Current Affairs 29th August 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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The West Bengal Assembly has passed a resolution for renaming the state as 'Bangla' in Bengali and 'Bengal' in English, weeks after a proposal in this regard was put forward by CM Mamata Banerjee. The proposal to pass the resolution was approved by the special session of the West Bengal Assembly, which was convened on August 26 to discuss the renaming of the state. In 2011, the state government had sent a proposal to the Centre for renaming West Bengal as "Paschim Bango", but that never got the green signal.  After the partition of India in 1947, Bengal was bifurcated as East Bengal and West Bengal. East Bengal became a part of Pakistan.

India has been ranked 77th among the 171 countries in the 2016 World Risk Index (WRI). The index was released as part of the World Risk Report 2016 released by the United Nations University Institute for Environment (UNUIE) and Human Security (UNU-EHS) and Bundnis Entwicklung Hilft in cooperation with the University of Stuttgart in Germany.  Highlights of Report :  The index has assessed the disaster risk of countries through combined analysis of natural hazards such as floods, cyclones, or earthquakes and societal vulnerabilities.  Lack of critical infrastructure and weak logistic chains will substantially increase the risk that an extreme natural event will become a disaster. In 2016 WRI, the Island state of Vanuatu has been ranked number 1. India’s Neighbours: Bangladesh (5th), Sri Lanka (63rd), Pakistan (72th), China (85th) and Nepal (108th).

Automobile manufacturer Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd (M&M) has introduced DiGiSENSE, a cloud based technology solution to track vehicle information in real time.  With this, Mahindra has become the first OEM (original equipment manufacturer) in India to integrate its product line-up onto a cloud-based technology platform. DiGiSENSE by its digital-enabled sensing connects Mahindra range of pick up vehicles, tractors, trucks and construction equipment to the cloud. It will enable vehicle owners to have complete information on the location and usage their assets round-the-clock on their mobile phones.  This inbuilt technology solution has been jointly developed in India in association with Tech Mahindra, Bosch India and Vodafone. DiGiSENSE allows vehicle owner to monitor the performance and location of vehicles, including the quantity of fuel used by the vehicles on real time basis.  The key features include delivery tracking and route planning, vehicle utilisation reports, trip optimisation, alerts and machine hour operations and geo-fencing to prevent unauthorised use of the asset and theft.

Mukesh Mehta was appointed as the President of India Bullion and Jewellers Association (IBJA) on 28 August 2016. He is also a Director on the Board of IBJA. Mehta succeeds Mohit Kamboj, who resigned in the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of IBJA on 24 August 2016.  Mukesh Mehta is director of Mark Bangles and has already been on the board since the last four years. He has also served on various committee's in the last four years.  IBJA is a 97 year old apex organization for bullion dealers and jewellers and any change at the top leadership is microscopically viewed by its members and other allied associations.

International Day Against Nuclear Tests was on 29 August 2016 observed across the world with an aim to raise people’s awareness on the need to prevent nuclear catastrophes to avert devastating effects on humankind, the environment and the planet. The Day was first celebrated in 2010 and since then, the day has been observed by coordinating various activities throughout the world such as symposia, conferences, exhibits, competitions, publications, instruction in academic institutions, media broadcasts and others. The United Nations General Assembly declared 29 August as the International Day against Nuclear Tests by unanimously adopting resolution 64/35 on 2 December 2009.  The resolution was initiated by the Republic of Kazakhstan, together with a large number of sponsors and cosponsors with a view to commemorate the closure of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test site on 29 August 1991.  The Day is meant to galvanize the United Nations, Member States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and the media to inform, educate and advocate the necessity of banning nuclear weapon tests.

Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza received a confidence booster ahead of the US Open Grand Slam tournament beginning  with a doubles title victory at the Connecticut Open with Monica Niculescu of Romania . Sania and Niculescu capped off their newly rekindled doubles partnership with their first title together with a straight set victory over the duo of Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine and Chuang Chia-Jung of Taiwan in the final. The last time Sania and Niculescu partnered up was way back in 2010, where they joined forces to reach the quarterfinals at the Western and Southern Open. They played that one tournament together before calling time on the partnership. Sania recently parted ways with Swiss Martina Hingis after a hugely successful partnership. She partnered with Barbora Strycova of Czech Republic at the Cincinnati Masters last week and won their debut tournament as a team, by defeating former partner Hingis and American Coco Vandeweghe. Sania and Niculescu opened their Connecticut Open campaign with a commanding straight sets win over American wildcards Alison Riske and Louisa Chirico, then overpowered regular duo Darija Jurak and Anastasia Rodionova in straight sets. They faced a close fight against the No.3 seeded Andreja Klepac and Katarina Srebotnik, squeezing out a comeback, 2-6, 6-3, 10-8, to make it to the final.

Zee Entertainment Enterprises has appointed Punit Misra as Chief Executive Officer for its domestic broadcast business.  His appointment is with effect from October 1, and Misra will report to Zee Entertainment Enterprises Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Punit Goenka . Prior to this appointment, Misra was Executive Director-Sales and Customer Development at Hindustan Unilever. 

Film actress Sharmila Tagore, theatre activist Arundhati Nag and film studies academician Ira Bhaskar have been appointed new members of Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC), the self-regulatory body which hears complaints against TV content.  The Board of Directors of Indian Broadcasting Federation (IBF) headed by Star India chairman Uday Shankar has approved these appointments for a term of three years in the eminent persons' category in place. The tenure of three other members retired IAS officer Bhaskar Ghose, actor Shabana Azmi and journalist Vir Sanghvi, had drawn to a close recently.  The three Members, associated with BCCC since its inception in 2011, were given a warm send-off at the Council's 58th meeting held today under the chairmanship of Justice (Retd) Mukul Mudgal.

Himachal Pradesh Health Minister Kaul Singh Thakur today launched a mobile app for availing immediate and easy access to ambulances in the state.  The app named '108 HP' can be downloaded on any smartphone. The app will make the access to the National Ambulance Service (NAS) much faster and does not require sharing of information such as name and location. Himachal has become the first state in India to launch any such app. The new ambulances under 108- National Ambulance Service would be serving at health centres of Jalog and Rampur in Shimla District, Chatari in Mandi District, Gagret in Una District and Bharari in Bilaspur District.  The number of 108 ambulances which was just 50 in 2010 has increased to 199 and there is one ambulance for every 34,000 population and considering the tough topography of the state, this service has proved a boon for the people in the state. The Health Minister said the state government was spending Rs 1 lakh per day on the ambulance services and till now 7.50 lakh emergency cases had been facilitated.  Besides, 102 Janani Express providing free services to pregnant women from home to hospital and back home after delivery was being provided and so far 82,000 women had benefited. During the programme, Singh also distributed cheques of Rs 5 lakh each to the families of deceased in the 108 National Ambulance Service accidents.  

Gujarat government is planning to set up India's first textile university at Surat with an investment of about Rs 800 crore - Rs 900 crore. The textile industry will support the government in the endeavour.The state government will fund about Rs 800-900 crore for the university, which is expected to get operational in the next one and a half years. The aim of the university is to provide all kind of support including technology, research and development (R&D), skilled manpower etc. The first textile university of India will be setup in Gujarat. Land has been identified near Surat. Gujarat government will provide funds worth Rs 800-900 crore for the development of the textile university. Purpose of the university will be to create a complete eco system for the textile industry in Gujarat and India. It will guide the government in policy making for the industry. The university will build on over 250 acre land in Surat and it is expected to get operational in the next one and a half years. Construction work for the university will start in early phase of next year and it will be operational in one and a half years.

The World Bank has sanctioned Rs 980 crore to dredge the Brahmaputra as an initiative to develop waterways to Bangladesh and to other South East Asian countries in a bid to boost trade and industry in the Northeast. Opening up of the Brahmaputra waterways for trade will lead to a reduction in the cost of transportation of goods and will ultimately result in Assam becoming a export hub for the South East Asian countries. Assam Industries and Commerce Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary today said during his address at the day-long North East Tea Conclave. The World Bank has sanctioned Rs 980 crore for dredging the Brahmaputra which is an onerous task no doubt, but "the river will become navigable for trade purpose in the near future. The Centre's Act East Policy has focused aggressively on trade with South East Asian countries and "opening up the waterways will be the first step in this direction. Assam gets a readymade market of Bangladesh and West Bengal with 25 crore consumers and if one is ambitious enough, trade can be extended to Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and other South East Asian countries.

