Today Current Affairs 3rd August 2016

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A group of Chinese scientists will be performing the world’s first genetic editing trial on humans in August 2016. The trial will be done in an attempt to find a cure for lung cancer. A team led by Dr. Lu You at Sichuan University’s West China Hospital in Chengdu received approval to carry out the trial from the hospital’s review board on 6 July 2016. The world’s first genetic editing trial on humans will be based on CRISPR–Cas9 technique. CRISPR technology lets scientists selectively edit genome parts and substitute them with novel DNA fragments. Cas9 is an enzyme that has the capacity to edit DNA. The genes undergo modification for the better via this procedure. A lot of cutting and pasting takes place at the genetic level through the technique. There will be 10 volunteers who will all be lung cancer patients. The CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing will last between two and three months. However, the trial still could go on for 365 days or more. T cells will be extracted from the blood of the patients. The gene that stored PD-1 protein will be deleted. The process normally limits the cells’ capacity to trigger an immune response. Now, the edited cells will be cultured in the lab after their reintroduction in the patients’ blood. This will start the immune response, which will kill the lung cancer tumours.  

The Kerala cabinet has decided to appoint senior CPI(M) leader V.S. Achuthanandan as Chairman of the Fourth Administrative Reforms Commission with cabinet rank. Former chief secretaries Neela Gangadharan and CP Nair are other members of the three-member commission. Earlier, on July 19, the State Assembly had passed an amendment to the Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualifications) Amendment Act, 1951. This had effectively cleared the way for Achuthanandan’s appointment to the head of the Administrative Reforms Commission. It had inserted sub-section (3) to Section 2 of the Act, which read : No person shall be disqualified or deemed ever to have been disqualified for being chosen as, and for being, a member of the Legislative Assembly of the State of Kerala by reason only that he holds or has held the office of the Chairman of the Administrative Reforms Commission.  A  public interest litigation is pending in the Kerala High Court questioning Achuthanandan’s appointment. It contends that the procedure did not prescribe the qualification, method of appointment, or the constitution of a selection committee for the post. By appointing a person who has only studied till VIIth standard, the state government is following the ‘spoils system’ for adequately compensating him for leading the campaign during the last elections on behalf of the ruling Left Democratic Front  

The seventh meeting of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Immigration Authorities was held in Islamabad, Pakistan. Pakistan’s Director General Immigration and Passports Usman A. Bajwa was unanimously elected as Chairman had chaired the meeting. Highlights of meeting  : It reviewed different areas to maximize the potential of visa exemption scheme launched among the member countries in 1992. It also deliberated on development of security software for SAARC visa exemption scheme (SVES) and immigration matters. This software would help to transform the existing manual system of the scheme into an online visa application system. It will have a central database that will provide all member states with real-time and secure information. SAARC visa exemption scheme (SVES)  : The SVES was launched in 1992 to liberalise visa regime the region by facilitating people to people contacts, among the peoples of SAARC countries. It provides certain categories of dignitaries a Special Travel document which exempts them from visas to travel within the region for the specified time period.  The objective of SVES is to streamline the processes and facilitate business community, cultural representatives and officials from member states availing this facility. It is being implemented among SAARC member countries in 24 categories including dignitaries, Parliamentarians, Senior Officials, businessmen, journalists and sports persons etc. Under it, Visa Stickers are issued by the respective member states to the entitled categories of that particular country which has validity for one year.

American ice hockey Olympic champion Angela Ruggiero was elected as the new chair of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s Athletes’ Commission on 1 August 2016 . IOC President Thomas Bach officially appointed Ruggiero during joint meeting between the IOC athletes’ commission and the IOC executive board. Ruggiero will be replacing Claudia Bokel. Angela Ruggiero : Angela Ruggiero is a former ice hockey player who has played more games for Team USA than any other man or woman. She is the current Vice-Chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission. She competed in 10 Women's World Championships winning four Gold medals and six Silver.She also authored a memoir about her hockey experiences called Breaking the Ice.She announced her retirement from USA's national hockey team on 28 December 2011. On 29 June 2015, she was announced as a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2015. She was inducted on 9 November 2015. She is only the fourth woman and second American woman to be inducted. IOC Athletes' Commission : The IOC Athletes' Commission is a body maintained by the International Olympic Committee for the purpose of representing athletes.It was established in 1981 by the then-President of the IOC, Juan Antonio Samaranch. Its creation was subsequently codified by the IOC in Rule 21 of the Olympic Charter.Its function is to act as the link between active athletes and the IOC.  

