Current Affairs 19th August 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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Qatar-based Doha Bank will open a state-of-the-art branch in Kochi next week, the only branch of a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)-based bank in India. It will mainly cater to the needs of the large NRI population, both in Kerala and the Gulf.  The inauguration is set to take place on August 27 in the presence of senior government functionaries from Kerala, senior businessmen from Qatar, Board members of Doha Bank and prominent local corporates who have business interest in the GCC.  Doha bank, which commenced its operation in Mumbai in April, 2015, provides corporate banking, retail banking, treasury, trade finance and foreign exchange services.  The bank is focused on the GCC trade flows and is also poised to be the bank of choice for the GCC-based non-resident Indians, mainly from Kerala, and the business community who are based in the GCC countries and India. Doha Bank has its operations in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and India besides its representative offices in Singapore, London, Turkey, Korea, Tokyo, Australia, Canada, South Africa, Bangladesh, China, Frankfurt, Sharjah and Hong Kong. 

Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Issac has earmarked Rs 10,000 crore ($1.5 billion) for state-run and aided schools for the five year term of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) led Left Democratic Front government. The IT@School project has been entrusted the responsibility of forming a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to oversee the programme. IT@School project was launched in 2001 in Kerala to foster information technology education in schools and on a longer term facilitate Information and Communication Technology (ICT) enabled education. One segment involves setting up of around 60,000 hi-tech class rooms in all government and aided schools from standard eight to 12. The second segment focuses on elevating 1,000 schools to international standards. The SPV is being set up to ensure that finances for the project run smoothly and apart from budgetary allocations, funds from external sources were also recieved. To bring a thousand schools at par with international standards, quality infrastructure including indoor stadiums would be provided.

ICICI Bank has launched a payment service using a smartphone keyboard named ‘iMobile SmartKeys’. Now, Users will be able to make quick and secure payments on any mobile application, including chat, messenger, email, games or search browser, without having to exit their current application on their smartphone. iMobile SmartKeys : This reduces the time taken by customers having to switch tabs or applications within their smartphone to access the bank’s application ‘iMobile’.  This solution was developed by one of the winners of the bank’s app developing competition. Customers can transfer money to their registered beneficiaries, pay their utility bills and recharge their mobile numbers.

The Union Ministry of Mines has launched web portal for Star Rating of Major Mineral Mines with an aim to promote sustainable mining. The portal was launched by the Union Minister of State (IC) for Mines, Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal. The online portal was developed by IBM (Indian Bureau of Mining) through NISG (National Institute of Smart Government), Hyderabad. The innovative scheme of star rating of mines was launched by the Union Ministry of Mines through IBM as part of Sustainable Development Framework (SDF) in the mining sector.  The main objective of this system is to bring all mines to a minimum standard of Star Rating in the shortest possible time frame to adopt sustainable practices. Based on the performance of the mining leases, a one to five star rating would be given to the mines. Initially, the star rating will be done for mines of major minerals. The star rating will be based on the following parameters: (i) scientific and systematic mining, (ii) addressing social impact of resettlement and rehabilitation, (iii)local community engagements and welfare programmes, (iv) progressive and final mine closure and adoption of international standards and (v) adoption of international standards for mining operations and reporting. The star rating will help in collation of various technical, environmental and social data by IBM, which will be utilised to allow better management and monitoring of mining areas. In the long run, it will help in formulation of Comprehensive Regional Plans to address cumulative impact in mining areas through coordinated and collective action.

The Maharashtra Government became first state in the country to launch India’s first comprehensive ‘Crime Criminal Tracking Network System’ (CCTNS) in Mumbai. It was launched through the operationalisation of 34 cyber laboratories across the state in order to combat growing cybercrimes. The CCTNS has been developed by Pune based Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC). Under it, all police stations in the state will be linked with one another for sharing information about crimes in their respective jurisdictions. It will pave the way for a digital police force in Maharashtra. The services of the cyber labs, will be linked by secure high-speed fibre optic cable network. It will be available to address cyber security concerns of private organisations and banks among others. Under it, the state government will raise a special cyber police force of around 1,000 policemen well trained to handle the growing incidents of cybercrimes.

