Current Affairs 16th February 2017

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A two-day mega event of Global Investor Summit, branded as "Momentum Jharkhand" is going to start at Khelgaon of Ranchi. More than one thousands delegates, including many leading industrialists, both Indian and from other countries, will take part in this. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the summit through video-conferencing. A number of Central Ministers will also be present at the occasion. The city is fully geared up- both in terms of massive administrative and security arrangements and decorations all over the city and the venue, for the two-day mega event of 'Momentum Jarkhand. Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Venkaiah Naidu, Piyush Goyal, Smriti Irani, Jayant Sinha, Sudershan Bhagat, besides Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghuwar Das and noted cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who is also the brand ambassador of the event. The Jharkhand Government is hoping for an investment of around three lakhs seventy five thousands cores rupees from 219 companies.

After days of speculation, AIADMK's Edappadi Palaniswami was sworn in as the New Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu on 16 February 2017. Tamil Nadu Governor Vidyasagar Rao took the decision to invite Palaniswami to form the government after conducting talks with both him and O Panneerselvam. The talks clearly proved that Palaniswami had more support from the state legislatures than Panneerselvam. Highlights : Palaniswami was sworn in at 4.30 pm at Raj Bhavan in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.His nomination for the CM post was chosen by Sasikala herself before she left to serve her four-year sentence for corruption in a Bengaluru jail. Palaniswami was called on by the Governor early morning on 16 February to reconfirm his support of 124 AIADMK legislatures out of the total 134. Palaniswami will now be expected to prove his majority in the state assembly within 15 days, according to an official release from the Raj Bhavan.  In spite of her jail term, Sasikala will continue to hold her position as the General Secretary of AIADMK.   Edappadi Palaniswami : He is currently serving as the Minister for Highways & Minor Ports and is the sitting Member of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly for Edappadi in Salem, his home district.He is a four-time member of Tamil Nadu Legislature. His first election win was in 1989 when he won the assembly elections from the Edappadi constituency. While he retained his position in the next elections, he lost in the 2006 elections. He was re-elected in 2011 and then again in 2016. He was acknowledged as the Number 3 in Jayalalithaa’s cabinet, next only to Panneerselvam.  In fact according to reports, he was Sasikala’s first choice for the post of Chief Minister right after Jayalalithaa’s death but in the end, Panneerselvam was chosen.

The Indian Panorama Film Festival commenced on 15 February 2017 in Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The Festival is organised jointly by Andaman and Nicobar Administration and Directorate of Film Festivals, Government of India. The Festival was inaugurated by Anindo Majumdar, Chief Secretary of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The inauguration event was followed by the screening of Telugu film Bahubali directed by S.S. Rajamauli. The five-day festival will see screening of about 15 films of different languages and genres. The film festival will conclude on 19 February 2017. On 16 February 2017, Bengali films Bastu Shaap, directed by Kaushik Ganguly, and Sankachil, directed by Goutam Ghose, will be screened at PBMC Auditorium at 10 A.M. Tamil films titled Radiopetti, directed by Hari Vishwanath, and Irudhi Suttru, directed by Sudha Kongara, will be screened at 2 P.M. at the same venue. Hindi film Sultan, directed by Ali Abbas Jaffar, will be screened at PBMC Auditorium at 6 P.M. Directorate of Film Festivals : The Directorate of Film Festivals initiates and presents the International Film Festival of India, the National Film Awards and the Indian Panorama. However, the organisation it has no input on which films are selected for consideration and which films ultimately win awards at the various functions it initiates. It was set up by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, in 1973 to organise national and international film festivals in India.