West Bengal Cabinet has cleared a proposal to rename the state as “Bengal” in English and “Bango” or “Bangla” in Bengali on 2 August 2016. The word “Bengal” has the state’s culture and heritage associated with it and so it has been decided to change it. West Bengal Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee said that a special session of the Assembly will be convened on 26 August to pass a resolution to this effect. Later, it will be sent to the Union Government for approval by the Parliament as changing of the name will require its approval. The decision was taken in line to the names of other states like Odisha, and cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai. The other reason for changing the name of the state is that whenever there is any meeting of all states, West Bengal comes at the bottom of the list alphabetically.

Rajya Sabha has passed the Dentists (Amendment) Bill, 2016 with voice Vote on 1 August 2016. The Bill seeks to amend the Dentists Act, 1948. It also seeks to replace the Dentists (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016 and states that its provisions will come in to force from 24 May 2016. Lok Sabha passed the bill on 19 July 2016. Now, the bill will be sent to the President for his assent. Features of the Bill : It seeks to introduce a uniform entrance examination for all dental educational institutions. This would be applicable at the undergraduate and the post-graduate level.The Bill 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 dental colleges.The Bill states that the entrance examinations will be conducted in Hindi, English and other languages.The Bill provides powers to the DCI 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. The existing Act of 1948 provides for the constitution of the Dental Council of India (DCI) and regulate Permission to start colleges, courses or increase the number of seats Registration of dentists Standards of professional conduct of dentists; among others The Dentists (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was introduced in Lok Sabha by Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Jagat Prakash Nadda on 19 July 2016.

American researchers have developed a mechanism to convert greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) into carbon monoxide (CO) that can be recycled into usable fuel. The mechanism is based on the photosynthesis process that trees uses to convert CO2 into sugars. It was developed by US Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Illinois at Chicago. The study, "Nanostructured transition metal dichalcogenide electrocatalysts for CO2 reduction in ionic liquid," was published in Science. Mechanism Although the reaction to transform carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide (CO) is different from anything found in nature, it requires the same basic inputs as photosynthesis. The setup for the reaction is almost similar to nature in this case that the research team was able to construct an "artificial leaf" that could complete the entire three-step reaction pathway. 1 Incoming photons -- packets of light -- are converted to pairs of negatively-charged electrons and corresponding positively-charged "holes" that then separate from each other. 2  The holes react with water molecules, creating protons and oxygen molecules. 3 The protons, electrons and carbon dioxide all react together to create carbon monoxide and water. Although carbon monoxide is also a greenhouse gas, it is much more reactive than carbon dioxide and scientists already have ways of converting carbon monoxide into usable fuel, such as methanol.  

Nepal's Parliament has elected former Maoist rebel chief Prachanda as Prime Minister after K.P. Oli resigned rather than facing defeat in a vote of no-confidence. Pushpa Kamal Dahal, 61, who still uses a nom de guerre that means “Fierce”, won 363 votes out of the 573 cast in the 595-member Parliament.He becomes the 24th Prime Minister in 26 years since the Himalayan nation adopted multi-party democracy in 1990 and the eighth since the 239-year-old monarchy was abolished eight years ago. Pushpa Kamal Dahal : Pushpa Kamal Dahal also known as Prachanda, is the prime minister of Nepal and chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist-Centre) . He led a guerrilla war against the government and later served as Prime Minister of Nepal from 2008 to 2009. Dahal led the CPN (M) as it launched a communist insurgency on 13 February 1996. In the ensuing civil war, more than 17,000 Nepalese died. Ultimately elections were held in 2008 and the CPN (M) emerged as the strongest party. The Constituent Assembly of Nepal elected Dahal as Prime Minister in August 2008.He resigned as Prime Minister on 4 May 2009 after his attempt to sack the army chief, General Rookmangud Katawal, was opposed by President Ram Baran Yadav.

Senior IAS officer Bhaskar Khulbe has been appointed as Secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He was Additional Secretary in Prime Minister’s Office. The Appointments Committee of Cabinet has approved appointment of Khulbe as Secretary to Prime Minister with effect from 29 June 2016, an order issued today by Department of Personnel and Training, said. Khulbe is a 1983 batch IAS officer of West Bengal cadre. He looks after work related to Cabinet Secretariat and thrust areas of the government, among others.

