Current Affairs 21st December 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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The Union Government has announced Rs 207 crore to undertake developmental works in Majuli Island in Assam. The announcement was made by the Union Minister for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Jitendra Singh in New Delhi. The sanctioned amount will be spent primarily for safeguarding the land loss due to erosion and to protect the 80 km length of the bank line on the right bank of river Brahmaputra.  It was declared as India’s first Island district in June 2016 by the Assam Government. It is a fluvial landform (a riverine delta), a unique geographical occurrence and a result of the dynamics of the Brahmaputra river system. It is bounded by the river Subanisri and her tributaries on the North West, the kherkatia Suli in the northeast and the main Brahmaputra River on the South and the South west. It is the largest mid- iver delta system in the world. It is also comprised of many islets locally called the Chaporis. It is the abode of Vaisnavite culture. This culture was initiated in the 15th century by Srimanta Sankardeva. At present, there is a total of 30 Vaishnavite monasteries on the island. These include the famous Dakhinpat Satra which was established in 1584 AD. Each Sattra acts as a centre for cultural as well as political activities. It also acts as a democratic institution to settle local disputes.  The Majuli Island is a hotspot for flora and fauna. It harbours many rare and endangered avifauna species including migratory birds that arrive in the winter season annually. Paddy, mustard, potato, pulses, sugarcane, wheat are the main crops cultivated on the island. Various seasonal vegetables and fruits like orange, banana, pineapple, jackfruit, etc are also grown in abundant quantity.  

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) unanimously  granted full membership to the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) at a meeting in Montreux, Switzerland. The recently-formed BFI was voted to office in September 2016, which ended four years of administrative logjam in the sport.  International Boxing Association : AIBA is the sole worldwide governing body for the sport of boxing in all its forms. It is a non-profit international organization that succeeded the former Fédération Internationale de Boxe Amateur in 1946. It has 196 Member Federations. It works on behalf of all levels of boxing to reinvigorate the sport’s grass roots, develop youth and elite boxing. Its vision for boxing also embraces and adheres to the spirit and values of the Olympic Movement.It has been led by President Dr. Ching-Kuo Wu since 2006.  

India and Kyrgyzstan has signed 6 agreements/Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) to boost bilateral cooperation. The agreements were signed in New Delhi during the State visit of Kyrgyzstan President Almazbek Atambaye. 1. MoU on cooperation in the field of Tourism: It was signed between the Ministry of Tourism of India and the Ministry of Culture, Information and Tourism of the Government of Kyrgyz Republic. Its objective is to mutually develop tourism as a major engine for economic growth and employment. 2. Agreement on cooperation in the field of Agriculture and Food Industry: Its objective is to facilitate cooperation in this field. The agreement also boosts trade opportunities for India in agriculture commodities. 3. MoU on cooperation in the field of Youth development: The agreement was signed between the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and the state agency of Youth Affairs, Physical Education and Sports of Kyrgyzstan. The MoU facilitates deepening of mutual understanding between the representatives of the younger generation of both countries and developing programmes for young entrepreneurs. 4. MoU on cooperation between Foreign Service Institute, MEA, New Delhi and Diplomatic Academy of MOFA of Kyrgyzstan: The agreement will promote contacts and exchange of students, faculty members and experts in the field of diplomacy. 5. MoU in the field of cooperation in youth exchange between NCC of India and Military Lyceum of Kyrgyzstan: It seeks to have a country to a country exchange of cadets/youths to participate in youth activities. It also creates an increased awareness and appreciation of socio-cultural and socio-economic realities prevailing in each other’s countries among the cadets. 6. MoU on cooperation in the field of Broadcasting and exchange of audiovisual programmes: The MoU was signed between Prasar Bharati of India and Public Broadcast Corporation of Kyrgyzstan. It strives for development and strategy of mutual friendly relations and strengthening of cooperation in the field of broadcasting and exchange programmes in the field of education, science, entertainment, sports and news of common interest.  

