Current Affairs 5th August 2016

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Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar has started the 7th Pay Commission recommendations would be implemented in the state from November 1. While to implement the recommendations of Seventh Pay Commission from November 1 onwards. The pending arrears from January to October 2016 would be deposited in the employee provident fund (PF) and National Pension System (NPS). He also said the order on implementation of the seventh pay commission would be issued around Ganesh Chaturthi, scheduled on September 5. The chief minister said the government will have to spend an additional Rs 72 crore monthly towards salaries and pensions of government employees for implementation of recommendations of the new commission. A provision of Rs 2,553 crore has been made towards seventh pay commission implementation in the state budget. The Chief Minister had a few days back informed the House that as per the revised pay scale, the state government will have to pay Rs 272 crore per month as against Rs 213 crore per month as per the existing scale, which will be an additional burden of Rs 59 crore. During 2015-16, Rs 1,946 crore were earmarked for the salaries and pensions, which has now been hiked to Rs 2,553 crore to make up for the liability created by seventh pay.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has dedicated 100 multi-purpose shelter houses to the people of Odisha for use during floods and cyclones with an aim to ensure zero casualties during calamities.  These 100 multi-purpose calamity shelter units have been inaugurated by the CM across 17 districts of the state which include Puri, Ganjam, Balasore, Bhadrak and Kenrapara, Malkangiri, Keonjhar and Cuttack, Boudh and Jajpur, besides in Bargarh, Kalahandi, Nayagarh, and Subarnapur. The 100 new shelters will add to the state’s existing 526 multi-purpose shelter houses, adding people can take shelter in these places during calamities like floods and cyclones.  The chief minister also stated that more shelter houses are already under construction and the state will have 879 multi-purpose shelter houses by the end of this year.

State Minorities Commission for Telangana and Andhra Pradesh is set to unleash an awareness campaign against ISIS by getting on board Imams of a large number of mosques across the two states to thwart the attempts of the terror group to lure youths. The Commission will  hold a seminar, awareness programme and interactive session on "ISIS - Interpreting reality", which would be attended among others by Imams of nearly 300 mosques from the two states. At the event, they would discuss ways to wean away people from the violent and ultra conservative ideology of the terror group, and educate youth about serious repercussions of getting involved in its activities through social media. Among the speakers would be a security expert on radicalisation, a scholar who has written a book on ISIS and an adviser to multi-national companies on cyber threat. The Minority Commissions of West Bengal, Maharashtra and Karnataka have approached Khan seeking help for organising programmes as the one taking place. The event is being organised against the backdrop of police in several states detaining men on suspicion of having links to ISIS or planning to join the dreaded outfit. Recently, NIA busted a module in Hyderabad whose members allegedly owed allegiance to ISIS.

Gujarat's senior Cabinet Minister Nitin Patel is set to take over as Chief Minister in place of Anandiben Patel. Mr. Patel's appointment will be made after the BJP legislature party meeting at 4 p.m. He is the final candidate and confirmed as next Chief Minister in place of Anandiben Patel,said a senior leader, adding he is number 2 in the Cabinet. The 60-year-old Nitin Patel has been Minister since 1995 except in 2002-2007 when he lost the Assembly polls after the Gujarat riots. The party narrowed down to his name after the Patidar community and also outgoing Chief Minister Anandiben Patel rallied behind him.

The Corporation Bank has launched a ‘Group Credit Life Insurance Scheme’ of Life Insurance Corporation of India at the corporate office of the bank. The scheme was launched by handing over insurance certificates to a few beneficiaries of Mangaluru-Poonja Arcade branch of the bank. The Group Credit Life Insurance Scheme is available to customers of the bank in the age group of 18 to 60 who have taken term loans. It is a single premium group term insurance plan offering insurance cover to the loan availed by the customer, in the event of unfortunate death of the borrower. The scheme covers various term loans including retail loans namely, personal loan, home loans, vehicle loans, loans to MSME and agriculture.

Former Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India Vinod Rai on 1 August 2016 stepped down from private sector lender IDFC Bank’s board. However, Rai will continue to be the non-executive independent chairman of IDFC Ltd. The decision was taken to avoid conflict of interest as Rai is also the chairman of Bank Board Bureau (BBB). THE BBB will not only select board members of public sector banks but will also devise strategies for them. Rai was on IDFC Bank board since its inception in October 2015. He was appointed as the Chairman of Bank Board Bureau on 28 February 2016. Vinod Rai : Vinod Rai was the 11th Comptroller and Auditor General of India.He assumed office on 7 January 2008 till 22 May 2013.He is the current chairman of UN Panel of External Auditors and Honorary Advisor to the Railways. He is also a member of the Railway Kaya Kalp Council.He obtained a master's degree in Economics from the University of Delhi, and Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University. He is widely considered as symbol of the anti-corruption movement.He is credited with having turned the office of CAG into a powerful force for accountability and transparency in contemporary India.