The India Post Payments Bank Limited (IPPB) was incorporated. In this regard, it has received the Certificate of Incorporation (CI) from the Registrar of Companies, Ministry of Corporate Affairs under the Companies Act, 2013 on 17 August 2016. With this incorporation, the bank has become the first Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) under the Department of Posts (DoP). The incorporation also paves the way for the constitution of the Board of the India Post Payments Bank Limited. Features of India Post Payments Bank Limited :  It will allow all citizens of India, especially the 40 percent of the country's population that is outside the ambit of formal banking in the country will benefit from this project.Its services will be available across the country through 650 payments bank branches, linked post offices and alternative channels riding on modern technology including mobiles, ATMs, PoS/m-PoS (mobile-Point of Sale) devices etc and simple digital payments.Coupled with the physical presence across 1.55 lakh post offices and the reach of “The Dakiya”, the India Post Payments Bank aims to become a powerful and effective vehicle of real financial inclusion in the country. It will generate new employment opportunities for skilled banking professionals and will generate opportunities for propagating financial literacy across the country.It will create the largest bank in the world in terms of accessibility and in time, will encourage the move towards a less cash economy. Considering the pace with which the bank has been incorporated, this could be the fastest roll out for a bank anywhere in the world. Setting-up of the IPPB to further financial inclusion was one of the budgetary announcements in February 2015.The Department of Posts had obtained the "in-principle approval" of the RBI in September 2015 to set up the India Post Payments Bank. In June 2016, the Union Cabinet approved its formation with 100 percent Union Government's equity.The India Post Payments Bank will leverage the Department’s network, reach, and resources to make simple, low-cost, quality financial services easily accessible to customers all over the country. The DoP is expected to complete the roll out of its branches all over the country by September 2017.The aspiration for the India Post Payments Bank is to become the most accessible bank in the world riding on state of the art banking and payments technology.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has banned wrestler Narsingh Yadav for four years following an appeal by World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on 18 August 2016. The CAS also ruled to disqualify all the competitive results obtained by Narsingh from 25 June 2016. The CAS panel further stated that there was no evidence to accept his claim that his food/drink was spiked. Yadav, whose suspension begins immediately, will not be able to participate at the Rio 2016 Olympics. He was scheduled to commence his campaign on 19 August 2016 against Zelimkhan Khadjiev of France in the 74 category. In July 2016, Narsingh Yadav was tested positive for a banned substance steroid in an out-of-competition test conducted by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA). In the samples collected at the National camp in Sonepat, he was tested positive for the methandienone, which is a banned anabolic steroid. However on 1 August 2016, he was given clean chit by NADA, which accepted his claim of sabotage. Thereafter, WADA filed an urgent application before the CAS ad hoc Division to challenge the decision of NADA India to exonerate him following two positive anti-doping tests with methandienone on 25 June and 5 July 2016. WADA requested that a 4-year period of ineligibility be imposed on the athlete.

Virender Sehwag became the latest Indian to be awarded an honorary life membership of the Marylebone Cricket Club on Tuesday (August 16). Sehwag retired from international cricket in 2013 after establishing himself as one of India’s best batsmen of all time with 8586 runs from 104 Tests at an average of 49.34 and 8273 runs from 251 One-Day Internationals at 35.05. The membership is extended by the MCC Committee to individuals in recognition of their services to cricket and projects surrounding the game. Sehwag, 37, joined his former India team-mates Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble and Sourav Ganguly, who are also life members of the MCC. He became the 23rd Indian to become a part of the exclusive club. John Stephenson, the MCC head of cricket, welcomed Sehwag to the club that has over 300 honorary life members and 18,000 full members. “It is always a pleasure to welcome new honorary life members to the club, and Virender is no exception. He was a wonderfully entertaining player throughout his career and has also represented MCC with aplomb in the past, so is fully deserving of this honour. Sehwag played just one Test at Lord’s, the MCC’s home, scoring 84 and 27 against England in 2002, but has a long association with the MCC, having captained the club in the 2014 Champion County match against Yorkshire in Abu Dhabi, where he scored a match-winning century. He also turned out for Rest of the World against MCC during the Lord’s bicentenary match in 2014.

