Current Affairs 16th April 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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 In recognition of Indian activist Bindeshwar Pathak's contribution to improve people's health and hygiene, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio declared this year's April 14th as Bindeshwar Pathak Day.He was honoured for advocating human rights in India and developing novel and eco-friendly sanitation technologies. He is the founder of Sulabh International, an Indian social outfit that works to improve sanitation across the country.Earlier this week, the 73-year-old Pathak was also conferred with the New York Global Leaders Dialogue Humanitarian Award.Sulabh, which comprises nearly 50,000 people, has constructed around 1.3 million household toilets and 54 million government toilets based on an inventive design. Besides, the organisation is spearheading a movement to stop manual cleaning of human waste.Mahesh Iyer named COO of Thomas Cook Thomas Cook has promoted Foreign Exchange Division head Mahesh Iyer to the post of Chief Operating Officer (COO). Iyer will steer the firm's day-to-day business management.In addition, Iyer will also be in charge of managing the visa and foreign exchange business in India, Sri Lanka and Mauritius.

Indian professional table tennis player Achanta Sharath Kamal from Tamil Nadu qualified for the Rio Olympics 2016   in Hong Kong. The 33-year-old, who along with Mouma Das was a step away from booking a berth for the Games, qualified here on Saturday after beating Noshad Alamiyan 4-3 of Iran in the last round on April 16,2016.He joins Manika Batra and Soumyajit Ghosh as the other two players from India to have made it through to the Games in August.  Das, the other contender on the day, couldnt make it through to the Games after losing her match to Ri Myong Sun of North Korea.Sharath’s maiden appearance at the Olympics came during the 2004 Athens Olympics as a 22-year-old.

Himachal Pradesh is celebrating 69th Himachal Day. On the occasion, a state­level function would be held at Ghumarvin town in Bilaspur district where Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh will unfurl the national flag. Similarly, the ministers of state council would preside over functions in all the district headquarters. AIR correspondent reports that security has been beefed up throughout in the state. After independence, the Chief Commissioner's Province of Himachal Pradesh came into existence on 15 April 1948, with the merger of 28 petty princely states. Himachal became a part C state on 26 January 1950 with the implementation of the Constitution of India and the Lt. Governor was appointed.Himachal Pradesh is one of the best States of India. It is located in the Northern region of India. The state experiences heavy snowfall in winters. Himachal Pradesh is composed of high range mountains, different kinds of flora and fauna. The state came into effect, in 1971, when it was formed. Following 1971, the state of Himachal Pradesh faced many developments.

Senior IPS officer PP Pandey, who is out on bail in the alleged fake encounter case of Ishrat Jahan, has been appointed as the in-charge director general of police (DGP) of Gujarat after the incumbent PC Thakur was transferred to Delhi.The control room was informed that PP Pandey would hold the additional charge of state DGP till further announcement about the permanent DGP, said the official requesting anonymity.Pandey is a DGP rank IPS officer and currently posted as the director of state Anti Corruption Bureau.He was re-inducted into service in 2015 after he secured bail in the Ishrat Jahan case.Ministry of Home Affairs through a circular has announced the appointment of Thakur, who was serving as state DGP since 2013, as the director general of Civil Defence and Home Guards in Delhi.Mr. Pandey is a 1980 batch IPS of Gujarat cadre and currently out on bail in the controversial Ishrat Jahan fake encounter   

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on 16 April 2016 revoked the accreditation of the Moscow Antidoping Center of Russia.The laboratory was suspended on 10 November 2015 as recommended in the WADA independent commission report that laid bare evidence of state-sponsored doping and corruption in sport in Russia. The report found that laboratory director Grigori Rodchenkov had ordered close to 1500 samples to be destroyed, prompting the disgraced director's resignation.It was suspended due to non-compliance with the International Standard for Laboratories and the related Technical documents and since then, the lab was prohibited from carrying out any WADA-related anti-doping activities including all analyses of urine and blood samplesThe revocation was accepted by the Laboratory and will enter into force immediately and means that the Laboratory will continue to be prevented from carrying out the testing of doping control samples on behalf of WADA or any testing authority.The decision was taken by Executive Committee of WADA following a thorough review of the status of the Laboratory by an independent WADA appointed Disciplinary Panel.But the Russian Athletics Federation remains under scrutiny, with new head Dmitry Shlyakhtin working to overturn a ban by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) over allegations of systematic doping that could see Russian track and field stars sidelined from the Rio de Janeiro Games in August 2016.The WADA independent commission report published in November 2015 alleged that senior Russian federation officials enabled the use of performance-enhancing drugs and covered up doping violations, among other damning accusations.