The Egyptian-born Nobel-winning scientist Ahmed Zewail passed away in the United States. He was 70. Mr Zewail had won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1999 for his pioneering work in femtochemistry. He is the first Arab Scientist to win the Nobel Prize. Ahmed Zewail  : Ahmed Zewail Born on 26 February 1946 in Damanhur, Egypt. He is famously known as the father of femtochemistry and was Science Advisor to US President Barack Obama. He had received a Bachelor of Science (BSc) and Master of Science (MSc) degrees in Chemistry from Alexandria University.  He had completed his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. He was appointed as faculty at the California Institute of Technology in 1976. He became a naturalized citizen of US in 1982. In 2013, he had joined the United Nations Scientific Advisory Board. He was prolific writer and had authored about 600 scientific articles and 16 books.

The United States declared Pakistan based Jamaat-ur-Ahrar (JuA) as a ‘terror group’ by adding it to its list of global terrorists. This declaration triggers sanctions against the terrorist faction that has staged multiple attacks on civilians, religious minorities and soldiers.  Besides anyone who supports Jamaat-ur-Ahrar could have his assets frozen by the US Government. Jamaat-ur-Ahrar  : JuA is a militant Sunni Islamic group. It is a splinter faction of the Pakistani Taliban movement. It has declared loyalty to Islamic State’s (IS). The aim of Pakistani Taliban allied with Afghan Taliban is to topple the Pakistan Government.  It has claimed responsibility of 5 major attacks in Pakistan since December 2015, including the Easter Sunday bombing in a public park that killed 70 people in Lahore city.

The Gujarat high court has quashed 10 percent reservation quota for the economically backward classes (EBCs). In this regard, the Court has declared The Gujarat Unreserved Economically Weaker Sections (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions in the State and of Appointments and Posts in Services under the State) Ordinance, 2016 unconstitutional. The ordinance was termed as unconstitutional as the total reservation exceeds in the state exceeded the 50 percent cap set by the Supreme Court. The ordinance had provided 10 percent quota for EBCs in higher educational institutions and government jobs. Moreover, the HC also stated that there was no survey conducted to grant this ECB quota. In May 2016, the Gujarat Government had announced to implement 10 percent quota in admission for students belonging to EBCs with effect from the academic year i.e. 2016-17. This quota was additional to the existing reservations for SCs, STs and OBCs. It had exceeding the cap set by the Supreme Court.

The country's largest lender State Bank of India, which started the process of merging all its subsidiaries with itself about three months back, would become a single entity by April next, indicating the speed at which the administration is moving to revitalise the banking system.  State Bank will merge all its 5 subsidiaries  :  State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Travancore, State Bank of Patiala, State Bank of Mysore and State Bank of Hyderabad   with itself after the government gives its final approval to the merger in October this year.  SBI servers have been readied to host the associate banks and, when it happens, is likely to be the fastest merger ever, the official claimed. The bank will be adding one third of its current customer base of 300 million during the merger process.  When merged, the entity will be a banking behemoth with an asset base of Rs 37 lakh crore, a branch network of nearly 25,000 and 58,000 ATMs. That may be more than five times the country's second largest lender ICICI Bank.  Earlier in June, the government gave the go-ahead to the merger of State Bank of India (SBI) with its five associate lenders and Bharatiya Mahila Bank.  This also will enhance SBI's global ranking, which was at 52 globally in terms of assets in 2015, according to Bloomberg. A merger will help the lender find a place in the top 50 banks worldwide. 

Reserve Bank on Wednesday imposed penalty on two cooperative banks in Chhattisgarh under the Banking Regulation Act, 1949. The RBI has imposed a monetary penalty of five lakh each on Zila Sahakari Kendriya Bank Maryadit, Raipur, and Raipur Urban Mercantile Cooperative Bank Limited. Zila Sahakari Kendriya Bank Maryadit was penalised for violation of the directives/guidelines of the Central Bank on 'Know Your Customer' norms. Raipur Urban Mercantile Cooperative Bank Ltd faced action for violation of the directives on prohibition of grant of loans and advances to own directors or their relatives or concerns in which they are interested. RBI had issued a show-cause notice to both the banks earlier. After receiving their responses, it came to the conclusion that the violations were substantiated.