Scientists for the first time have discovered the so-called molten jet stream within the Earth’s molten iron core using latest data obtained from three European satellites called Swarm.  The three satellites were launched in 2013 with the goal of studying Earth’s magnetic field.  The latest satellite data that helps create an sharpest ‘x-ray’ view of the planet. The molten jet stream is an accelerating band of molten iron circling the North Pole. It just like the jet stream in the atmosphere It moves about 40 km per year, currently in a westward direction. This speed is three times faster than normal outer-core speeds and hundreds of thousands of times faster than rate at which Earth’s tectonic plates move. It is located along a boundary between two different regions in the core.  This movement is caused when liquid in core flows toward the boundary from both sides and then is squeezed out sideways.  The satellite data has helped clarify Earth’s inner workings and magnetic field. It showed that changes in the magnetic field are actually being caused by the molten jet stream. The discovery can also add light in changing magnetic field of earth and may relate it with switch in direction of the jet stream.

The Union Cabinet gave its approval to the Cadre review and formation of a new service in the name of Indian Enterprise Development Services (IEDS). Decision in this regard was taken by the Union Cabinet meeting presided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. The IEDS will be created in the Office of Development Commissioner (MSME), Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME).  Its creation will help to strengthen the organization and to achieve the vision of Startup India, Stand-up India and Make in India. It will also enhance the capacity and efficiency of the organization and help in achieving growth in MSME sector through a focused and dedicated cadre of technical officers.

Long range nuclear-capable subsonic cruise missile Nirbhay was successfully test fired from the launch complex 3 of the Integrated Missile Test Range in Balasore, Odisha. The test was conducted by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). After blasting off from launch pad, the missile took a unique trajectory in its entire path to the target. It was third launch of Nirbhay. The maiden launch was conducted in March 2013 and second test was conducted in October 2014. Nirbhay Missile  : Nirbhay is a long range surface-to-surface nuclear-capable subsonic cruise missile developed indigenously by the DRDO. It has blended missile and aeronautical technologies which allows it to take off vertically like a missile and cruise horizontally like an aircraft. It is a two stage missile. In its first stage, it tilts horizontally. In the second stage it will cruise horizontally like an aircraft with a turbo-jet engine at a subsonic speed of 0.7 Mach. It is capable of carrying multiple payloads including nuclear warheads. It is capable to engage several targets in a single flight. It can be launched from various kind of platforms, ranging from surface lorry to a ship, from air and even from underwater vessels. It is a terrain hugging missile which keeps on encircling the area of its target for several minutes and then hits bull’s eye’ on an opportune time. It is difficult to detect by enemy’s radars. It has strike range of 700 km to 1000km, giving India the capability to strike deep into enemy territory. It is considered as India’s answer to US’s Tomahawk and Pakistan’s Babur missile. It is expected to supplement the India-Russian joint venture BrahMos supersonic cruise missile which can carry warheads up to 290 km.  

United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth II will be stepping from her position as the patron of a number of charities at the end of her 90th birthday year. The decision was announced through a statement released by the Buckingham Palace, residence and administrative headquarters of the queen. Highlights : The queen, who is currently handling more than 600 organisations, will step down as patron of 25 charities. The patronage of these organizations will be passed on to the other members of the Royal family.  Some of the organizations include Holocaust Day Memorial Trust, Blind Veterans UK, National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Royal Navy and Royal Marines Children’s Fund and Wimbledon.  The transition will be smooth, as many of these organizations already have a Royal Family member as a vice-patron or president.   Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburg had also similarly resigned from a number of patronages when he had turned 90 in 2011. According to the palace’s statement, the queen will continue her work as patron to hundreds of charities and institutions but will now just share the workload with her family. While acclaimed lawn tennis organisation, Wimbledon will go to Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge who is a huge tennis fan, the Children’s charity Barnardo's will go to Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall and the patronage of Rugby Football Union will be taken over by rugby fan Prince Harry. The names of patrons of other organisations are yet to be announced.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has announced that a separate Ministry will be created for Other Backward Classes (OBCs). This ministry will be headed by an independent minister. The announcement was made at the concluding session of the Kunbi Mahotsav at Shahapur in Thane district of the state. Besides, the Chief Minister also announced funds worth Rs 200 crore for gravity-based water supply projects. These projects will help in fulfilling the need of the town and surrounding areas. He said that a policy will be prepared under which villages that provide land for dam projects would be entitled to the water from that project.  In addition to this, he also directed the Zila Parishad of Thane to prepare a tourist circuit plan for Murbad and Shahpur talukas. He assured that maximum funds will be provided for the development of the plan. The CM further said, in order to increase the green cover across the state, the government has come up with a target of planting 50 crore saplings in next three years. Earlier, on 19 December 2016, the state government adopted a resolution that seeks to boost plantation drive to increase the green cover of the state. As per the resolution, four crore saplings will be planted during the 2017 monsoon, which will be followed by planting 13 crore saplings during the monsoon season of 2018. 33 crore saplings will be planted during the rainy season of 2019. Other Backward Classes (OBC) : OBC is a collective term that is used the Union Government to classify caste that is socially and educationally disadvantaged. The Mandal Commission report of 1980, found that the OBC list comprises of 52 percent of the country’s population. The figure shrunk to 41 percent by 2006, when the National Sample Survey Organisation took place.  They are entitled to 27 percent reservations in public sector employment and higher education. Constitutionally, OBC is described as socially and educationally backwards class.