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg from Germany has won the 2016 Belgian Grand Prix of Formula One. It was Rosberg’s overall tenth championship title of F1 in his career and the sixth win in the 2016 season.  Earlier, he had won Australian Grand Prix, Bahrain Grand Prix, Chinese Grand Prix and Russian Grand Prix. 2016 Belgian Grand Prix was the thirteenth race of the 2016 season of Formula One in which total 11 teams had participated. The race was run on Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. Result of 2016 Belgian Grand Prix First Position : Nico Rosberg (Germany) of Mercedes team. Second Position: Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) of Red Bull. Third Position: Lewis Hamilton (United Kingdom) of Mercedes Team. Fourth Position: Nico Hulkenberg (Germany) of Force India. Fifth Position: Sergio Perez (Italy) of Force India. Top 3 teams are: Mercedes, Red Bull and Force India.

The Union Human Resource Ministry has formally launched Indian Institute of Techonogy (IIT) Dharwad in Karnataka. It was launched by Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash. IIT-Dharwad is located at Walmi centre on the Dharwad’s outskirts till its permanent campus is built The prestigious higher education institute has already started functioning from this academic year from a temporary structure.  Around 2000 students with Science and Maths background have been invited to the inaugural function to sensitise them about the higher learning institute. It is spread over the sprawling 470 acres allocated by the state government at nearby Kelgeri town.

NASA’s solar-powered Juno spacecraft has successfully executed its first flyby of Jupiter, our solar system’s most massive planet. During its first flyby, Juno passed just 4,200 kilometres above the planet’s clouds. It was the closest contact ever achieved by a man-made probe with Jupiter. During this flyby, it was for the first time Juno had its entire suite of science instruments activated. During this closest approach, Juno passed about 4,200 kilometres above Jupiter’s clouds and travelled at speed of 208,000 kilometres per hour with respect to the planet. There are 35 more close flybys of Jupiter planned during Juno’s mission scheduled to end in February 2018. Juno spacecraft The unmanned Juno spacecraft launched on August 5, 2011, from Florida, US. It had arrived at Jupiter on July 4, 2014. Juno is the first solar-powered mission designed by NASA to see beneath Jupiter’s clouds.  It had travelled 2.7 billion kilometres since its launch to reach Jupiter. It has nine instruments on board to study atmosphere, gravity, magnetic field and possible existence of solid core in Jupiter. Juno will also map Jupiter’s gravity and magnetic fields and also track how much water is present in the atmosphere.  It will have mission life of 20 months from July 2016 to Feb 2018. In its mission life, the spacecraft will circle the Jupiter 37 times before finally making a death plunge in 2018 in order to avoid accidentally crashing onto one of the planet’s moons.

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) for the first time has successfully conducted the Scramjet (or Supersonic Combusting ramjet) engine test. The test was conducted from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikotta in Andhra Pradesh and has successfully has met all the intended parameters. The scramjet engine was test launched on board of RH 560 sounding rocket. RH 560 sounding rocket is two stage Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV). The ATV along with the scramjet engines weighed 3,277 kg at lift-off. During the test, ATV was able to fly at Mach 6 (six times the speed of sound) speeds. The scramjet uses hydrogen as fuel and oxygen from the atmospheric air as the oxidiser. With this, India became only the fourth nation to flight-test a scramjet engine after United States, Russia and China. scramjet engine The scramjet engine works on the Air-breathing Propulsion System. The system uses natural oxygen present in the atmosphere to burn the fuel stored in the rocket. It reduces the amount of oxidiser to be carried along with the fuel, bringing down launch costs. Benefits :  This system would help in reducing the lift-off mass of the vehicle as there will be no need of carrying liquefied oxygen on board the vehicle. In turn help in increasing the energy efficiency of the rocket and also make it cost-effective. Scramjet does not have rotating parts so the chances of failure are also measurably reduced. Currently, ISRO uses rocket launch vehicles like the PSLV to deliver satellites into orbit. But PSLVs are expendable i.e. it can only be used once. The new propulsion system would complement ISRO’s aim to develop a reusable launch vehicle that would have longer flight duration. This system involving the recently tested scramjet engine, would become crucial while sending up the spacecraft. This was not India’s first venture into scramjet technology. DRDO is working with Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyenia to develop the second generation Brahmos cruise missile (dubbed the Brahmos-II) powered by a scramjet . Brahmos-II is being designed to fly 300 odd kilometres at a speed of Mach 7. The current generation Brahmos is propelled using a liquid-fuelled ramjet engine. It makes it possible for the missile propel forward at up to Mach 3 speed, making it one of the fastest for a cruise missile in the world.  

