Current Affairs 24th August 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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President Pranab Mukherjee has launched Akashvani Maitree channel for Bengali listeners and its website, an initiative which will provide a platform for blending content both from India and Bangladesh and preserving Bengali culture. Akashvani Maitree and its multimedia website is a unique venture and initiative of All India Radio not only for the bengali listeners in West Bengal, Bangladesh and the adjoining areas but the entire Bengali speaking diaspora living in different parts of the globe. The concept of the channel emanates from the decision taken during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Bangladesh wherein the two sides agreed to share content among their broadcasting organisations. The channel will be broadcast from a state-of-the-art brand new high power 1000Kw DRM transmitter with a capacity to reach the entire length and breadth of Bangladesh through medium wave and will be also available globally on its website and mobile app. Mukherjee said Akashvani has a special place in the heart of millions of people of the Bangladesh since 1971 when the precursor to Akashvani Maitree, a special service in Bangla was launched in the wake the Bangladesh Liberation movement.He recalled that the channel had played a historic role during the liberation movement. He said the new channel can play a significant role in promoting and preserving the composite Bengali cultural heritage which is proud inheritance of all Bengali speaking people irrespective of their geographical location. He also said that India and Bangladesh can work together for further realising the full potential of the SAARC initiative.

Delhi will soon have a sprawling new Aerospace Museum close to the international airport focused mainly on Nation's rich aviation history.  New Aerospace Museum is not only meant to preserve the glorious tradition of the IAF but also to create awareness in general public about India's rich Aerospace heritage. Government press release mentioned that the IAF believes that the Museum would be a popular tourist attraction and a landmark in India's capital city.  A proposal for new Air Force Aerospace Museum was cleared by Ministry of Defence and final financial sanction on the Detailed Project Report is awaited. After the approval, the new museum would be ready for the tourists within 3-5 years. Spread over 43 acres, the new Aerospace Museum would have extensive indoor and outdoor displays including huge aircraft parked and hanging in flying attitude with mural depicting the golden era. A dedicated children's area would be part of the museum where children could enter cockpits of displayed aircraft and get the feel of flying controls.  The IAF presently has a museum near the technical area of Air Force Station Palam, which was established in 1967.  The museum has an average footfall of 500 tourists daily and exhibits details about combat operations undertaken by the IAF depicting IAF's rich history since its formation in 1932 to present date, along with the display of various aircraft and equipment on the IAF's inventory, since its inception.

Maharashtra Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Union Civil Aviation Ministry and Airports Authority of India (AAI) to develop 10 airports as part of the Centre’s Regional Connectivity Scheme.  The MoU was signed in the presence of Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. With this Maharashtra became first state in the country to formally to provide the concessions required from the State Governments in the Regional Connectivity Scheme. These 10 airports include Shirdi, Gondia, Amravati, Jalgaon, Nashik, Solapur, Nanded, Kolhapur, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg. The MoU aims to facilitate regional air connectivity by making air travel affordable and move aviation sector in Maharashtra to next level.  As per the MoU, Central Government will provide funds and also assist the Maharashtra Government in developing essential infrastructure for developing these airports. State government will provide essential land free of cost and will also reduce the Local Body Tax (LBT) on air fuel from the existing 10% to 1% for a period of 10 years.  It will also provide electricity, water and necessary facilities at concessional rates. Airports will also be provided with roads, rail and waterway connectivity. Regional Connectivity Scheme :  The provision of Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) has been mentioned in the National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP) 2015. Objective: To make flying affordable for the masses, to promote tourism, increase employment and promote balanced regional growth. It also aims to boost civil aviation sector by reviving of un-served or under-served airstrips/airports. Only 75 out of 476 airstrips have scheduled operations. RCS route : It will include (i) un-served airports i.e. airports where there is no scheduled commercial flight (ii) under-served airports i.e. airports which have 7 or less scheduled commercial flights per week. These routes will cover a length between 200 to 800 km. But this criteria will not apply to hilly areas, islands, North-east region and for helicopter operations. Subsidy : Central Government will subsidise 80% of the cost for revival of airports, while the states will meet the rest under the viability gap fund (VGF). In the case of the Northeastern states, the central subsidy will be 90%. The RCS also stipulates that the air tickets will be capped at Rs 2,500 under a one-hour flight and the VGF will take care of the rest of the operational cost. Besides, a Regional Connectivity Fund (RCF) will be created to subsidise the operation of the RCS.