The minority government of Ireland on 15 February 2017 survived Irish Parliament’s vote of no confidence over its handling of a policing scandal. Though the government survived, Prime Minister Enda Kenny faced growing calls from members of his own party to step down from his position. Highlights : The government won the motion with 57 votes in its favour and 52 against. 44 members of Fianna Fail, the country’s second largest party, abstained from the voting process. Independent members of the ruling coalition confirmed their support just an hour before the parliamentary debate. Enda Kenny who is also the party leader of the ruling Fine Gael party made it clear that he does not intend to lead the party in the next elections. Kenny had faced heavy criticism for his party’s poor performance in an election a year back. Almost six members of his party have called for him to step down sooner than later, in order to give the new person enough time to establish a position before the next elections. The support for such calls has increased following the fall in support of the party to 21 per cent, as revealed in a opinion poll taken last week.The fall brings the party 11 points behind fellow party Fianna Fail. The motion for no confidence was introduced by Gerry Adams, the leader of Ireland’s third largest party, Sinn Fein. The main reason for the move was the manner in which the government had handled allegations by members of parliament that Noirin O’Sullivan, Commissioner of the Irish police force, had made serious allegations of sexual crimes against high profile Irish whistleblower, Maurice McCabe to journalists in 2013 and 2014. According to Adams, the government’s handling of the smear campaign against McCabe and other Garda whistleblowers was disgraceful. The party also accused the government of covering up important information related to the case. However, the government has agreed to establish a public enquiry into the allegations that will include an examination of Sullivan's mobile phone records. There are also calls for Sullivan to step down from her position while the investigation is on.

The Kerala Cabinet gave its approval for construction of an airport in Hindu pilgrimage centre Sabarimala. The approval was given by the Cabinet at a meeting chaired by the State Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on 15 February 2017 in Thiruvananthapuram. The Cabinet has entrusted the Kerala Small Industries Development Corporation (KSIDC) with the task of conducting a feasibility study. The airport is expected to reduce the heavy traffic on the roads leading to Sabarimala during the pilgrim season. At present, pilgrims alighting at the Chengannur or Thiruvalla railway stations reach Sabarimala through various routes linking with the MC Road or National Highway. The airport also assumes relevance in the light of the delay in executing the Angamaly-Sabari railway line project. The rail project has been delayed due to poor availability of funds and also delay in getting clearance from the Union Government. It was decided to reconstitute the Kerala Road Fund Board (KRBF) by creating new posts and redeploying employees. As per the reconstitution plan, new posts such as project director, general manager, team leader and divisional accountant will be created in the KRBF.The KRFB was mandated to act as a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to implement infrastructure projects taken up by the Public Works Department (PWD) with the assistance from the  Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB). The Cabinet gave its approval to create 44 supernumerary posts in the Department of Health.The posts include that of ophthalmic assistant, radiographer and blood bank technician. These new posts will ensure proper representation for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in the department. CM Kammappu was appointed as the senior government pleader in the State High Court. The Cabinet gave its approval for creation of new posts in the labour department to resolve the issues at the project site of the Vizhinjam seaport.  

The Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) on 15 February 2017 launched Employees Enrolment Campaign 2017. The campaign encourages firms to enrol their employees under its schemes at nominal damages of Rupee one per annum. The declaration scheme is operational between 1 January 2017 and 31 March 2017. Highlights of the scheme : The employees’ share of contributions, if declared by the employer as not deducted, shall stand waived. The damages to be paid by the employer in respect of the employer in respect of the employees for whom declaration has been made under this campaign shall be at the rate of Rupee One per annum. No administrative charges shall be collected from the employer in respect of the contribution made under the declaration.A declaration can be made under the Campaign for the period for which no inquiry under Section 7A has been initiated. EPFO has provided facility for online declaration under the Principal Employer section of EPFO portal, which facilities the implementation of the Employees’ Enrolment Campaign. After declaration, the payments are to be remitted by the employer through month-wise ECRs for the entire past period of enrolments. In addition, furnishing of Aadhar has been made mandatory for members and pensioners of the Employee’s Pension Scheme in order to facilitate enhanced services.

The Union Cabinet approved the signing of a bilateral Air Services Agreement (ASA) between India and Rwanda. The approval was given at a meeting of the Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 15 February 2017. Benefits :  The agreement has the potential to spur trade, investment, tourism and cultural exchange between India and Rwanda. It will also provide enabling environment for enhanced and seamless connectivity between both the countries. The ASA seeks to provide commercial opportunities for the carriers belonging to both the countries. India-Rwanda Bilateral Relations : Rwanda is a sovereign State in the East African Region. It is also one of the smallest countries on the African mainland. Located a few degrees south of the Equator, Rwanda is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.India-Rwanda relations are marked by cordiality, convergence of views and cooperation on major international issues. In recent years, the relations are marked by an increasing trend in bilateral trade and investments, greater people to people contact and a deep sense of mutual respect. India is among the few countries in the world which voiced their concerns to alert the world about the possibility of genocide, as early as 1992. During the genocide of 1994, India contributed immensely to the United Nations Peace Keeping Force. India’s engagement with Rwanda is at three levels viz. at the African Union (AU) level, at the level of Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and at the bilateral level. Indian assistance to Rwanda has mainly guided by the announcements made by India at the India-Africa Forum Summits in 2008, 2011 and 2015.So far, India has extended million of dollars to Rwanda for building infrastructure projects. Under the Pan-African e-Network project, India has been providing tele-medicine and tele-education services to the citizens of Rwanda since 2009.

