaty on 1 February to facilitate the export of goods from a third country through India. Earlier, only goods of Nepalese origin were allowed to be exported through India to third coun­tries. The amendments in the transit treaty will al­low the movement of diplomatic cargo exported from Nepal and transiting through India.

India and Zimbabwe Decided To Enhance SME Cooperation
India and Zimbabwe have decided to further enhance their cooperation in the priority sectors of cooperation namely, pharmaceuticals, infra­structure, health sector, small and medium enter­prises (SMEs). This was agreed during a meeting between Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma with Zimbabwe Vice President Joice T R Mujuru and Industry and Commerce Minister Michael Bimha in Harare on 3 February in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe.

India and Germany Signed Two Agreements On Financial and Technical Co-operation
India and Germany have signed two umbrella agreements for financial and technical co-opera­tion under Indo German bilateral Development Cooperation framework. The Umbrella Agree­ments were signed by Finance Minister P Chidam­baram and German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Mueller dur­ing their bilateral meeting on 5 February in New Delhi.

India Offers Buyer's Credit of $100 million To Namibia
India has offered to provide buyer's credit of USD 100 million to Namibia for taking up infrastructure projects. This will be in addition to the USD 100 million Lines of Credit which India had offered during the State visit of the President of Namibia to India in 2009. Both nations also agreed for early conclusion of a preferential trade agree­ment between New Delhi and Southern African Customs Union (SACU), aimed at reducing tariffs on certain items traded between the two sides. The SACU consists of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland. The matter was discussed on 6 February 2014 between Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and Namibian counterpart Carl H G Schlettwein.

'MILAN-2014' Biennial International Naval Exercise Concluded
The biennial international naval exercise titled 'MILAN 2014' was held from 4 - 9 February 2014 at Port Blair (Andaman & Nicobar). The six day event was the biggest edition since its inception in 1995. India and 16 other countries took part in the event. Countries from the western Indian Ocean region took part in the event for the first time. The Philippines and Cambodia also partici­pated for the first time.

India and China Held 17th Round Of Border Talks
India and China held their 17th round of border talks on 10 - 11 February 2014 . Special representatives-National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and Chinese State Council­lor and top diplomat Yang Jiechi-met in New Delhi on 10 February and 11 February for talks on the boundary question. The talks between both sides have crossed the first stage - on agreeing to settle­ment of the boundary question. The second stage talks - on the framework for resolution of the boundary question - has been continuing for the past eight years.

India and Netherlands Sign MoU to Enhance Cooperation In Renewable Energy
India and the Netherlands on 11 February signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) as part of their efforts to intensify bilateral coop­eration in the area of renewable energy. The MoU was signed by Dr Satish Balram Agnihotri, Secre­tary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, and Dutch Ambassador Alphonsus Stoelinga in New Delhi in the pesence of Minister of New and Re­newable Energy Farooq Abdullah.

India Ranked 140th In World's Press Free­dom Index - 2014
According to the Paris-based Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) annual report 'World Press Freedom Index - 2014' released on 12 February, India has been ranked 140th list of 180 countries in the world with press freedom, whereas China and Pakistan were placed at 175th and 158th position respectively. Finland has been ranked first in the list followed by Netherland and Norway. The ranking of the US has dropped to 46th position from last year's 32nd.

First Agricultural University In Afghanistan Inaugurated with Indian Assistance
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and In­dian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid jointly inaugurated the first national agriculture uni­versity in southern Kandahar province on 15 February. The Afghan National Agricultural Sci­ences and Technology University (ANASTU), a major capacity-building project backed by India, is a key achievement for the higher education of Afghanistan.

India and Bahrain Signed 3 Agreements
India and Bahrain have signed three agree­ments in New Delhi on 19 February to expand cooperation in key areas, including trade and busi­ness. The agreements were signed in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. Both sides signed three agreements in the fields of youth and sports aims; MoU on the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Diplo­matic Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bahrain; Another one is to establish a 'High Joint Commission' for bilateral cooperation to replace the Joint Committee for Technical and Economic Cooperation.

India and Canada Signed Three MoUs
India and Canada have signed three MoUs for cooperation in health sector, audio-visual co-production and skill development. The MoUs were signed after talks between Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Governor General of Canada David Johnston in New Delhi on 24 Feb­ruary.