India’s ace tennis player Sania Mirza was topped the ATP Women’s Doubles Tennis rankings on 22 August 2016. She topped the list after teaming up with new partner, Barbora Strycova of Czech Republic. The new ranking also follows the victory of the pair in the Cincinnati final. To win the title, the Sania-Barbora duo defeated Martina Hingis and Coco Vandeweghe 7-5, 6-4. Incidentally, Sania recently ended her partnership with Martina Hingis after three Grand Slam victories and 11 WTA doubles titles together. In the recent rankings, Hingis was figured at the second sport with 10945 points behind Sania’s 11260 points.  

Reliance Infrastructure Ltd (RInfra) has announced that it completed 100 percent sale of Reliance Cement Company Private Limited (RCCPL) to Birla Corporation Limited on 22 August 2016.  While RInfra is an entity of the Anil Ambani-headed Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (Reliance ADAG), Birla Corp is the flagship Company of the M P Birla Group. The transaction was in tune with the Share Purchase Agreement (SPA) that was signed between the two entities in February 2016. It was valued at 4800 crore rupees or 140 US dollars per tonne and the proceeds will utilised by RInfra towards debt reduction.Under the SPA, the Birla Corp acquired an integrated cement capacity of 5.08 Metric tonnes per annum (Mtpa) at Maihar, Madhya Pradesh and Kundanganj, Uttar Pradesh. Besides, it also involves acquisition of grinding unit of 0.5 Mtpa capacity located at Butibori, Maharashtra.

The Union Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions has constituted a Task Force to comprehensively study the cadre structure of organised Group A Central Services  on 22 August 2016 . It will be headed by T Jacob who is an Additional Secretary in the Department of Personnel Training (DoPT) under the ministry. The task force was constituted in accordance with the direction of the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Terms of reference of the Task Force are  :  To comprehensively study the cadre structure of all organised Group A services in the Union Government. To recommend an ideal structure especially at Apex, HAG plus, HAG and SAG level. To suggest the percentage of various reserves in organised Group A services. To suggest the ideal recruitment in organised Group A services. To suggest the way forward to mitigate the stagnation level. Besides, the task force was mandated to submit the report within 3 months.

The International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition was on 23 August 2016 observed across the world. The aim of the day is to pay tribute to the people who, on 22 to 23 August 1791, revolted against the system of slavery and started the Haitian Revolution. Men and women, torn from Africa and sold into slavery, revolted against the slave system to obtain freedom and independence for Haiti, which was gained in 1804. This uprising was a turning point in human history. The Revolution initiated a process of change regarding slavery throughout the Americas. The night of 22 to 23 August 1791 in Santo Domingo (today Haiti and the Dominican Republic) saw the beginning of the uprising in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. The UNESCO Executive Board adopted Resolution 29 C/40 to observe the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition every year on 23 August. The day was first celebrated in a number of countries, in particular in Haiti (23 August 1998) and Goree in Senegal (23 August 1999). The year 2001 saw the participation of the Mulhouse Textile Museum in France in the form of a workshop for fabrics called Indiennes de Traite which served as currency for the exchange of slaves in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Telangana and Maharashtra government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to start work on three barrages- Tummidi Hatti on Pranhita River, Medigadda on Godavari River and Chanaka-Korata on Painganga River on 23 August 2016. The MoU was inked after a meeting between Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao. Highlights of the MoU : The approval for these 3 projects was given on the recommendations of the Inter-State Board of Maharashtra and Telangana that had been set up for the purpose.All expenses for these projects will be borne by Telangana government and not a single village of Maharashtra will be submerged. More than thirty thousand hectares of land in Chandrapur, Gadchiroli and Yavatmal will come under irrigation because of these barrages. This MoU to construct irrigation projects will help in ending the long standing water dispute on water utilization of Godavari River and its tributaries between the two states. Inter-state water board : The two states constituted the inter-state water board in March 2016. The board had 23 members each from both the states including their respective chief ministers.

