Current Affairs 2nd August 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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The Union Government has capped the prices of 24 essential drugs used for treatment of cancer, HIV, bacterial infections, anxiety and cardiac conditions. In this regard, the Drug pricing regulator National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has issued an order. It revised ceiling prices of 24 scheduled formulations of schedule-I under Drugs (Price Control) Amendment Order, 2016.  With this cost of these 24 essential drugs has been reduced by an average of around 25 per cent. Besides, NPPA also capped the retail price of 31 formulations under Drug Prices Control Order (DPCO), 2013. National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) :  NPPA is nodal government regulatory agency that controls the prices of pharmaceutical drugs in India. It functions under the aegis of Union Ministry of Chemical and Fertiliser. It advices Union Government in matters relate to drug policies and pricing. Besides, it also renders advice to the Union Government on changes/ revisions in the drug policy. Essential medicines :  Essential medicines are those that satisfy the priority health care needs of the country’s population. They are listed with reference to the levels of healthcare namely primary, secondary and tertiary.  They are generally based on the country’s disease burden, priority health concerns, affordability concerns etc. In India National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) formed in 2011 decides the essential medicines. The list is prepared by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The NLEM is a dynamic list and is reviewed every 3 years to include or exclude drugs as relevant to the newest medical innovations and aligned to the current market competition.

Anant Maheshwari was named as the President of Microsoft India by the parent company Microsoft Inc on 1 August 2016. Maheshwari will succeed Bhaskar Pramanik, who retires in March 2017. Maheshwari, who will join Microsoft India on 1 September 2016, will take over operations of the company on 1 January 2017. As president, Maheshwari will be responsible for all of Microsoft’s product, service, and support offerings across India. Anant Maheshwari : Presently, he is working as the President of Honeywell India, a Fortune 100 company. At Honeywell, Maheshwari was responsible for the continued growth of India operations across all its three strategic business groups: aerospace, automation and control solutions (ACS).Maheshwari has held various business leadership roles in Honeywell for over 12 years. His prior roles include managing director of listed Honeywell Automation India Ltd.  He also successfully conceptualized and set up the security operations in India for Honeywell. Prior to Honeywell, Maheshwari was with McKinsey & Co. for six years where he worked with clients across multiple industries.

Translator and artist Anita Gopalan was awarded the 2016 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants for her English translation of Hindi novel Simsim by Geet Chaturvedi. Gopalan is the second Indian translator to be selected for the grant. Simsim, the lyrical, award-winning novella was first published in 2008. It is recognized for its groundbreaking contribution to contemporary Hindi fiction. Simsim focuses on four central characters and a decaying library sitting on prime Mumbai real estate. The book narrates the clash between two Indias, i.e. one old and traditional, and the other driven by consumerism and corporate greed. Anita Gopalan : Anita Gopalan is a translator and artist.She graduated in Computer Science and Mathematics from BITS Pilani. She worked in Banking Technology sector for over 14 years in India, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and the Middle East.She has translated prose and poetry by contemporary Hindi author Geet Chaturvedi. PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants : The PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants were established in 2003 by PEN American Center. It was established following a gift of 730000 US dollar by Michael Henry Heim, a noted literary translator. Previously known as the PEN Translation Fund Grants, the awards were renamed in honour of Heim.The Grants' purpose is to promote the publication and reception of translated world literature in English.Grants are awarded each year to a select number of literary translators based on quality of translation as well as the originality and importance of the original work.

