Current Affairs 3rd December 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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Kehkashan Basu, a 16-year-old UAE-based Indian teenager won the International Children’s Peace Prize for her work towards climate justice and combating environmental degradation.  The award was conferred to her by Bangladesh’s Nobel peace prize winner Mohammad Yunus at a ceremony held in The Hague. The teen in her award-winning speech stressed on the importance of continuing the fight against climate change and focusing on creating a more sustainable future.  Her speech comes not long after the new President-elect of the United States, Donald Trump revealed his decision of withdrawing the U.S from a global agreement on climate change.  Kehkashan Basu : She was born in Dubai to Indian Parents. At the age of eight years, she planted her first tree and had started educating her neighbours on the importance of saving the environment.She also brought together other children to collect and recycle waste.  She founded Green Hope at the age of twelve. Through the organisation, she launched several awareness campaigns and cleanup activities.  The peace award is a symbol of recognition for her work involving the same organisation. Green Hope : Founded by Basu , the organisation, which started as a small initiative has grown into a fully-established International organisation. It has over 1000 volunteers and conducts activities in at least 10 countries across the world. It is run by children, who often consume their pocket money to fund their environmental activities. Within just four years of its founding, the organisation completed several successful environmental projects, some of which included planting 5,000 trees in Columbia, France, Mexico, Nepal, Oman and the United States.  Aside from planting trees, Green Hope also indulges in other activities such as cleaning up mangrove swamps around UAE, which is very significant, especially since their deforestation rates are almost five times higher than average global forest loss. The International Children’s Peace Prize is an annual award, which is conferred to those children who fight courageously for children’s rights. The award also includes an investment prize of $106000 for projects in the winner’s home country. Basu was selected for the award from a total of 120 nominees from 49 countries. Some of the previous winners of the prize include Liberian child rights activist Abraham M Keita, American Neha Gupta for her NGO-Empower Orphans and Pakistani activist/ survivor Malala Yousafzai who is also the youngest recipient of Nobel Peace Prize for her work towards female education.

The Supreme Court has approved Central Government’s Graded Response Action Plan to tackle different levels of pollution in Delhi-NCR.  The apex court also has asked Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to upgrade its existing infrastructure and set up additional monitoring stations in Delhi-NCR. Graded Response Action Plan The enforcement of action plan will be under orders of Environment Pollution (Control and Prevention) Authority (EPCA).  All other authorities will act in aid of such direction. It has enumerated a number of measures which include closing brick kilns, stone crushers, hot mix plants, intensifying public transport services besides increase in frequency of mechanised cleaning of road and sprinkling of water on roads to tackle problem of pollution. The action plan proposes common pollution code for Delhi-NCR to provide graded response to health emergencies caused by noxious air due to pollution. The code categorises the severity of the pollutants present in the air into four categories- moderate to poor, very poor, severe, very Severe or emergency depending upon the level of pollutants in air.  Under it, when particulate matter (PM) 2.5 levels are above 250 to 430 micrograms per cubic metre in the ambient air it will be termed as “severe” levels of pollution. After air pollution reaches such alarming proportions, immediate steps will be taken.  It includes ban on construction activities and implementation of road space rationing schemes. China’s capital city Beijing also has a similar pollution code where regular colour-coded alerts are issued based on the levels of toxic particles in the air.

Thailand named its crown prince Maha Vajiralongkorn as its new king on 1 December 2016, 50 days after the passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadei.  Dressed in white, prince Vajiralongkorn ascended the throne and accepted his new responsibilities at the invitation of the National Legislative Assembly’s (NLA) President in his Bangkok Palace amidst the whole of Thai media. The ceremony was attended by several senior officials like the chief of NLA, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and the head of the privv council, Prem Tinsulanonda. Highlights : The Prince became Rama X, the 10th king of the Thailand’s Chakri dynasty. The dynasty was established in 1782.  His official title will be - King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun. Originally, Vajiralongkorn was supposed to take the throne the very day his father passed away but he asked for the ceremony to be postponed so that he could have time to mourn. The responsibility of handling the throne matters for the time went to the head of the privv council, 96-year-old Prem Tinsulanonda.  King Bhumibol Adulyadei : He died on 13 October 2016 at the age of 88, following a long span of illness.  He ruled for 70 years. He named his only son Vajiralongkorn, as his successor way back in 1972.  Though his rule wasn’t as easy one, as it was hit by a communist insurgency, coup and street protests, he played a significant role in bringing stability to the nation and restoring faith in the monarchy. For many Thais, he was the only consistent force in an era of rapid change and violent political upheaval. The new king definitely doesn’t enjoy the same respect reputation as his father before him. His personal life especially is very controversial. He has been divorced thrice and has a very flamboyant image. He is also known to spend a lot of his time in his property in Germany.  While Vajiralongkorn has been named as the new king, his official coronation will take place next year, following the cremation of the late king.