The first technology meet under the Hydrocarbon Vision 2030 for Northeast India and deliberate various issues regarding implementation of the document which envisages an investment of Rs 1,30,000 crore.  The meet will be a stepping stone to put the north-east region on top of Indian energy map by utilising its hydrocarbon potential in line with the Hydrocarbon Vision 2030. Experts from different PSUs and private sector oil firms will attend the two-day technology meet. All major operators, including ONGC, OIL, GeoEnpro, Jubilant, Hindustan Oil Exploration Company, ACIL along with global service providers like Schlumberger, Weatherford, Halliburton, Baker Hughes and Al Mansoori among others will participate in the meet.  Senior officials of the Directorate General of Hydrocarbon are also likely to attend the meet.  The Technology Meet is an initiative of the sub- committee of the upstream sector led by ONGC and has members from upstream national oil companies as well as private companies. The upstream sector of oil industry is responsible for exploration and production of hydrocarbon from sub-surface reservoirs. Hence the meet is expected to go a long way in meeting the targets of the ambitious Hydrocarbon Vision 2030 for Northeast India. The upstream companies will present the technical challenges before them for sustaining and increasing oil and gas production in the northeast, while service providers will offer technologies suitable for the region. Under the Hydrocarbon Vision 2030 for the northeast, oil and natural gas output from the region will be doubled besides ramping up refining capacity entailing an investment of Rs 1,30,000 crore over the next 15 years.  Out of this, Rs 80,000 crore will be required for upstream activities of existing and new oil and gas blocks for exploration, while Rs 20,000 crore will be needed for midstream actions, including setting up of four new natural gas pipelines, five new POL product pipelines and three new LPG pipelines.  In the downstream area, three existing refineries will be expanded, a new bio-refinery will be set up at Numaligarh and CGD network will be developed across the region at a total investment of Rs 30,000 crore by 2030.  

Dr Reddy's announced that it has successfully completed the acquisition of eight Abbreviated New Drug Applications (ANDAs) in the US from Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries and an affiliate of Allergan Plc. The acquired portfolio consists of products that are being divested by Teva as a precondition to its closing of acquisition of Allergan's generics business. In June, the company had entered an agreement with Teva to buy this portfolio of ANDAs for $ 350 million. Dr Reddy's recently said some of these products would start adding to its top line some time in 2018. The portfolio is a mix of six ANDAs pending approval, one approved ANDA and one ANDA with tentative approval, and comprises complex generic products across diverse dosage forms.  The combined sales of branded versions of products in the US were approximately $ 3.5 billion for the recent twelve months ending June 2016, according to IMS Health. The products include Buprenorphine HCL/Naloxone HCL Sublingual Film(generic equivalent to Suboxone), Ethinyl estradiol/Ethonogestrel Vaginal Ring(generic equivalent of NuvaRing), Exetimibe/Simvastatin tablets (generic equivalent to Kombiglyze XR), Tobramycin Inhalation Solution(generic equivalent to Tobi), Phentermine HCL/Topiramate ER Capsules(generic equivalent to Qsymia), Imiquimod Topical Cream(generic equivalent to Zyclara 3.75 % Cream), and Ramelteon Tablets(generic equivalent to Rozerem).

Shipping Corporation of India Ltd. has signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Shipping for the financial year 2016-17.  The MoU was signed by Shri Rajive Kumar, IAS, Secretary (Shipping) and Capt. B.B. Sinha, Chairman and Managing Director, Shipping Corporation of India Ltd., at New Delhi. The MOU, which is based on the MOU guidelines 2016-17 issued by the Department of Public  Enterprises (DPE),consists of parameters drawn on the prescribed evaluation criteria and factors such as capacity and its expansion, business environment, projects under implementation have been considered.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) today approved a new formula to calculate production subsidy to sugar mills for the ongoing 2015-16 season after taking into account lower sugar production and exports. To address liquidity stress in the sugar industry and facilitate timely payment of cane arrears, the Centre last year had announced a subsidy of Rs 4.50 per quintal of cane crushed during October 2015-September 2016 season with a condition that mills meet the export quota of four million tonnes and ethanol blending target. The CCEA has approved the revised formula to determine the production subsidy to sugar mills for 2015-16 season taking into account lower cane crushing, sugar production and exports in view of drought in parts of Maharasthra and Karnataka. The CCEA has approved the revision in the export quota and ethanol supply target for calculating the production subsidy. This has been done to offset cost of cane and facilitate timely payment of cane price dues of farmers. With the revised formula, the production subsidy outgo to sugar mills would come down to Rs 600 crore as against previously estimated Rs 1,147.5 crore, sources said. As the production subsidy scheme was withdrawn before time, sugar mills which have exported at least 50 per cent their export target and in case of mills having distillation capacity have supplied ethanol as per revised schedule would be eligible for production subsidy The production subsidy was initially calculated based on the estimated cane crushing of 255 million tonnes in the 2015-16. But the cane crushing has come down due to drought. Consequently, sugar output is also estimated to be lower at 25.2 million tonnes this season. 

