Current Affairs 20th August 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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Federal Bank has announced its partnership with Chillr, a round-the-clock mobile banking application that connects directly to a person's bank account and enables instant money transfers, bill payments, phone recharge and e-commerce payments in a very secure environment.  Chillr allows users to connect seamlessly with multiple bank accounts and manage all their banking needs on a single platform, making money transfer between bank accounts easier . All transactions on Chillr are initiated directly from the users' bank accounts and authenticated by a secure PIN provided by their banks. The mobile banking app integrates with banks directly and provides total security for all transactions. The easy to use app is available on Android, Windows and iOS operating systems. The facility is already available to all customers of Federal Bank. 

Chinese mobile internet giant Alibaba Group has announced the launch of a book donation drive in India, inviting people to donate textbooks and educational material to empower those who are underprivileged. The "Mission Million Books" is a pan-India initiative aimed at providing the underprivileged with the access to quality educational materials for their growth and advancement. The campaign, which will run till September 16, also supports the government's efforts to enable access to quality education for all.Quality education is everyone's right and plays a fundamental role in building character and intelligence at an early age, ultimately shaping a nation. Collected material will be distributed to more than 2,500 educational institutions across India. In association with Crossword and Ratna Nidhi Charitable Trust, Alibaba Group will also donate over 50,000 books to the campaign, and Alibaba.com and mobile browser UC Web will provide online marketing support to maximise the impact.  

India's pharmaceutical giant Cipla and consumer goods conglomerate Godrej have been recognised by Fortune magazine in a list of global firms changing the world for the good and having a positive social impact through their activities.  Cipla is ranked 46th in the list of 50 followed by Godrej on the 48th spot, the only Indian companies in the list.  The Fortune 2016 'Change the World' list recognises companies that have had a positive social impact through activities that are part of their core business strategy.  The list has been topped by British pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline and includes Swiss food products major Nestle (5), India-born Ajay Banga-led Mastercard (7), US retail giant Walmart (15), China's ride-sharing company Didi Chuxing (30), India-born Indra Nooyi-led PepsiCo (38), Dutch beverages giant Heineken (43) and American motor company Tesla (50).  It added that Cipla has by far the world's widest range of antiretroviral (ARV) products approved by Food and Drug Administration and World Health Organisation for treating both children and adults suffering from HIV/AIDS, and also offers free ARV technology to all African countries wanting to produce their own drugs.  On Cipla's horizon is low-cost pills to fight cancer. The company is investing in a drive to create "biosimilar" versions of certain pricey oncology drugs.  On Godrej, Fortune said the company is "marketing a simple way to vanquish an insect enemy." Since 2010, the company has "flooded the market with eco-friendly products, taken giant strides in a carbon neutral, zero waste, and a renewable energy effort, and imparted skills training to more than 200,000 youth from marginalised communities in 142 cities . Fortune said more businesses are taking on society's biggest problems and making money doing so.  It assessed the companies on parameters of measureable social impact, business results and degree of innovation.   

US based new research has found out that that Zika virus may damage brain cells not just in newborns but also in adults. However, this research is still in the early stages.  In this study, researchers have focused on neural progenitor cells. These cells are the stem cells of the brain. They grow and divide in fetuses to create neurons, which are what carry information throughout our brains. The study suggests that adults may not be immune to the effects of virus, as they also maintain small number of progenitor cells in the areas of the brain. Adults use these cells for learning and memory.  They also help to replace and replenish damaged neurons. It study suggests that the Zika virus may affect the memory and learning centres in adult brains as the progenitor cells can be susceptible to Zika infection. Zika virus : Zika virus is vector borne disease transmitted primarily by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. The virus is capable of causing serious birth defects i.e. neurological disorders and foetal deformation known as Microcephaly in which infants are born with abnormally smaller heads. Besides a possible link between the virus and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS: a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the nervous system) is also suspected.

India ranks a low 39th in terms of fixed broadband adoption in the list of 53 Asia Pacific countries. It was revealed by the recently released report ‘State of ICT in Asia and the Pacific 2016: Uncovering the Widening Broadband Divide’. It was published by United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). India ranks lower than countries such as Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Bangladesh in fixed broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in 2015 . Hong Kong, New Zealand, Japan, Macao, Australia and Singapore topped the list. In India, just 1.35 of its citizens have subscribed to fixed broadband service in 2015. The subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in the ESCAP region are behind Latin America and the Caribbean countries.  It is far lower than Europe and North America. Fixed broadband penetration in Asia and the Pacific is below the world’s average of 11.2 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in 2015. From 2005 onwards, there was a dramatic increase fixed broadband subscriptions in the ESCAP region.  In 2005, the ESCAP region merely constituted 38.1% of the global total fixed broadband subscriptions. It was followed by Europe (28.6%) and North America (26.5%). According to the latest ITU (International Telecommunication Union) data for 2015, more than half of the global fixed broadband subscriptions are from Asia and the Pacific (52.3%). This is followed by Europe (21.9%) and North America (14.1%).

