Current Affairs 13th August 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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Country's largest public sector lender State bank of India and Korea Development Bank have signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance business synergies. The agreement outlines the plan to enhance cooperation in areas including corporate finance, project finance and asset finance. Asset finance includes (but not limited to) trade finance, cash management products, syndicated loans, infrastructure/real estate financing, capital markets, securitisation, derivatives and risk management, financial advisory services and acquisition finance To enable a smooth cooperation and draw the full benefit from the MoU, both the banks will work on the establishment of a korea desk in India.The proposed credit lines from KDB will help SBI to offer competitive terms for facilitating bilateral business. The proposed Korea Desk follows the recent inauguration of Japan Desk by SBI in New Delhi. KDB is providing funding facility to SBI through credit lines and/or money market lines, as per terms agreed between the two banks.The funds may be used for money market, trade finance and loans to Korean companies doing business in the country. Through this MoU, both SBI and KDB will gain direct access to both markets of operation, and will be able to use the vast combined network to expand their businesses abroad. India is increasingly making its global presence felt across various landscapes. Partnering with an organisation like SBI is strategically important to us, and we look forward to contributing to SBI's growth through our market expertise and established relationships.

Syndicate Bank has embarked on a large scale transformation program called "Project Ananya" that focuses on improved customer service and offering latest in digital banking services. The bank plans to transform 10 per cent of its branches to the new format in the next 6-12 months, it said in a statement. The first Ananya branch was opened by MD and CEO Arun Srivastava. A completely operational account is available in less than 1 day with no additional visits to the branch and making this one of the fastest account opening processes in the industry. Project Ananya over the next 2 years will upgrade the products, services and digital channels of the Bank to cater to the fast changing customer needs including those of the younger generation, who are more tech-savvy and prefer to do banking online. The project is also focused on improving business through enhanced sales and service focus as well as improving the HR policies and practices of the Bank.

Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences & Technology (SCTIMST), Thiruvananthapuram (an institute of national importance under DST) have agreed to join hands to develop Deep Brain Stimulator (DBS).  DBS involves implanting electrodes within certain areas of brain and the regular electrical pulses generated by a pacemaker-like device placed under the skin in upper chest regulates the abnormal impulses of the brain. DBS is used in typical neurological conditions of Essential tremor, Parkinson's disease and Dystonia.  The DBS consists of implanted pulse generator, electrodes and extension cables which interface with external Programmer module and wireless battery charger.  As per the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between BARC & SCTMIST yesterday, BARC will develop the device as per specifications provided by SCTMIST and SCTMIST will be responsible for clinical trials, testing and qualification.  Electronics Division, Reactor Control Division and Centre for Design & Manufacture of BARC will participate in the development of various subsystems. The 1st prototypes are planned to be available in 3 years.

The Supreme Court of India has lifted the ban on registration of high-end diesel cars and SUVs having engine capacity of 2000 cc and above in Delhi and NCR. Ruling in this regard was given by SC bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur on record the affidavits filed by some car makers and Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.  The petitioners had offered to deposit one per cent of the price of the vehicles as Environment Protection Charge (EPC) before the registration of such vehicles. The one per cent amount, charged as EPC shall be paid to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) which will open a separate account with a scheduled public sector bank.  The registration of the vehicle will be done by Regional Transport Officer on the satisfaction that one per cent of the cost of the vehicle has been deposited. The question whether the rate of ECC should be increased has been left open and may be increased in future, but such increase would not be done retrospectively. SC’s this verdict modifies its December 2015 order on complete ban fresh registration of high-end diesel cars with 2000 CC and above engine capacity in Delhi and NCR. Earlier in July 2016 SC also had reserved its verdict on pleas seeking modification its order banning registration of high-end diesel cars.

Researchers from the Pune-based National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS) have successfully isolated cancer stem cells that cause skin cancer.  They have successfully demonstrated that Andrographolide (a compound) isolated and purified from Andrographis paniculata (a herb) found in India is effective in inhibiting tumour growth both in skin cancer and lung metastasis in mice. In order to establish that CD133 positive cancer stem cells cause cancer, the researchers had injected these cells subcutaneously into mice.  The CD133 positive cancer stem cells that develops tumour faster than non-cancer stem cells. It also produces lung metastasis in a different set of mice that received the cells through intravenous injection.  The research showed that all the animals injected with CD133 positive cancer stem cells developed skin cancer (melanoma). When the compound Andrographolide was injected in the mice, it inhibiting tumour growth both in skin cancer and lung metastasis. Significance of Research  : The study indicates that the compound Andrographolide has therapeutic potential for the management of cancer stem-cell mediated melanoma growth and lung metastasis. The compound has ability to inhibit CD133 positive cancer stem cells growth which mediates tumour growth and lung metastasis. It also shows enhanced ability to flush out cancer drugs from inside the cells thereby increasing the probability of tumour relapse.

