Current Affairs 15th April 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) on 14 April 2016 released Innocenti Report Card 13, titled Fairness for Children: A league table of inequality in child well-being in rich countries.The report released in Paris presents an overview of inequalities in child well-being in 41 countries of the European Union (EU) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).It focuses on ‘bottom-end inequality’ – the gap between children at the bottom and those in the middle – and addresses the question ‘how far behind are children being allowed to fall?’ in income, education, health and life satisfaction.The Report Card asks the same underlying question as Report Card 9, which focused on inequality in child well-being, but uses the most recent data available and includes more countries. Report :  Denmark is at the top of the overall league table with the lowest inequality among children.Israel ranked lowest across all domains.Two of the world’s wealthiest countries, Japan and the United States, were positioned in the bottom third of the league table for income inequality. In both countries, the household income of a child in the 10th percentile is roughly 40 percent of that of a child in the middle of the income distribution.Only Spain and the United States improved in all four health indicators since 2002.Only four countries – Estonia, Ireland, Latvia and Poland – managed to lower education inequality while also allowing fewer children to fall below minimum proficiency standards.Among 10 countries where data on country of birth was collected 7 showed lower life satisfaction among migrant children.In 19 out of 41 countries covered by the data, more than 10 percent of children live in households with less than half the median income.Inequality in children’s self-reported health symptoms increased in almost all countries between 2002 and 2014, inequality in physical activity and poor diet decreased in a majority of countries. Bottom-end inequality has also narrowed in reading achievement in the majority of countries. When children rank their life satisfaction on a scale of 1 – 10 the median score is 8; however, children at the lower end of the distribution fall far behind their peers. In every country, girls aged 13 and 15 report lower life satisfaction than boys.  UNICEF Office of Research : The Office of Research – Innocenti is UNICEF’s dedicated research centre. It undertakes research on emerging or current issues in order to inform the strategic directions, policies and programmes of UNICEF and its partners, shape global debates on child rights and development, and inform the global research and policy agenda for all children, and particularly for the most vulnerable.

Hero Cycles patriarch Satyanand Munjal, 99, passed away at his residence in Model Town in Ludhiana on April 14,2016.Popularly known as ‘Mahatma’, Munjal was a much-respected figure in business and social circles. He is survived by six childrenA devoted Arya Samajist, Munjal was the eldest of the Munjal brothers and built the Hero Group, which has now emerged as one of the largest business conglomerates in India.Apart from building a business empire, his philanthropic acts such as Bahadur Chand Munjal (BCM) Arya schools, Hero DMC Heart Institute, Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) remain his most notable works.He undertook several new initiatives by keeping a regular track of the functioning of these institutions. Munjal also propagated teachings of the arya samaj extensively.  

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank President Jin Liqun signed the first co-financing framework agreement between the two institutions.Some 1.2 billion people in the world lack access to electricity and 2.4 billion people don't have access to basic sanitation services. The World Bank Group invested $18.8 billion in infrastructure in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015. The institution will leverage even more private finance through new partnerships, such as the Global, Infrastructure Facility, and the growing portfolios of the International Finance Corporation and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency. Agreement : The agreement outlines the co-financing parameters of World Bank-AIIB investment projects, and paves the way for the two institutions to jointly develop projects this year. In 2016, the AIIB expects to approve about $1.2 billion in financing, with World Bank joint projects anticipated to account for a sizable share.  Under the agreement, the World Bank will prepare and supervise the co-financed projects in accordance with its policies and procedures in areas like procurement, environment and social safeguards. World Bank: Since inception in 1944, the World Bank has expanded from a single institution to a closely associated group of five development institutions. Our mission evolved from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) as facilitator of post-war reconstruction and development to the present-day mandate of worldwide poverty alleviation in close coordination with our affiliate, the International Development Association, and other members of the World Bank Group.

Punit Soni, the chief product officer of Flipkart has quit his post at the startup a year after joining the company, according to three sources familiar with the development. Soni, a former Google executive with expertise in mobile technology, was the most high-profile recruitment made by the Bengaluru-based company. He helped build products such as Ping, a chat application on the mobile app, and relaunch its mobile website, Flipkart Lite. Along with Soni, his chief of staff Niket Des.Soni's recruitment in early 2015 was followed by other top hires, including chief technology officer Peeyush Ranjan and consumer experience head Surojit Chatterjee, both former Google executives from Silicon Valley.Last year Flipkart and its fashion unit Myntra also launched a mobile application, only strategy based, on the need to cater to a fast-growing customer segment that was transacting on their phones.

