Current Affairs 9th August 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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Network18 has appoints Sitaraman Shankar as Managing Editor  Special Projects. Shankar will work across all digital and TV news properties. Shankar will work closely with Network18’s television news editors in multiple areas, and drive the scaling up of the flagship digital brand moneycontrol, thereby expanding it to newer areas. Shankar will also serve as Group Training Editor and manage the content quality. A chemical technologist-turned-journalist, Shankar has 22 years of experience in journalism, most of which was with Reuters where he reported, edited and ran newsrooms in Frankfurt, London and Dubai. His last assignment was with Hindustan Times where he played a variety of roles including that of Deputy Managing Editor and Editor.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has released a theme song for Tiranga Yatra to be organised to mark 70 years of Independence Day. The theme song 70 Saal Azadi Yaad Karo Kurbani has been composed by Dr. Ghazal Srinivas.  Tiranga Yatra will be organised from 16 to 23 August 2016 across the country to mark 70 years of Independence. It will be the symbol of social harmony and unity in the country.  The Yatra will spread the message of harmony and also highlight the contributions of freedom fighters and martyrs among the school children during the celebration.  

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) told the Supreme Court that banned Ponzi schemes do not fall under its regulatory purview. This announcement was made after the apex court had asked government and SEBI, the stock market regulator about measures undertaken by them to check the menace of ponzi schemes.  SC had asked for their response while hearing on PIL filed against menace of ponzi scheme running across the country in various forms which robbed the poor and small investors of their hard-earned money. The PIL was filed by NGO ‘Humanity Salt Lake’ alleging inaction on the part of the government in regulating chit funds (Ponzi schemes) which has resulted in multiple scams across country. SEBI’s Response : Ponzi schemes do not fall under the regulatory purview of SEBI and the state government concerned is the enforcement agency. They are banned under the Prize Chit and Money Circulation (Banning) Act, 1978. Though it is a Central Act but the respective State governments are the enforcement agency of this law. SEBI also mentioned that only Collective Investment Schemes (CIS) are under its jurisdiction and these too can be stopped if not registered. Ponzi scheme :  A Ponzi scheme is an investment fraud where clients are promised a large profit in short term at little or no risk at all. Companies engaged in a Ponzi schemes mainly focus all of their energies into attracting new clients to make investments. This new investments (income) are used to pay original investors their returns, marked as a profit from a legitimate transaction. Ponzi schemes working mainly rely on a constant flow of new investments to continue to provide returns to older investors. When this flow runs out, the scheme falls apart.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its third bi-monthly monetary policy review for year 2016-17 has maintained status quo in key policy interest rate. It was last bi-monthly monetary policy review of RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan who will step down in September 2016 after completing his term. Policy Rates Repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) : unchanged at 6.50 per cent.  Reverse repo rate under the LAF: unchanged at 6.0 per cent. Marginal standing facility (MSF) rate :00 per cent.  Reserve Ratios Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) of scheduled banks : Unchanged at 4.0 per cent of net demand and time liability (NDTL).  Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR): Unchanged at 21.25 per cent. The policy interest rates were kept unchanged while maintaining an accommodative policy stance on basis of an assessment of the current and evolving macroeconomic situation in country. Other highlights RBI said risks to the inflation target of 5% for March 2017 continue to be on the upside. The passage of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill augurs well for the growing political consensus for economic reforms. Timely implementation of GST will be challenging but it will raise returns to investment across much of the economy. It will also even while strengthening government finances over the medium-term. This should boost business sentiment and eventually investment.  

The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is observed every year on 9 August to promote and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous population.  Significance of the Day : It recognizes the contributions and achievements of the indigenous people to improve world issues such as environmental protection. 2016 Theme: “Indigenous Peoples’ Right to Education”.  The theme is devoted to the right to education of indigenous people as a critical education gap exists between indigenous peoples and the general population. The right of indigenous peoples to education is also protected by a number of other international instruments including Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  The Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development also calls for ensuring equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including indigenous peoples. The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples was pronounced by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) with adoption of resolution 49/214 on 23 December 1994. The date marks the day of the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in 1982.  