The European Parliament on 14 April 2016 approved a joint system for Police and Justice Officials to access airline passenger data on all flights to and from the EU. The measure was passed by 461 votes to 179 against.The creation of the new system will enable security agencies to systematically store the data of airline passengers travelling to, from and within the EU.The creation of a European passenger name records (PNR) system gained momentum following 2015 Paris terrorist attacks. The March 22 attacks in Brussels added further urgency.PNR includes name, travel dates, itinerary, ticket details, contact details, travel agent, and means of payment, seat number and baggage information.Counter-terrorism officials have lobbied for years for the introduction of Passenger Name Records (PNR), arguing that sharing data will help them trace suspicious itineraries. EU countries will have two years to turn it into national law.

Union Government on 14 April 2016 notified the Scheduled Castes (SC) and the Scheduled Tribes (ST) (Prevention of Atrocities (PoA)) Amendment Rules, 2016. The amendments are done in the principal rules of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995. The SC and ST (PoA) Amendment Act, 2015 : New offences of atrocities like tonsuring of head, moustache, or similar acts which are derogatory to the dignity of members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, garlanding with chappals, denying access to irrigation facilities or forest rights , dispose or carry human or animal carcasses, or to dig graves, using or permitting manual scavenging, dedicating a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe women as devadasi, abusing in caste name, perpetrating witchcraft atrocities, imposing social or economic boycott, preventing Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes candidates from filing of nomination to contest elections, hurting a Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes woman by removing her garments, forcing a member of Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe to leave house , village or residence, defiling objects sacred to members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribe, touching or using words, acts or gestures of a sexual nature against members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribe.Addition of certain IPC offences like hurt, grievous hurt, intimidation, kidnapping etc., attracting less than ten years of imprisonment, committed against members of Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe, as offences punishable under the PoA Act.Establishment of Exclusive Special Courts and specification of Exclusive Special Public Prosecutors also, to exclusively try the offences under the PoA Act to enable speedy and expeditious disposal of cases.Power of Special Courts and Exclusive Special Courts, to take direct cognizance of offence and as far as possible, completion of trial of the case within two months, from the date of filing of the charge sheetAddition of chapter on the Rights of Victims and Witnesses.Defining clearly the term willful negligence of public servants at all levels, starting from the registration of complaint, and covering aspects of dereliction of duty under the Act.Addition of presumption to the offences –If the accused was acquainted with the victim or his family, the court will presume that the accused was aware of the caste or tribal identity of the victim unless proved otherwise.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has make masala bonds reduced the minimum tenure of such bonds that an Indian company can issue offshore to three years from the previously stated five years.It has been decided to reduce the minimum maturity period for the rupee-denominated bonds issued overseas to three years in order to align with the maturity prescription regarding foreign investment in corporate bonds through the foreign portfolio investment (FPI) route,” the central bank said in a circular on April 13,2016.Money raised through masala bonds overseas will be counted in the overall investment limit for FPIs in corporate bonds, which now stands at Rs.2.44 trillion. FPI investment limit in corporate bonds will be expressed in rupees instead of dollars, bringing it on a par with limits in government bonds. The maximum amount a single issuer can raise through masala bonds is Rs.5,000 crore.Masala bonds are issued in rupees but can be settled in US dollars and thus besides the credit risk of the issuer, risk of the exchange rate also falls on the investor.Indian companies were allowed to issue rupee-denominated bonds in the offshore market in September last year but so far no company has been able to raise funds through this route.The idea of masala bonds was first floated by RBI in April 2015 following which the central bank issued guidelines for the same in September. Over the last four months, Indian Railway Finance Corp. (IRFC), Housing Development and Finance Corp., NTPC Ltd, Shriram Transport Finance and Dewan Housing Finance Ltd have all hawked masala bonds without success.International Finance Corp. (IFC), the investment arm of World Bank, has successfully raised Rs.11,000 crore through such bonds from the international markets. British Columbia, a province of Canada, also intends to borrow through masala bonds and invest the proceeds in India.