Sports Minister Vijay Goel has inaugurated ‘Wall of Wishes’ at India Gate Lawns in New Delhi on 2 August 2016. The Wall of Wishes was launched in presence of Olympian Boxer M C Mary Kom to celebrate the Olympic mood in the country. Rio Olympics is scheduled to be held from 5 August to 21 August 2016. Besides, Goel also launched Digital Campaign for general public to wish Indian Olympic Contingent for the Rio Games. He also urged the people especially students and youth to visit India Gate in large numbers to sign their wishes at the Wall to cheer the Indian players. The Wall was inaugurated after the RUN FOR RIO, which was organised on 31 July 2016 by the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs to connect public at large, with the Olympic spirit and power of sports. This year India is sending its largest ever contingent to participate in the Olympic Games.

Renowned Indian-American linguist Braj B Kachru passed away on 29 July 2016 in Urbana, Illinois. He was 84. Kachru coined the term World English. He is also known for his published studies on Kashmiri. Braj B Kachru : Born on 15 May 1931 in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, Braj Bihari Kachru initiated, shaped and defined the field of World Englishes. He researched in the fields of World Englishes and Kashmiri language and has published several books and research papers related to the field.At the University of Illinois, he headed the Department of Linguistics from 1968 to 1979.From 1985 to 1991, he directed the Division of English as an International Language at the University.He was the Director of the Center for Advanced Study from June 1996 to January 2000 at the University.In 1984, he was appointed director at the Linguistic Institute of the Linguistic Society of America. He was named Jubilee Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Illinois in 1992.He went on to become the president of the International Association for World Englishes from 1997 to 1999.He has also authored and edited over 25 books and more than 100 research papers, reviews and review articles.He authored the prize-winning The Alchemy of English: The Spread, Functions and Models of Non-Native Englishes. He was also the associate editor for Contributor to the Cambridge History of the English Language and The Oxford Companion to the English Language.

Bank of Baroda has tied up with a fintech start-up Fisdom for personal wealth management services.  Besides, the bank has entered into pact with six other fintech companies, proficient in different areas, Fisdom said in a release. These are CreditMantri, FundsTiger, Probe42, Power2SME, IndiaLends and KredX. ]Fisdom app helps users make financial investments in an easy and paperless manner by blending cutting-edge technology with personalised financial advice. It helps people manage their money with the help of a robo-advisor. Bank of Baroda : Bank of Baroda is an Indian state-owned banking and financial services company headquartered in Vadodara (earlier known as Baroda) in Gujarat, India.It is the second largest bank in India, next to State Bank Of India. Its headquarters is in Vadodara, iBank of Baroda is one of the Big Four banks of India, along with ICICI Bank, State Bank of India and Punjab National Bank. The bank, along with 13 other major commercial banks of India, was nationalised on 19 July 1969, by the Government of India and has been designated as a profit-making public sector undertaking (PSU).  

India's fastest growing digital payments platform Freecharge has partnered with the leading payment gateway solution provider, PayUbiz, to further strengthen its merchant base and help consumers move from cash to digital payments. This integration allows Freecharge to tap PayUbiz's more than 10, 000 online merchants. Furthermore, the latter's wide assortment of merchants across sectors will also be accessible to Freecharge patrons. The partnership draws Freecharge closer its vision of creating an ecosystem where organized and unorganized merchant networks can accept electronic payments through one secure platform. The Freecharge wallet is currently accepted at over 1, 00,000 merchants in India and this partnership with PayUbiz will further fortify its merchant outreach. Customers paying through the Freecharge wallet will also be able to avail exclusive offers and additional discounts on spends at the registered merchants. This partnership marks a new milestone in the digital payment space in India. PayUbiz being a leading payment service and product player and Freecharge a leading company is mobile wallets space; this strategic alliance is touted to bring the best of both, where Freecharge provides consumer acceptance and PayUbiz provides merchants acceptance. This reciprocally profitable, bilateral alliance will also allow the merchant base of PayUbiz to see an upsurge in first-time usage as well as repeat purchases by getting access to Freecharge user base. At the same time, Freecharge will be able to acquire new customers and gain wider acceptance across categories as a payment option. Both the stakeholder believe that partnerships are critical to scale acceptance and build the habit of digital payments. The UI and transaction experience ensures that consumers have the swiftest yet safest digital payments experience. Enabling wallet payments with merchants gives the ubiquity and reach that is required to take India to a cashless.