Renowned Yoga Guru TKV Desikachar passed away on 8 August 2016 following a brief illness in Chennai. He was 78. He was known for transforming the way yoga was practised and turned it into both a wellness concept and a therapy. TKV Desikachar : Desikachar is son of T Krishnamacharya, popularly acknowledged as the father of modern yoga. He dabbled with engineering before he learnt yoga from his father.He helped others with tailor-made yoga programmes which he called Viniyoga.He also taught Yoga to famous philosopher J Krishnamurti in January 1966.  In 1976, he founded the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram where today about 1000 students visit every month to learn yoga.

Sandeep Kumar was appointed as the Transport Commissioner of Delhi on 8 August 2016. He succeeded Sanjay Kumar  , who was appointed as the commissioner a few months ago. Sandeep will take on the role of the Commissioner as an additional charge. He is also the Managing Director of Delhi Khadi and Village Industries Board. Sandeep is a 1997-batch Indian Administrative Service officer. Sanjay Kumar had been on leave for several weeks before he was divested of the post of commissioner. Before going on leave, Sanjay signed the AAP government's Premium Bus Policy without getting the approval of Delhi LG Najeeb Jung.

As per a study titled Smiling baby monkeys and the roots of laughter, the origin of smiles goes back at least 30 million years, when old world monkeys and our direct ancestors diverged.The study was conducted by team of researchers including Fumito Kawakami, Masaki Tomonaga and Juri Suzuki of Kyoto University in Japan and was published on 3 August 2016. Findings of the Study  : The study found that when human and chimp infants are dozing, they sometimes show facial movements that resemble smiles.These facial expressions called spontaneous smiles are considered the evolutionary origin of real smiles and laughter.  Spontaneous smiles are facial movements that are characterised by a raised lip corner occurring during irregular sleep or drowsiness without known causes.They showed that this not only happens to higher-order primates like humans and chimpanzees, but also in newborn Japanese macaques, which are more distant relatives in the evolutionary tree.\ Lead researcher Fumito Kawakami caught macaque infants smiling when they were receiving routine health checkups. In total, researchers observed 58 spontaneous smiles from seven macaque infants, all of which showed spontaneous smiles at least once.  Spontaneous macaque smiles are more like short, lop-sided spasms compared to those of human infants. There were two significant similarities; they both happened between irregular REM sleep and they show more lop-sided smiles compared to symmetrical, full smiles.

Kalikho Pul, who briefly served as Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister, died on 9 August 2016 in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh. He was 47. Pul allegedly committed suicide. He was found hanged from the ceiling fan in his bedroom at the Chief Minister’s official residence. However, the circumstances behind the death are still not clear. Kalikho Pul :  Kalikho Pul was the acting Chief Minister of the north-eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh for a brief time.He belonged to Kaman Mishmi ethnic group. From 2003 until 2007, he served as the State Finance Minister in the ministry of Chief Minister Gegong Apang.He broke away from Congress Party and became the acting Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh on 19 February 2016. His government was supported by Bharatiya Janata Party, until it was dismissed by a court order in July 2016. Congress resumed power when the assembly was convened.

Rajya Sabha has  passed the Mental Health Care Bill, 2013 on 8 August 2016. The Bill repeals the Mental Health Act, 1987.  The upper house passed the bill with record 134 amendments. The Bill provides for mental health care and services for persons with mental illness. It also has a provision to protect, promote and fulfill the rights of such persons during delivery of mental healthcare and services. Features of the Mental Health Care Bill, 2013 : It states that every person shall have the right to access mental health care and treatment from services run or funded by the government. The right to access mental health care includes affordable, good quality of and easy access to services.  Persons with mental illness also have the right to equality of treatment, protection from inhuman and degrading treatment, free legal services, and access to their medical records, and complain regarding deficiencies in provision of mental health care. Mental Health Establishments : It states that every mental health establishment should be registered with the relevant Central or State Mental Health Authority. For being registered, the establishment will have to fulfill various criteria prescribed in the Bill. It specifies the process to be followed for admission, treatment and discharge of mentally ill individuals. It leaves the decision of admission in the mental health establishment to the person with the mental illness except in case where he/she is unable to make an independent decisions or conditions exist to make a supported admission unavoidable. Mental Health Review Commission and Board : The commission will be a quasi-judicial body that will periodically review the use of and procedure for making advance directives and advice the government on protection of the rights of mentally ill persons. It with the concurrence of the state governments, constitute Mental Health Review Boards in the districts of a state. Powers conferred to the board includes : Register, review/alter/cancel an advance directive,Appoint a nominated representative,Adjudicate complaints regarding deficiencies in care and services Receive and decide application from a person with mental illness/his nominated representative/any other interested person against the decision of medical officer or psychiatrists in charge of a mental health establishment.  