Iconic Indian woman boxer M C Mary Kom has added another honour to her list of accolades as she was named one of the eight ambassadors for the upcoming World Championships by the International Boxing Association (AIBA).  An elated Mary Kom (51kg), who has five World Championship gold medals to her credit, said she feels honoured by the AIBA’s gesture.Mary Kom, a bronze-medallist of the 2012 London Olympics, told PTI. Mary Kom : Mary Kom is aiming to secure her second successive Olympic appearance through the world event which is scheduled from May 19 to 27 in Astana, Kazakhstan. The Manipuri is a tournament legend and AIBA had dubbed her ‘Magnificent Mary’ The 33-year-old, who missed out on an Olympic berth in last month’s Asian Qualifiers, is currently training for the world event trials slated here on April 18 and 19. The AIBA-appointed ambassadors for the World Championship also include Nicola Adams of Great Britain, Team USA’s light flyweight Marlen Esparza, Adriana Arauja from host country of this year’s Olympic Games Brazil, Bulgaria’s Stanimira Petrova and Morocco’s Khadija Mardi. The female officials chosen to be ambassadors are Algerian Kheira Siki Yakoub and Canada’s Jennifer Huggins. Astana will host more than 300 of the world’s top female boxers. With 10 gold medals at stake, this year’s tournament also has 12 Rio 2016 quota places available and offers one last glimpse at who could become Olympic legends.

Bollywood actors Ajay Devgn and Kajol are all set to become the brand ambassadors of Andhra Pradesh Tourism. The state government of Andhra Pradesh has been making all efforts to make more travellers visit the vibrant destination. Days after the tourism board expressed its interest to promote the offbeat places in the state, Bollywood actors Ajay Devgn and Kajol have been roped in as the new brand ambassadors of Andhra Pradesh Tourism. According to a statement released by the chief minister's office, the celebrity couple were prepared to take up the role of brand ambassadors for the tourism of Amravati and the rest of the state.Ajay Devgn has also expressed his interest in setting up an entertainment and media city in Amravati. He also gave on the proposed project, along with his team. With the motive of developing the state capital as one of the best cities in the world.

Railway service officer Deepak Kashyap was appointed as Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited. The CVO acts as distant arm of Central Vigilance Commission to check corruption.  Deepak Kashyap : Kashyap, a 1985 batch officer of Indian Railway Traffic Service, has been appointed to the post for an initial period of three years, an order issued by Department of Personnel and Training. His tenure is extendable for a further period of two years in the same organisation or three years on shifting to another central public sector enterprise. IAS officer Manoj Kumar has been appointed as CVO in Delhi Development Authority (DDA). He is a 1988 batch IAS officer of Himachal Pradesh cadre. Kumar has been appointed to the post for a combined central deputation tenure of seven years i.E. Up to August 22, 2018.  Revenue service officer Sushma Singh has been appointed as CVO of National Institute of Fashion Technology. Singh is a 1990 batch officer of Indian Revenue Service (Income Tax cadre), a DoPT order said.  IPS officer Deepak Kumar has been appointed as CVO of Heavy Engineering Corporation Ltd Ranchi. Kumar is a 1993 batch IPS officer of Jammu and Kashmir cadre. He has been appointed to the post for three years which is further extendable up to three more years.

Software major Tata Consultancy Services and utility vehicle maker Mahindra Group top the list of corporates involved in construction of toilets in schools under the government’s Swachh Vidyalaya Abhiyan initiative, accounting for close to 80 per cent of the total toilets completed by India Inc since the programme was launched in August 2014 . As on March 1, 2016, the Mahindra Group had constructed 1,171 toilets while Tata Consultancy Services had completed 1,509 toilets out of the total 3,466 toilets constructed by private corporates under the Ministry of Human Resources Development initiative.  Infosys Foundation came in a distant third, having constructed 252 toilets, according to the NSSO’s latest Swachhta Status. Industry bodies Confederation of Indian Industry and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry have constructed 138 and 38 toilets, respectively, under the initiative. Toyota Kirloskar has constructed 69 toilets, while Coca Cola has constructed 14 toilets so far. Luxury carmaker Mercedes Benz figures at the bottom of the list of private corporates, having constructed one toilet. The record of construction of toilets by public sector undertakings is much better, with 1.42 lakh toilets being constructed by 64 PSUs till March 1, according to the data. Coal India leads the list, with the construction of 51,115 toilets, accounting for around 36 per cent of the total number of toilets constructed by PSUs.  NTPC Ltd follows in second position, with the construction of 24,626 toilets, while Rural Electrification Corporation is third with construction of 12,379 toilets.  The Swachh Vidyalaya initiative was launched in August 2014 under which around 2.54 lakh toilets were to be constructed with government funds, PSUs had committed to build 1.64 lakh toilets, the private corporate 5,134 toilets and money from the Swachh Bharat Kosh (SBK) were to fund 15,852 toilets. The objective of the SBK is to improve cleanliness levels in both rural and urban areas, with toilet construction being the initial thrust area. When the school toilet plan was finalised, the government had planned to utilise money from the Swachh Bharat Kosh to finance 15,852 toilets in the first year of its launch that ended August 14, 2015. 

Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders has won a Time magazine reader poll of the world’s 100 most influential people. He received more than three times as many votes as his rival Hillary Clinton.The Vermont senator received 3.3 percent of the poll’s votes, and was followed by South Korean boy band Big Bang who landed 2.9 percent, and Burmese activist Aung Suu Kyi who received 2.9 percent. He left many world leaders trailing, including President Barack Obama who gained 2 percent.Hillary Clinton, the establishment pick for the Democratic nomination, finished with only 1 percent of the vote.Republicans Donald Trump, John Kasich and Ted Cruz were also present in the poll, but only garnered 0.6, 0.4 and 0.3 percent of the votes, respectively.Time suggested that Sanders’ commanding lead in the poll was due to the fact that he has long benefited from digitally active supporters.The poll’s purpose is to help Time’s editors choose which public figures to add to its annual Time 100 list, but there’s no guarantee that their choices will correspond with the readers’ picks. Sanders also won the 2015 Time poll for Person of the Year, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel ultimately landed the title.