Rajya Sabha has passed Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2016 by voice vote on 1 August 2016. The Bill seeks to amend the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956.  It also seeks to replace the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016. The Bill states that its provisions will come in to force from 24 May 2016. The bill was passed in Lok Sabha on 19 July 2016 after being introduced by Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Jagat Prakash Nadda on the same day. Now it will be sent to President Pranab Mukherjee for his nod. Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2016 : It seeks to introduce a uniform entrance examination for all medical educational institutions. This would be applicable at the undergraduate and the post-graduate level. It states that in case a state has not opted for the uniform entrance examination, then the examination will not be applicable at the undergraduate level for the academic year 2016-17. This provision will apply to state government seats in government and private medical colleges.It states that the entrance examinations will be conducted in Hindi, English and other languages. It provides powers to the MCI to frame regulations with regard to : The authority designated with the conduct of the exams The manner of conducting the exams Specifying languages other than English and Hindi in which the examinations may be conducted. Under the existing 1956 Act, the MCI regulates: Standards of medical education,Permission to start colleges,Courses or increase the number of seats,Registration of doctors, Standards of professional conduct of medical practitioners, among others

Rajya Sabha has passed the National Institutes of Technology, Science Education and Research (Amendment) Bill, 2016 on 1 August 2016. Lok Sabha passed the bill on 21 July 2016. Now, the bill will be sent to the President for his assent. Features of the Bill : The Bill seeks to establish the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Andhra Pradesh as an institute of national importance under the National Institutes of Technology, Science Education and Research (NITSER) Act, 2007. The NIT will be deemed to have been an institute of national importance as on 20 August 2015. This is the day the central government approved its establishment. The Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Human Resource Development, Prakash Javadekar, on 19 July 2016. For the current year, an amount of 40 crore rupees have been allocated for the establishment of the Institute.

The Lok Sabha has passed the Enforcement of Security Interest and Recovery of Debts Laws and Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Bill, 2016 on 1 August 2016.The bill was passed by a voice vote. The bill seeks to amend four laws : The Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002,The Recovery of Debts due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act, 1993,The Indian Stamp Act, 1899,The Depositories Act, 1996 Highlights of the Bill : It simplifies the procedures by which there will be a quick disposal of claims of banks and financial institutions. It will empower the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to examine the statements and any information of Asset Reconstruction Companies related to their business.The RBI may penalise a company if it fails to comply with any directions issued by the central bank.It says the stamp duty will not be charged on transactions undertaken for transfer of financial assets in favour of asset reconstruction companies. Financial assets include loans and collaterals.

Malaysia has enforced a new legislation that grants sweeping powers to its National Security Council (NSC) on 1 August 2016. Powers conferred to the Council : The ability to take charge of security forces. Declare security areas for up to six months within which authorities can arrest, search or seize without warrants. Government said that the NSC Act is must to deal with terror threats. The human rights activists and the UN Human Rights Office for Southeast Asia fear that the law gives security forces and the Prime Minister too much power. They say that the draconian law would be used to silence the critics of the Government. Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who came in power in 2009 by pledging an end to ruling-party corruption and authoritarianism, is facing calls to resign over a huge alleged 1MDB (Malaysia Development Berhad) corruption scandal. Najib's ruling party has controlled Malaysia since independence from the United Kingdom in 1957. The step to enforce the law, which was rammed in December 2015, came into effect after the US Justice Department in last week of July 2016 launched a move to seize more than 1 billion dollar in assets, including Wolf of Wall Street rights, which were purchased with money stolen from 1MDB economic development fund. Earlier in December 2015, the National Security Council Act was rammed by the Malaysian Government through Parliament, giving it powers to declare virtual martial law in areas of the country determined to be facing a security threat.  

Typhoon Nida made its landfall near Dapeng Peninsula in China’s Guangdong province on 2 August 2016. Nida that carried gale-force and heavy rain lashed the Chinese city Hong Kong that is located about 42 kilometers from the Dapeng Peninsula. The Hong Kong Observatory reported that Nida generated winds up to 145 kilometers per hour as it moved toward Hong Kong but showed signs of weakening after it struck land. Chinese State Oceanic Administration had issued a red alert, the highest in China’s four-tier colour coded warning system, for ocean waves and storm tides. Warnings issued : The government warned of flooding in low-lying areas.People living in Guangdong province in southern China were warned to stockpile food and other essentials.Temporary shelters have been established while schools in flood-prone areas have contingency plans in place. Hundreds of train routes and flights had already been canceled in cities across southern China as Nida barreled toward land after battering the Philippines over the weekend. Nida, also called Tropical Storm Carina, hit the Philippines on 30 July 2016, pouring up to 11 inches of rain over the northern parts.

