1. India, Belarus agree on road map for stronger ties
i. India and Belarus decided to work together on defence and security issues as President Pranab Mukherjee met his Belarusian counterpart and agreed on a 17-point road map aimed at strengthening mutual trust and confidence.
ii. The President discussed a host of issues, including increasing trade ties, besides boosting co-operation in mining, education and heavy machinery with Mr. Lukashenko.
iii. Under the agreement, the two countries will enhance coordination in science and technology, energy sector, metals and mining, potash fertilizers, give boost to raw material in textile sector, extend cooperation by Belarus in modernisation of public electric transport system in India, agriculture and agro procession.
2. India Signs Legal Agreement with the World Bank for IBRD Loan of US$ 400 Million
i. The Loan and Project Agreements for World Bank (IBRD) assistance of US$ 400 million for Tamil Nadu Sustainable Urban Development Project were signed between the Government of India/ Government of Tamil Nadu and World Bank.
ii. The Loan Agreement was signed by Shri Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance on behalf of Government of lndia and Mr. Onno Ruhl, Country Director, World Bank (lndia) on behalf of the World Bank.
iii. The objective of the project is to improve urban services in participating Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in a financially sustainable manner and to pilot improved urban management practices in selected cities.
iv. The total project size is US$ 600 million, out of which World Bank support is US$ 400 million.
3. India, US ink new defence framework accord
i. India and the US signed a new strategically important 10-year defence framework pact envisaging joint development and manufacture of defence equipment and technology including jet engines, aircraft carrier design and construction.
ii. Both sides also finalised two project agreements for hi-tech mobile power source and next generation protective suits for chemical and biological warfare.
iii. The framework also recognises the transformative nature of the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).
4. Ex-IB chief is Prime Minister’s special envoy on counter-terror
i. The government has appointed the former Intelligence Bureau Chief Asif Ibrahim to a key post in the Prime Minister’s office.
ii. Mr. Ibrahim, who retired in December 2014, will be the PM’s ‘Special Envoy on Countering Terrorism and Extremism,’ with a charter to liaise with governments in West Asia, Af-Pak and South East Asia.
iii. As Director IB, Mr. Ibrahim started work on the government’s new counter radicalisation strategy in 2014, which was triggered by the Islamic State takeover of parts of Iraq and Syria.
5. SBI associate merger proposal irks employee's unions
i. Even as the State Bank of India management starts deliberating mergers of its associate banks with the parent, the employees' union is planning a series of bank strikes protesting against such a move.
ii. More than 50,000 employees did not work on Thursday at about 6,000 bank branches of five SBI group banks as All Associate Banks of SBI, the employees' union, called a strike.
iii. So far SBI has merged State Bank of Surastra and State bank of Indore in past few years. Plans are on the anvil to follow the same process with State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Travancore, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Patiala.
6. Jayalalithaa announces aid for Cauvery delta farmers
i. Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa on Thursday announced a financial aid of Rs 41 crore for farmers in the Cauvery delta region to improve the kuruvai cultivation (short-term cultivation).
ii. The 'kuruvai package' announced by the government includes financial assistance to farmers and free supply of micro nutrients.
iii. Farm machines will be leased out to farmers free of cost. Besides, three phase power would be provided for 12 hours per day for irrigation.
iv. The ground water level had gone up considerably due to good rain. As such, to encourage kuruvai cultivation, a package of assistance to the tune of Rs 40.97 crore will be extended to the farmers.
7. India jumps six places in FIFA rankings
i. India has jumped six places to 141st position in the latest rankings released by world football’s governing body FIFA.
ii. India was previously placed 147th in the rankings list. Iran (41) is the top-ranked Asian team in the list, followed by Japan (52) and South Korea (58).
iii. World Champions Germany continued to head the rankings. Belgium jumped to second place, a place above World Cup runners-up Argentina.
iv. Five-time world champions Brazil are fifth, a spot below Colombia. Brazil is followed by the Netherlands, Portugal (seventh), Uruguay (eighth), and France (ninth).
8. De Villiers crowned South African cricketer of the year
i. AB de Villiers won as many as five awards, including the South African Cricketer of the Year for a second consecutive time at a gala function, hosted by Cricket South Africa (CSA) in Johannesburg.
ii. The 27-year-old batsman was named the ODI Cricketer of the Year, Cricketers’ Cricketer of the Year, SA Fan’s Cricketer of the Year and also got the ‘So Good Award’ for scoring the fastest century in the history of ODI cricket against the West Indies in December 2014.
iii. Morne van Wyk won the T20 Cricketer of the Year, Dale Steyn received the Delivery of the Year and Rilee Rossouw was named the SA Newcomer of the Year.