The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will now have five brand new games in its contest as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved the recommendation of adding Baseball/Softball, Karate, Skateboard, Sports Climbing and Surfing to the sports programme. The decision by the 129th IOC Session in Rio de Janeiro was the most comprehensive evolution of the Olympic programme in modern history.  Tokyo 2020’s balanced proposal fulfils all of the goals of the Olympic Agenda 2020 recommendation that allowed it.  Taken together, the five sports are an innovative combination of established and emerging, youth-focused events that are popular in Japan and will add to the legacy of the Tokyo Games.”

Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi has named Youssef Chahed as the new prime minister after parliament ousted Habib Essid in a vote of no-confidence because of his handling of economic reforms and security.  Forty-one-year-old Chahed, a former Minister for local affairs, announced the appointment himself, warning Tunisians to brace themselves for exceptional sacrifices. His nomination is likely to be approved by a Parliamentary vote, as required. Mr. Chahed is an agricultural sciences specialist and academic who has taught in France and Tunisia. He is also part of the Nidaa Tounes secular party and has ties to Essebsi's family, which has led to some criticism from opposition leaders.  Nidaa Tounes and the Islamist Ennahda party, both part of the ruling coalition, control a majority of the seats in parliament, which means Chahed's nomination is likely to be accepted by lawmakers when they vote on his approval.

Engineering major Siemens Ltd has received an order worth approximately Rs 217 crore for Power Grid Company of Bangladesh Limited (PGCB) project from its parent company Siemens AG, Germany, to supply 400 kV/230 kV switch yard equipment, reactors, power transformers, fire fighting systems, air-conditioning systems, auxiliary power system, building management systems, illumination systems, AC control and protections, engineering for civil and plant for 500 MW high voltage direct current (HVDC) station. The prestigious project is a part of India Bangladesh agreement for power exchange as per South Asia Sub Regional Economic Co-operation (SASEC) by Asian Development Bank (ADB). Siemens is proud to continue providing state of art transmission and distribution technologies to Bangladesh building up the knowledge locally and boosting the power capacity of Bangladesh. Siemens Limited is one of the leading producers of technologies for combined cycle turbines for power generation; power transmission and distribution solutions; infrastructure solutions for smart cities and transportation; automation and software solutions for industry, and also supplier of healthcare equipment.  As of September 30, 2015, Siemens Limited, a flagship company of Siemens AG in India that has 22 factories located across the country, had revenue of Rs 10,672.8 crore.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje laid the foundation of 14 projects worth Rs 2,229 Crore and said the city of Jaipur will be a 'wonder city' in next two years. The projects have been undertaken to make the capital a 'wonder city', Raje said while laying the foundation at Birla Auditorium. The projects include converting Amanishah Nala into its original form of Dravyawati river. The task is being undertaken by Jaipur Development Authority, Tata Projects Limited and Shanghai Urban construction group with an estimated cost of Rs 1,676 crore. The project aims to make the 47-km long water body pollution free and beautiful in the next two years. The state government is working for the development of the state and such projects will definitely take the city of Jaipur and the state forward in years to come. Raje also said a cleanliness drive will be undertaken in the city on October 2. Cyrus Mistry, the Chairman of Tata Group of companies, said the project will be completed within the given time frame.Plantation of 16,000 saplings in 65,000 sq meters will also be a part of the beautification of the river. Besides, the projects of 2.8 km long elevated road from LIC building to Sodala, ROBs in Sitapura, Dantli and Jahota, Engineering Staff Training Institute, development of 100 parks, sylvan project phase-II are among others projects foundation. UDH minister Rajpal Singh, Higher Education Minister Kalicharan Saraf, Social justice and empowerment minister Arun Chaturvedi, MP Ramcharan Bohra and others were present on the occasion.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor, Raghuram Rajan, on 4 August 2016 launched Sachet portal,, to check illegal money collection. The portal will help anyone can obtain information regarding entities that are allowed to accept deposits, lodge complaints and share information regarding illegal acceptance of deposits by unscrupulous entities. Highlights of Sachet : The website is available in vernacular languages for the benefit of the people of different regions of the country.It will be helpful for the regulators in quick follow up of the unlawful money collection activities. It will also enable people get information regarding the financial entities that are allowed to accept the deposits.People will get the space to lodge complaints and share information regarding illegal collection of deposits by unscrupulous entities in their areas.The website also incorporates regulations prescribed by all financial regulators that different entities have to follow.