Deepak Iyer was appointed as Managing Director of Mondelez International's India Business on 1 August 2016. He succeeds Chandramouli Venkatesan, who led the business as Managing Director of India operations for two years and was with the company for more than a decade. Iyer, as Managing Director of Mondelez India Foods, will be part of the Asia Pacific Leadership Team and report into Maurizio Brusadelli, President of Asia Pacific, Mondelez International. Deepak Iyer :  Prior to this appointment, Iyer was serving Bharti Axa General Insurance Company as its CEO and MD. Prior to Bharti Axa, Iyer was the CEO and managing director of Wrigley India. He has also worked with PepsiCo for 17 years across different roles and in different markets.

Markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has initiated the first phase of its new enterprise portal to facilitate accurate and timely dissemination of information to the watchdog’s internal and external stakeholders. The new portal, which would replace the regulator’s existing portal in a phased manner, went live on July 29 and is being developed by IT major Tech Mahindra. The first phase of the project provides the employees of the SEBI and some of its market intermediaries with an interactive portal. The portal provides an e-Platform to registered and prospective intermediaries to communicate in secure, simplified, transparent and paperless way with SEBI . “The portal also provides refreshing UI (user interface) experience and a secure role based access and navigation to its SEBI staff across various departments. Thus it will enable significant collaborative and efficient communications between SEBI ’s internal and external stakeholders alike. The new portal would help create positive consumer experience as it aligns itself with emerging digital trends, Tech Mahindra, which had begun implementation of the project in December 2014, noted. SEBI in early 2014 had invited proposal for supply, installation, design, development and implementation of Enterprise Portal Solution which included business Process Management (BPM), custom applications development, enterprise search engine, business intelligence and analytics, among other necessary IT infrastructure. The project also includes migration of data, integration of enterprise portal with other internal applications.

Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) has announced raising of $1 billion (about Rs 6,700 crore) by selling bonds to overseas investors. Initially announced for $500 million, the issue was upsized to $1 billion based on strong demand from the investors. The issue attracted a total order book in excess of $2.50 billion from over 157 investors. This was the largest issuance ever for Exim Bank and also the largest single tranche issuance out of India in 2016. The bank is the closest proxy to sovereign in the international markets and the 10 year issuance was based on investors' feedback, so that benchmark 10 year curve out of India could be established. The funds thus raised will be used by the bank to support Indian project exports, overseas investment by way of long term credit and its lines of credit portfolio. Having initially marketed the deal at 210 basis points over US Treasuries, the bank was able to achieve a final pricing of 187.5 basis points over US Treasuries, to yield 3.383% on a coupon of 3.375% resulting in negative new issue premium against a very strong market backdrop. Exim Bank aims to promote India's international trade and investment. The bank supports Indian exporting companies, especially medium-sized enterprises, in their globalisation efforts through a variety of lending programmes.

The World Bank has approved a $100 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA) to support the Sri Lanka's economic reforms programme. Sri Lanka has been making steady progress on economic reforms, with the government aiming to create one million new jobs through a reform package focused on improving the country's competitiveness, transparency and macroeconomic stability. A World Bank study, the Systematic Country Diagnostic, has highlighted the need for Sri Lanka to move from "a largely inward looking and public sector driven economy" to one that can unleash the potential of the private sector. The Sri Lanka competitiveness, transparency and fiscal sustainability Development Policy Financing (DPF), which is only the second DPF to Sri Lanka in a decade, aims to support the government's reform agenda by reducing obstacles to private sector competitiveness, establishing transparent and well managed public institutions and improving fiscal sustainability. The breadth and depth of the actions implemented signal the comprehensive approach and commitment of the government to tackle difficult reforms aimed at making growth sustainable and creating jobs. The specific actions in this DPF operation will help improve fiscal sustainability and create the fiscal space for delivery of public services, social spending and capital investment, which are integral to the country's competitiveness. The Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs will be responsible for overall implementation and coordination of the proposed operation. Other agencies involved include the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media, the Auditor General's Department, the Board of Investment and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