The Philippine government and Communist guerrillas (National Democratic Front (NDF)), on 26 August 2016 signed an indefinite ceasefire deal. The deal signed in Oslo, Norway will facilitate peace talks aimed at ending one of Asia's longest-running insurgencies. As per the Norwegian government, which is facilitating the talks, both sides agreed to implement unilateral ceasefires which are unlimited in time. Norway has had a role as facilitator for the peace process since 2001. Fitful peace talks have been going on since 1986. The agreement extends a truce in place for the Oslo meeting, which began on 22 August 2016 and is the first formal negotiating session over the conflict since 2011. The Communist Party of the Philippines launched rebellion in 1968 that has so far claimed the lives of 30000 people, according to official estimates. The 3000-strong New People’s Army, the armed wing of the communist party, operates mainly in the east and south of the Philippines. The ceasefire agreement included a timetable for talks about political, economic and constitutional reforms. It also mapped out a path towards an amnesty for political prisoners. The two sides would meet again in Oslo on 8 October 2016.  President of Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte said he wants to end guerrilla wars with both communist and Muslim rebels that have been hampering economic development.

Bombay High Court has  ruled that women should be permitted to enter the sanctum sanctorum of Haji Ali Dargah set in the heart of Mumbai on 26 August 2016. The 15th century dargah of the Sufi saint, Haji Ali Shah, is located on an islet off the coast of Worli in the southern part of Mumbai. A division bench of Justices V M Kanade and Revati Mohite Dere in its 56-page judgement said that a ban imposed by the Haji Ali Dargah Trust on women entering the sanctum sanctorum contravenes their fundamental rights and must be lifted. The court said that the ban on entry of women inside Haji Ali Dargah violates their fundamental right to practice any religion. Rebuking the Dargah Trust, the court said it has no right to discriminate entry of women into a public place of worship under the guise of 'managing the affairs of religion'.It refused to accept the claims that allowing women in close proximity to the grave of male Muslim saint was a sin in Islam.It also refused to accept that the ban was imposed to prevent sexual harassment of women. The court in its judgement also highlighted few constitutional provisions that give equal rights to all faith practitioners (men and women) to profess and practice whatever they wish as per their religious dictates. Articles used in the judgment include The bench asked the Dargah Trust to take effective steps like having separate queues for men and women as was done before. It also added that the state government is also duty bound to ensure safety of women at such places. The judgement was passed on public interest litigation (PIL) filed by filed by Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), a Muslim women's rights group based in Mumbain and several other women activists urging the court to lift restrictions imposed on entry of women in the dargah by the Haji Ali Dargah Trust. Noorjehan Safia Niaz and Zakia Soman are the founders of BMMA. However, the court has stayed its order for six weeks following a plea by the Dargah Trust, which wants to challenge this decision in the Supreme Court. The Haji Ali trustees, who banned entry of women into the mausoleum in 2012, were the first so-called Sufi followers in India to bar women from the spiritual tradition of shrine visitation. In February 2016, Maharashtra Government said to the Bombay High Court that women should be allowed to allowed to enter the inner sanctum till the Daragh Board in not able to prove that ban is part of their religious practice with reference to Quran.  Earlier in April 2016, the Bombay high court passed a similar ruling lifting ban on women’s entry to the Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra. The Trust of the temple imposed the ban on the basis of a 400-year-old tradition which proclaimed against women entering the inner sanctum of Lord Shani temple. The trust allowed women to enter the temple within a week of the order of the court.

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