Industry body Internet and Mobile Association of India, has appointed Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma, chairman of its the newly formed payments banks group. Vodafone India business head(M-Pesa)Suresh Sethi, will be the vice-chairman of the group. Payments Banks is an innovative model of bringing unbanked population into the formal banking fold. Paytm along with other license holders, would make financial services accessible for every Indian through this innovative route IAMAI, which includes global companies such as Google, Facebook and LinkedIn as members, also counts six out of the ten payments banks' primary licensees as members. The other four primary licensees have in principal agreed to join when they are in operation .The Reserve Bank of India had granted payment licences in August last year, to companies including Paytm, Reliance Industries, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone. The business potential from serving millions of unbanked Indians to further the financial inclusion initiative of the government and the Reserve Bank had attracted most of the top business houses. 

People in Kerala are celebrating the harvest festival, Vishu on April 14. Devotees across the state are visiting temples, performing special pujas and exchanging gifts to mark the occasion. Prime Minister has greeted the people on the occasion. Vishukkani, the ceremonial sighting of auspicious articles including rice, fruits, gold and flowers tastefully arranged in brass vessels, symbolising hope and promise were arranged in almost all the houses and Temples.Heavy rush was witnessed in major temples, including Guruvayur and Sabarimala, where devotees thronged in thousands for Vishu darashan. At the Sabarimala hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa, a large number of devotees from neighbouring states also thronged in for the Vishu darshan. Elaborate security arrangements had been made in all the temples. Keeping the long tradition, elders gifted coins to children as part of the custom known as ‘Vishukaineettam.Bursting of crackers, a traditional celebrations as part of vishu marked the occasion, with severe restrictions from the part of the authorities. The High Court of Kerala had recently ordered restrictions in the use of fireworks and crackers in view of the fireworks tragedy in Puttingal Temple at Paravoor, Kollam which claimed 113 lives last Sunday.The highlight of the celebration is a sumptuous lunch comprising various dishes and delicacies, mostly made of seasonal fruits and vegetables. The day also marked the beginning of the ‘Vishu Vilakku’ festival in several temples in the northern Kerala.

The Union Government has imposed an anti-dumping duty of up to US 149 dollars on imports of N-Butyl Alcohol from five countries viz. European Union (EU), Malaysia, Singapore and US. In this regard, Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has issued a notification based on the recommendation of Directorate General of Anti-dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD). DGAD in its investigation had found out that Normal Butanol, or N-Butyl Alcohol exported from five countries mentioned above was found to be below normal value compared to domestic value, thus causing material injury to domestic injury. N-Butyl Alcohol: It is a by-product of the fermentation of sugar and other carbohydrate. It is used as artificial flavorant and is present in many foods and beverages. It is also used in a wide range of consumer products. Anti-dumping duty: It is counter import measure used by a country under the multilateral World Trade Organisation (WTO) regime to protect its domestic producers and market from below-cost/cheap imports. It varies from product to product and from country to country.  

India and United States (US) have agreed to enhance collaboration on tackling offshore tax evasion and increase co-operation in sharing of cross-border tax information. Decision in this regard was taken at the 6th US-India Economic and Financial Partnership meeting held in Washington on the sidelines of the annual Spring Meeting of the IMF and the World Bank. It was co-chaired by the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and US Treasury Secretary Jacob and a joint statement was issued. Features of Mou : Both countries agreed to look forward to the Competent Authorities each other engaged in bilateral dialogue to move forward cooperation in the areas of cross-border taxation. They looked into the progress in sharing of financial information between them under the Inter-Governmental Agreement pursuant to Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). Acknowledged enhanced co-operation in tackling money laundering and combating financing of terrorism through increased information sharing and cooperation. Agreed upon the importance of fighting illicit finance in all forms as an important means of tackling global terrorism. US will support India’s endeavour to find ways to fund its massive drive for building modern infrastructure and to create more jobs. India has expressed concern over the hike in visa fee by the US, saying it is discriminatory and largely affects Indian IT professionals.  

Indigenously developed surface-to-air supersonic Akash missile System was successfully test fired from complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipuri in Odisha. Test: Two rounds of Akash missiles were fired against Pilot less target aircraft (PTA) Lakshya, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Banshee and Para-barrel. It successfully destroyed the targets coordinated by the user, demonstrating its ‘killing’ efficiency. Akash Missile : Akash (in English it means sky) is a mid-range surface-to-air missile (SAM). It is medium range nuclear capable supersonic missile. Indigenously developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) under the Integrated Guided-Missile Development Programme (IGMDP).The missile has supersonic speeds ranging from Mach 2.8 to 3.5. It is multi target, multi directional, all weather air-defence system consisting of surveillance and tracking radars. It has capability to carry warhead of 60 kg. It can engage aerial targets up to a range of approximately 25 kms. It can reach a high altitude of 18 kms and as low as 30 meters. It is powered by Ramjet-rocket propulsion system (RRPS) which renders thrust for the missile to intercept the target at supersonic speed without any retardation. It is capable of neutralising aerial targets like cruise missiles, fighter jets, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and air-to-surface missiles. The missile was formally inducted into the IAF in July 2015.