India and Israel Signed Homeland Security Agreement
India and Israel have on 27 February signed a slew of agreements on cooperation in legal assistance and public and homeland security. These agreements were signed by Additional Secretary (Home Ministry) Rajiv Sharma and Israeli. Ambas­sador Alon Ushpiz.

3. NATIONAL

Union Cabinet Approved National Policy On Agroforestry
The Union Cabinet on 6 February approved National Policy to promote Agroforestry by facili­tating credit and insurance to' farmers, besides strengthening market access. The national policy assumes importance as the sector is currently af­fected by adverse policies, legal constraints, inad­equate investments, weak markets and a dearth of institutional finance.

Number Of Poor People Down To 27 crore In 2011-12
Minister of State for Planning and Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla on 6 February announced the number of poor people living be­low the poverty line in the country has declined from 40.74 crore in 2004-05 to 27 crore in 2011-12. The latest data of large sample survey on house- hold consumer expenditure has been collected by NSSO in its 68th round conducted in 2011-12.

Important Points :-
v  As per the estimate, Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of poor people living below the poverty line at 5.98 crore in 2011-12, followed by Bihar at 3.58 crore, Madhya Pradesh 2.34 crore, Maharashtra 1.97 crore and West Bengal 1.84 crore.
v  Minister of State for Planning and Parliamen­tary Affairs Rajeev Shukla explained the Plan­ning Commission estimates poverty line on Monthly Per Capita Consumption Expendi­ture and an expert group was constituted un­der late professor Suresh Tendulkar in 2005 to review the methodology for estimation of poverty.
v  The Tendulkar Committee recommended MPCE of Rs 447 for rural areas and Rs 579 for urban areas as the poverty line for 2004-05, which was accepted by Planning Commission. For 2011-12, the MPCE was at Rs 816 in rural and Rs 1,000 in urban areas.
v  In conformity of its practice of reviewing the methodology for estimation of poverty, Plan­ning Commission in June 2012, has consti­tuted an expert group under the chairman­ship of C Rangarajan to review the method­ology for measurement of poverty
v  Planning Commission is the nodal agency for estimation of poverty at the national and state levels and the surveys are normally conducted on quinquennial basis.
v  In conformity of its practice of reviewing the methodology for estimation of poverty, Plan­ning Commission in June 2012, has constituted an expert group under the chairmanship of C Rangarajan to review the methodology for measurement of poverty
v  Planning Commission is the nodal agency for estimation of poverty at the national and state levels and the surveys are normally conducted on quinquennial basis.

Fourth Phase of AIDS Control Programme Launched
The government on 13 February launched the fourth phase of the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) at a whopping cost of Rs.142.95 billion. Promotion of female condoms, scaling up of the second line of the Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) and social protection for ending discrimination are some of the key initiatives of the programme, 63 percent of which will be funded by the government. The strategic plan for NACP-IV for the period 2012-17 has been devel­oped through an elaborate multi-stakeholder con­sultative planning process.

'Maulana Azad Taleem-e-Balighan' Scheme Launched
Minister of State for HRD, Dr Shashi Tharoor on 18 February launched 'Maulana Azad Taleem e-Balighan' under Sakshar Bharat at New Delhi. The programme aims to impart functional literacy, vocational skill development and continuing edu­cation to one crore Muslim adults with an outlay of Rs 600 crore.

Parliament Passed Street Vendors Bill - 2014
Parliament has on 19 February 2014 passed the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) bill-2014. The bill provides for constitution of a Town Vending Au­thority in each Local Authority to ensure partici­patory decision making for aspects like determi­nation of natural market, identification of vend­ing zones, preparation of street vending plan and survey of street vendors among others. The bill has been passed in Rajya Sabha in one attempt and it was already adopted by Lok Sabha on 6 September 2013.

Cabinet Approved Classical Language Status For Odia
Odia on 20 February became the sixth Indian language of the country to get 'classical language' status. The Union Cabinet ap­proved the long-pending demand of Odisha for according the classical tag to Odia which now puts it in the same league as Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. It is the first in the Indo-Aryan group of languages to get the status.

CCEA approved Green India Mission
The National Mission for Green India has re­ceived approval from the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on 20 February as a Centrally-sponsored scheme. The project, which has a planned investment of about Rs.13,000 crore during the 12th Plan Period.