Australia's Melbourne city has been named the world's most liveable city for the sixth consecutive year. The Global Liveability Ranking, released by The Economist on Thursday, scored 140 cities on health care, infrastructure, culture, environment and stability and awarded Melbourne a total of 97.5 out of a possible 100 points, Xinhua news agency reported. Melbourne was one of three Australian cities ranked in the top 10, with Adelaide and Perth ranking equal fifth and seventh respectively. Vienna ranked No 2 on the list for the eighth consecutive year with a rating of 97.4 points with Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, Auckland, Helsinki and Hamburg rounding out the top 10. Robert Doyle, Melbourne's Lord Mayor, said that while the accolade was something to be proud of. The Economist that social unrest and the rising threat of terrorism resulted in 20 per cent of cities scoring worse than they did in the 2015 survey. The decline is largely a result of heightened fears over terrorism with more than 1,000 reported attacks in 2016 so far, with incidents in France, Turkey, the US and Belgium being the most high profile. Factors such as social unrest in many US cities due to the deaths of black people in police custody, tensions in Eastern Europe and Asia and the ongoing civil wars in Ukraine, Syria and Libya have compounded the decline.

Cricket icon and Rajya Sabha MP Sachin Tendulkar has selected Donja village in Osmanabad district for development under the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojna. Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, launched in October 2014, is a rural development programme focusing on development of villages which include social and cultural development, and spread motivation among the people on social mobilisation of the village community. Osmanabad has been reeling under a serve drought over the last few years and has also recorded a steep rise in incidents of farmers. Donja is a village in Paranda of Osmanabad. As per 2011 census 582 families residing there. It has a population of 2,863 of which 1,508 are males while 1,355 are females. In the village, population in the age group of 0-6 years is 319 which makes up 11.14 per cent of the total population. The average sex ratio of the village is 899, which is lower than Maharashtra’s average of 929, while the Child Sex Ratio as per 2011 census is 910, higher than the state average of 894. The literacy rate of Donja in 2011 was 72.17 per cent, lower than 82.34 per cent of Maharashtra. Male literacy rate stands at 78.75 per cent, while female literacy rate was 64.84 per cent.

The Railways, Gujarat government and Surat Municipal Corporation have signed an agreement to develop Surat station under the Public Private Partnership model.  This tri-party agreement was signed in the presence of Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel and Surat mayor Asmita Siroya. Prabhu told reporters that private investment is the best way to expedite the upgradration of railway stations in the country.  This station will be India's first and distinctive railway station upon it's completion. It will also have a multilayer park having a slew of facilities, which are usually found in airports. This project will be carried out under PPP model, as the government alone can not bear all the expenditure. If we do so, we have to raise taxes to collect the required capital. Thus, the best way is to involve private players. For this project, 36 business entities have already shown their interest. The Minister further talked on increasing non-railway income to boost development in the railway sector. 

State bank of India, the country's largest lender, approved the merger of its operations with five of its associate banks.  Post approval, State Bank of Travancore, State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Patiala and Mahila Bank will stand merged with SBI. Earlier in June, the government gave the go-ahead to the merge SBI with its five associate lenders and Bharatiya Mahila Bank .Here are eight things you should know about the merger:  1) This is the first ever large-scale consolidation in the Indian banking industry.  2) The merger will create a banking behemoth with an asset book of Rs 37 lakh crore.  3) SBI will give 28 of its shares for every 10 shares held of State Bank of BikanerBSE 2.14 % and Jaipur.  4) It will give 22 of its shares for every 10 shares held of State Bank of Mysore.  5) The lender will give 22 of its own shares for every 10 shares held of State Bank of Travancore.  6) SBI will give 4,42,31,510 shares with face value of Re. 1 for every 100 crore equity shares of Bhartiya Mahila Bank.  7) The merger will see SBI's ranking approve in the Bloomberg's largest bank by asset ranking. It may well break through the 50-mark in the ranking.  8) SBI's asset base will now be five times larger than the second-largest Indian bank, ICICI Bank 

The Uttar Pradesh government will honour Sakshi Malik, the first woman Indian wrestler to win a medal in Olympics, with the coveted Rani Laxmi Bai award. This was announced by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Thursday at a Raksha Bandhan ceremony in the state capital. He said Sakshi has made the nation proud by winning bronze at the Rio Olympics. The Rani Laxmi Bai award carries a cash prize of Rs 3.11 lakh, a citation and a statue of Rani Laxmi Bai. The 23-year-old won the bronze in the 58-kg category wrestling .  