The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has launched “Unified Payments Interface (UPI)” to revolutionise mobile payment system in the country. It was launched by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan. 29 banks have agreed to join the platform. UPI seeks to provide uniform mobile payment system by leveraging digital trends such as increasing smart phone adoption and deeper penetration of mobile data. Unified Payments Interface (UPI) :  The UPI is for mobile based payment method that powers multiple bank accounts into a single mobile application (of any bank) of a participating bank. It merges several banking features, seamless fund routing and merchant payments into one hood. Thus, it will be a single app for accessing different bank accounts. It facilitates ‘virtual address’ as a single payment identifier for sending and collecting money and works on single click 2 factor authentication. The single identifier will eliminate the need to exchange sensitive information such as bank account numbers during a financial transaction. It also provides an option for scheduling push and pull transactions for various purposes like sharing bills among peers. UIP is an advanced version of NPCI’s Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) which is a 24X7 funds transfer service. It provides round the clock availability and faster checkout.

The Constitutional Council of Nepal has selected Justice Sushila Karki (63) for the post of Chief Justice (CJ) of the Supreme Court of the country. With this selection she will become 26th chief justice of the apex court and the first female CJ in Nepal’s history. However, her nomination is expected to be confirmed by a Parliamentary Hearings Committee which endorses the recommendation. She will succeed Kalyan Shrestha who retired from the top post. She shall have tenure of 1 year and retire in June 2017 upon reaching the age limit. Sushila Karki : Born on June 7, 1952 in Biratnagar. She had completed a bachelor’s degree in law from Tribhuvan University in 1978. She has also done her post graduate in political science from Banaras Hindu University. Currently she is senior most judge in the Supreme Court of Nepal. Since 2010, she is member of the International Association of Women Judges. She was appointed ad-hoc justice (judge) at the Supreme Court in January 2009 and as permanent justice on November 18, 2010. Prior to her appointment as judge of Supreme Court in 2009, she had served as a senior advocate. She was accorded the title of senior advocate in 2004. She also had served as President of the Appelate Court Bar Association Biratnagar for a term until 2004. She is known as human rights activist until her appointment to the Supreme Court and was associated with the Human Rights Organization and Amnesty International Nepal.

The Republic of Nauru, a tiny South Pacific island nation in Pacific Ocean became the 189th member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank i.e. Bretton-Woods institutions. Nauru had applied for membership in the Washington-based IMF and World Bank in April 2014. Its initial subscription quota for IMF will be of SDR (Special Drawing rights) 2 million or about $2.81 million. It will be the second smallest member of the Fund, after Tuvalu. Joining World Bank: The island country gains access to financial support, technical support and special expertise to deal with Pacific area issues, such as water and sanitation and disaster risk management amid the threat of climate change and rising sea levels.  Joining the IMF: Nauru can benefit from the IMF’s crisis lender’s advice on managing government finances and monetary policy. Before Nauru, the last country to join the World Bank and IMF as 188th member was South Sudan in April 2012. Republic of Nauru :  Nauru is a tiny island country in Micronesia, northeast of Australia. It is the smallest sovereign state in the world after the Vatican City in terms of both population and area. It has a population of about 10,500 and a land area of about 8 square miles. The Australian dollar is its currency or legal tender. It had joined United Nations (UN) in 1996 as the world’s smallest independent republic.

Finance Secretary Ratan Wattal was appointed as the liaison officer to working between Jammu and Kashmir government and central government.The Centre has appointed Finance Secretary Ratan Wattal as the liaison officer with Jammu and Kashmir government to ensure that the flow of funds to the state is fast-tracked for smooth implementation of Prime Minister’s Development Package. Ratan Wattal, has been appointed as the coordinator for smooth implementation of Prime Minister’s Development Package. He will maintain close liaison with the state Finance Minister, Dr. Haseeb Drabu, so that the flow of funds to the state is fast.tracked. Jammu and Kashmir Chief minister Mehbooba Mufti was requested early release this month of Rs 880 crore for interest subvention, Rs 2,000 crore for damaged infrastructure approved by NITI Aayog and another Rs 2,000 crore for displaced persons in Jammu so that disbursement of compensation can commence.

Union Government on 14 April 2016 appointed Susmita Pande as the new chairperson of the National Monument Authority (NMA).  Susmita Pande : She is professor a professor at Ujjain's Vikram University.She would succeed Himanshu Prabha Ray, the professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University whose term ended in September 2015. The position was lying vacant for five months after his demission from office.At the time of appointment, she was the head of the School of Studies in Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology in Vikram University of Madhya Pradesh. National Monuments Authority (NMA) :  It is organised under Union Ministry of Culture and Tourism, headquatered in New Delhi. It is responsible for the protection and preservation of monuments and sites.It manages the prohibited and regulated area around the centrally protected monuments.The chairperson of NMA will be selected for a three-year term by the appointments committee of the Union Cabinet.  