Parliament Passed Whistleblower Protec­tion Bill
Whistleblower Protection Bill was passed by Parliament on 21 February. The bill aims to provide a regular mechanism to encourage persons to disclose information on corruption or willful misuse of power by public servants and ministers. The bill was passed by Lok Sabha in 2011 and was taken up by the Upper House in 2012 for consideration.

Union Cabinet Approved Increase In Elec­tion Expenditure
The Union Cabinet on 28 February ap­proved a proposal of the Election Commission to raise the expenditure limits for parliamentary elec­tions to a maximum of Rs 70 lakh for bigger states and Rs 54 lakh for smaller states. The limit of elec­tion expenditure incurred by a candidate for par­liamentary constituencies to Rs 70 lakh in all states except Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Sikkim, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Lakshdweep and Puducherry where it will be Rs 54 lakh. In case of assembly constituencies, the maximum limit has been increased to Rs 28 lakh in all states except Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Puducherry where it has been fixed at Rs 20 lakh.

4. STATES

India's First Monorail Service Inaugurated In Mumbai
India's first monorail service was inaugurated by the Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj chavan on 1 February in Mumbai. The monorail service that will link the city to major stations will begin its first phase of 8.93 km between Wadala and Chembur in the eastern fringes of the Commercial Capital. The monorails will travel in an average speed of 65 kilometers per hour and will have a maximum speed of 80 kilometers per hour.

Bihar Becomes First State To Launch Food Security Scheme
Bihar Chief minister Nitish Kumar on 1 Feb­ruary launched the national food security act in Patna, Nalanda, Gopalganj and Purnia districts. With this, Bihar became the first state to launch the central scheme. The beneficiaries of NFSA would get 5kg of foodgrain every month, wheat at '2 per kg and rice at' 3 per kg. Under NFSA each beneficiary is a unit, unlike in targeted PDS, where the family is treated as a unit.

Sikkim Is India's First State with 100% Sani­tation Coverage
According to the Drinking Water and Sanita­tion Ministry report released on 9 February, Sikkim becomes the first state in India with 100 per cent sanitation coverage. Sikkim, one of the eight north eastern states nestled prettily in the eastern Himalayas, ranked first among the 28 states and seven union territories in terms of sanitation coverage for both urban and rural areas in house­holds, schools, sanitary complexes and Aanganwadi centres. With 610,577 residents (2011 census), Sikkim is India's least populated and second smallest state in area after Goa.

Assam Becomes The First State To Ban Smokeless Tobacco Legally
The north-east state Assam has become the first state to legally ban consumption and sale of all forms of smokeless tobacco, including pan masala containing tobacco and nicotine. The Act comes into effect on 13 February. Assam's Gov­ernor Janaki Ballav Patnaik gave his assent to the Assam Health (Prohibition of manufacturing, ad­vertisement, trade, storage, distribution, sale and consumption of zarda, gutkha, pan masala, etc, containing tobacco and nicotine) Bill 2013 on 11 February 2014.

Odisha Lokayukta Bill 2014 Passed In Assembly
Odisha Legislative Assembly on 14 February passed the Odisha Lokayukta Bill 2014, with pro­vision of keeping Chief Minister, ex-Chief Minis­ters, other ministers and public servants under the purview of a six-member anti-corruption panel. The Bill has provisions similar to that of the Cen­tral Act which was passed in Parliament in Decem­ber, 2013.

President's Rule Imposed in Delhi
President Pranab Mukherjee has imposed President's rule in Delhi and accepted the Arvind Kejriwal government's resignation. This informa­tion was on 17 February published in a press re­lease by Lt Governor Najeeb Jung's office. With this imposition of the President Rule, the Delhi As­sembly will be kept under suspended animation.

India's First Minority Cyber Village Inaugu­rated In Rajasthan
India's First Minority Cyber Village in Chandoli in Alwar district of Rajasthan is inaugurated by K Rehman Khan of Minister for Minority Affairs on 19 February. The chandoli villages, Rajasthan has been selected for the pilot process of Cyber Vil­lage. The village got selected because it has more than 78% population of minorities and can be a best place to check the performance of India's first cyber village.

Chhattisgarh Government To Set Up A Law Commission
Raman Singh, the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh on 25 February announced that a new Law Commission will be set-up in the state to suggest changes in laws as per the geographical and social requirements of the state. This an­nouncement was made in the state Assembly. Some laws are in force in the state since it was a part of Madhya Pradesh but they became obso­lete after Chhattisgarh was created as a new state in 2000.