The meeting of BRICS women parliamentarian’s forum has begun in Jaipur, Rajasthan. BRICS is the grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The two day meeting was inaugurated by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. A total of 43 delegates from member countries are participating in the meeting. The meeting will see the participation of 5 women parliamentarians from Brazil, 3 from Russia, 28 from India, 2 from China and 4 from South Africa.  There will be plenary session on the theme of ‘Perspectives on implementation of SDGs’ at the Rajasthan Vidhan sabha. First session of the meeting will be on the theme of ‘Achieving SDGs- Role of Women Parliamentarians in involving Citizens’. Besides, second session of will be based on theme “Containing Climate Change – Imperatives of Global Cooperation’.

Tech giant Intel has unveiled Project Alloy, a device that creates merged reality. Project Alloy is a headset that uses the RealSense technology to enable people to use their hands to interact with elements of the virtual world without using cables to connect computer. Merged reality is a new way of experiencing virtual reality and real world together, using cutting-edge technology. It digitises the real world and allows people to experience the virtual world without coming into conflict with the real world.  The merged reality is more dynamic and natural compared to virtual reality. Unlike virtual reality, merged reality needs the right combination software and hardware. One example of merged reality is playing two musical instruments at the same time. It means that person can play a virtual piano with one hand and a cello with the other. Besides, using it one could go right into the centre of a basketball court and watch the match.

World Humanitarian Day was observed on 19 August 2016 with the theme One Humanity. The theme explains how our shared human experiences bind us across divides, and create a common responsibility to demand action for the most vulnerable and at risk of being left behind. The digital campaign for the World Humanitarian Day 2016 was The World You’d Rather. The day is dedicated to recognize humanitarian personnel and those who have lost their lives working for humanitarian causes. It is also an opportunity to celebrate the spirit that inspires humanitarian work around the globe. World Humanitarian Day was designated by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) as part of a Swedish-sponsored resolution on the Strengthening of the Coordination of Emergency Assistance of the United Nations. The day was designated by the General Assembly to coincide with the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq in which the then Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq, Sérgio Vieira de Mello and 21 of his colleagues were killed.

Seven Indian companies have made it to a carbon-clean list of 200 largest companies worldwide ranked by their total clean-energy revenues. The list is topped by Japan's Toyota Motor followed by Germany's Siemens AG. The ranking has been done by As You Sow and Corporate Knights. Among Indian companies are Suzlon Energy at 68 rank for its wind farms Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd at 106 for its wind electric generators and solar cells,  Tata Chemicals at 114 for chemicals for biodiesel, solar energy, and fuel cells. Thermax Ltd is at 139   Exide Indus at 153 for electric storage batteries. Besides, IDFC Ltd is at 155 for its green infrastructure financing and Havells India at 166 for energy meters. Four Indian companies : Godrej Industries, NHPC Ltd, SJVN, and Bharat Electronics  have moved out of the rankings for being laggards and being utilities producing less than 50 per cent green energy. The Carbon Clean 200 (Clean200TM)-a list of the 200 largest companies worldwide was created based on their total clean energy revenues. The report said it is intended as the clean energy inverse of the Carbon Underground 200TM. Where the Carbon Underground 200TM (which evolved from the Carbon Tracker Initiative report, Unburnable Carbon: Are the World's Financial Markets Carrying a Carbon Bubble), ranks the largest publicly listed companies by the carbon intensity of their coal, oil, and gas reserves. The Clean200 ranks the largest publicly listed companies by their total clean energy revenues, "with a few additional screens to help ensure the companies are indeed building the infrastructure and services. The ranking's methodology is aimed to calculate the performance of the Carbon Underground 200 versus the Clean200 versus the S&P 1200. A 'snapshot in time' analysis was used consisting of the current constituents of the Clean200 (July 1, 2016), S&P 1200 (July 1, 2016) and the most recent publicly available list of the Carbon Underground 200 (May 15, 2015). The Clean200 are listed by their estimated green revenues in USD. The dataset is developed by multiplying a company's most recent year-end revenues by its BNEF New Energy Exposure Rating mid-point.  In order to be eligible, a company must have a market capitalization greater than $1 billion (end of Q2 2016) and earn more than 10 per cent of total revenues from New Energy sources.  The Clean 200 uses negative screens. It excludes all oil and gas companies and utilities that generate less than 50 per cent of their power from green sources, as well as the top 100 coal companies measured by reserves, top 100 weapons producers, as well as laggards on tropical deforestation 14 , and child or forced labour and companies who engage in negative climate lobbying.Below the Rank list of companies