Iconic Pepsi-Cola sign on the banks of East River of New York on 13 April 2016 was declared as a historic landmark after 25 years of discussion.The sign of 60 feet high and 120 feet long was built in 1936 and installed atop a Pepsi bottling plant in an industrial area bordering the East River in Long Island City.Its steel and porcelain letters and giant Pepsi bottle have long been part of the view from the East Side of Manhattan.The sign was restored in 1993 after being damaged in a winter storm.New York City's landmark commission with a unanimous vote declared it as historic land mark after having discussions for around 25 years which began in 1988 and concluded on 13 April 2016.In 1999, the bottling plant was closed and then sold and demolished in 2001. But the sign was preserved and reinstalled a short distance away in a park that opened in 1998, Gantry Plaza State Park.It has appeared in several films, including Munich and The Interpreterin 2005.

The Government of India on 14 April 2016 reconstituted the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) Trust with immediate effect.Senior Journalist Ram Bahadur Rai was selected as President of IGNCA. Veteran dancer Sonal Mansingh, film maker Chandraprakash Dwivedi and lyricist Prasoon Joshi are included as members of the 20 member reconstituted body. Ram Bahadur Rai : Ram Bahadur Rai is a renowned Hindi Journalist and former news editor of Jansatta newspaper.He has also authored books on VP Singh named Manjil se Jyada Safarand Rahvari ke Sawal on Chandrashekhar.He was a close associate of Jayaprakash Narayan, and was also part of the 11-member Steering Committee that led the JP Movement.He was the organising secretary of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) during the 1974 Bihar movement led by JP Narayan against the misrule and corruption in the government of Bihar.He was one of the first journalists to report about the 1991 Hawala Bribery scandal while working with Hindi daily Jansatta. IGNCA : Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts is a premier government-funded arts organization in India.It is an autonomous institution under the Union Ministry of Culture. It was established in the memory of Indira Gandhi, the late Indian Prime Minister, with Kapila Vatsyayan as its Founding Director.The IGNCA was launched on 19 November 1985 by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Maritime India Summit 2016 in Mumbai, Maharashtra. This is India’s first ever Maritime Summit and the flagship event organised by Union Ministry of Shipping. Maritime India Summit : The first of its kind two day summit (from April 14 to 16, 2016) will be held at the Bombay Convention and Exhibition Centre in Goregaon, Mumbai. South Korea is the partner country for the summit and will be represented by a high level ministerial and business delegation. The main focus of summit is to give impetus to Make In India and blue economy under the Union Government’s ambitious Sagarmala Project emphasising on port-led development It will be global summit that will comprise of an Investors’ Summit along with exhibition and demo session. More than 50 other maritime nations have been invited. On the occasion of this event, Union government also released a national perspective plan for the Sagarmala Project. The project involves more than 150 projects related to modernisation of existing ports, setting up 5-6 new ports. It also seeks to enhance port connectivity through heavy haul rail corridor, freight-friendly expressways, inland waterways, coastal Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and industrial clusters, and so on.  Its main purpose is to set sight on boosting India’s exports by 2025, and create 40 lakh direct jobs and indirect employment for 60 lakh people.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched National Agriculture Market portal eNAM to connect e-mandis in several States. eNAM is an online inter-connectivity of e-mandis, aimed at ushering in much needed agriculture marketing reforms to enable farmers to get better price of their produce. Features of eNAM : e-National Agriculture Market (NAM) is a pan-India e-trading platform. It is designed to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities. Farmers can showcase their produce online from their nearest market and traders can quote price from anywhere. It will result in increased numbers of traders and greater competition. It will also ensure open price discovery and better returns to farmers. During the launch, 21 mandis from eight states were connected to this unified portal. The States include Gujarat, Rajasthan, Jharkahnd, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Initially, online trade will be allowed within the state and inter-state trade will be possible once all states and mandis are integrated. 25 commodities including onion, potato, apple, wheat, pulses, coarse grains and cotton, have been identified for online trading. To integrate a wholesale mandis across the country with the online platform, the state governments have to amend their Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act. eNAM will be implemented in different phases with an aim to integrate 585 regulated markets across the country with the common e-market platform by March 2018. So far 365 mandis from 12 states have been granted approval.

US President Barack Obama has nominated MasterCard’s Indian-American CEO Ajay Banga as a member of the Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity. Mr. Banga is one of the 10 members of the Commission which also includes General Keith Alexander former Director of the top US spying body National Security Agency (NSA). The commission was established in February 2016 to make detailed recommendations to strengthen cybersecurity in both the public and private sectors while protecting privacy, ensuring public safety and economic and national security. Ajay Banga : Banga is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad. He had started his career at Nestle India, working in sales and management roles from 1981 to 1994. He was appointed president and CEO of MasterCard in 2010. He joined MasterCard in 2009 as President and COO. Prior to joining MasterCard, he held various senior management roles with Citigroup from 1996 to 2009 and most recently serving as CEO of Citigroup Asia Pacific. He had served as director for Marketing and Business Development at PepsiCo Restaurants International India from 1994 to 1996. He also had served as a member of the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations since 2015. He also a member of the Board of Directors of the Dow Chemical Company, the Board of Governors of the American Red Cross, the Council of Foreign Relations. Currently he also serves as Chairman of the Financial Services Roundtable and Co-Chair of the American India Foundation.

