Current Affairs 1st July 2016

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Indian Navy has launched the fourth in the series of Follow-on Water Jet Fast Attack Craft (FO-WJFAC) called INS Tarasa on 30 June 2016. It was launched at the Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd (GRSE), Kolkata. The name of the ship, like the previously launched FO-WJFACs, is based on the picturesque island in the Andaman and Nicobar islands in the Bay of Bengal. Follow-on Water Jet Fast Attack Craft INS Tarasa : These are powered by the latest MTU engines. Along with an advanced machinery control system and water jets it can attain a maximum speed of up to 35 Knots. The indigenous CRN 91 Gun with Optronic Pedestal gives the ships the requisite firepower to undertake its role of patrolling at sea effectively. The FO-WJFAC, Yard 2112 is designed in-house and built by GRSE, Kolkata for the Indian Navy.

Tamil Nadu showed the highest gross fiscal deficit across all states in 2015-16,  Maharashtra continued to be the richest state in the country while Punjab witnessed steady fall in the number of factories between 2010-11 and 2013-14, according to Reserve Bank of India’s first edition of the Handbook of Statistics on Indian States. Maharashtra : Maharashtra continued to remain the richest state in the country, with a gross state domestic product (GSDP) in 2014-15 recorded at about Rs 9.50 lakh crore at constant prices, rising 5.7 per cent from 2013-14. The second-richest state in terms of GSDP was Tamil Nadu, closely followed by Uttar Pradesh at about Rs 5 lakh crore each, in 2014-15. Tamil Nadu : Tamil Nadu’s gross fiscal deficit was estimated at Rs 31,830 crore, followed by Uttar Pradesh’s Rs 31,560 crore for 2014-15. Maharashtra’s fiscal deficit, third widest in the country, was at Rs 30,730 crore for the period. The total fiscal deficit of all states included was at Rs 3,33,330 crore, down 8.8 per cent from the previous year. Maharashtra also continues to top in terms of state-wise availability of power, generating 141,361 million units net compared with the second-highest generator Gujarat, which made available 103,540 million units as of 2015-16. For the full of India, the country made available 1,090,713 million units net of power in 2015-16, compared with 1,030,785 million units net a year ago. Banks disbursed most loans in the southern region, which comprises Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Lakshadweep, Puducherry and Telangana. Credit deposit ratio in Tamil Nadu was as high as 119 as of March 2015. Compared to that, the most developed state Maharashtra’s credit deposit ratio was at 92. The all-India average credit deposit ratio was at 77.1.

Niche bike maker Royal Enfield has joined hands with e-commerce major Flipkart to sell its branded gears and accessories.  This is for the first time Royal Enfield has partnered with a third-party for sale of its accessories. Earlier, it used to sell within its own authorised retail network and website.  Till now our gear range was available in India in most of our dealerships, Royal Enfield's online store and also through exclusive gear stores in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Amritsar and Pune. This collaboration enables motorcycle enthusiasts and fans of Royal Enfield to buy authentic and genuine gear range from Flipkart sitting at their home from tomorrow to about 10,000 pin codes . Flipkart claims to have over 3.5 lakh product in automobile accessories category and has been witnessing 200 per cent year-on-year growth in sales from this division.  The e-commerce platform is gradually scaling up business in automobile segment before starting a full fledge sale of two-wheelers and four-wheelers.  Flipkart is running some pilot projects to sell automobiles and will scale up the business as per results of the pilots. 

Private sector lender Axis Bank has launched an innovation lab to hone startups and announced that it will create a dedicated fund to invest in these new-age companies that would benefit its business.  The bank launched the 10,000-sq ft lab at Bengaluru with an in-house innovation team, which will host a three-month accelerator programme where companies will get mentored.  When asked if the bank has created a dedicated fund, like the recent announcement by country's largest lender SBI of a Rs 200 crore facility. The idea behind the initiative called 'Thought Factory' is to take innovation to a next level and also keep abreast of changes in technologies. The bank will work with companies in various stages of maturities, including those at the ideation level. The bank has already appointed about eight people to work in the lab and plans to take it up to 20 by the end of the year while Anand said the investments into the initiative called 'Thought Factory' are not too large as the space is a leased one.  The bank will be looking at disruptive solutions in technologies such as block-chain, artificial intelligence, mobility and cloud as part of the 'Thought Factory. Axis Bank already has a dedicated team called 'New Economy Group' serving the banking needs of such new-age companies.

