Current Affairs 20th April 2017 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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The National Green Tribunal on Thursday directed Delhi government to introduce destination buses from May 1, in a bid to help improve the air quality in the national capital.A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar directed the AAP government to run the point-to-point buses on an experimental basis from Dwarka, Rohini, Janakpuri, CGO complex and Badarpur border.The green panel said these services will start from spots where it is convenient for the public at large.The NGT said introduction of such bus services would facilitate an individual to opt for such a service, rather than driving a car alone on highly-congested roads.“The NCT Delhi and traffic police will duly advertise about the introduction of destination buses from April 25 for informing the public,” the Bench ordered and sought a status report within four weeks.The green panel also directed the Delhi Transport Corporation to maintain these buses and engage their staff for cleaning and maintaining them.The tribunal had earlier pulled up the Delhi government for not starting these point-to-point bus services till date despite its order. Destination buses are the ones which ply from one point to another without any halt.

An exoplanet orbiting a red dwarf star 40 light-years from Earth may be the new holder of the title “best place to look for signs of life beyond the Solar System”. Using ESO’s HARPS instrument at La Silla, and other telescopes around the world, an international team of astronomers discovered a “super-Earth” orbiting in the habitable zone around the faint star LHS 1140. This world is a little larger and much more massive than the Earth and has likely retained most of its atmosphere. This, along with the fact that it passes in front of its parent star as it orbits, makes it one of the most exciting future targets for atmospheric studies. The results will appear in the 20 April 2017 issue of the journal Nature.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh will inaugurate a two-day Civil Services Day function in New Delhi today.The inaugural session will be followed by a Plenary Session on Creating value through Human Capital Management in Government', chaired by Minister of State, Ministry of Personnel Jitendra Singh.Three Breakaway Sessions on subjects related to Agriculture, Energy and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship will also be organised.The main event will be held tomorrow, on the occasion of Civil Services Day.

As the world’s most widely spoken language it seems appropriate that Mandarin Chinese has one day every year dedicated to it. This officially marked day of Mandarin language celebration was established by the United Nations as a way of celebrating the language’s history and overall contribution to the world. It is hoped that by having one day every year to celebrate Mandarin Chinese this additional focus on the language will encourage more people around the world to take it up. With China likely to become the largest economy in the world it is important that the wider world becomes interestingly more proficient in this wonderful language. Chinese Language Day is annually celebrated in April 20. A great way to get involved in the celebration is to join a Mandarin class or attend one of the many Confucian Hubs now established by China in countries around the world.

A set of four rare stamps featuring the portrait of Mahatma Gandhi has been sold for record £500,000 at an auction in the UK, which, its seller said, is the highest price ever paid for Indian stamps. Only 13 of the 1948 Gandhi 10-rupee Purple Brown and Lake ‘Service’ stamps are in circulation. The block of four was sold to a private Australian collector for the highest ever price for Indian stamps, said UK-based dealer Stanley Gibbons.The Indian stamps were particularly rare owing to the fact they were in a set of four.From the issued sheet, supplied to the Governor-General’s Secretariat, only thirteen single examples are authoritatively recorded, including this strip of four and a block of four in the Royal Philatelic Collection, owned by Queen Elizabeth II, which is believed to be the world’s largest and most valuable private stamp collection, Gibbons said in a statement.“The recent sale follows that of another Indian philatelic rarity, the famous ‘Four Annas’, which sold in March this year for almost £110,000,” the statement said.However, the record price for a stamp sold an auction is $9.5 million (£7.4 million).“The market for high-quality Indian rarities has been strong for several years and is supported by the ongoing desire of the wealthy Indian diaspora and savvy international clients to own these historic assets,” Keith Heddle, managing director of investments at Stanley Gibbons.