A free instant messaging service for work and business environments, Flock  has launched world’s first chat operating system”FlockOS” by Bhavin Turakhia, Flock CEO on December 20, 2016 Developers can build apps  by using Flock OS that provide a tightly integrated experience by using widgets. This OS provides setup slash commands, providing an additional option for users to interact with the app

India has been ranked 4th in the Global Wind Power Installed Capacity index after China, USA and Germany with cumulative installed wind power generation capacity of 28,279 MW in 2016. The Government is aiming to increase share of clean energy through massive development and deployment of new and renewable energy in India to meet Energy security, Electricity shortages, Energy access and Climate change among others. India achieved the largest-ever wind power capacity addition of 3,423 MW in 2015-16, exceeding the target by 43 per cent. During 2016-17, a total of 1,502 MW capacity has been added till 31 October 2016, making cumulative achievement 28,279 MW.

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee addressedthe inaugural session of the ninth World Confluence of Humanity, Power and Spirituality, organized by ASSOCHAM, Srei Foundation and the Times Group  (December 16, 2016) in New Delhi. The theme of the convention was “Sach Bharat: Spirituality at Work” Aim of the confluence was to spread an idea and principles of Humanity, Power and Spirituality among the people to inculcate the right sense of attitude, devotion to work, unified cooperation in work, faith in self and others, peace and harmony, fearlessness. The Confluence was inaugurated in the presence of Hon’ble President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee, ASSOCHAM President Mr. Sunil Kanoria,  Srei Foundation Chairman Dr. Hari Prasad Kanoria and Chairman, Times Foundation, Smt. Indu Jain,. Distinguished industrialists, business leaders, noted politicians and achievers from various walks of society came together on this platform. World Confluence of Humanity, Power and Spirituality : World Confluence of Humanity, Power and Spirituality is being conducted annually since 2010 to spread the message of inter-faith peace and harmony, to ignite the human spirit, and to harness the potential of human beings towards selfless service. The Confluence of Humanity, first of its kind in the world, seeks to spread the words of Lord Krishna to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, the words of Jesus Christ, and also the sayings of Islam through the speeches by the different enlightened leaders. This Confluence seeks in believing unity in diversity.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh dedicated country’s first cashless bazaar in state capital Raipur to people.  The cashless bazaar or smart bazaar has over 900 shops that provide customers the facilities of cashless payments using POS, UPI and other digital systems.  Chhattisgarh is currently leading in the nation in training its people in digital transactions. So far it has trained over 5 lac 33 thousand people in cashless payments way ahead of second placed Uttar Pradesh that has trained 1.75 lac people in digital financial literacy.

According to a report published in Forbes magazine, India has overtaken United Kingdom in terms of the size of the economy, first time in 150 years. With this major shift in world economy, India has now become the fifth largest country in terms of the size of the economy after the United States, China, Japan and Germany.  The recent shift took place because of India’s continuous economic growth in the last 25 years as well as Britain’s recent economic issues after the Brexit decision over the last 12 months. Report : According to the Forbes report, India was expected to overtake UK GDP in 2020, but the almost 20% drop in the value of the pound in the last one year made it possible in 2017. Economic think-tank Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) in December 2011, forecasted that India would become the “fifth largest by 2020”. UK’s 2016 GDP of GBP 1.87 trillion converts to $2.29 trillion at exchange rate of GBP 0.81 per $1, whereas India’s GDP of INR 153 trillion converts to $2.30 trillion at exchange rate of INR 66.6 per $1. The gap in economic growth is likely to widen as Indian economy is growing at 6-8% peryear whereas UK’s economic growth is expected at 1-2% per year until 2020.