Thanal, a city-based group in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala has launched a helpline to provide technical support to treat organic waste and manage non-biodegradable solid waste. The allotted helpline number for the cause is – 9400147150. The number will provide the caller with information and guidance regarding composting kitchen waste, organic farming, terrace farming and organic means of controlling pest and fungi spread. The service also includes free demonstration and technical guidance on treating organic waste. In the case of organic farming, the technical demonstration will be organised in groups. This is not the first time that a welfare body in the state of Kerala has attempted to address the issue of waste disposal and management by setting up a helpline number. In 2011, the city corporation of Kerala had launched a 24-hour helpline number through which people could alert the corporation health squad on illegal garbage disposal in public places. The helpline was launched following an increase in waste dumping cases in public areas despite Kerala High Court’s order banning the act and terming it a criminal offence. In May 2016 again, the state’s city corporation launched a WhatsApp helpline number to register complaints related to waste management and also to provide information on new initiatives in managing waste. The initiative was launched in association with Vodafone. Thanal : Based in Thiruvananthapuram, it is a public interest research, education, advocacy and action group. Its main mission is ‘Gather for all beings’. It is involved in activities related to environmental and human health, chemical safety, environmental justice, wildlife and the natural world, biodiversity, zero waste and ecological agriculture.

Norman Isaac in February 2017 became the first Indian to be promoted by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) as the Technical Delegate (TD). His appointment/promotion was confirmed by the sport’s worldwide governing body. He was promoted to TD along with a select few aspirants, who successfully cleared a series of tests at Doha, Qatar. FIBA in an official letter affirmed his new status and asked Norman to prepare the preliminary rounds of matches in the qualifiers, which will kick off in November 2017 towards the first ever FIBA World Cup in China in 2019. As a Technical delegate, Norman will be assigned to any country and will be responsible for conducting an entire event which will range from actual competition management including media arrangements to logistics. However, any country will not include his country. Previous tasks of Norman : In 2006, as a FIBA Commissioner, Norman was conferred with the title at Muscat, Oman. His earliest assignments included in 2009 for the FIBA Asia women’s championship at Chennai and the FIBA Asia girls’ under-16 years’ tournament in Pune. His last assignment as the FIBA Commissioner was in the FIBA Asia Challenge Cup for men in Iran in September 2016. Norman and Basketball He played his first senior Nationals at Ludhiana, Punjab as a ball-handler in 1981 He represented Andhra Pradesh till 1992. After his playing days, he joined the Basketball Federation of India’s (BFI)’s B panel in 1993 Later in 1996, he graduated to the A level as the only one of 13 to pass the exams at Guwahati He became a FIBA Referee in 2001 In 2002, he officiated in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup in Kuala Lumpur  In 2004, he officiated in the FIBA Asia championship at Singapore In 2015, the BFI appointed him as its Chairman, Technical Commission FIBA World Cup  : FIBA’s mega quadrennial event has been planned in accordance to the FIFA World Cup. The organisers have planned the event in a way that it may not clash with world’s biggest sports events like Olympics.

Justice Vikramajit Sen, former Supreme Court Judge, on 15 February 2017 took charge of the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA). He officially took the charge from Justice Mukul Mudgal. Just after taking charge of the DDCA, Justice Sen formed various committees. In a three-page instruction, he laid out the ground rules while keeping most of the committees selected by Justice Mudgal. DDCA accounts manager Pritam Panwar and Vikrant will be signing authorities in all financial and bank related matters. The selection committees also remained same. Former Ranji cricketer Siddharth Sahib Singh was named in-charge of all Cricket Operations (International, Domestic and IPL). Salil Seth will look over the Media and Broadcasting Committee while former treasurer Ravinder Manchanda will be in charge of IPL Operations during Delhi Daredevils’ home matches at Kotla. Delhi and Districts Cricket Association : The Delhi and District Cricket Association is the governing body of the Cricket activities in Delhi and the Delhi cricket team.  The association is affiliated to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The Delhi cricket team is the team for Delhi and District Cricket Association in the Ranji Trophy. The association also plays with the name of DDCA President's XI, which participates in premier tournaments abroad or in India.