The Nagaland Government has  decided to grant 33 percent reservation to women in Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) on 10 August 2016. The decision was taken during a cabinet meeting held in Kohima. The decision was announced by the Chief Minister TR Zeliang during the State Level Watershed Conference held in Kohima. Zeliang however said the state has not been able to avail the annual developmental funds granted by the Centre for ULBs, which was a big loss. Elections to the state ULBs have been pending for several years as the tenure of the first municipal bodies came to an end between December 2009 and March 2010. Zeliang said the Joint Action Committee on Women Reservation of the Naga Mothers' Association was fighting in the Supreme Court for 33 percent women reservation, which has also led to withholding of the elections to the ULBs. The Chief Minister informed that the dates for conducting the elections would be announced soon.

The World Bio-Fuel Day was observed across the world on 10 August 2016. The day is observed every year with an aim to create awareness about non fossil-fuels (Green Fuels).On 10 August 1893, Sir Rudalph Diesel (inventor of the diesel engine) for the first time successfully ran mechanical engine with Peanut Oil.  His research experiment had predicted that vegetable oil is going to replace the fossil fuels in the next century to fuel different mechanical engines. Thus to mark this extraordinary achievement, World Bio-fuel Day is observed every year on 10th August. World Bio-Fuel Day in India : On this occasion, the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan inaugurated a national-level conference in New Delhi. In this conference, he estimated that the bio-fuel industry could grow from the current 6500 crore rupees to 1 lakh crore rupees in the next 10 years.

The Odisha government has decided to make Aadhar Card mandatory for procurement of paddy in the state.In a meeting at the state secretariat in Bhubaneswar held on 11 August 2016, it was decided to link Aadhaar cards of farmers to the cooperative banks and the peasants’ accounts for online transfer of cost of paddy to be procured from the coming kharif season. Both farmers and sharecroppers would link their Aadhaar cards for online payment of paddy cost. This apart, the government has also decided to link Aadhaar numbers of beneficiaries for availing ration under National Food Security Scheme and work under MG-NREGA. So far 68 percent people have already availed Aadhar Card and others would be provided with the same before November 2016.  

For Indian travellers, Mumbai has been ranked the most expensive city in the country, but second least expensive in the world, according to a report. The financial capital of the country, Mumbai has been ranked the most expensive city in India, however, it is the second least expensive destination in the world to visit after Hanoi, according to TripAdvisors sixth edition of annual TripIndex Cities. Overall, the report revealed that New York (US), the most expensive city internationally for a three-day break for Indians will cost Rs 1,24,201, which is over three times costly than Mumbai, the most expensive city in India. Capetown in South Africa has been ranked third globally least expensive city to visit followed by Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Bangkok (Thailand) and Moscow (Russia). TripAdvisors sixth edition of annual TripIndex Cities compares the cost of a three-night break during the summer travel from June-September in 27 key cities around the world. Conducted by independent research firm TNS, TripIndex Cities also includes eight Indian cities, including New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune, Jaipur, taking into account in-destination costs for two people. These include - a four-star hotel for three nights, a visit to three attractions, lunch each day, a taxi to and from dinner each day, plus the cost of dinner itself, the report said. In India, Pune in Maharashtra is the lowest cost destination at Rs 26,595, followed by Jaipur, Chennai, Kolkata and Bangalore, the report revealed. \Globally when it come to eating out, Tokyo has emerged the most expensive city at Rs 40,587, which is almost three times the cost of Hyderabad that is the costliest in India at Rs 13,668. In transport, the report revealed that Tokyo, which has the most expensive taxi ride at Rs 7,736 is six times more than the cost in New Delhi (Rs 1,224) and more than 12 times in Mumbai (Rs 628). At the same time, New Delhi, which has the most expensive taxi fares in India is two-three times more expensive than the cost of taxi rides in international cities like Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Moscow and Bali. 

The Aditya Birla Group has announced a plan to merge Aditya Birla Nuvo Ltd (ABNL) with Grasim Industries to create an entity with combined revenue of Rs. 60,000 crore.  Under this plan, the financial services business will be demerged into a newly formed company — Aditya Birla Financial Services Ltd (ABFSL), which will be listed separately. The transaction will be completed by the end of the current fiscal, but the financial services arm will be listed next year. The deal will be done in two steps. First, ABNL will be merged into Grasim, that will be followed by the demerger of the financial services business. The merger will also consolidate the cross-holding within the group as both companies own stakes in Idea Cellular, Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail and Hindalco Industries.  However, Grasim has a cash surplus of rs. 500 crore, while Aditya Birla Nuvo has net debt of ₹2,500 crore. So, the restructured Grasim will have net debt of ₹2,000 crore after the merger.