Pakistan is waiting with a baited breath for the Supreme Court’s decision in the high-profile Panamagate case against Prime Minster Nawaz Sharif and his children amid speculation that the adverse ruling may force him to step down.The Supreme Court announced on Wednesday that its five-member Bench will issue the verdict in Panama case later in the day.The case was launched on November 3 and the court held 35 hearings before concluding the proceedings on February 23.The case was based on several identical petitions by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan and others about alleged illegal assets of the family of Mr. Sharif in London.The assets surfaced when Panama Papers showed that they were managed through offshore companies owned by Mr. Sharif’s children. The petitioners have asked the court to disqualify Mr. Sharif under Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution because he was involved in corruption and was no more “honest” and “truthful” as given in the Constitution.It is generally believed the court may not disqualify the Prime Minister, but it may pass comments which will bring a lot of moral pressure on Mr. Sharif to step down. “I don’t think he will be disqualified but his moral authority may be impacted,” said Manzoor Wassan, a senior leader of Opposition Pakistan People Party (PPP).Asif Ali Zardari, the co-chairman of PPP, in an interview with a private TV channel asked Mr. Sharif to resign in case the decision was against him.“We did not resist when the Supreme Court disqualified [then premier] Yousaf Raza Gilani. We chose another Prime Minister. Nawaz should do the same,” said Mr. Zardari.Mr. Zardari’s handpicked Prime Minister Gilani stepped down in 2012 when the Supreme Court convicted him for disobeying court orders.Mr. Zardari chaired an important meeting of PPP on April 19 and also called another meeting on April 20 to assess the political situation.Mr. Sharif’s nemesis Imran Khan and his party announced to launch movement for next election irrespective of the outcome of the decision.Mr. Khan held a meeting of party leaders on April 19 and asked them to stay in Islamabad to decide further course of action after the court verdict.Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, one of the petitioners, said that the decision will be “historic.”“It will result in a political earthquake in the country,” he said in Rawalpindi.Meanwhile, in a series of tweets Maryam Nawaz dispelled the impression that the Premier was worried about the expected judgment in Panama case.“People love Nawaz Sharif. It is not about the Prime Minister speaking. It’s what he’s speaking. His narrative is constructive and about development and progress. Eyes forward, mind focused, heart ready...game on, world ! Wazir-e-Azam Nawaz Sharif,” one of her tweet said.She also taunted the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf saying, “When all your plans have miserably failed and your precarious future hinges on... your best bet is a court decision.”Mr. Sharif’s supporters are adamant that their leader is “innocent” and will emerge stronger after the verdict.“His name is not in the Panama leaks. He has not committed any wrong. So he will be victorious,” said Railway Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique.Mr. Rafique also said that election will be held on time (next year).The security has been increased in and around the court.Dozens of policemen and personnel of law enforcing agencies are present around the court premises.Regardless of the impact of the decision, it is believed that it will be an important milestone in the fight against corruption.

The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) to e-auction the Taj Mansingh hotel in Delhi’s Lutyens zone.Once managed by the Tata Group and now run by the Indian Hotels Company (IHCL), the apex court also asserted that if the Tata Group loses the e-auction then it will have to vacate the premises within a period of six months.Earlier in March, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is a member of NDMC, announced that an open auction of Taj Mansingh Hotel would be done. The Supreme Court, earlier in November 2016, had ordered that the status quo with regard to the Taj Mansingh Hotel be maintained and issued a notice to the NDMC to reply to the plea against the auction of hotel.The Ministry of Home Affairs had supported the NDMC’s decision to auction Taj Mansingh Hotel, and also to terminate Hotel Le Méridien’s licence, and observed that the private “companies cannot exploit good relations with government”.The Centre had in 2015 set up a three-member fact-finding committee, headed by then joint secretary (MHA) KK Pathak. The panel recommended a CBI probe against Le Méridien that was approved by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.The findings of the committee also led to differences of opinion between former home secretary LC Goyal and the then additional secretary (MHA) Anant Kumar Singh. Both were transferred out of the Home Ministry. Former NDMC chairman and UT cadre IAS officer, Jalaj Srivastava, was at the centre of the CBI probe.

India has made a quarter-million-dollar contribution to the UN programme for helping countries to hold elections and develop their electoral systems. Eenam Gambhir, a First Secretary in India’s Mission to the UN, presented the cheque to Kyoko Shiotani, Chief of the Office of the Under-Secretary-General at the UN Department of Political Affairs, on Tuesday. This is the second Indian contribution of $250,000 to the programmes for electoral assistance and capacity building. The first was made in 2012.Through the Election Assistance Division set up in 1991, the UN has helped over 100 countries with their elections. The division principally provides technical assistance for organising and conducting elections. But it has also sent observers to ensure the integrity of elections at the request of the General Assembly or the Security Council, and even organised elections in Cambodia and Timor-Leste.

The rupee lost 13 paise against the dollar to 64.71 in early trade on Thursday on the Interbank Foreign Exchange due to appreciation of the U.S. currency overseas.Increased demand for the dollar from importers also put pressure on the rupee.Dealers attributed the rupee’s fall to dollar gains against other currencies overseas but a higher opening of the domestic equity market capped the fall Meanwhile, the BSE benchmark Sensex rose 63.57 points, ore today 0.22 per cent, at 29,400 in early trade.On Wednesday, the rupee had gained 5 paise to close at 64.58 a dollar on fresh selling of the American currency by banks and exporters.