The Indian government has ranked its ministers on the basis of how quickly and efficiently they respond to people's requests on Twitter. The survey, which was reportedly conducted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's office, put foreign minister Sushma Swaraj in the top position. Modi is famous for his use of social media and has the third-highest number of Twitter followers in India, behind Bollywood actors Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan. Several ministers in his government have also been using Twitter as a tool of governance. At the top is external affairs minister Sushma Swaja, who is also the most-followed foreign minister in the world, according to a 2015 study. She has been using Twitter to tackle diplomatic issues as well as individual cases, such as evacuating an Indian woman under house arrest in UAE, and rescuing stranded Indians in Yemen and Iraq. Swaraj is followed by railway minister Suresh Prabhu, who has been using Twitter to troubleshoot passengers' problems. The railways ministry has a special Twitter control room and takes complaints and grievances through its official Twitter handle @RailminIndia. Through these handles, the ministry has responded to requests for medical help, reuniting lost children with their parents and security in cases of harassment. The two were followed by minister of state for power, coal, new and renewable energy Piyush Goyal; culture and tourism minister Mahesh Sharma; and minister of state for finance Jayant Sinha. Modi, the third most-followed international political leader on Twitter, had famously used social media during his election campaign in 2013-14. He has also asked various ministeries to open and use Twitter accounts, after taking charge as the Prime Minister in 2014.

The Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley participated in the Sixth Annual Ministerial Meeting of India- US Economic and Financial Partnership (EFP) in Washington D.C. The meeting took stock of the concerted efforts undertaken by both sides to deepen mutual understanding and to improve cooperation across a wide range of bilateral and multilateral issues.The two sides noted the significant progress made in resolving bilateral tax disputes between the United States and India. Progress has also been made in sharing of financial information between the two countries under the Inter-Governmental Agreement, pursuant to Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).  The Finance Minister underscored that Financial Action Task Force (FATF) must ensure effective implementation of legislation in various countries relating to terrorist financing and take concrete action against countries sponsoring terrorism and hosting terrorist infrastructure. The FATF must also address offshore tax evasion and avoidance including through tax havens. 