Hindustan Copper  Limited (HCL) has inaugurated the country's first facility to produce nickel, a metal for which the country is completely dependent on imports. The new facility--- Nickel, Copper and Acid Recovery Plant is located at the company's Indian Copper Complex (ICC) at Ghatshila in Jharkhand. Poised to be the only unit in India to produce nickel metal of (London Metal Exchange) LME grade, the facility was inaugurated by Balvinder Kumar . The metal is primarily used to make stainless steel.  The capacity of the plant is initially poised to be 50 tonnes per annum, given the current production rate from the Surda mines. However, the nickel output is expected to increase nearly eight times after the completion of mine expansion projects located at Ghatsila, an official statement from the company said. Annual demand for pure nickel in India is around 45,000 tonne and its domestic market is solely reliant on imports.  Incidentally, the Singhbhum Copper Belt has unique ore characteristics which contains appreciable quantity of nickel. This prompted HCL to instal and commission the technology to recover the metal.  The project will utilize eco-friendly technology and help check pollution, eliminate use of lead, reduce liquid effluents and cut down solid waste by 75%. It will also utilise less energy, provide a safe working environment and conserve natural resources .

IFS officer of 1997 batch Birender Singh Yadav currently working as Joint Secretary in the Ministry, has been appointed as the next High Commissioner of India to the West Africa’s Republic of Ghana. Yadav will succeed K. Jeeva Sagar in Ghana  and he is expected to take up his new assignment shortly. IFS officer’s serves as Ambassadors, High Commissioners, Consul General, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations and Foreign Secretary are some of the offices. Also IFS appointment renders a person ineligible to reappear in Civil Services Exam.

Private sector lender Kotak Mahindra Bank has enabled online shopping portal Flipkart in its mobile banking application in order to ensure a seamless shopping experience for its customers.  The biggest problem faced by consumers is the transaction failure during the payment mode. Through this integration we are trying to solve that problem for our customers . Customers can now shop at Flipkart via the bank app which also allows booking of air tickets, hotels and bus tickets.  With the new feature, customers can now shop smoothly and even check out faster as billing and delivery details which are already available with the bank will not be needed to be entered again.  Sharma added that bank customers can enjoy special periodical offers, in addition to attractive prices by Flipkart, with no additional charge levied on them.  In changing commercial scenario, banks are going beyond conventional banking and experimenting with different options in order to increase customer stickiness and loyalty. 

Sixteen frog species and three snake species, which have not been spotted in the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary earlier, have been spotted during the first phase of a first of its kind reptile-amphibian survey carried there from August 5 to 8. The survey in the 90.44 square kilometre sanctuary in Idukki district,Kerala, under the supervision of Munnar Wildlife Warden Prasad G., was carried out by about 50 volunteers from the nature groups Koodu, Travancore Natural History Society, Malabar Natural History Society, Cochin Adventure Foundation, Wings of Nature, representatives from the Forestry College and the Kerala Forest Research Institute, and 20 officers of the Forest Department. The frog discoveries are the IUCN red listed Griet bush frog, the star eyed tree frog, and the large ghat tree frog. The reptile discoveries during the survey include the Gunther’s vine snake, the Anamalai gecko, the blue tailed skink, Malabar pit viper, and the flying snake. The Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary reportedly has one of the richest biodiversity wealth in the State because of its varying climatic conditions.

 Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naiduwhile inaugurating the 'Independence Day Film Festival' at Siri Fort Auditorium  in New Delhi. Cinema has an important role to create awareness among the people, to propagate patriotism, to inspire the people, to motivate their commitment to the country, and about its unity and integrity. He said cinema is not only a medium of entertainment, but also an avenue for promoting a meaningful message to the people. Cinema is the best medium of communication because it influences. Cinema production should not only be for entertainment it should also be for education, enlightening the people and motivating the people. The festival which commenced today will conclude on August 18. At least 20 films will be screened during the period. The opening film for the festival is Sir Richard Attenborough's 'Gandhi'. The festival is being organized jointly by the Directorate of Film Festivals and the Ministry of Defence.