India's Largest Solar Power Plant Inaugu­rated In Madhya Pradesh
The largest 130-MW Solar Power Plant of India Welspun Solar MP Project was launched at Bhagwanpur in Neemuch, Madhya Pradesh on 26 February. It is also the Asia's Largest Solar Power Plant. The Welspun Solar MP project was con­structed at a cost of 1100 crore rupees on 305 hectares of land. It will supply power at 8.05 ru­pees a kWh. This Project will raise Indian solar ca­pacity by 7 percent.



Rajasthan Bans FDI in Multi-brand Retail
Rajasthan on 1 February cancelled its ap­proval for the foreign direct investment in multi-brand retailing. The approval was given earlier by the previous Congress state government led by former Chief Minister, Ashok Gehlot. With this decision of cancelling the approval over FDI made Rajasthan the second state after Delhi to with­draw approval for FDI in multi-brand retail. These two decisions of Delhi and Rajasthan came just after the change of government. Earlier, Rajasthan was one of the 12 states that agreed to allow FDI in the retail sector.

Indian Economy To Grow At 4.9 Percent In 2013-14
Central Statistics Office (CSO) in its release on 7 February estimated that India's economic growth in the current (2013-14) fiscal will be 4.9 percent as compared to the growth rate of 4.5 percent in 2012-13. The country's Gross Domes­tic Product (GDP) at factor cost at constant (2004- 05) prices in 2013-14 is likely to be Rs.57.5 lakh crore as compared to Rs.54.8 lakh crore in the previous year, registering year-on-year increase of 4.9 percent. The government recently lowered the economic growth number for 2012-13 to 4.5 percent from the earlier projection of 5 percent. The agriculture sector is expected to grow at 4.6 percent, manufacturing is projected to contract by 0.2 percent and mining output will drop by 1.9 percent year-on-year in 2013-14.

Interim Railway Budget 2014-15
Union Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge presented the interim Railway Budget 2014-15 in Parliament on 12 February 2014. The budget is for the first four months of the fiscal year 2014- 15 that begins in April 2014. Kharge's maiden rail budget comes just months away from the general elections.

Main Highlights of the Interim Railway Bud­get 2014-15 :-
Budget Estimates 2014-15 :-
v  Loading target of 1,101 Million Tonnes
v  Gross Traffic Receipts targeted at Rs 1,60,775 crore with Passenger Earnings (Rs 45,255 crore), Goods (Rs 1,05,770 crore), Other Coaching & Sundry Earnings (Rs 9,700 crore)
v  Ordinary Working Expenses placed at Rs 1,10,649 crore, higher by Rs 13,589 crore Rupees
v  Pension Outgo budgeted at Rs 27,000 crore against Rs 24,000 crore for 2013-14
v  The entire Dividend of Rs 9,117 crore to Gen­eral Exchquer will be paid
v  Fund Balances likely to be Rs 12,728 crore.
v  Operating Ratio budgeted at 89.8%

Annual Plan 2014-15 :-
Annual Plan en­visaged at Rs 64,305 crore with a Budgetary Support of Rs 30,223 crore, Internal Resources of Rs 10,418 crore and Extra Budgetary Re­sources of Rs 19,805 crore
New Surveys :
19 New Lines & 5 Doubling