Noted sports promoter and founder chairperson of Reliance Foundation, Nita Ambani was elected as an individual member of International Olympic Committee (IOC) on 4 August 2016. She was elected by IOC members at the 129th Session of the world body in Rio de Janeiro. With this, she also becomes the first Indian woman to join the prestigious body which governs Olympic sports in the world.Nita, the owner of Mumbai Indians cricket team franchise and founder of Indian Super League football tournament, was nominated for the post in June 2016 by the IOC Executive Board. 52-year-old Nita is the only current active individual member of the IOC from India and she will serve at the high-profile world body until she attains the age of 70. Sir Dorabji Tata was the first person to represent India in the IOC. Raja Randhir Singh is currently holding the post of an honorary member after serving the international body from 2000-2014. Besides Nita, seven other IOC Members were elected at the 129th IOC Session ahead of the Olympic Games Rio 2016. They are: Sari Essayah (Finland) Ivo Ferriani (Italy) Luis Moreno (Colombia) Auvita Rapilla (Papua New Guinea)  Anant Singh (South Africa) Tricia Smith (Canada) Karl Stoss (Austria) Apart from this, two Vice-Presidents were also elected on the executive board. They are: Juan Antonio Samaranch (Spain) Ugur Erdener (Turkey) The two new Vice-Presidents will replace outgoing Vice-Presidents Nawal El Moutawakel (Morocco) and Sir Craig Reedie (Great Britain).

Online legal documentation startup on 3 August 2016 launched the electronic signing feature eSignDesk that allows people to sign documents digitally from remote places. With over a billion Aadhaar cardholders and about 25 million transactions taking place every quarter, digital signatures are expected to save time, money and paper. Highlights of the eSignDesk Facility :  Built on the Aadhaar platform, eSign is an initiative of the Union Government and meant to save money and time for citizens. Its users need to have a registered mobile number associated with the Aadhaar card.  The service will be available on and will be offered for free to the first 1000 users.The documents signed electronically will be legally valid in the country.  The e-signature deters fraud to a large extent as it cannot be replicated or forged, and the content of the document cannot be tampered with.

The Constitution (122nd Amendment) (GST) Bill, 2014 was passed by Rajya Sabha to introduce the goods and services tax (GST) on 3 August 2016. The Bill is aimed at bringing a uniform tax regime in the country by subsuming state levies. The Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on 19 December 2014. However, there are certain differences in the GST Bill 2014 and the proposed 2016 amendments as certain official amendments were circulated to the 2014 Bill on 1 August 2016. Additional tax up to 1% on inter-State trade : GST Bill 2014 : The Bill states that the centre may levy an additional tax of up to 1% on the supply of goods in the course of inter-state trade for two years or longer, as recommended by the GST Council. This tax will be collected by the centre and accrue directly to the states from where the supply of the good originates. 2016 proposed amendments : The 2016 amendment deletes the provision as this 1% tax deviates from the objective of GST and will result in cascading of taxes. Compensation to States : Parliament may, by law, provide for compensation to states for any loss of revenues for a period which may extend to five years. This would be based on the recommendations of the GST Council. This implies that Parliament may decide (i) whether it wants to provide compensation; (ii) the time period for which it can provide such compensation, up to five years. Parliament shall, by law, provide for compensation to states for any loss of revenues, for a period which may extend to five years. This would be based on the recommendations of the GST Council. This implies that (i) Parliament must provide compensation; and (ii) compensation cannot be provided for more than five years, but allows Parliament to decide a shorter time period. Dispute resolution : The 2014 bill authorised GST Council to decide upon the modalities for resolution of disputes. Under the proposed 2016 amendments of GST Bill circulated, GST Council will be required to establish a mechanism for adjudication of disputes, which could arise between the Centre and states or among states themselves. Replacement of the term IGST : The Bill permits the centre to levy and collect GST in the course of inter-state trade and commerce, called the Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST). Such tax will be apportioned between the centre and the states on recommendation of GST Council. The amendments seek to clarify that state's share of IGST will not form part of the Consolidated Fund of India and the term IGST itself would be replaced by Goods and services tax levied on supplies in the course of inter-state trade or commerce. Inclusion of CGST and IGST in tax devolution to states : The GST collected and levied by the centre, other than states’ share of IGST,(CGST and Centre’s share of IGST) shall also be distributed between the Centre and States. This Clause remains the same as it also says that the Central GST (CGST) and the centre's share of IGST will be distributed between the Centre and the states.