Gujarat CM Anandiben Patel has submitted her resignation. The resignation comes in the wake of extensive Patidar and Dalit protests in the state.  The state has been facing extensive Dalit protests after four Dalit youths were brutally beaten for skinning a dead cow. Another Dalit youth committed suicide on Sunday after consuming poison to protest the Una beatings.  At least 18 Dalit youth have attempted suicide in the state following the attacks. Anandiben Patel (born 21 November 1941) is an Indian politician and the incumbent Chief Minister of Gujarat, a western state of India. She is the first woman Chief Minister of the state. 

West Bengal has been selected for the All India Coordinated Rice Improvement Project Award 2015. This will be the first time the state will be receiving this award. The state was selected for this award by the 51st committee from the Indira Gandhi Krishi Bikash Kendra for its achievement in the four key areas that include scientific research for seeds. Earlier, West Bengal also had won the Krishi Kamran Puraskar for three consecutive years.  Besides, state government has also bagged the award (second position) for participating in International Agriculture and Horticulture Expo held in July 2016 in New Delhi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the ‘Run for Rio’, an event to encourage the Indian contingent at the 2016 Rio Olympics beginning on August 5, 2016. The 5km run was flagged off from Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium to the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi. In this event thousands of school children and youths had participated to express the nation’s support to the 119 Indian athletes who have qualified for the Rio Olympics. The event was organised by Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports.  Prime Minister also released the Olympic Brochure. In his address Prime Minister urged the youth to work hard for 2020 Olympics and also mentioned that India’s focus should be on sending more than 200-member contingent to Tokyo. 2016 Rio Olympics  : The 2016 Rio Olympics is the summer Olympics scheduled to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from 5 to 21 August 2016. It is officially known as the Games of the XXXI Olympiad. For the first the time Brazil is hosting summer Olympics games. Besides, for first time the summer Olympics will be held in South America.  

Justice Iqbal Ahmed Ansari has been sworn-in as the 39th Chief Justice of Patna High Court. He was administered oath to the office by Bihar Governor Ramnath Kovind as per Article 219 of constitution at a function in Raj Bhawan, Patna. He will retire on October 29, 2016. Justice Iqbal Ahmed Ansari : He was born on October 29, 1954. He had completed BSc. from Darrang College, Tezpur and also had completed graduation in law from Tezpur Law College. He had joined Assam Judicial Service in 1991.  He had served as District & Sessions Judge at Dibrugarh, Karimganj and Nagaon. In 2002, he was elevated to the bench of Guwahati High Court as Judge.  He also had worked as Registrar General of Gauhati High Court. He had joined the Patna High Court in November 2013. Earlier he had twice worked as Acting Chief Justice of Patna High Court since December 2014.

The Patna Pirates have won the fourth edition of STAR Sports-ProKabaddi League by defeating Jaipur Pink Panthers. With this win Patna Pirates has become first team to defend its title which they won in the third season in March 2016. In the final match played at Gachibowli Stadium, Hyderabad (Telangana) the defending champion defeated Jaipur Pink Panthers by 37-29 score. The Puneri Paltan was placed at the third place in this edition after they defeated Telugu Titans by 40-35 score. Women’s Section: Storm Queens have won inaugural edition of the Women’s Challenge of Pro Kabaddi League. In the final match they defeated Fire Birds by 24-23 score. Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) :  PKL is a professional Kabaddi (indigenous sport) league based on the format of the Indian Premier League (IPL) T20 cricket tournament. It is known as the Star Sports Pro Kabaddi for sponsorship reasons. It is currently managed by Mashal Sports. The first edition of the tournament was played in 2014 with eight franchises representing various cities in India. It was won by Jaipur Pink.  