Zambian and Patriotic Front’s (PF) Presidental Candidate Edgar Lungu has won the re-election in a common voting against his main National development Party Rival.  Lungu faced a tough challenge from Hakainde Hichilema’s of United Party for National Development (UPND) in a voting campaign. Lungu, leader of the Patriotic Front (PF), won 50.35 percent of Thursday's vote, against 47.67 percent for Hichilema, of the United Party for National Development (UPND).  The election was fought around the issues of rising unemployment, mine closures, power shortages and soaring food prices which Hichilema, an economist and businessman, blamed on Lungu's mismanagement.  

The incomparable Usain Bolt powered his way around the Rio track to win the Olympic 200 metres gold for the third straight Games in 19.78 seconds on 18 August ,2015 and remain on course for an extraordinary "triple-triple" of sprint titles.  The Jamaican simply laid waste to the best of the rest in the sprinting world to win his eighth track gold medal in what he has said will be his last individual race at the Olympics before his retirement next year.  Andre de Grasse of Canada, who won bronze behind Bolt in the 100 metres, finished second in 20.02 seconds to claim his second sprint medal of the Games and establish himself as the heir apparent to the Sprint King.  Christophe Lemaitre of France secured his first major individual medal by taking bronze, edging out Adam Gemili of Britain in a photo finish after they were both awarded the same time of 20.12.  Bolt, who turns 30 on, will return to the track on Friday with his Jamaican relay team mates looking for a 4x100 gold to complete the sweep of all three sprint titles at three successive Olympics. 

Government has slapped an additional penalty of $380 million (around Rs 2,500 crore) on Reliance Industries and its partners for producing less than targeted natural gas from eastern offshore KG-D6 fields. With this, the total penalty, which is in form of disallowing recovery of cost incurred, for missing the target in five financial years beginning April 1, 2010, now stands at a cumulative $2.76 billion. The Production Sharing Contract (PSC) allows RIL and its partners BP Plc of the UK and Canada's Niko Resources to deduct all capital and operating expenses from the sale of gas before sharing profit with the government. Disallowing costs will result in government's profit share rising. Up to financial year 2013-14, the cost recovery proposed to be disallowed was $2.376 billion and consequent demand of Government of India share of additional profit petroleum of $195.3 million on cumulative basis. On June 3, 2016, the company received a revised claim up to year 2014-15 with a disallowance of $2.756 billion on cumulative basis and consequent demand of Government of India share of additional profit petroleum of $246.9 million, also on cumulative basis. Gas output from Dhirubhai-1 and 3 gas field in the eastern offshore KG-D6 block was supposed to be 80 million standard cubic meters per day but actual production was only 35.33 mmscmd in 2011-12, 20.88 mmscmd in 2012-13 and 9.77 mmscmd in 2013-14. The output has been around 8 mmscmd in subsequent years. The government had for 2010-11 disallowed $457 million of cost, $548 million for 2011-12, $792 million for 2012-13 and $579 million for 2013-14. Now, another $380 million cost has been disallowed for output lagging behind target in 2014-15.The output was behind target in 2015-16 as well and the government is yet to issue a cost disallowance notice for that. Contractor group refers to RIL and its partners BP and Niko.RIL said of the additional profit petroleum claimed, the government has already collected gross $81.7 million in Gas Pool Account.

Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Sushri Uma Bharti has  been made with the foundation laying of STP in Mathura which will provide treated water for industrial use.Laying the foundation of 20 MLD STP in Vrindavan  the Minister informed that the STP will be built at a cost of Rs. 40 crore.  A nine kilometer pipeline from Laxmi nagar to Gokul barrage will carry the treated water to Mathura refinery.  An MoU was also signed to this effect between National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) and Indian Oil Corporation (IOC). The adoption of hybrid annuity mode by NMCG the complexion of Yamuna will change completely in Mathura-Vrindavan by the year 2018.  The Minister said that with the use of pressure technology in irrigation we would be able to save about 60 percent water of Ganga and Yamuna which will help to maintain good e-flow of water in these rivers.  Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Shri Nitin Gadkari and Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Shri Dharmendra Pradhan also addressed the gathering. Ujjwala LPG connections were also distributed to 300 women on the occasion.

Hindi scholar and writer Sunita Jain was awarded the prestigious 25th Vyas Samman 2015 for her poetry collection "Kshama".  West Bengal Governor K N Tripathi conferred the award on the scholar.The award instituted by the K K Birla Foundation carries a cash prize of Rs 2.50 lakh. It is given annually to outstanding literary work in Hindi authored by an Indian citizen.  Tripathi commended the author for portraying through poetry the fine emotions between poet Tulsidas and his wife Ratnavalli.  Eminent litterateur Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari who presided over the selection committee for the award said Jain's work aptly brought out the emotions of forgiveness and repentance.  The Ambala-born author narrated a recollection of her growing up years in Amritsar.  She was dubbed a loose character by neighbours and along with other children in the area I too delighted in making fun of her. Later I came to know that she was loathed because she used to live alone. That incident continues to haunt me. The author who was awarded the Padma Shri in 2004 writes in both English and Hindi and has over 100 books to her credit.  The author who retired as the professor and the Head of the department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi said she has been influenced by prolific reading during her student days.  Jain began to write at the age of 22 and has published short-stories, novels and poems in Hindi and English.  Her works in English include "A Girl of Her Age" and two short-story anthologies, "A Woman is Dead" and "Eunuch of Time and Other Stories". She has also published seven poetry anthologies besides, a book for children and literary criticism. The book "Kshama" was published in 2008. 

India and Bangladesh have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Route Permit for carrying Petroleum Goods to Tripura via Bangladesh.  The MoU was signed between Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) and the Roads and Highways Department of Bangladesh in Dhaka. The MoU enables IOCL to send its trucks carrying High Speed Diesel, Motor Spirit, Superior Kerosene Oil and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) from Meghalaya to Tripura via territory of Bangladesh.  The validity of this facility is till end of September, 2016. Besides, both sides have also agreed to extend the transit facility for a further short period on need basis. Due to heavy rains in the North-Eastern region during this Monsoon season, the roads, including NH 44, have been affected. It has resulted in non-plying of goods trucks, including those carrying petroleum goods to Tripura. This has resulted into a situation of scarcity of essential petroleum goods. With granting access to transit routes Bangladesh Government has shown friendly, multi-dimensional and expanding bilateral relation with India.  This friendly gesture is expected to improve the situation of shortage of petroleum products in Tripura.

Pusarla Sindhu went down fighting to Spain’s Carolina Marin in the women’s badminton singles final at the Rio Olympics on 19 August ,2016, giving India its second medal at the Rio Games and becoming the first Indian woman to win a silver medal at the Olympics. Carolina Marin overhauled the brave Indian to win Spain’s first badminton title. The top seed, known as the “Rafa Nadal” of badminton in Spain for her tenacity and fierce left-handed game, closed out a 19-21, 21-12, 21-15 victory over the 21-year-old Sindhu, who was majestic in her Olympic debut. After winning the first game 21-19 with a five-point burst to recover from 16-19, Sindhu struggled to answer Marin’s smashes in the second game.  In the decider, Sindhu recovered to trail 11-10 at the break, but lost her momentum afterwards. Pusarla Venkata Sindhu  : Pusarla Venkata Sindhu  is an Indian professional badminton player.P. V. Sindhu received international attention as she broke into the Top 20 in the Badminton World Federation rankings released on 21 September 2012. On 10 August 2013, Sindhu became the first ever Indian women's singles player to win a medal at the 2013 World Championships.  On 30 March 2015, she received India's fourth highest civilian honor, the Padma Shri.On 18 August 2016, at the 2016 Summer Olympics, she became the first Indian to reach the finals in the Badminton event of an Olympic games after beating Nozomi Okuhara of Japan in the semi-finals. She subsequently won the Silver medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics and became the first Indian shuttler to win a Silver medal and the youngest Indian overall to make a podium finish in the Olympics. She also became the second Indian female shuttler to win an Olympic medal after Saina Nehwal's Bronze medal at 2012 Summer Olympics at London.

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