The Hornbill Festival began in the Naga Heritage village of Kisama. The festival coincides with the Statehood Day of Nagaland which is observed on December 1. It is tourism promotional extravaganza to revive, protect and preserve the richness and uniqueness of the Naga heritage. It is also called as the ‘Festival of Festivals‘. Hornbill Festival is celebrated in Nagaland every year in the first week of December. It is one of the biggest indigenous festivals of the country.  The festival is a tribute to Hornbill, the most admired and revered bird for the Nagas for its qualities of alertness and grandeur. The majestic bird is closely identified with the social and cultural life of the Nagas as reflected in tribal folklore, dances and songs.  It is organized by the State Tourism and Art & Culture Departments. It is also supported by the Union Government.  The Hornbill Festival provides a colourful mixture of dances, performances, crafts, parades, games, sports, food fairs and religious ceremonies. It exposes both the culture and tradition of tribal peoples, and reinforces Nagaland’s identity as a unique state in India’s federal union.  It was established on 1st December 1963 and was inaugurated by the then President Dr. S Radhakrishnan. Over the years festival has become a unique platform for tourists to witness cultural diversity not only of the Nagas and other seven sister states of the northeastern region.

The Union Government has given senior IPS officer Rakesh Asthana additional charge of the post of Director, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).  He took charge following retirement of Anil Sinha. He was given this charge after government failed to find any full-time Director for CBI.  This is the first time in last 10 years and only the second time in the CBI’s history that no new Director has been named to succeed an incumbent. Rakesh Asthana  : Rakesh Asthana is 1984 batch IPS officer of Gujarat Cadre. Prior to this appointment he was serving as additional director in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). He had held several important assignments in Gujarat. He has also served as the commissioner of police, Vadodara and Surat. He had headed the special investigation team (SIT), which probed the Godhra train arson of February 2002. Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)  : CBI is the foremost investigative police agency in India. It derives power to investigate from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 It was established in 1941 as the Special Police Establishment.  It was renamed to present nomenclature in 1963. Headquarters: New Delhi. Motto: Industry, Impartiality, Integrity. It is headed by Director, an IPS officer of DGP rank.  He is selected as per the provisions of Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) Act, 2003 The CBI Director is selected by a collegium comprising Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India and Leader of Opposition or leader of the largest party in opposition in Lok Sabha.  

China and Pakistan has launched a direct rail and sea freight service with the first cargo train departing from China's southwestern Yunnan province.  The service was launched with the first cargo train loaded with 500 tonnes of commodities left Kunming, capital of Yunnan, an inland province in southwest China departed for Karachi, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.  China, Pakistan launch direct rail & sea freight service between Kunming and Karachi, cutting transport cost by over 50 per cent . The service is a part of China's Maritime Silk Road initiative, of which USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project (CPEC) is a part.  The CPEC was launched in 2015 to link up northwestern China with the Gwadar deep seaport in southern Pakistan.  The two countries already started the trade activities under CPEC in October as over a hundred Chinese containers were transported overland to Gwadar and shipped to Europe and Africa.  The service will cut logistics cost, including that of transport, by 50 per cent.  Pakistan and China kicked off first trade activities under CPEC in October as over a hundred Chinese containers arrived at the Sust port in Hunza, following clearance from Pakistani customs. The containers were headed to Gwadar. 

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) 2016 was observed across the world on 3 December 2016. The theme for the day was Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want. In 2016, the goal of the IDPD is assessing the current status of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and SDGs. The day also looks forward for laying the foundation for a future of greater inclusion for persons with disabilities. The observance of the 2016 International Day of Persons with Disabilities coincides with the 10-year anniversary of the adoption of the CRPD. The CRPD is one of the most quickly and widely ratified international treaties put forth by the United Nations till now. International Day of Persons with Disabilities : The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is an international observance promoted by the United Nations since 1992. The observance of the Day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of specially-abled persons. The Day also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life. Until 2007, it was originally called the International Day of Disabled Persons.  

The National Pollution Control Day 2016 was observed on 2 December 2016 in India with an aim to make aware the people and industries about the need of Pollution Control Acts. This day is observed every year to give honour to thousands of human beings who lost their lives in 1984 due to the Bhopal gas tragedy and who were left severely affected due to leakage of poisonous gas from Union Carbide plant in Bhopal. This catastrophe was the worst in the world's industrial history and people there still continue to witness physical and mental disabilities.  Bhopal gas tragedy : Bhopal gas tragedy happened in the night of 2 December to 3 December 1984 due to the discharge of the poisonous chemical Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) and other chemicals that released from Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Due to leakage, more than 500000 people were exposed to the poisonous gas of MIC and around 2259 died immediately. Later, it was declared by Madhya Pradesh government around 25000 people died because of the gas-related diseases. However, toxic waste lying in the obsolete plant of Union Carbide has still not been disposed off. In an attempt to prevent pollution, the Union Government has continuously been charting out various laws, rules and acts. National Pollution Control Board (NPCB) is the main governing body that conducts checks on industries to know whether they are following environmental regulations or not. Moreover, efforts have also been made at the world stage. Recently in November 2016, the Paris agreement on climate change entered into force marking the first time that governments have agreed to control global temperature rises.  