New Trains – 73 new trains to be introduced:
These include 17 premium trains, 39 express trains, 10 passengers trains, 4 MEMU and 3 DEMU.
Extension and Increase in frequency:
3 Extension of trains, 3 increase in frequency
Important Points :
v  No increase in passenger fares and freight charges
v  Independent Rail Tariff Authority set-up to advise on fixing of fares and freight, to en­gage all stake-holders
v  Electrification of 4,556 km railway line was completed against a target of 4,500 km
v  To start Vain services for Vaishno Devi shrine to Katra in Jammu and Kashmir
v  Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh to be brought on railway map in this financial year
v  Gauge Conversion of strategically important 510 km Rangiya - Murkongselek line in Assam to be completed.
v  Setting up 11.2 km tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir
v  Railways to expand services to Meghalaya
v  More high-speed trains to be launched
v  Allowing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in railways is under consideration
v  State governments of Karnataka, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Haryana have agreed to share cost of several rail projects in their respective areas.
v  percent.
v  Fiscal Deficit in 2014-15 estimated to be 4.1 percent which will be below the target set by new Fiscal Consolidation Path and Revenue Deficit is estimated at 3.0 percent.
v  The estimate of Plan Expenditure is 555,322 crore. Non Plan expenditure is estimated at 12,07,892 crore.
Tata Group India's Most Valuable Brand
v  According to the list released on 18 Febru­ary of world's 500 most valued brand, Tata group was declared India's most valuable brand with a value of US$ 21.1 billion, while US-based tech­nology giant Apple has retained its top position globally with about US$ 105 billion. Apple is fol­lowed by Samsung (US$ 79 billion) at second place globally. Tata has retained its top place among In­dian brands and its global ranking has also im­proved from 39th in 2013 to 34th now.
India's First Post Office Savings Bank ATM Inaugurated In Chennai
v  Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram on 27 February inaugurated the country's first post office savings bank ATM at the Head Post Office in Thyagaraya Nagar in Chennai. The ATM was part of an Information Technology (IT) modernisation project of the Department of Posts.

Asia's First SKIT commissioned into Indian Navy at Goa
India has joined the elite group of nations when the Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) was on 1 February commissioned into the Indian Navy at INS Hansa in Panaji, Goa. This is the third such facility in the world, after the United States and Ukraine. The SBTF, which was commissioned recently, is primarily used for flight testing of Naval aircraft that operate from aircraft carriers. Built as a state of the art facility, the project was managed by Aeronautical Development Agency in consul­tation with Indian Navy and built by Goa Ship­yard Limited under the supervision of Russian specialists.

NASA's Kepler Discovered Extremely Wobbly New Planet
NASA's Kepler space telescope has located a new planet named 'Kepler-413b' that wobbles wildly on its axis much like a spinning toy top, with its tilt varying by as much as 30 degrees over an 11 year span. The US space agency announced on 4 February. The planet, which is located 2,300 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus, also appears to be frequently moving up and down due to an orbit that is tilted 2.5 degrees compared to its stars.

BrahMos Missile Successfully Test Fired In Salvo Mode
The 290km-range BrahMos supersonic cruise missile was successfully fired on 6 February from a naval warship INS Trikand in salvo mode in the Arabian Sea. For the first time, the BrahMos cruise missile was fired in salvo mode off the Russian-built warship off the coast of Karnataka with an interval of three seconds off the coast of Goa. BrahMos Aerospace, an Indo-Russian joint ven­ture company, is also working to develop the air as well as the submarine launch version of the missile system and work on the project is in progress.

Australian Astronomers Discovered Oldest Known Star In Universe
A team of scientists at the Australian National University has on 11 February discovered the old­est known star in the Universe. The star known as SMSS J031300. 36-670839.3, is in the Milky Way galaxy and some 6000 light years from the Earth. The star was formed shortly after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago: The star was discovered using the ANU SkyMapper telescope at the Sid­ing Spring Observatory. The discovery of the star was confirmed using the Magellan telescope in Chile. The composition of the newly-discovered star shows it was formed in the wake of a primordial star, which had a mass 60 times that of our Sun.

World’s Most Powerful Laser Chip Developed
In the month of February 2014 British researchers have built the world's most powerful terahertz laser chip, an advance that may enable improved security scanning and medical imaging. Researchers from the University of Leeds claimed to have exceeded a 1 Watt output power from a quantum cascade terahertz laser. The new record more than doubles landmarks set by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and subsequently by a team from Vienna last year.

Indian-origin Boy Shubham Banerjee Invents Braille Printer Using Lego Set
A 12-year-old boy of Indian Origin Shubham Banerjee has on 23 February designed a low-cost Braille printer using toy construction Lego pieces. Banerjee developed the Braille printer called Braigo, which is short for Braille with Lego. It was created from the Lego Mindstorms EV3 set, which retails for USD 349. LEGO Mindstorms EV3 is a remarkably powerful and functional robotics kit people of any age can use to build some im­pressive and complicated projects.

India Successfully Test Fired Akash Missile
India on 26 February successfully test-fired its Akash medium-range surface-to-air missile from a defence base in Odisha, for the third time. Akash was earlier successfully tested from the same de­fence base on 21st and 24th February 2014. The indigenously-developed missile, with a 27-km range and an effective ceiling of 15 km, was test-fired from the Integrated Test Range of Chandipur in the coastal district of Balasore, 230 km from Bhubaneswar.