President Pranab Mukherjee has given his nod to set up six new Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in places like Jammu, Tirupati, Palakkad (Kerala), Goa, Dharward (Karnataka) and Bhilai (Chhattisgarh) and also passed a law regarding the same.  The law has also brought the Indian School of Mines (ISM), Dhanbad under its ambit. The ISM will now be called Indian Institute of Technology (Indian School of Mines), Dhanbad, the legislation said. All these institutions will be institutions of national importance, as per the Act. The Lok Sabha had on July 25 passed the Institutes of Technology (Amendment) Bill. It got Rajya Sabha approval on August 2. The President has also given his assent to a law for establishment of a National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Andhra Pradesh.  The institute will act as an institution of national importance, as per National Institutes of Technology, Science Education and Research (Amendment) Act, 2016, which has been notified by the Centre.  

Apple Inc has rehired Flipboard Co-founder Evan Doll to work on health-related software after he quit Apple to found the digital news magazine app Flipboard.  Doll had worked as a software engineer at Apple from about 2003 to 2009 and had helped develop the first iPhone operating system. Doll left Flipboard in October 2015 along with other executives of the startup. Flipboard is a magazine-style news aggregator that launched in 2010, and was famously one of the first major iPad-only apps, though it would later come to other platforms like the iPhone.  In recent months the app's thunder has been undermined by Apple News, which copies many of the same concepts but comes built into iOS 9.

Gamesa has received order from KCT Renewable Energy Pvt Ltd for a 40 MW wind power project located at Molagavalli site in Andhra Pradesh. The project essentially comprises 20 units of G114-2.0 MW T106 turbines which are due to be commissioned by March 2017.  Gamesa will be responsible for the supply, erection and commissioning of the wind farm.  This order confirms that technology is a key differentiator, which enables customers to trust our wind energy capabilities.  Our proven expertise in the wind domain has helped us develop a strong footing in the renewable energy space, which helps us cater to the needs of customers better. The latest innovation from Gamesa, the G114-2.0 MW, is designed to yield more power at lower cost at low and medium wind speed sites, making it particularly suited for India's wind conditions.  With a rotor spanning 114 metres, the new turbine’s swept area is 38% greater than that of the G97-2.0 MW. This turbine is part of Gamesa’s 2.0-2.5 MW platform whose credentials include 22 GW of installations in 35 countries. Gamesa on this project because of their strong project execution and O&M capability, and also because of the new generation G114 turbine, which I believe will enable greatest capture of the wind resource on this site and hence maximize the project PLF.  This product represents the latest technology offering in the market and I am looking forward to seeing the performance of the turbine.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has  inaugurated the state's first 'Sewa Kendra' where people will be able to avail 243 services under one roof.  This is a step towards ensuring governance reforms in the state. These centres would act as a catalyst to help people in getting their routine administrative works done in a speedy manner. A total of 2,147 Sewa Kendras have been constructed at a cost of Rs 500 crore. Of these, 389 are in urban areas and 1,758 in rural areas which will provide more than 243 services to the people. The kendras will minimise public interaction with various offices and enhance efficiency of the administration and delivery of services to common people.  The state government is in constant touch with the Sikhs in Kashmir Valley. The government and SGPC would leave no stone unturned for safeguarding the interests of Sikhs in Jammu and Kashmir. Exuding confidence that the SAD-BJP combine would win the Punjab Assembly polls next year, he said turncoats and opportunists hardly have any impact on the polity of state, and only the verdict of people matters.

China has successfully launched a new high-resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) dubbed as Gaofen-3. It was launched from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in northern Shanxi Province on the back of a Long March 4C rocket. It was 233rd flight mission by a Long March carrier rocket.  The Gaofen-3 satellite was developed by the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) and Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST), under guidance of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CATC). The Gaofen-3 satellite is China’s first low orbit remote sensing satellite. It has lifespan of eight years. It will provide high-definition remote sensing data for its users over long periods of time.  It has 12 imaging modes that will provide high-definition observation satellite is capable of taking wide pictures of earth and photographing detailed scenarios of specific areas.  The Gaofen-3 satellite is China’s first SAR imaging satellite. It is accurate to one meter in distance and covers the globe with an all-weather 24-hour observation service. It will be used for disaster warning, water resource assessments, weather forecasting and the protection of maritime rights. China had launched its ambitious Gaofen project in 2013. As part of it Gaofen-1 satellite was launched in April 2013 which can cover the globe in just four days. Gaofen-2 satellite was launched into space in August 2014.  It is accurate to 0.8 meters in full color and can collect multispectral images of objects 3.2 meters or longer in length. Gaofen-4 satellite launched in late 2015. It is China’s first geosynchronous orbit high-definition optical imaging satellite and the world’s most sophisticated satellite.

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