The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur has adopted five villages in Uttar Pradesh under the Namami Gange programme. These five villages are Ramel Nagar, Khoyra Katree, Pratapur, Hari Hindpur, and Katri Ladhva Khera. Under the initiative, IIT-Kanpur will use its expertise to restrict the flow of sewage into the River Ganga. The task will be undertaken by the institute’s civil engineering department. It will ensure that sewage water is not disposed of in the river, and also keep a check on quality of drinking water and sanitation. IIT-Kanpur is one of the 13 educational institutes directed by the Union Government to adopt villages and turn them into role models in sanitation for others to replicate. Namami Gange programme  : Namami Gange Programme is an ambitious integrated Ganga Conservation Mission that was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May 2015. The programme integrates the efforts to clean and protect the Ganga River in a comprehensive manner.

Researchers from the Central Salt & Marine Chemicals Research Institute (CSMCRI), Bhavanagar, Gujarat have developed photocatalyst that can completely degrade three industrial dyes in the presence of sunlight. This photocatalyst is able to completely degrade three industrial dyes — methyl orange, methylene blue and reactive black-5. The photocatalyst was developed using titanium dioxide doped with red seaweed polymer carrageenan (a substance extracted from purple and red seaweeds). Conventionally, titanium dioxide was used for photocatalytic degradation of industrial dyes, but it took long time to degrade dyes. So the researchers from CSMCRI doped titanium dioxide nanoparticles with sulphur and carbon by treating it with carrageenan.  The nanocomposite was found to behave as an excellent photocatalyst that degraded the industrial dyes quickly in a single-step process. The photocatalyst was found to degrade the dyes when exposed to direct sunlight. When a solar concentrator is used, the intensity of the degradation process of dyes also increased.  Significance : The nanocomposite photocatalyst is thermally stable. It can be reused up to 6 times with the degradation efficiency remaining at over 97%. It can safely and completely treat harmful dyes in an eco-friendly and cost-effective manner. Problems :  Annually, more than 500 tonnes of non-degradable textile colour wastes without adequate treatments are being disposed of in natural streams. Presently, despite having stringent environmental regulations a comprehensive method of treating industrial dye is not available. The methods which are available do not completely break down the dye molecules to non-toxic constituents and are also expensive.

The Union Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has launched a mobile app that integrates various social media handles of over 170 Indian missions on a common platform. The application will help to further expand digital presence of MEA and serve as a common platform to further its public outreach. The application has been developed by social media giant Facebook for free. It will help people connect with Indian missions abroad and the MEA through a range of social media platforms without having to access individual websites.  The MEA uses Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Gplus, Youtube, Soundcloud, Flickr to reach out to people as part of its social media engagement. People through the app can just tap on the map of the country to get access to all social media platforms of the mission rather than searching for websites, Facebook pages and twitter handle of individual missions.

Noted Odia actor and director Gobind Tej passed away while undergoing treatment at a hospital in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. He was 88. In his career spanning over 50 years, he has contributed in many Odia feature films either as an actor, director or producer. Gobind Tej Gobind :  Tej had started his acting career with the movie ‘Kedar Gouri’ in 1954. He had started his career as a director in 1979 with film ‘Ramayana’. He has showcased his acting talent in films like ‘Krushna Sudama’, ‘Bandhan’, ‘Bandhu Mohanty’, ‘Dharitri’, ‘Gouri’, ‘Mana Akasha’ and ‘Schoolmaster’. Awards and Honours : He received the Odisha State Film Award for Best Director for movies like ‘School Master’, ‘Kaberi’, ‘Tunda Baida’ and ‘Gare Sindura Dhare Luha.’ He also has received the Odisha State Film Award In 1977 for Best Actor for his remarkable acting in the movie ‘Bandhu Mohanty’. He was also conferred the ‘Jaydev Award’, the highest cine award in the Odisha, in 1986 for his lifelong contribution to the growth and development of Odia cinema.

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