The Government of India has released the Sagarmala National Perspective Plan to promote port-led development in the country. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, unveiled the program at the inauguration of the Maritime India Summit in Mumbai. The National Perspective Plan has been crafted after detailed consultations with key stakeholders in the central and state governments, public sector companies as well as private players from shipping, ports, ship-building, power, cement and steel sectors. It strengthens Sagarmala’s vision of substantially reducing export-import and domestic trade costs with a minimal investment.Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways, said that the Government is promoting water transportation as it will considerably reduce the logistics cost which is very high in India compared to China and European nations.It is being estimated that the program could lead to annual logistics cost savings of around Rs 35,000 crore and boost India’s merchandise exports to $110 billion by 2025. It will also create about one crore new jobs, of which 40 lakhs will be direct employment. This plan consists four strategic levers – optimizing multi-modal transport to reduce the cost of domestic cargo, minimizing the time and cost of export-import cargo logistics, lowering costs for bulk industries by locating them closer to the coast, and improving export competitiveness by locating discrete manufacturing clusters near ports.India has a coastline of about 7,500kms which covers 13 states and Union Territories. The country enjoys a strategic location on key international trade routes. Nations like the United States, Japan, Korea and more recently, China, have leveraged their coastline and waterways to drive industrial development. The Sagarmala programme, led by the Ministry of Shipping, aims to replicate these successes in India. Sagarmala National Perspective Plan : Sagarmala includes around 150 projects and initiatives in four broad areas. To modernize India’s port infrastructure, five to six new ports have been proposed to be built. Additionally over 40 port-capacity enhancement projects will be taken up. Besides increasing capacity, these projects will result in a more modern port infrastructure through the mechanization of berths and deepening of drafts to accommodate larger vessels.The second focus area is port connectivity, where over 80 projects are being planned. These include connectivity infrastructure projects like a heavy-haul rail corridor to evacuate large volumes of coal in Odisha, freight-friendly expressways to enable efficient movement of containers on key routes, and the development of strategic inland waterways. The third set of projects aims to tap into the potential of port-led industrialization to boost industrial and export growth along the coastline. This will be realized through 14 Coastal Economic Zones (CEZs) along the coastline, each of which will house a number of industrial clusters. The clusters will have industries from the energy, bulk materials as well as discrete manufacturing segments, all of which will be able to use high-quality infrastructure which is fully-integrated with the corresponding ports.Finally, the potential of coastal communities will be harnessed by focused skill-development to support port-led industrialization. The set of initiatives under this head also includes developing opportunities for fishermen and other coastal communities as well as development of the numerous islands along India’s coastline. In terms of economic impact, the program envisages investments of close to Rs 4 lakh crore to flow into infrastructure. The Sagarmala program has taken shape using the government’s core philosophy of cooperative federalism. Keeping this in mind, the National Perspective Plan was drawn up with stakeholder consultations in parallel. Momentum on some key projects and initiatives has already picked up even as the plan is being released. Detailed project reports are being drafted for some of the new ports identified in the plan as well as for the connectivity projects like the heavy haul rail corridor. A separate perspective plan for the CEZs and a detailed master plan for major ports are also in the works.

Famous Malian photographer, Malick Sidibe, died on 14 April 2016. He was 80.Sidibe is known for his black and white studio portraits that captured the lives of young Malians in the 1960s and 1970s. Critics say, his photos of Mali's post-colonial period helped people see the West African nation in a new light.His work has been the subject of a number of publications and been exhibited throughout Europe, and in the United States.In 2007, he became the first photographer and the first African to be awarded the Golden Lion lifetime achievement award at the Venice Biennale. He also won a Hasselblad Award for photography and an International Center of Photography Infinity Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das on 14 April 2016 launched the Bhimrao Ambedkar Awas Yojana for widows.Its objective of the scheme is to create equality and harmony in society, ensuring all round development. Features of the Yojana : The programme is with a budget allocation of 80 crore rupees and a target of 11000 units (houses) for widows was set in 2016-17 financial year. An amount of 75000 rupees would be granted to build a house in districts in hilly terrains and 70000 rupees in plains and the amount would be distributed among the beneficiaries in three installments in their bank accounts.

Google in collaboration with RailTel, the telecom arm of the Indian Railways, has rolled out free Wi-Fi service at 9 more stations, taking the total to 10 where it will offer high-speed Internet to an estimated 1.5 million passengers and visitors.Free Wi-Fi by Google-RailTel took off at Mumbai Central in January this year.The new stations include Pune, Bhubaneswar and Ranchi.The formal launch in Bhubaneswar is slated for this week.Jaipur, Ujjain and Allahabad will go live next.The network is now live in 10 key stations across the country and will enable about 1.5 million people to access high-speed Internet service. We are scaling up our efforts to roll out the network quickly to cover some of smaller stations where connectivity is much more limited.users in Pune, Bhubaneswar, Bhopal, Ranchi, Raipur, Vijayawada, Kacheguda (Hyderabad), Ernakulum Jn (Kochi) and Vishakhapatnam will be able to access the network using their smartphones for free.Google and RailTel have collaborated to make Wi-Fi network available across 100 stations to deliver high-speed internet to 10 million Indians a day by the end of the year. Free Wi-fi Services Project : The project will eventually be rolled out to cover 400 railway stations across India.This project will be the largest publicly accessible high-speed WiFi network in the country, but our real hope is that this project will set new benchmarks in delivering a reliable and consistent network connectivity RailTel owns a pan-India optic fibre network exclusively on railway track. It has laid out over 45,000 kms of optic fibre network across the country, which Google looks to utilise for its WiFi.The network is built for a wide coverage and high capacity usage unlike a typical WiFi hotspot which offers connectivity in limited area.As per the plan, RailTel will be the ISP while Google will provide the wireless area network (WAN) and set up points of access at platforms.