India was the world's largest remittance recipient in 2015 despite experiencing a USD 1 billion drop from the previous year, the first decline in its remittances since 2009, the World Bank .India retained its top spot in 2015, attracting about USD 69 billion in remittances, down from USD 70 billion in 2014, the World Bank said in its annual report 'Migration and Development Brief'.  Other Reports : Other large remittance recipients in 2015 were China, with USD 64 billion, the Philippines (USD 28 billion), Mexico (USD 25 billion) and Nigeria (USD 21 billion).  India : Remittances to India, the (South Asian) region's largest economy and the world's largest remittance recipient, decreased by 2.1 per cent in 2015, to USD 68.9 billion. This marks the first decline in remittances since 2009," the World Bank report .Officially recorded remittances to developing countries amounted to USD 431.6 billion in 2015, an increase of 0.4 per cent over USD 430 billion in 2014. The growth pace in 2015 was the slowest since the global financial crisis, the report . Global : Global remittances, which include those to high-income countries, contracted by 1.7 per cent to USD 581.6 billion in 2015, from USD 592 billion in 2014, the World Bank  According to the report, the growth of remittances in 2015 slowed from eight per cent in 2014 to 2.5 per cent for Bangladesh, from 16.7 per cent to 12.8 per cent for Pakistan, and from 9.6 per cent to 0.5 per cent for Sri Lanka. Remittances to Nepal rose dramatically in response to the earthquake, by 20.9 per cent in 2015 versus 3.2 per cent in 2014. 

PM Narendra Modi on 14 April 2016 launched 'Gram Uday Se Bharat Uday Abhiyan' at Mhow, Madhya Pradesh. The Abhiyan (campaign) was launched on the 125th birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar at his birthplace to strengthen Panchayati Raj in villages and ensure social harmony in villages.The campaign also seeks to promote rural development and foster farmers’ welfare and livelihoods to poor.The 11-day campaign (from 14 April to 24 April 2016) will focus on generating nationwide efforts on promoting the aim of the programme. The campaign will be run jointly by the Ministries of Rural Development, Agriculture, Social Justice, Labour and Information and Broadcasting along with the States. Gramoday Se Bharat Uday Abhiyan : It will be conducted across the country, beginning with the Birth Anniversary of Dr. BR Ambedkar on 14 April 2016, culminating in “National Panchayati Raj Day” on 24 April 2016.The aim of this campaign is to make nationwide efforts to strengthen Panchayati Raj and through it, boost social harmony in the villages, promote rural development and foster farmers’ welfare & livelihoods of the poor.Prime Minister will address all Gram Sabhas on 24 April 2016 and the address will be telecast and aired to all villages across the country, and villagers will gather together to hear it.During the campaign, various Panchayat level and national level programmes will be held across the country. The Panchayat level programmes are: Social Harmony Programme:   14 to 16 April 2016.On the occasion of the 125th Birth Anniversary of Dr. BR Ambedkar, in all Gram Panchayats, people will pay homage to Dr. Ambedkar and villagers will resolve to strengthen social harmony in the village.Dr. Ambedkar's life and his views about National unity will be discussed, and literature regarding Dr. Ambedkar will be distributed.On this day, information about the schemes run by the government to promote social equity will be given.  Exhibitions will also be organized. Gram Kisan Sabha from 17 to 20 April 2016 : Meeting of farmers will be organized in every Gram Panchayat.  Information regarding schemes in the agriculture sector will be given in the farmers’ meetings. Suggestions to improve agriculture will be invited from farmers. Gram Sabha or Village Assembly from 21 to 24 April 2016 : To celebrate the National Panchayati Raj Day, Gram Sabhas will be held in each Gram Panchayat on any day between these four days.   As preparatory activities, the following would be undertaken:Prabhat Pheri,Drinking Water and Sanitation Campaign,Cultural Programmes,Sports competitions The following matters would be considered in the Gram Sabhas:  a.Gram Panchayat Development Plan for local economic development b.Proper utilization of funds by Panchayats c.Safe drinking water and sanitation d.The role of women in rural development e.Social inclusion including welfare of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, persons with disabilities and other marginalized groups.

Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) on 14 April 2016 took over the infrastructure of abandoned Tapti gas field in western offshore from its joint venture partners Reliance Industries and BG.This transfer of assets in India is first of its kind. Salient Features of the Merger :  It would save time for the company and an investment worth up to 4000 crore rupees to bring the neighbouring Daman block into production before the schedule.ONGC planned to advance gas producing to the August-September period with the infrastructure in place.It also planned to lay a pipeline from the Daman field to the Tapti process platform, which is connected by a 70-km pipeline to the company's facility at Hazira.It committed an investment of over 8600 crore rupees for the Daman and C-26 cluster projects.The two projects are expected to produce 11 million cubic meters of gas and 11000 barrels of condensate per day at their peak. The Mid and South Tapti fields were awarded in December 1994 under the production sharing contract (PSC) regime to a consortium of ONGC, BG and Reliance.The consortium was decided to abandon the fields in 2015 after the end of their life Normally the infrastructure will be dismantled and removed after a field is abandoned. But in this case, ONGC requested the government to transfer the infrastructure.The consortium would continue to operate the Panna-Mukta field, which primarily produces oil which is located 90-kilo meter north-west of Mumbai in the Arabian Sea.It currently produces 19000 barrels per day of oil and 5-6 million cubic metres per day of gas.