The Left-handed opening batsman of Pakistan Nasir Jamshed on February 13 has been provisionally suspended from all forms of cricket by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for violating its anti-corruption code. PCB is investigating into the corruption scandal that hit the Pakistan Super League. Earlier PCB had suspended Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif, the two Islamabad United players for being involved in the PSL corruption scandal. According to the sources, the suspended Pakistan players Sharjeel Khan and Khalid Latif had claimed during their questioning by anti-corruption officials that Jamshed had asked them to meet with the person suspected to be part of an international match fixing. But the exact nature of his involvement has not been made clear. The 27-year-old has played in two Tests, 48 one-day internationals and 18 Twenty20 matches for Pakistan.

The Global Gene Corp and Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH) launched an Indian Beacon on February 14, 2017 for Indian genomics data to enable the scientists in developing more effective drug delivery systems. It was launched by the Indian deputy high commissioner to the UK, Dinesh Patnaik at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, Cambridgeshire. A beacon is an online web service that allows researchers to determine whether an institution has particular genomic data in its data set. Genomics is the science that will define healthcare in our lifetime. The Indian beacon aims to bridge the gap in lack of shared Indian genomics data and help the scientists to better understand disease to develop more effective drug delivery systems and therapeutics. The Indian beacon has now joined the beacons already available on the Wellcome Genome Campus supplied by EMBL-EBI and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.  

The multinational Airbus Group division Airbus joined hand with Telangana government, National Skill Development Corporation India and AEROCAMPUS France for establishing a Centre of Excellence at at Begumpet Airport for aerospace skill development in Hyderabad To enhance the employability of young aspirants by imparting the required skills to them Highlights of the Centre  :  To train candidates ranging from high school graduates to experienced aviation personnel on aircraft manufacturing, logistics, Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO), ground handling and special aviation processes To offer short-term refresher modules as well as long-term certificate and diploma courses that will find acceptability within the industry To provide training on aerospace manufacturing and assembling  

HDFC life has launched Pragati, a traditional life insurance plan that has been specifically designed to empower low income families.  Pragati makes life insurance easily accessible to every person who wishes to financially secure his family. With Pragati, HDFC Life wants to offer the dual benefit of systematic savings (with guaranteed premium returns) and wholesome life protection, making it an ideal financial product for every Indian household.  Almost half the population in India belongs to the lower income group, aspiring to enhance their quality of life and secure the financial future of their family. With this insight we aimed to offer a product that will help the customer reap the dual benefits of systematic savings and protection" HDFC Life VP-Products.

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee declared Kalimpong as 21st district of West Bengalon February 14, 2017. The new district is from Darjeeling. On the same day Banerjee announced two projects for the development of newly created Kalimpong Rs 220 crore road link project to connect Kalimpong with Sikkim via the old Silk Route Rs 50 crore water supply project to address Kalimpong’s water scarcity problem.

Shivraj Singh Chouhan lead by Madhya Pradesh government has decided to constitute Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board for expansion of facilities at tourist spots and draw investment in the sector. MP Tourism Board would be a non-profit company and will be  registered under the Companies Act The board will take all responsibilities mentioned under Tourism Policy-2016.  The board would work to frame, execute and monitor new policies for inviting investors, increase land bank The board will also develop a work plan for all tourism-related archaeological sites, wildlife places, caves with natural beauty, amusement and other parks, water reservoirs

The Jammu & Kashmir government launched an E-Prison project on February 13, 2017 at NIC Centre Civil Secretariat Jammu to digitalize the record about the jail inmates. The project was inaugurated the state Minister for Information Technology, Technical Education and Youth Service & Sports, Molvi Imran Raza Ansari. The projected is being implemented by J&K e-Governance Agency. Currently the data about the jail inmates are maintained manually which is a time consuming process. The e-prison project will enable to provide a centralized platform to avoid any data redundancy, avoid delay in processing the information and manage all the jails efficiently and thus reduce the time and cost of the process. Data about 500 jail inmates have already been digitized and is made available on the National Prison Information Portal of Government of India. The e-Prison Project will digitize 25 district jails, two central jails and one sub-Jail across the State. Besides this, the jail will be equipped with Router, Switch, Laser Printer, Scanner, Desktops, UPS, Finger Print scanner and Web camera. In the Second Phase of the Project, the department will focus on video conferencing between Jails and Prison Headquarters, e-Court, Tele-medication in Jails to digitalize the data and to enhance connectivity between Jails and other Headquarters of the state.