Two Indian -American women have  been selected for the prestigious White House Fellow programme that offers first hand experience of working at the highest levels of the US federal government. Astrophysicist Anjali Tripathi from California and physician Tina R Shah from Chicago are among the 16 White House Fellows appointed from across the nation for the year 2016-17. R Shah : Shah is a Pulmonary and Critical Care physician-scientist focused on transforming healthcare delivery for patients with chronic diseases. She recently completed her clinical fellowship at the University of Chicago (UC), where she redesigned the care cycle for patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), dramatically reducing hospital readmissions. Shah also led an inter-professional research team to evaluate this value-based care delivery programme. Shah was a trustee for the Chicago Medical Society and has held leadership positions in other medical societies to advocate for her patients and for a sustainable medical workforce. She received a BS and an MD from the Pennsylvania State University/Jefferson Medical College accelerated six- year medical program and MPH from Harvard. Tripathi : Tripathi, an astrophysicist recently at Harvard University, focuses on the formation and evolution of planets. She has pioneered the characterisation of planet forming environments and developed the first 3D simulations of planets evaporating due to extreme atmospheric heating. Tripathi has also been involved in modelling the Milky Way and the search for dark matter. Previously, she has conducted particle physics, seismology and engineering research at Fermilab, Caltech, MIT, and NASA JPL, as part of the mission operations team for the Mars Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. Tripathi will receive her Ph.D. in Astronomy from Harvard, where she earned an AM in Astronomy as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow. She received M.Phil in Astronomy from Cambridge University as a Marshall Scholar and SB in Physics, with a minor in Applied International Studies, from MIT. The White House Fellows Program was created in 1964 by President Lyndon B Johnson to give promising American leaders. Each Fellow must possess the knowledge and skills necessary to contribute meaningfully at senior levels of the Federal government.

India was ranked seventh among top 10 wealthiest countries in the world, according to a report by New World Wealth. The United States topped the chart. With a total individual wealth of $5,600 billion, India stood at No. 7 in the list, ahead of Canada ($4,700 billion), Australia ($4,500 billion) and Italy ($4,400 billion), which came in at 8th, 9th and 10th slots, respectively. The US is the wealthiest in the world in terms of total individual wealth held ($48,900 billion) while China ($17,400 billion) stood second and Japan third with $15,100 billion. Others in the top 10 club were the United Kingdom at No. 4 with a total individual wealth of $9,200 billion, followed by Germany (5th, $9,100 billion) and France (6th, $6,600 billion). Wealth refers to net assets of a person. It includes all their assets -- property, cash, equities, business interests  less any liabilities, the report said, adding that it excludes government funds from its figures. The ranking of India as one of the top 10 wealthiest countries in the world is largely because of its large population. Australia’s ranking is impressive, considering it only has 22 million people living there. China was the fastest growing wealthiest country in terms of dollar wealth growth. Australia and India also grew strongly and India, Australia and Canada have just overtaken Italy over the past 12 months. The study ranked the wealthiest countries in the world as of June 2016 in terms of total individual wealth held.

Former CCI head Ashok Chawla will take over as Non-Executive Part-time Chairman of YES Bank from October as the lender has received approval from the Reserve Bank for this appointment. Chawla’s appointment is for a period of three years, with effect from the date of joining the bank. Chawla will take charge as Non-Executive Part-time Chairman of the bank with effect from October 30, 2016 upon the expiry of the term of the current Chairperson. He was appointed as an independent director on the Board of YES Bank on March 5, 2016. He was appointed as an independent director on the Board of YES Bank on March 5, 2016. With over 40 years of experience as a civil servant, he held various secretarial jobs with the central government. He also worked with various multilateral bodies and headed public sector enterprises. urrently, he is the Chairman of NSE and chairs the governing council of The Energy and Research Institute (TERI).

Anand Krishnamurthy, managing director and chief executive of Catholic Syrian Bank, has resigned, a year after taking over the posts. The bank reported a loss of Rs 149.72 crore in 2015-16. Percentage of gross non-performing assets had shot up to 5.62 per cent and net NPAs to 4.40 per cent of total loans in 2015-16. Krishnamurthy had been associated with the bank for the past one year and was previously responsible for corporate banking, SME business, and integrated treasury operations as head of wholesale banking and treasury. SME is small and medium-sized enterprises. The bank is in the process of looking for another chief executive. This time we are not going to look at people from our bank or from foreign banks. We will try to finalise the names soon. Both Krishnamurthy and Rakesh Bhatia, former managing director and chief executive, were from foreign bank HSBC. Bhatia had roped in other foreign bankers after joining. The Kerala-based bank was planning to raise around Rs 400 crore through initial public offering (IPO) of shares, but dropped the plan, and is talking to at least three private equity investors, including Fairfax, for raising funds. Sources said the lender had decided to clean up its balance sheet and improve its financial performance before going for an IPO. The Reserve Bank of India has been asking the lender to list on exchanges. The bank is one of India's oldest private sector banks, with headquarters in the Thrissur district of Kerala. For over nine decades, it remained a neighbourhood bank. The company has a strong base in Kerala, and a significant presence in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Maharashtra.