Serbian Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep of Romania won men’s and women’s singles title in the 2016 Rogers Cup on 31 July 2016. The Rogers Cup also known as Canadian Open/Masters was held in Toronto (for men) and Montreal (for women) from 25 July to 31 July 2016. The men's competition is a Masters 1000 event on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) tour. The women's competition is a Premier 5 tournament on the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) tour. The competition is played on hard courts. Winners of 2016 Rogers Cup Men’s Singles         Novak Djokovic (Serbia)           Runner : Kei Nishikori (Japan) Women’s Singles    Simona Halep (Romania)          Runner : Madison Keys (the US) Men’s doubles        Ivan Dodig (Croatia) and Marcelo Melo (Brazil)    Runner : Jamie Murray (Scotland) and Bruno Soares (Brazil) Women’s doubles    Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina (Russia)      Runner :  Simona Halep and Monica Niculescu (Romania) Highlight of 2016 Rogers Cup :  Novak Djokovic defeated Kei Nishikori 6-3, 7-5 to clinch his 66th career title. The world number one claimed his fourth Canadian title.Djokovic, who won Bronze in Beijing Olympics and missed the podium in London, became the first player to clinch 30 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles.It was seventh crown of the year and fourth at the Masters 1000 level for Djokovic, others Masters 1000 level victories were notched in Indian Wells, Miami and Madrid. The Serbian, who takes home 782525 dollar in prize money and 1000 Emirates ATP Rankings points, moved into solo second on the Open Era titles list at the Rogers Cup, adding to victories in 2007 and 2011-12. Only six-time champion Ivan Lendl owns more singles trophies in Canada.Fifth seed Simona Halep defeated Madison Keys 7-6, 6-3 to claim her 14th WTA title. Halep has three singles titles this year and 14 overall. Rogers Cup (Canadian Open or Canada Masters) : The Rogers Cup is an annual tennis tournament held in Canada. The competition is played on hard courts. The events alternate from year to year between the cities of Montreal and Toronto. In odd-numbered years, the men's tournament is held in Montreal, while the women's tournament is held in Toronto, and vice versa in even-numbered years. Before 2011, they were held during separate weeks in the July–August period, now the two competitions are held during the same week in August. The Toronto tournament is held at the Aviva Centre and the Montreal tournament is held at the Uniprix Stadium. The Cup is one of the oldest tournaments of the world. Only Wimbledon and the US Open have longer histories than this important Tour event.

The Supreme Court held that former Chief Ministers are not entitled for government accommodation for lifetime on 1 August 2016. The court said that any such government accommodation should be vacated within two to three months. The verdict was pronounced by a bench headed by Justice Anil R Dave on a 2004 plea filed by a UP-based NGO Lok Prahari. The NGO in its plea sought a direction against allotment of government bungalows to former CMs and other what it said non-eligible organisations. The other members of the bench were Justice UU Lalit and Justice L Nageswara Rao. The judgment on the plea was reserved on 27 November 2014. The petitioner had alleged that despite the direction of Allahabad High Court, the Uttar Pradesh government had framed ex-Chief Minister's Residence Allotment Rules, 1997 (non-statutory) for allotting bungalows to successive former-chief ministers. Main points raised in the plea were : The NGO also said that the rules framed in 1997 for allotment of government bungalows to ex-CMs were unconstitutional and illegal.It also claimed that those occupying them were allegedly unauthorised occupants under the purview of the UP Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act. It said that retention of government accommodation by chief ministers after demitting office was against the Provisions of UP Ministers (Salaries/allowances and other facilities) Act.

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