Premier health institute AIIMS, New Delhi, has won the first prize, and a cash reward of Rs 5 crore, for maintaining high standards of sanitation and hygiene under the Governments Kayakalp awards. AIIMS was followed by North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS), Shillong, which got a cash prize of Rs 3 crore. Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, received the third prize of Rs 1 crore. Commendation awards of Rs 50 lakh each were given to AIIMS, Raipur, AIIMS, Jodhpur and National Institute of Tuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases (NITRD), Delhi, by Union Health Minister J P Nadda Referring to the ICT-based application MeraAspataal (My Hospital) that captures patients feedback about their experience in the health facilities on the services that they received or sought to receive, Nadda said the Ministry is seeking the feedback of people digitally to improve the quality of services at the health centres. The Kayakalp award scheme was launched in 2015.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved to award contract in 31 contract areas of small oil and gas fields belonging to ONGC and Oil India Limited (OIL)  The contract areas include 44 fields, 28 inland and 16 offshore. The will be awarded under Discovered Small Field Policy bid round – 2016. The award of contract is expected to provide faster development of oil and gas fields and facilitate production of oil and gas thereby increasing energy security of the country.  These areas were discovered long back but could not be monetized due to various reasons such as isolated locations, high development costs, small size of reserves, technological constraints, fiscal regime etc.  This move is expected to monetise in-place locked hydrocarbons volume of 40 MMT oil and 22 Billion Cubic Meters (BCM) of gas over a period of 15 years, this supplementing the domestic production. For early monetization of these fields, Union Cabinet had approved 69 marginal fields in September, 2015 for offer under Discovered Small Fields Policy.   Out of these, 67 small fields were clubbed into 46 contract areas and were put on offer through online international competitive bidding.  A total of 134 e-bids were received for 34 contract areas from 47 companies (43 Indian companies and 4 were foreign companies).   These contract areas were awarded under the new regime of Revenue sharing Model.

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved establishment of Food Legumes Research Platform (FLRP) at Amlaha in Sehore, Madhya Pradesh with Satellite Hubs in West Bengal and Rajasthan.  Cabinet approval confers FLRP an international status as contemplated in Clause 3 of the United Nations (Privileges and Immunities) Act, 1947. It authorizes the Department of Agricultural Research (DARE) on behalf of Union Government in all matters regarding establishment of the Platform. The FLRP will be established by International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA) for meeting the emerging food security challenges. Under it, ICARDA will carry out research through a multi-disciplinary team of scientists for enhancing productivity of crops range-land and livestock.  It will enable India to harness the best of international science in meeting the emerging food security challenges.  It will help India to rapidly and effectively absorb research output in the agriculture. It will be a major international research & development (R&D) institution that will make India even bigger centre for agricultural research in the world.  This in turn will attract further R&D investment in the country. The research output through this centre will benefit farmers (big, small or marginal) of all regions and technologies developed will be available for all farmers in equitable and inclusive manner.  This platform will contribute significantly towards reducing poverty, improving food security, improving nutrition and health, and sustaining the natural resource base. International Centre for Agriculture Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) :  ICARDA is a non-profit agricultural research for development institute that aims to improve the livelihoods of the resource-poor across the world’s dry areas. It was established in 1977. Its research activities include the development of new crop varieties, conservation agriculture, water harvesting, diversification of production systems, integrated crop/livestock production systems, and empower rural women. ICARDA has a good track record of innovation, including in climate resilient technologies such as suitable food legume varieties for dry-land production systems.  