The five-day India-Nepal Folk Crafts Festival (INCF-2016) begins in Kathmandu, Nepal on December 19, 2016 to promote cultural exchanges between the two countries.  The Main aim of the festival to promote crafts based bilateral relations and enhance cultural exchanges between the artisans of India and Nepal. The INCF-2016 will highlights more than 70 theme based pavilion with focus on folk crafts of India and Nepal, cultural events, live demonstration by crafts-persons and design workshops to be conducted as a part of this festival.

The Union Ministry of Finance has announced various measures to improve ease of doing business in the country. The objective of these measures is to improve country’s ranking in the World Bank’s report on Ease of Doing Business. eBiz portal shall be mandated for starting a business which shall include three services of Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Registration for PAN and TAN and also for EPFO & ESIC. Ministry of Corporate Affairs and Ministry of Labour and Employment will work towards reducing the number of procedures for starting a business to 4 and the number of days to start a business also to 4. Shram Suvidha Portal shall be the only portal for filing returns, challan and making online payment for EPFO & ESIC contributions as well as other filings and payments.Department of Revenue and Ministry of Shipping shall work towards increasing the number of direct delivery consignments to 40 percent by end of this month. These Departments shall also ensure that the cost and time to export and import gets reduced substantially to bring India within top 50 ranks. Ministry of Corporate Affairs shall work with the concerned stakeholders so that the provisions recently enabled under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code are implemented. To further improve the country’s rank in the indicator ‘Getting Credit’, Department of Financial Services and Ministry of Corporate Affairs shall work towards integrating CERSAI database with ROC Registry of Charges to create a single registry of assets. The initiative of eCourts should be expedited for electronic filing of complaints, summons and payments.

The US Electoral College has  formally elected Donald Trump as the President of the nation. Six weeks after winning the polls, the Republican Candidate Trump was able to secure the 270 votes needed to formalise his victory. In the voting by 538 electors across the country, Trump comfortably crossed the 270 majority mark. At the end of polling, he was able to secure 304 electoral votes, while Hillary Clinton garnered 227 votes While the result will be officially announced on 6 January 2017 in a special joint session of Congress, he will assume the office on 20 January 2017. Electoral College : The Electoral College is a process, not a place.The founding fathers established it in the Constitution as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress (direct election) and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens (indirect election). The college assigns each state certain number of electors that is equal to its total number of members in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Under the 23rd Amendment of the Constitution, the District of Columbia is allocated 3 electors and treated like a State for purposes of the Electoral College. There are 50 States in the USA and the Electoral College consists of 538 electors in total.Though the number of members in the House of Representatives from each State varies, the number of Senators from each State is two. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President.Each candidate running for President in a particular State has his or her own group of electors. The electors are generally chosen by the candidate’s political party, but state laws vary on how the electors are selected and what their responsibilities are. Most states have a winner-take-all system that awards all electors to the winning presidential candidate.However, Maine and Nebraska each have a variation of proportional representation.  

The Uttar Pradesh Government has  appointed Deepak Agarwal, CEO of Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority (GNIDA), as the CEO of Noida Authority. Deepak Agarwal will replace P K Agarwal, who was officiating as the CEO of Noida Authority. P K Agarwal was given the charge of Noida after the Uttar Pradesh Government relieved senior IAS officer Rama Raman from the post on 25 August 2016. However, P K Agarwal will continue to function as the additional CEO of Noida Authority. Deepak Agarwal : Deepak Agarwal is a 2000-batch IAS officer of UP cadre. He has been the GNIDA chief since September 2015. From February 2009 to March 2013, he was posted as the district magistrate of GB Nagar. He had suffered a bullet injury in his leg during the Bhatta Parsaul farmer-administration clashes in May 2011. As District Magistrate, he was instrumental in reining in the sand mining mafia in the region.

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