 APPOINTMENTS
Harish Rawat Sworn In As New Uttarakhand Chief Minister
Union Water Resources Minister Harish Rawat was sworn in as the eighth Chief Minister of Uttarakhand on 1 February. Rawat succeeded Congress leader Vijay Bahuguna who stepped down from his position of Uttarakhand's Chief Minister on 31 January 2014 after 22 months of holding the office.
India-born Satya Nadella Appointed as CEO of Microsoft
India-born Satya Nadella has been appointed as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of US tech­nology and software giant Microsoft on 4 Febru­ary. Satya Nadella succeeds Steve Ballmer and he takes over as the third CEO of the Microsoft firm. Company founder Bill Gates is leaving his chair­man role, with board member John Thompson taking his post. Gates himself will assume a new role as technology adviser. Nadella is the first In­dian to head the Microsoft in its 38-year history.
Justice Ashok Kumar Mathur Appointed As Head Of 7th Central Pay Commission
Former Supreme Court Justice, Ashok Kumar Mathur has been appointed as the head of the 7th Pay Commission on 4 February. The Com­mission has been mandated to submit its report in two years time. Its recommendation would be implemented from 1 January 2016. The Pay Com­mission is constituted every ten years by the gov­ernment of India to revise the pay scales of its employees and often these are adopted by states after some modification. The 6th Pay Commis­sion was implemented with the effect from 1 Janu­ary 2006.
Archana Ramasundaram Appointed As CBI's Additional Director
Senior IPS officer Archana Ramasundaram was on 7 February appointed Additional Director in the CBI, the first woman to be elevated to this level in the investigation agency. It was home com­ing for Ramasundaram, a 1980 batch officer from Tamil Nadu cadre, who had served in the agency as Deputy Inspector General and later as its first woman Joint Director and handled various cases pertaining to Economic Offences between 1999 and 2006.
N. Srinivasan Elected As The New Chairman Of ICC
Narayanswamy Srinivasan, the President of BCCI was elected as the new Chairman of the Inter­national Cricket Council (ICC) on 8 February. Srinivasan will become ICC's first chairman from July 2014. He will succeed Alan Raymond Isaac.
Justice RK Agrawal and Justice NV Ramana Sworn In As Supreme Court Judges
Justice Rajesh Kumar Agrawal and Justice Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana were sworn in the judges of the Supreme Court on 17 February. With their swearing-in, for the first time in several years the Supreme Court will have its full strength of 31 judges.
N. Ramachandran Elected IOA president
World Squash Federation (WSF) chief N. Ramachandran was elected unopposed as the president of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on 9 February.
R.K.Tiwari Appointed as new Chairman of CBDT
R.K.Tiwari has been appointed as the new chairman of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) on 9 February. He will take the charge from 1 March 2014. He succeeds Chairperson Sudha Sharma. Tiwari is a 1976-batch Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer. He is currently working as the Member of Legislation and Computerisation Department in the CBDT.
Koirala Sworn In As Nepal PM
Sushil Koirala, a veteran Nepali Congress leader was sworn in as Nepal's Prime Minister on 11 February. President Ram Baran Yadav admin­istered oath of office to Koirala at Rastrapati Bhawan.
Justice Mukul Mudgal is new BCCC chief
Former Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court Mukul Mudgal has been appointed as the new chief of the Broadcast Content Complaints Council (BCCC) on 13 February. Justice Mudgal succeeds Justice (Retd) Ajit Prakash Shah, who demitted the office after being appointed Chair­person of the 20th Law Commission in Novem­ber 2013.
Matte Renzi Sworn In As Italy's Prime Min­ister
Italian center-left leader Matte Renzi was sworn in as Italy's youngest Prime Minister, along­side his new Cabinet of 16 ministers on 22 February. Half of Renzi's ministers are women, the largest proportion in Italian history. Most of the ministers are young by Italian standards, with an average age of 48. Benito Mussolini, who came to power in 1922, was the youngest Italian Prime Minister before Renzi.
Lakshmi Swaminathan Becomes First In­dian ADB Admin Tribunal
Lakshmi Swaminathan has been elected on 23 February president of Administrative Tribunal of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for three years. Swaminathan is the seventh presi­dent of the Tribunal. She is the first Indian to be­come the president of the Tribunal.

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