Muhammed Anas serving in the Indian Navy has qualified for the Rio Olympics in the 400 meters run. Anas, who broke the national record twice, is the third male athlete in the history of Indian athletics after the legendary Milkha Singh and K M Binu to have qualified for a  400-metre event in the Olympics. Anas was scouted by the Navy at the national Games held at Kerala in Feb 2015.  He joined Indian Navy on 07 May 2015 and was placed under the Navy coach T G Ajesh, a former International athlete.  He won silver medal in 400 meter in his maiden Inter Services Championship held at Hyderabad in July 2015, and also a silver medal in his first Senior National Athletics Championship at Kolkata in Sep 2015. 

Maharashtra government plans to sign a MoU with Tata Power for sourcing 1,000 MW from the upcoming Dherand Thermal Project. Tata Power is constructing a 1,600 MW power plant at Dherand in Raigad district which will substantially augment the power requirements of Mumbai. Tata Power is India’s largest integrated power company with a growing international presence. The Company together with its subsidiaries and jointly controlled entities has an installed gross generation capacity of 9184 MW and a presence in all the segments of the power sector.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has signed MoU with the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), a policy research institution, to launch a new ‘Initiative on Solar for Healthcare’. The collaboration will focus on providing effective health care delivery at the last mile by reducing uncertainty in critical infrastructure, particularly electricity supply via cost effective solar-based solutions.  Under this collaboration, on a pilot basis, we will install solar systems at select PHCs in partnership with three state governments and evaluate its impact on healthcare delivery and health outcomes. Indian Council of Medical Research  : The Indian Council of Medical Research the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research, is one of the oldest and largest medical research bodies in the world. The ICMR is funded by the Government of India through the Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The Council's research priorities coincide with National health priorities such as control and management of communicable diseases, fertility control, maternal and child health, control of nutritional disorders, developing alternative strategies for health care delivery, containment within safety limits of environmental and occupational health problems; research on major non-communicable diseases like cancer, cardiovascular diseases, blindness, diabetes and other metabolic and haematological disorders.  

Renowned Marathi literary scholar Dr. Ramchandra Chintaman Dhere passed away after prolonged illness in Pune, Maharashtra. He was 86. He was an Insightful scholar who has unraveled the Cultural linkage between the past and the present through his path-breaking literally research. Dr. R C Dhere Born on 21 July 1930 at Nigade village near Pune. He had completed his graduation in 1966. He got his Ph.D. in 1975 and was honored with D.Lit. in 1980 by Pune University. Since 1955 he has been writing on various subjects including saint literature, Folk deities and gods, Bhakti cult, Holy places, Folk literature, Folk culture and Folk art in India. He has written about 105 books based on his research work on various subjects. Some of his famous books are History of Nath Cult, Chakrapani, History of Datta Cult, Lajjagauri, Khandoba, Shree Tulja Bhavani and In Search of Indian Theater. Awards and Honours : Maharashtra Gaurav award, Sahitya Acadamy Award (1987), Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad award etc.  

The Market Research Division of Ministry of Tourism has released data on domestic and foreign tourist visits to States and Union Territories (UTs) for the year 2015 on 30 June 2016. The Ministry compiled the data received from Departments of Tourism of various State Governments and UT Administrations. Domestic Tourist Visits to States and UTs during 2015 : The number of Domestic Tourist Visits (DTVs) to the States and UTs was 1432 million. The number was 1282.8 million in 2014. Therefore, 2015 registered a growth of 11.63% over 2014. The State that topped the list of the top ten States in terms of number of domestic tourist visits is Tamil Nadu that garnered 333.5 million domestic visits. Uttar Pradesh secured the second place with 204.9 million visits, while Andhra Pradesh bagged the third position with 121.6 million visits. The contribution of top 10 States was about 83.62% to the total number of domestic tourist visits during 2015. Foreign Tourist Visits to States and UTs during 2015 : The number of Foreign Tourist Visits (FTVs) to the States and UTs in 2015 registered a growth of 4.4% over 2014. India garnered 23.3 million visits in 2015 as compared to 22.3 million in 2014. The State that topped the list of the top ten States in terms of number of FTVs during 2015 is Tamil Nadu with 4.68 million visits. Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh secured second and third place with 4.41 million visits and 3.1 million visits respectively. The contribution of top 10 States was about 88.4% to the total number of FTVs in the country during 2015.