Canada's Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan on Thursday paid obeisance at the Golden Temple in Amritsar where he was honoured by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). Mr. Sajjan, who had arrived in the city on Wednesday night, reached Harmandir Sahib early Thursday and went to the sanctum sanctorum to offer prayers. The visiting dignitary spent close to an hour at the premises and then left for his native village, Bambeli in Hoshiarpur.Mr. Sajjan is likely to visit Unique Home — a home for abandoned girl children in Jalandhar on his way to Bambeli —where he will meet nearly 60 girls who live there.The SGPC as per traditions, honoured Mr. Sajjan by presenting with a 'siropa' (robe of honour), shawl and set of religious books.“Mr. Sajjan is a senior dignitary of Canada, who has done commendable work for his community and the country..It is a proud moment for all as we honour him,” said SGPC Head, Kirpal Singh Badungar, who was present at the holy Sikh shrine.The Canadian Minister will be in Chandigarh on Friday where he will inaugurate the new office of the Consulate-General of Canada.Mr. Sajjan, who has been dubbed as a 'Khalistani sympathiser' by Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh was received by district administration officers on Wednesday evening as he arrived in the Amritsar.As the Deputy commissioner Amritsar Kamaldeep Singh Sangha was not in the city, Ajnala sub-divisional magistrate Anupreet Kaur received the dignitary at Sri Guru Ramdas Airport.Members of some radical groups were present outside the airport terminal with banners welcoming Mr. Sajjan, they were, however, not allowed to meet the dignitary due to security reasons.

Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad allegedly had a heated argument with cops over “non-functioning” of ATMs at Latur in Marathwada region, police said. Videos of the alleged heated argument between Gaikwad, his supporters and police personnel at Latur in Marathwada region, have gone viral on social media.In the visuals, Gaikwad is purportedly seen arguing with a police officer, during a protest over non-functioning ATMs at Latur. The Lok Sabha member from adjoining Osmanabad constituency, Gaikwad, who reached Latur on Tuesday, had sent his aide to withdraw money from an ATM at Latur.However, the aide returned empty-handed, saying the ATM had run out of cash. This happened with a few other ATMs, prompting the Sena MP to go out and stage a protest with his supporters outside an ATM. When policemen arrived and requested Gaikwad to discontinue his protest as it was hampering the vehicular traffic, the Sena MP allegedly shouted at them, police said.Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad allegedly had a heated argument with cops over “non-functioning” of ATMs at Latur in Marathwada region, police said. Videos of the alleged heated argument between Gaikwad, his supporters and police personnel at Latur in Marathwada region, have gone viral on social media.Ithe visuals, Gaikwad is purportedly seen arguing with a police officer, during a protest over non-functioning ATMs at Latur. The Lok Sabha member from adjoining Osmanabad constituency, Gaikwad, who reached Latur on Tuesday, had sent his aide to withdraw money from an ATM at Latur.However, the aide returned empty-handed, saying the ATM had run out of cash. This happened with a few other ATMs, prompting the Sena MP to go out and stage a protest with his supporters outside an ATM. When policemen arrived and requested Gaikwad to discontinue his protest as it was hampering the vehicular traffic, the Sena MP allegedly shouted at them, police said.Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad allegedly had a heated argument with cops over “non-functioning” of ATMs at Latur in Marathwada region, police said. Videos of the alleged heated argument between Gaikwad, his supporters and police personnel at Latur in Marathwada region, have gone viral on social media.In the visuals, Gaikwad is purportedly seen arguing with a police officer, during a protest over non-functioning ATMs at Latur. The Lok Sabha member from adjoining Osmanabad constituency, Gaikwad, who reached Latur on Tuesday, had sent his aide to withdraw money from an ATM at Latur.

China has issued stricter regulations requiring officials to report personal information, including assets, to the ruling Communist Party, state media said, in the country’s latest effort to tackle corruption.China’s President Xi Jinping sees extravagance and corruption as an existential threat to the party, whose authority is in part predicated on its ability to spread the gains of China’s growth fairly among the Chinese people.His ongoing crackdown on corruption has moved in recent months away from the high profile officials to weeding out daily corruption at the grassroots, making almost anyone a potential target.“Officials at deputy county level or above are required to report information, including their marital status, overseas travel, criminal records, wages and other earnings, family properties, stocks, funds, insurance and other investment,” the official Xinhua news agency reported late on Wednesday.The rules, jointly issued by the General Office of the party’s Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council, China’s cabinet, would be accompanied by random audits, increased in frequency to one in 10 reports, Xinhua said.The report of personal information is an important assessment of loyalty to the party,” Xinhua said, adding that it would be linked to the promotion process.It also said punishments have been stipulated for false declarations and deliberate concealment of personal information, but did not specify what they were.Many cases of corruption have involved officials registering businesses and property under the names of relatives, allowing them to meet the letter of party guidelines while still using their influence to amass wealth.Officials are currently not subject to public asset disclosure requirements. China also does not have an independent anti-corruption body, and insists the party and the government can police itself.

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