Hubballi-based Aissel Technologies has been chosen winner in the Startup Karnataka Top Tech 25 Awards 2016. Aissel Technologies is an enterprise cloud software company based in Hubballi.  Its Medical Thought Leader management solutions are deployed at leading global life sciences companies.  Aissel’s solutions help life sciences customers understand the landscape of Key Opinion Leaders in any disease area and create targeted communications strategies, thereby, achieving stronger professional relationships between the industry and healthcare providers.

A small village in Thane distrtict’s Murbad taluka is all set to become the country’s first cashless one. For Dhasai village, bypassing cash transactions is the culmination of efforts put in by local NGO Swatantryaveer Savarkar Rashtriya Smarak in collaboration with the Bank of Baroda, after the former approached the bank with a request to provide infrastructure. NGO chairman Ranjit Savarkar, who is also Director at the Maharashtra Military School in Murbad, said at a press conference on Saturday that Dhasai will go fully cashless from December 1. “The effects of demonetisation have largely been painted in a negative way, particularly with regard to the effects on villagers. Mr. Savarkar said he chose Dhasai to implement his idea as its population is less than 10,000, adding there are three to four such small villages in every taluka in Thane district which could go cashless.  Villagers were initially hesitant as they believed going cashless was something that required a high level of understanding of technology. We held meetings with the villagers to dispel this myth and educated them in the use of the technology, which is not much harder than using a cell phone. During the meetings, the villagers were informed about various features of the PoS machines like electronic wallets and RuPay cards, whih can be used for all monetary transactions.

Singer Katy Perry was honoured with the 'Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award' for her work as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador at a UNICEF event in New York on 1st December. Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson, known professionally as Katy Perry, is an American singer and songwriter. Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson : Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson , known professionally as Katy Perry, is an American singer and songwriter. After singing in church during her childhood, she pursued a career in gospel music as a teenager. Perry signed with Red Hill Records and released her debut studio album Katy Hudson under her birth name in 2001, which was commercially unsuccessful. She moved to Los Angeles the following year to venture into secular music after Red Hill ceased operations and she subsequently began working with producers Glen Ballard, Dr. Luke, and Max Martin. After adopting the stage name Katy Perry and being dropped by The Island Def Jam Music Group and Columbia Records, she signed a recording contract with Capitol Records in April 2007.  

The All-India Football Federation won the Asian Football Council's Developing Member Association of the Year Award in Abu Dhabi.  The award is given on the basis of organisation of courses, seminars and competitions, grassroots youth development and women's programmes and special projects.  In 2014, AIFF had earlier won the AFC President's Recognition Award for grassroots football.

The Delhi High Court has quashed ban imposed on 344 fixed dose combination (FDC) drugs by the Central Government over fears that they are potential health and safety hazards.  The HC held that Centre had acted in a haphazard manner and did not take the advice of the statutory bodies under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act before issuing ban notification. India is one of the world’s largest markets for FDC drugs that make up almost half the market share. The Union Health Ministry had imposed the ban on 344 FDC drugs under Section 26A of Drugs and Cosmetics Act in March 2016 for being unsafe and not having a therapeutic justification. The ban was imposed based on the recommendations of Kokate committee. It was imposed over the over fears that these drugs cause anti-microbial resistance and might even cause organ-failure because of high toxicity. It also aimed at curbing the misuse of medicines.  However, the pharmaceutical companies contend that no prior enquiry was made from them or show cause notice issued prior to ban notification by the Central Government. They also held that these drugs in the same combination are being marketed in other countries. The Central Government acted in a haphazard manner without following procedure prescribed in the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. Government did not take the advice of the statutory bodies such as Drugs Technical Advisory Body (DTAB) and the Drugs Consultative Committee (DCC) before imposing ban. Power cannot be exercised in public interest for any reason other than the drug being risky or not having any therapeutic value. FDC drugs are drugs having two or more active ingredients in a single dosage. They are widely used to improve patient compliance as it is easier to get someone to take one drug than several. They are acceptable only when the drugs so combined have a therapeutic advantage.  

Solid waste from the Ghazipur landfill site will now be used for highway expansion projects by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).  The announcement comes as a relief to the residents living around the area, as with the foul smell emanating from the decomposing garbage and frequent fires, the site had become a major cause of health concern. Highlights : The project is being initiated under the new Solid Waste Management Rules.It aims to remove, reuse and dispose of the solid municipal waste generated in the capital.    The collected waste will be divided and then processed to make it usable.  It will be utilized for the expansion of National Highway 24 and other highways.  The leachate generated during the process will be transported for processing and disposal to a sewage plant in Ghazipur itself. The move comes after a study conducted by the Central Road Research Institute (CSIR) revealed that the waste in the dump contains around 65-70% of soil components that can be segregated and used for embankment construction. It was followed by the signing of a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ between the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, Union branches of Urban Development and Road, Transport and Highways and the  NHAI, according to which the dumping site will temporarily belong to the NHAI. It will be returned to the civic body post completion of the project.  In the last decade, the dump at the site has turned into a mini mountain, reaching the height of almost 50 metres, much above the permissible limit of 15-20 metres. The ground exhausted its capacity to take in waste material way back in 2002.

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