The Supreme Court (SC) of India has announced that its 2014 verdict did not include lesbians, gays and bisexual persons under the category of transgenders on 30 June 2016. A bench comprising Justices A.K. Sikri and N.V. Ramana refused to modify the 2014 ruling on transgender rights. The apex court also clarified that its 2014 judgment clearly mentioned that lesbians, gays and bisexuals were not transgender. On 15 April 2014, Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and A.K. Sikri granted legal recognition to transgenders or eunuchs as third gender. The SC directed the Union Government and State Governments to treat them as socially and educationally backward classes. The top court asked the governments to provide them quotas in admission to educational institutions and public appointments. The court also stated that the third gender people will be considered as Other Backward Class (OBC). The bench had specially clarified that its verdict pertains only to ‘hijras, eunuchs, Kothis, Aravanis, Jogappas, Shiv-Shakthis’ and not other sections of society like gay, lesbian and bisexuals.  

The first squadron of home-grown Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas was inducted into Indian Air Force (IAF) at the Aircraft System Testing Establishment in Bengaluru on 1 July 2016.  The squadron has been named ‘Flying Daggers’ 45. State-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) handed over the first two Tejas aircraft to the Air Force. The aircraft will be operated for nearly two years by the squadron at Bengaluru before it is moved to its designated location at Sulur near Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. According to IAF, the idea is to have a total of six aircraft this financial year 2016-17 and about eight in the financial year 2017-18. Tejas will feature in combat plan of the IAF in 2017 and will be deployed in forward bases also. All squadrons of Tejas will have 20 planes in total, including four in reserve. As per the plan, while 20 would be inducted under the Initial Operational Clearance, another 20 will be inducted later with Beyond Visual Range Missile (BVR) and some other features. IAF plans to induct over 80 aircraft with better specifications known as Tejas 1A. The upgraded version of Tejas, with Active Electrically Scanned Array Radar, Unified Electronic Warfare Suite, mid-air refueling capacity and advanced beyond the vision range missiles, will cost between 275 crore and 300 crore rupees. Characteristics of Tejas : The Light Combat Aircraft Tejas is a supersonic, single-seat, single-engine multirole light fighter aircraft that uses fourth generation technologies. It was co-developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency in cooperation with the Bengaluru-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.  It is built from CFC materials and has unstable aerodynamics .It is equipped with a quadruplex digital fly-by-wire flight control system to ease handling by the pilot.It incorporates an advanced glass cockpit that comprises all the round dialed electro-mechanical instruments It is fitted with the coherent pulse-Doppler Multi Mode Radar that is designed to operate equally effectively in the Air to Air and Air to Surface domains. It is fitted with Open Architecture Computer (OAC) This induction of the two aircrafts in the IAF helped in ending the three decades long wait of induction of a homemade aircraft in forces. India in 1970s conceptualised the idea of having an indigenous fighter aircraft but the actual work on the same was started in 1980s.

Alvin Toffler, the author of Future Shock, passed away on 27 June 2016 in Los Angeles, United States. He was 87. Toffler’s book Future Shock outlines people's anxiety at the pace of social change in the 1960s. Alvin Toffler :  A writer and futurist, Alvin Toffler was known for his works discussing modern technologies. His works included the digital revolution and the communication revolution with emphasis on their effects on cultures worldwide. In his early works, he focused on technology and its impact, which he termed ‘information overload’. In 1970, his first major book about the future, Future Shock, became a worldwide best-seller.Future Shock sold over 6 million copies worldwide.His ideas and writings were a significant influence on the thinking of business and government leaders worldwide. He graduated in English from New York University in 1950. His other famous works are The Third Wave, Powershift: Knowledge, Wealth and Violence at the Edge of the 21st Century and Revolutionary Wealth among others.