KK Khurana, General Manager in-charge, has taken over as Head of BHEL Corporate R&D with effect from August 4, 2016. Prior to the elevation as GM I/C of Corporate R&D, he was involved in Project Engineering Management (PEM), Technical service among other areas in the company.  He has wide experience in thermal power plant projects, according to a statement from BHEL. Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited : Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) owned by the Government of India, is a power plant equipment manufacturer and operates as an engineering and manufacturing company based in New Delhi, India. Established in 1964, BHEL is India's largest engineering and manufacturing company of its kind. The company has been earning profits continuously since 1971-72 and paying dividends uninterruptedly since 1976-77. It has been granted the prestigious Maharatna (big gem) status in 2013 by Govt of India for its outstanding performance.The elite list of maharatna contains another 6 behemoth PSU companies of India.

Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) and the Manipur government have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which seeks to provide improved hospitality and tourism services to their customers by making ‘joint use of their capabilities and facilities’. The MoU entails upon both the parties to identify areas of cooperation and draw up detailed plans for development of joint tourism products and opening and managing various catering and hospitality outlets, budget hotels and handicrafts shops at railway as well as non-railway locations. Rail connectivity to North-East is big on the government’s agenda has time and again been reiterated by PM Narendra Modi. In the North East, the Indian Railways has commissioned about 900 kilometres of Broad Gauge in the last two years, leaving only about 50 kilometres Meter Gauge lines to be converted in 2016-17.   Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has  laid the foundation stone for the Agartala–Akhaura broad gauge line. The 15.06 kilometre line between India’s Agartala and Bangladesh’s Akhaura is part of the Trans Asian Railway Network. The new line has the potential of substantially shortening the railway connectivity distance between Tripura and Kolkata. Prabhu also laid the foundation stone of the proposed Imphal railway station. He announced commencement of work for the longest rail tunnel in India.

Japan recorded the largest current account surplus in the first half of this year since 2007 with reduced imports amid lower crude oil prices and rising revenue from tourism. The current account balance which quantifies the international trade of goods, services and investments in and out of the country, marked a surplus of 10.63 trillion yen ($104 billion) in the period of January to June, up 31.3% from a year earlier. Japan has been highly dependent on energy imports sinceFukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, which led to shutdown of most commercial reactors in the country with heightened safety concerns from the public, Xinhua news agency reported. Goods trade, a key component of the current account balance, registered a surplus of 2.35 trillion yen in the first six months of this year, compared with a deficit of 375.4 billion yen in the same period of the previous year. The service sector, including passenger transportation and cargo shipping, logged a deficit of 209.9 billion yen in the six-month period, substantially reduced from a deficit of 933.3 billion yen a year before. The country's travel balance posted a surplus of 775.8 billion yen, the largest since comparable data became available in 1996, thanks to constantly rising number of foreign tourists. For the single month of June, Japan registered a current account surplus of 974.4 billion yen, a surplus for the 24th month in a row. Japan's current account surplus is one of the the broadest measure of its trade with the rest of the world and the data is keenly eyed by the Bank of Japan and the Finance Ministry ahead of new potential policy changes or monetary easing or tapering measures.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will address the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on September 26 in New York. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not attend the UNGA session for the first time in three years, according to the provisional agenda released by the UN.  The General Debate will open on September 20 and will run through September 26, when Swaraj will address the annual high-level debate.  PM Modi had given his maiden address to the UN General Assembly as Prime Minister in 2014, when addressing the world leaders in Hindi he had also made a clarion call to commemorate an annual International Yoga Day. According to the provisional list, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and President Maithrapala Sirisena of Sri Lanka are also expected to address the world leaders. As per tradition, Brazil’s president opens the General Debate every year and is followed by the US President. The 71st session of the General Assembly will open on September 13. The General Debate will open on the theme of ‘The Sustainable Development Goals: a universal push to transform our world,’ as announced by President-elect Peter Thomson last month.  The UN General Assembly will also host a high-level summit on September 19 to address large movements of refugees and migrants, with the aim of bringing countries together behind a more humane and coordinated approach. In 2015 when Swaraj addressed the UNGA, PM Narendra Modi was all praises for the Minister.

 Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has approved a proposal of the State Transport Department to implement a new 'NCR Taxi Scheme 2016' in 13 districts of the state falling in the National Capital Region. that the scheme would be implemented in the Districts of Gurgaon, Faridabad, Jhajjar, Rohtak, Bhiwani, Sonepat, Panipat, Karnal, Mewa, Palwal, Rewari, Jind and Mahendragarh. The scheme would supersede the Radio Cab Scheme 2006 and the licences to operate would be granted under sections 74 and 76 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.  The license would be granted to an individual or firm or society or company including IT based aggregator registered under Haryana Societies Registration Act 2012 in case of firms and societies and the Companies Act 2013 in case of a company formed to provide public transport services. That licensee would be a taxi service operator and would abide by all relevant statutes as may be applicable including the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988. An individual category, the licensee would ensure adequate parking facility for the vehicle and the GPS or GPRS device is fitted in the vehicle. The licensee can also attach his vehicle with a group category licensee having valid license, through an agreement with the group category licensee.If the individual licensee attaches his vehicle with the group category licensee, he or she ensure that the GPS or GPRS device is connected with the control room of the licensee while the taxi is on hire.

Himachal Pradesh government has set a target of planting over one crore saplings this year to increase the depleting green cover in the state.  The state has set a target of planting one crore saplings on 15,000 hectares of forest land by spending Rs 150 crore.  Supplementing the efforts of the government, the schools would participate in plantation drive across the state on the eve of International Youth Day on August 12.  Besides, all the government institutions, NGOs and public have been urged to participate in the plantation drive during current rainy season. The state government has chalked out a new policy for this year which envisaged plantation of one lakh saplings of shahtoot (mulberry), jamun (Jambolan), saru (Cypress), sheesham, spheda (Ceruse), piple, deodar and neem had been planted through MGNREGS. The maintenance period in plantation areas has been enhanced from three to five yearsto ensure survival percentage of plants.

Over 1,000 cliff paintings dating back more than 1,000 years and featuring animals and people have been discovered by archaeologists in northern China. The paintings found in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region are believed to have been engraved by the ancient tribal people known as the Tujue, and the Dangxiang, of which the modern day Qiang are descended from, about 1,000 to 1,500 years ago. The paintings are surprisingly well preserved, and feature sheep, camels, elks, tigers, wolves and people hunting, the report quoted Liu Bin, head of the Cultural Relics Bureau of Urad Middle Banner. The new findings are among many found across the Yinshan mountain range, and will greatly inform research into ancient nomadic people. Over 10,000 ancient cliff paintings have been discovered in the Yinshan Mountains. In 2012, 18 cliff paintings dating back over 4,000 years were discovered in the same area. Among the paintings, seven faces were exaggerated and monstrous, and have been interpreted as the seven stars of the "Big Dipper" constellation.