The Ministry of Mines has launched Transparency, Auction Monitoring and Resource Augmentation (TAMRA) Portal and Mobile Application to ensure transparent award of statutory Clearances for mining operations  The TAMRA platform was simultaneously launched across 12 mineral rich states as a part of the Ease of Doing Business in the Mining sector and to double mining contribution to GDP. The TAMRA covers block-wise, state-wise and mineral-wise information of mines to be auctioned. It monitors various statutory clearances and also highlights the additional resources generated through e-auction.  It is an interactive platform to speed up mining activity by facilitating all the stakeholders to track the status of the statutory clearances associated with mining blocks. In case of delay in obtaining any statutory clearances, TAMRA platform will send triggers to the concerned authority so that they can take remedial steps immediately.  The Union Ministry of Mines will also receive triggers generated by TAMRA, facilitating it in expediting clearances. Further, the status of each of the clearances will be reflected on the portal.  The portal also enables successful bidder to give suggestions and inputs.  It will help to establish a participative and informative network among all stakeholders.

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved introduction of Bill in Parliament to extend the jurisdiction of the Collection of Statistics Act, 2008 to Jammu & Kashmir.  The Amendment will be pertained to statistics under Union (List-I) and Concurrent lists (List- III) in the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution and Constitution (Application to Jammu & Kashmir) Order, 1954. It will strengthen data collection mechanism in the state of Jammu & Kashmir.  It will extend the jurisdiction of the parent Act to J&K in respect of matters not reserved for the State as per the 1954 Order.  It also envisages appointment of nodal officer at Centre and in each State/UT to effectively coordinate data collection activities and provide consultation to government departments to avoid unnecessary duplication. The Collection of Statistics Act, 2008 was enacted by the Parliament to facilitate the collection of statistics on economics, social, demographic, scientific and environmental aspects etc.  The Act extends to the whole of India, except J&K  The J&K state legislature also had enacted the Jammu & Kashmir Collection of Statistics Act, 2010, which is replica of the central legislation extending to whole state.  However, both central and state legislations are not applicable to statistical subjects falling in the Union List, as applicable to the J&K under the Constitution (Application to Jammu & Kashmir) Order 1954.  This has created a legislative vacuum. Besides, concurrent jurisdiction to be exercised by Centre in J&K also has not been provided in the Central legislation. So the amendment is intended to address this vacuum.

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the merger of State Bank of India (SBI) with five of its associate/subsidiary banks.  These five subsidiary banks are State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Mysore,  State Bank of Patiala and State Bank of Travancore. The Union Cabinet also approved the introduction of a Bill in Parliament to repeal the State Bank of India (Subsidiary Banks) Act, 1959 and the State Bank of Hyderabad Act, 1956.  The acquisition under Section 35 of the SBI Act, 1955 will result in the creation of a stronger merged entity.  It will minimize vulnerability faced by subsidiary banks to any geographic concentration risks. It will improve operational efficiency and economies of scale resulting into in improved risk management and unified treasury operations. Existing customers of associate banks will benefit from SBI’s global network.  The merger will lead to better management of high value credit exposures through focused monitoring and control over cash flows rather than separate monitoring by six different banks.  The merger will also result in recurring savings, estimated at more than Rs. 1,000 crore in first year, because of reduced cost of funds and enhanced operational efficiency. The acquisition of subsidiary banks of SBI is considered an important step towards strengthening the banking sector through consolidation of public sector banks (PSBs). It is in pursuance of the Indradhanush action plan of the Central Government. In 2015, SBI was ranked 52 in the world in terms of assets, however the merger will allow its entry un top 50. The merger does not include Bharatiya Mahila Bank (BMB) and its proposal is still under consideration.  

Scientists from University of Western Australia have successfully mapped three-dimensional molecular structure of EptA protein that shields superbugs from antibiotics.  The EptA protein causes multi-drug resistance by masking bacteria from both the human immune system and important antibiotics. The shape of protein was mapped using technique called X-ray crystallography which is mainly used for determining the atomic and molecular structure of a crystal.  The protein, EptA, allows some strains to shrug off colistin, a last antibiotic available in the world for treating infections when all other antibiotics fail.  This mapping is a breakthrough because it will allow development of a drug to prevent superbugs hiding from medication. Thus, it open door to combating the threat of antibiotic resistance and is considered as a huge step forward in the global fight against superbugs.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), infections caused multi-drug resistant bacteria kills around 700,000 people each year.  This figure is predicted to rise 10 million by 2050 justifying warnings of so-called antibiotic apocalypse which could be among the 21st Century’s greatest threats. A colistin-resistant strain of bacteria uncovered in 2015 is one of the grave concerns for health authorities. The spread of genes containing the colistan-resistant protein may make previously treatable bacterial infections untreatable.