Renowned British playwright Arnold Wesker was died on 14 April 2016 with Parkinson's disease. He was 83.He wrote more than 40 plays that were translated into 18 languages, first gained prominence with a trilogy about the lives of Jewish socialist intellectuals: Chicken Soup with Barley (1958), Roots (1959) and I’m Talking about Jerusalem (1960).He was known as one of the angry young men of the British stage in the 1950s, the others writers who got that tag were Osborne and Brendan Behan.His other well-known plays include Chips with Everything, based on his service in the RAF, and The Kitchen, which draws on his days as a pastry cook.They were stories of ordinary people and real life. And he loved telling them well.He was born on 24 May 1932 and worked as bookseller's assistant, farm laborer, kitchen porter and pastry cook, as well as service in the Royal Air Force in 1950-52.

Kalash (Kalasha), are a Dardic indigenous people residing in the Chitral District of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.The community considered unique because in Pakistan they are the smallest religious minority with a population of around 3000. They speak their own Kalasha language and celebrate their gods through music, dance and alcohol.According to the Kalash Peoples Development Network (KPDN), the Kalash who ruled Chitral centuries ago maintained their separate cultural traditions and their language Kalasha belongs to the Dardic family of the Indo-Iranian branch. Importance of  Kalash community : Sexes of the community mingle easily and their marriage can be sealed with a dance. Women of the community are free to move on to new loves.They do not mourn their dead; instead they celebrate it as “the completion of the journey” that begins with birth with three days of dancing, music and feasting.Their fair skin and light eyes, made academicians to speculate that they might have be descended from the ancient Middle East or even from soldiers of Alexander’s army, which conquered the area in the fourth century BC.Their traditional practice is Bashali, in which women are required to stay within home and not touch others during their menstrual cycle. People from Kalash community attempt to get listed on the UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List began in 2008 as they feared that their unique culture will not endure as their youth are converting to Islam.Apart from this, their children take a compulsory class on Islam at the school but not about their own traditions. Due to which it practicing their culture is becoming more and more difficult for them.They also fear from people of the region as they have to face their angers because they feel that the tribe’s un-Islamic practices unleashes natural disasters – floods and earthquakes – on the area as punishment.Kalash women are termed as ‘The Black Kafirs’ because they usually wear long black robes, often embroidered with cowrie shells.Due to these factors, they fear that they may lose their identity like the neighboring Nuristani people of the adjacent Nuristan (historically known as Kafiristan) province of Afghanistan. Nuristani people once practiced the same religion as the Kalash.   Kalash people and their cultural appearances are available in :  They have their mention in a Novella ‘The Man Who Would Be King’ by Rudyard Kipling. He in the novella shows their reputed connection to Alexander the Great. The story was made into the film with same title in 1975, starring Sean Connery and Michael Caine. They have a mention in a book ‘The Tenth Unknown’ by Jvalant Nalin Sampat. The pivotal chapter in the World War II novel revolves around the Kalash people and their unique customs.The Kalash are briefly visited in the first episode of the 2004 BBC television series Himalaya with Michael Palin.  

Nuclear capable undersea ballistic missile, code named K-4, was successfully test fired on 31 March 2016 from an undisclosed location in the Bay of Bengal. The test was conducted nearly 45 nautical miles away from Vishakhapatnam coast in Andhra Pradesh.The trial was carried out with the support of the personnel of Strategic Forces Command (SFC) while the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) provided all logistics.The missile was fired from 20-meter deep and covered more than 700 km before zeroing on the target with high accuracy reaching close to zero Circular Error Probability (CEP).The K-4 missile was fired from onboard silos of the Ship Submersible Ballistic, Nuclear (SSBN) submarine. The maiden test represented the capability of the newly built underwater warship to fire long range nuclear capable missiles and the killing efficiency of the most advanced state-of-the-art weapon system. K-4 missile : K-4 is a nuclear capable intermediate-range submarine-launched ballistic missile under development by DRDO to arm the Arihant-class submarines.The missile has a reported effective range of over 3500 km. The development of the K-4 was undertaken after facing significant difficulties in compacting similarly capable Agni-III to equip INS Arihant, which has a limited 17-metre diameter hull.K-4 has range comparable to Agni-III with major length reduction from 17 metres to 12 metres.The gas-booster designed for K-4 was successfully tested from a submerged pontoon in 2010.The missile is reported to be 12 metres long with a diameter of 1.3 metres and weighs nearly 17 tonnes.It can carry a warhead weighing up to 2 tonnes and is powered solid rocket propellant.