Jute Corporation of India has been entrusted with the task of launching the week-long "Colours of Independence" campaign on 9 Aug,2016. The campaign was being launched in 70 cities across the country to commemorate 70 years of Independence. The programme is being organised by the Union Ministry of Textiles and all the paintings will be sent to the Ministry after August 15. The programme is intended to invoke the spirit of independence and to make the present generation aware of the freedom struggle. The minimum price for jute for the current year has been fixed at Rs. 2,900 per quintal for the inferior variety and Rs. 3,200 per quintal for the best. Bhimli mesta grown in the districts of Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts will get Rs. 2,900 per quintal.  Variety of jute grown in the two jute-growing districts of Vizianagaram and Srikakulam in AP was no longer in demand and therefore efforts were being made to replace it with a better variety. But it would take sometime. It is a labour-intensive industry beset with many problems. The growing use of plastic is also posing a threat. But we are making all efforts to promote jute, as it is eco-friendly.  

Grandmaster and former world junior champion Abhijeet Gupta has won the 20th Commonwealth Chess championship crown 2016 held in Colombo, Sri Lanka. With this victory he has retained the Commonwealth Chess championship crown which was won earlier by him in 19th edition.  Besides, International Master Tania Sachdev also finished with a gold medal. In this edition all the medals were won by the Indians players in the senior category. Grandmasters S L Narayanan and Deep Chakkravarthy got the silver and bronze medals respectively in the open section.

The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) will house the India’s first repository on tigers, under its new Tiger Cell. The repository will consist of huge database on tiger conservation and population estimation which has been prepared with collaborated effort with the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). Wildlife Institute of India (WII)  : WII is an autonomous institution under the Union Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change. It is based in Chandrabani, Dehradun. Functions: It conducts specialised research in areas of study like Endangered Species, Biodiversity, Wildlife Management, Wildlife Policy, Wildlife Forensics, Habitat Ecology, Spatial Modelling, Ecodevelopment, and Climate Change. Research facilities: WII’s research facility includes Remote Sensing, Forensics and Geographic Information System (GIS) etc.  It has contributed in studying and protecting wildlife in India and also has popularized wildlife studies and careers. National Tiger Conservation Authority (NCTA)  : NTCA is a statutory body under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate change. It was provided statutory status by the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act, 2006 which had amended Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.  It addresses the administrative as well as ecological concerns for conserving tigers, by providing a statutory basis for protection of tiger reserves. It also provides strengthened institutional mechanisms for the protection of ecologically sensitive areas and endangered species. It ensures enforcing of guidelines for tiger conservation and monitoring compliance of the same.  It also places motivated and trained officers having good track record as Field Directors of tiger reserves.

Researchers in India for the first time have found that mice and rats exposed to endosulphan suffer from DNA damage and genomic instability, and impaired DNA damage response. This breakthrough discovery was discovered team of researchers led by Prof. Sathees Raghavan from the Bengaluru based IISc (Department of Biochemistry). Highlights of Research  : When animals get exposed endosulphan, it generates reactive oxygen species in their body which is a potent DNA damaging agent. These reactive oxygen species in turn cause DNA damage in the form of breaks in DNA strands. These broken DNA strands generally tend to repair themselves by rejoining.  But Endosulfan further causes extensive processing of broken DNA leading to increased and long deletion in the strands. Endosulfan also increases the damage by altering DNA repair levels by promoting erroneous repair of the broken DNA strands. Erroneous repair by rejoining would lead to undesirable genome level changes that may further lead to genomic instability causing cancer and other genetic abnormalities.  Non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) of the broken ends of broken DNA strands is one of the major mechanism. However, in animals exposed to Endosulfan, micro homology mediated end joining (MMEJ) is seen which is enhanced activity of an error-prone and harmful repair mechanism. Endosulfan :  Endosulfan is an organ chlorine pesticide that induces breaks in DNA strands and disturbs the damage response mechanism found in cells thus leading to compromised DNA strand repair. If people who have occupational exposure (mostly related to agriculture) of 2-70 microgram/litre of Endosulfan in blood then genetic abnormality and increased cancer occurrences have been witnessed in them. In case of environment, open spraying of Endosulfan causes a disaster on the biodiversity of the area. It leads to decline in plant diversity particularly for native species. Fishes are worst hit.

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