Union Communications Minister Manoj Sinha has launched the ‘Twitter Sewa’ or addressing the complaints and concerns of common man and other stake-holders in the telecom and postal sectors. The twitter handle of the Minister will be @manojsinhabjp. This  platform to provide a transparent, clean and responsive, and accountable administration. Both the telecom and posts are service sectors, customer is the king here and this is all the more relevant for BSNL and MTNL. Telecom service providers are expected to resolve the complaints forwarded to them under this arrangement. The minister also underlined that there are chances that this Twitter Sewa may be misused by some undesirable elements but he expressed hope that Twitter authorities will take care of the same. Telecom operators from government as well as private and the Department of Posts shall use the utility of the ‘Twitter Sewa’ to the fullest to address the grievances of the public.

The Odisha government has decided to recruit members of transgender community as warders in jails of the State. The Sub-ordinate Staff Selection Commission to start the process of recruitment of transgenders.  As per the direction of the Directorate of Prison, members of transgender community could apply for 185 warders’ posts in jails. The Odisha government which thought of providing livelihood support as well as social recognition to the marginalised section of the society. It is perhaps for the first time, the transgender community is being considered for the post. It needs to be mentioned that Odisha had brought members of transgender community under purview of the National Food Security Act.

ICICI Bank  has teamed up with private equity major Apollo Global Management to launch an asset reconstruction company.  ICICI and Apollo have signed a memorandum of understanding to set up the ARC, which will acquire debt from lenders and also take equity stakes in borrowers. AION Fund, which has been established through a strategic partnership between ICICI Venture Funds Management Company and an affiliate of Apollo Global Management, is the third party in the MoU.  The fund has already committed $825 million in investments in the country.  According to RBI, gross non-performing assets of scheduled commercial banks rose to 7.6 per cent in March 2016 and may increase further to 8.5 per cent in 2016-17 as per a base-case scenario.  With asset stress resolution taking the spotlight, the government and the regulators have been making efforts to relax conditions by allowing up to 100 per cent foreign investment in ARCs, subject to conditions.  This has led to many new entities showing interest.  ARCIL, promoted by a slew of lenders including ICICI Bank, used to be the only ARC in the country, but in the last few years, companies promoted by private financial institutions like Edelweiss Finance and Kotak Mahindra Group have come up and have been playing a key role.  The proposed ARC, the statement said, is counting on ICICI Bank's experience in the Indian financial sector and Apollo's investment experience as the strong points.  The objective of the collaboration will be to streamline the operations of borrowers, facilitate deleveraging and arrange additional funding on a case-by-case basis .

The National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) has given clean chit to wrestler Narsingh Yadav in the doping case. With this he can participate in 2016 Rio Olympics. Narsingh Yadav was given clean chit after the NADA disciplinary panel exonerated him from charges of violating anti-doping rules of NADA. It was found that the wrestler was a victim of sabotage done by a competitor and there is no fault and negligence on Narsingh Yadav’s part in case of doping. Narsingh Yadav had tested positive for a banned anabolic steroid methandienone in the out-of-competition doping tests conducted by NADA. Both of his test samples were tested positive for methandienone after they were collected at the National camp in Sonepat, Haryana. After this incident, he was replaced by Parveen Rana to save India’s quota in 2016 Olympics in the 74kg freestyle category of Wrestling. Metandienone (C20H28O2) : It is an orally active anabolic steroid that binds and activates the androgen receptor. It increases protein synthesis, muscle strength and glycogenolysis over a short space of time.  It is popular among bodybuilders.

A book titled R D Burmania : Panchamemoirs authored by Chaitanya Padukone was released in July 2016. The book throws light on the legendary musician Rahul Dev Burman, whose cabaret tunes still reverberate at pubs and discotheques. It also claims that Burman hated composing such songs and even believed that the genre was just a passing fad.  The book chimes a tribute that strings together amazing, amusing and fascinating anecdotes, incidents and idiosyncrasies as well as rare, startling photographs while unraveling the mystique behind Bollywood's most adored composer-singer RD Burman. This Memoirs also features exclusive tributes to Panchamda from illustrious luminaries like Amitabh Bachchan, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Rishi Kapoor, A.R.Rahman, Zeenat Aman, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Hariharan, Sonu Nigam, Himesh Reshammiya, Shekhar Kapur, Mahesh Bhatt, Babul Supriyo and cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar, Hema Malini, 'late' Rajesh Khanna and many more. Chaitanya Padukone : Chaitanya D. Padukone is an eminent senior Bollywood film and music-biz journalist over the past three decades.She is the recipient of the KA Abbas Memorial gold medal and trophy, which was conferred on him for creative excellence in film journalism by mega-star Amitabh Bachchan. In 2012, he was honored with the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Academy Award for his outstanding contribution to showbiz journalism.