Union Road, Transport and Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari and South Korea Oceans and Fisheries Minister Kim Young Suk signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 13 April 2016 in Mumbai.This MoU is for cooperation and mutual assistance between India and Republic of Korea in port related matters and their developments.The Union Cabinet approved the proposal of the Shipping Ministry for signing of this MoU on 6 April 2016. Objectives :  It will help both countries to encourage and facilitate the development of ports, port related industry, and maritime relationship .It will encourage cooperation in the tasks of sharing of technology, experiences in the fields of port development and operation.It will also help in exchange of information on construction, building, engineering and related aspects in the field of port development. Enable exchange of information on joint participation in port-related construction, building and engineering projects that both parties are interested in.Exchange of experts including officials from the relevant ministries of each country in the field of port.The other types of cooperation related education and training may be mutually agreed upon between the two countries.  

The United Nations (UN) health agency on 13 April 2016 unveiled a study that stated that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy 1 trillion US dollars each year. The study also revealed the fact that every one dollar invested in scaling up treatment leads to a return of four dollars in better health and ability to work.The study for the first time estimates the health and economic benefits of investing in treatment of the most common forms of mental illness globally. It also provides a strong argument for greater investment in mental health services in countries of all income levels.The study was published in The Lancet Psychiatry. Increase in depression and anxiety : The study stated increase in common mental disorders worldwide. Between 1990 and 2013, the number of people suffering from depression and/or anxiety increased by nearly 50 per cent. Close to 10 per cent of the world’s population is affected, and mental disorders account for 30 per cent of the global non-fatal disease burden.Besides, humanitarian emergencies and ongoing conflict add further to the need for scale-up of treatment options. World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that as many as one in five people are affected by depression and anxiety during emergencies. Returns on investment in treatment far outweigh the costs : The new study calculated treatment costs and health outcomes in 36 low-, middle- and high-income countries for the 15 years from 2016-2030. The estimated costs of scaling up treatment, primarily psychosocial counselling and antidepressant medication, amounted to 147 billion US dollars. Still, the returns far outweigh the costs.However, current investment in mental health services is far lower than what is needed. Finance and development actors meet to consider scale-up : The World Bank and WHO, in collaboration, are hosting a series of events as part of the World Bank Group-International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings in Washington DC. The meetings aim to bring ministers of finance, development agencies, academic experts and practitioners together to discuss how to put mental health at the centre of the health and development agenda globally and in countries.Also, scaling up mental health services will contribute to reducing by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by 2030, one of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), endorsed at the UN General Assembly in 2015.  

The term Brexit, made with combination of two words ‘Britain’ and ‘Exit’, was in news in second week of April 2016. It came in news after International Monetary Fund (IMF) on 12 April 2016 warned of risks of Brexit or Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) amidst cutting the global growth forecast.IMF said if the voters of Britain opt to leave the EU that the referendum could do severe regional and global damage by disrupting established trading relations.Brexit is a political aim of some advocacy groups including individuals and political parties like justice secretary, Michael Gove, and London's mayor Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom (UK), who believe that Britain leaving the EU will be in favour of them.The demand for it gained momentum largely because of Europe’s migration crisis and the interminable euro mess. Some recent surveys even find a majority of Britons wanting to leave.This led to Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron on 20 February 2016 declaring to hold a referendum on the country's membership of the EU on 23 June 2016 following the passing of the European Union Referendum Act 2015.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on 13 April 2016 launched ‘Mission Drinking Water.The mission was launched in the backdrop of recurring droughts and severe water crisis in Marathwada and Vidarbha region of the state.The government has adopted a two-pronged strategy to scale up drought mitigation through Mission Drinking Water.The mission ensures changes in crop pattern to sustain wholistic development, which includes greater investments in agriculture and industries.Every remote village in drought districts had been provided a roadmap and adequate budget.Besides, the government also constituted the Maharashtra Drought Relief Committee headed by Agriculture Minister Eknath Khadse and Opposition leader Radhakrishna Patil.

New Zealand’s Kane Williamson on 13 April 2016 was named the Wisden's Leading Cricketer in the World for the year 2015.On the other hand, White Ferns captain Suzie Bates was named the Leading Women's Cricketer in the World for 2015.For the first time two New Zealand players - Williamson and Brendon McCullum - were named among the Wisden Almanack's Five Cricketers of the Year. England's Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow, and Australia's Steve Smith completed the list of Five Cricketers of the Year.Williamson and Bates were chosen by Wisden editor Lawrence Booth for the award, which has been handed out in various formats since 1889.The principal criterion is excellence or influence on the previous English summer. No one can be chosen more than once, although exceptions were made for Englishmen Plum Warner and Jack Hobbs early in the 20th century.In 2014, Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara was the winner of the prestigious accolade Kane Williamson : Kane Stuart Williamson is currently the captain of New Zealand. He is a right-handed batsman and occasional off-spinner.As of April 2016, he is the number third ranked batsman in Test cricket.He made his first-class debut in December 2007.He made his U-19 debut against the touring Indian U-19 team the same year and was named captain of the New Zealand U-19 team for the 2008 U-19 Cricket World Cup.He made his international debut in 2010.

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