Twenty-two year old Chennai lad Vikash Anand won a double to clinch the title in the MRF Formula 1600 category and a ticket for the Mazda Road to Indy shootout as the fifth and final round of the MRF MMSC FMSCI Indian National Racing Championship concluded. ikash and Karthik Tharani were locked on 138 points. Anand began his campaign with a second place finish behind Tharani on Saturday, but won both the starts today to seal the championship. The results (Provisional): MRF F1600 (Race 2, 10 laps): 1. Vikash Anand (Chennai) (16mins, 54.111secs); 2. Raghul Rangasamy (Chennai) (16:58.677); 3. Karthik Tharani (Chennai) (17:02.390). Race 3 (10 laps): 1. Vikash Anand (16:55.247); 2. Karthik Tharani (16:56.108); Anindith Reddy (Hyderabad) (17:03.391). Championship: 1. Vikash Anand 206 points; 2. Karthik Tharani 196; 3. Raghul Rangasamy 171.  Indian Touring Cars (Race 2, 8 laps): 1. Arjun Narendran (Red Rooster Racing) (15:14.881); 2. Ashish Ramaswamy (Red Rooster Racing) (15:26.777); 3. Siva Ramakrishnan (Red Rooster Racing) (15:34.819).  Indian Junior Touring Cars (Race-2, 10 laps): 1.Keith Desouza (Unimek Racing) (23:54.238); 2.Ananth Pithawalla (Team N1) (23:55.704); 3.Charen Chandran (Red Rooster Performance) (23:57.784). Championship: 1.Keith Desouza 199; 2.Ananth Pithawala 191; 3.R Sri Hariram 113. 

Chhattisgarh Legislative Assembly has unanimously ratified the Constitution Amendment Bill on Goods and Services Tax (GST) that was passed by the Parliament this month.  The resolution was tabled by the state’s commercial tax minister, Amar Agrawal in the special session of the Chhattisgarh Assembly convened. This was the first occasion when a special session of the state legislative assembly was convened in the 16-year-old state. Chhattisgarh would be probably the fourth state after Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Jharkhand to ratify the GST Bill, described as India's biggest tax reform. The Bill requires consent of at least 15 state legislatures before the President could notify the GST Council, which would eventually decide the new tax rate and other issues.   The Central Government has set a deadline of April 2017 for its rollout. The state’s right to impose taxes would be restricted while it would not be in a possible to exempt any tax following local demand. The Chief Minister clarified that the initially the states would have to bear the revenue loss that the Centre would be compensating for five years. 

PR Acharya has resigned as the Director Finance and CFO (KMP) of Bharat Electronics Ltd with effect from August 19. He has also stepped down from the Board of the company, citing personal reasons. Bharat Electronics  : Bharat Electronics Limited is an Indian state-owned aerospace and defence company with about nine factories, and few regional offices in India. It is owned by the Indian Government and primarily manufactures advanced electronic products for the Indian Armed Forces. BEL is one of nine PSUs under the Ministry of Defence of India. It has been accorded Navratna status by the Government of India. U On 1 April 2016, BEL's order book was estimated to be around Rs.300 billions.  

Late Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami has been selected for the Asian Filmmaker of the Year Award at the Busan International Film Festival beginning October 6.  The 21st Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) has selected Kiarostami, who passed away on July 4 at the age of 76, for the award which is given to Asian cineastes or organisations that have shown the most outstanding contribution to developing the Asian film industry and culture. Honoring his monumental achievements in cinema, the BIFF 2016 has decided to give the Asian Filmmaker of the Year Award to Kiarostami. The award will be presented to the late filmmaker's son Ahmad Kiarostami during the opening ceremony of BIFF 2016.  Kiarostami was one of the most influential directors in the world and debuted as a filmmaker with his short film 'The Bread and Alley' (1970). Pursuing innovative film aesthetics into the early 21st century, he was invited to the 2nd Busan International Film Festival with his work, 'The Taste of Cherry' (1997).  Busan Festival will introduce his major works by screening nine films he directed. Additionally, a special forum will be held during BIFF 2016. An in-depth discourse about the late Kiarostami's cinematic world will also be held during the "Asian Writer Research Forum" hosted by BIFF and Pusan National University's film institute.

China has launched its first Tibetan-language search engine 'Yongzin'.  The search engine will serve as a unified portal for all major Tibetan-language websites in China. It has eight sections for news, websites, images, videos, music, encyclopedia, literature and forums. The search engine will meet the growing needs of the Tibetan-speaking population and facilitate the building of Tibetan digital archives and the expansion of databases in the Tibetan language.

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