The National Institute of Technology (NIT) Sikkim has secured a rare distinction of having a supercomputer, which is said to be the most powerful and fastest among all the 31 NITs.The supercomputer, named ‘Param Kanchenjunga’, was formally unveiled by Sikkim Governor Shrinvas Patil at the NIT Sikkim campus at Ravangla in South Sikkim District.The Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) is a research and development organization under the Department of Electronics and Information Technology, Govt of India. The National Centre for Software Technology (NCST), ER&DCI and CEDTI were merged into C-DAC in 2003.Pune-based Centre for Development of Advanced Computing ‘C-DAC’ and the NIT Sikkim have jointly established the supercomputer at a cost of Rs. three crore. Features : Supercomputer is a computer with great speed and memory and this kind of computer can do jobs faster than any other computer of its generation.They are usually thousands of times faster than ordinary personal computers made at that time.Most powerful and fastest among all the 31 NITs.The supercomputer is expected to help achieve excellence in engineering education and research in the north-east region.  

The national capital has been recognised as one of the 50 future-ready cities around the world that are embracing technology to adapt and thrive in an ever-changing and globalised future, according to a report by IT major Dell.Delhi is ranked 44th on the list which is topped by San Jose, followed by San Francisco.The ‘Future-Ready Economies Model’ scores large, high-growth global metropolitan areas based on attributes that enable people and organisations to access new tools and ideas that deliver better connectivity, better economic performance and a greater ability to attract talent. Three Dimension : The cities positioned in the list were evaluated along three dimensions — human capital, infrastructure and commerce.  The Centre has launched some ambitious initiatives aimed at creation of a digitally enabled nation, one that allows for last mile connectivity and helps improve the quality of life.Delhi's ranking on this list is validation of India's progress in the right direction. We look forward to partnering with the government and creating a future-ready India .

South Korea’s main opposition party "Minjoo Party of Korea" has won 123 seats out of 300 seats while the centre-right Saenuri party has won 122 seats. With this the governing party in South Korea has lost the parliamentary majority it has held for 16 years.It was for the first time since 1999 that the conservative party has lost control of parliament, with the three opposition parties garnering a combined 167 seats, well over the majority. South Korea Elections : The president is directly elected for a single five-year term by plurality vote. The National Assembly has 300 members elected for a four-year term, 253 in single-seat constituencies and 47 proportional representation seats are allocated to parties according to the numbers of votes they receive overall. South Korea has a multi-party system, with two dominant parties and numerous third parties.

The Delhi government has banned for one year the sale, purchase and storage of all forms of chewable tobacco, including guthka, pan masala, khaini and zarda, in the Capital.The Department of Food Safety on Thursday issued a notification in this regard on Wednesday.According to the notification, unpackaged products of chewable tobacco, too, are within the ambit of the ban.Stating that tobacco is known to cause adverse impact on health of consumers and could also lead to alteration of the genetic make-up of future generations, the notification.The manufacture, storage, distribution, or sale of tobacco which is either flavoured, scented or mixedand whether going by the name or form of guthka, pan, masala, flavoured/scented tobacco, kharra, or otherwise whether packaged or unpackaged and/or sold as one product, or though packaged as separate products, sold or distributed in such manner so as to easily facilitate mixing by the consumer is prohibited for a period of one year.Previously a notification was issued by Delhi government in September, 2012, in pursuance of a series of directions from Supreme Court for a ban on 'guthka' in the city. But since the term 'gutkha' was used in that notification, tobacco retailers started selling the components of 'guthka' (betel nut and raw tobacco) in separate pouches, thus defeating the purpose behind the ban.

Former Punjab Lokpal Justice (retd) D S Dhaliwal died on April 14,2016.He was 78 and breathed his last at his residence.Sekhon, elder brother of Punjab cabinet minister Janmeja Singh Sekhon, had been fighting cancer for more than a year.He started his career as a lawyer at the Ferozepur district and sessions court and before being elevated as high court judge, he worked as district and sessions judge in several courts of the state.After his retirement from high court he served as chief commissioner Gurdwara election 2002 and was appointed Lok Pal Punjab in the year 2012.

Ukraine’s parliament has appointed Volodymyr Groysman as the country’s new prime minister. He was voted in by MPs 257 to 50 as the 16th Prime Minister of Ukraine.MPs voted to approve Mr. Groysman’s appointment and accept the resignation of his predecessor,ArseniyYatsenyuk.Groysman will succeed Yatsenyuk, after serving as his deputy during the latter’s first government, in the aftermath of the toppling of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014. Ukraine's second-youngest prime minister : Elected mayor of home city of Vinnytsia in 2006, said to have transformed the city.He recently promised to "work with people who inspire trust, not disgust"He pledged to crack down on corruption, create more jobs, attract foreign investment and push to join Nato and EU Aged 38 and married with three children.

India was among the first four countries to get a loan from the newly established BRICS New Development Bank which gave a USD 250 million funding to Canara Bank  for a renewable energy project.The China-based NDB has approved four green renewable energy projects from India, China, Brazil and South Africa entailing Bank financing of USD 811 million. The project from India entails provisioning of a multi-tranche loan of USD 250 million to Canara Bank for lending to renewable energy ventures .New Development Bank sanctioned 4 loans including a loan of USD 250 million for a renewable energy scheme in India. Good beginning .This loan is the first such loan from the development financial institution, according to officials. The New Development Bank was formed by the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa)leadership with the objective of funding infrastructure projects in emerging economies and to meet the aspirations of hundreds of millions of people through sustainable development. The NDB which commenced operations in July, 2015, is headquartered in the eastern Chinese metropolis Shanghai and its initial authorised capital is USD 100 billion. 

The Union Government has renamed Panagarh Air Force Base of Indian Air Force in West Bengal as ‘Air Force Station Arjan Singh’ in honour of the Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh. It was renamed on the occasion of 93rd birthday of Arjan Singh. Air Officer Commander-in-Chief of the Eastern Air Command, Air Marshal C. Harikumar unveiled the rechristening plaque. This is first time in India’s defence history, a military installations has been named after individuals, especially when they are alive. Arjan Singh  : Singh was born on April 15, 1919, in Lyalpur (now Faislabad, Pakistan). He had completed his education at Montgomery (now Sahiwal, Pakistan). He was selected to the Empire Pilot training course at RAF Cranwell at the tender age of 19 years. He had served on different positions in RAF during the British Rule. On August 15, 1947, he had achieved a unique honour of leading a fly-past of over a hundred IAF aircraft over the Red Fort in Delhi. He had served as the IAF chief from August 1964 to 69. He was the first Indian Air Chief to be elevated to the rank of Air Chief Marshal in 1966. He had led the Indian Air Force (IAF) in the 1965 India-Pakistan war. He had launched IAF;s Operation Grand Slam that targeted at the vital town of Akhnoor of Pakistan. He retired in August 1969 and later was appointed as Ambassador of India to Switzerland. He also had served as Lieutenant Governor of New Delhi from 1989 to 1990. Awards and Honours: In recognition of his lifelong services, Union government conferred the rank of the “Marshal of the Indian Air Force” on him in 2002 making him the first and the only ‘Five Star’ rank officer with the IAF. He was awarded Padma Vibhushan for his astute leadership of the Air Force during the India-Pakistan war. Panagarh Air Force Base: It is one of the crucial Air Force Base in the eastern theatre.  It is located in Burdwan district of West Bengal. It was constructed in 1944 during the World War II. It has played a significant role in the 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan.

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