Sameer Mon, the veteran sprinter of India, on 30 June 2016 won gold in 100 meter dash in 10.60 seconds at the 56th National Inter-state Senior Athletics Championships in Hyderabad. With this, Sameer, representing Manipur, also became the fastest athlete in the country. 32-year-old Sameer was a member of the bronze winning Indian 4x100m relay quartet in Delhi Commonwealth Games. He had earlier won the Inter-state titles in 2008 and 2011. Other results of 56th National Inter-state Senior Athletics Championships :  Women's 100 metre dash : Reena George of Karnataka won Gold by clocking 11.99 seconds. Earlier, she switched from 400 meter dash to 100 meter dash. Women's pole vault : Khyati Vakharia of Karnataka won Gold by clearing the season’s best 3.80 metre. Women's 100 metre hurdles : M Sugina of Kerala clocked a personal best of 14.17 seconds to win gold. Men’s 110 metre hurdles : D Sreekanth of Kerala won Gold by clocking personal best of 14.54 seconds. Women’s Triple Jump : Shilpa Chacko won third gold for Kerala by clearing 13.22 metre. She was the only jumper among the four participants to leap over 13 metre. Men's 20 km walk : Gujarat's Babubhai Panocha took his third Inter-state title in men's with a time of 1 hour 31 minutes 26 seconds.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has notified rules for calculating Fair Market Value (FMV) of assets located in India with regard to indirect transfer provisions as prescribed in Section 9(1) of the Income-tax Act, 1961. Under section 9 of the Income-tax Act, 1961, any income arising from transfer of any share of or interest in a foreign company or entity that derives its value substantially from the assets located in India, is deemed to accrue or arise in India. Purpose behind drafting the Rules for calculating Fair market value of Assets :  Manner of computation of FMV of Indian and global assets of the foreign company or entity. Determination of income attributable to assets situated in India, and Information required to be maintained and furnished by the Indian concern under section 285 of Income-tax Act, 1961. Highlights : The Fair Market Value of listed companies will be computed on the basis of a formula taking into account its market capitalisation, book value of liabilities and total number of shares. In case of an unlisted company, the FMV would be determined by a merchant banker or accountant as per internationally accepted valuation methodology. In case the shares are listed on more than one recognised stock exchange, the price will be computed with reference to recognised stock exchange which records the highest volume of trading in share. The share or interest is said to derive it value substantially from assets located in India, if FMV of assets located in India comprise at least 50 percent of FMV of total assets of the company or entity. A share or interest is to be deemed to derive value substantially from assets located in India, if the FMV of the Indian asset is more than 10 crore rupees. These above rules will be applicable from the date of publication in the Official Gazette of the CBDT.

The Union Railway Ministry has launched Nivaran portal, an online system for redressal of service related grievance of serving and former Railway employees.  It was launched by Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu at function held in Rail Bhawan, New Delhi. Nivaran portal is an online system that seeks to facilitate the employees to lodge their grievances and also monitor the progress. The system will also provide employees of Indian Railways facility for lodging appeal to the higher authority in case the decision is not found satisfactory. Highest controlling authorities will also be able to monitor the progress of grievance redressal by field offices through this system. It has been developed by CRIS (Centre for Railway information systems), an IT arm of Indian Railways on basis of process designed by Establishment directorate of Railway Board. This online system for redressal of service related grievance will help to achieve Union Railway Ministry’s emphasis on the importance of its manpower. Indian Railways is the single biggest civilian employer in the country and has workforce of over 1.3 million people.

The Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry has launched ‘Prashikshak’- an online teacher education portal for District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs).  The Prashikshak portal was launched by the Union HRD minister Smriti Irani in New Delhi.  It seeks to strengthen DIETs and bring quality teachers into the school education system. The portal has been developed by the Union HRD ministry in collaboration with the Central Square Foundation, a policy think tank focused on improving quality of school education. It is an open online platform for collecting and reporting data from all DIETs which will help in the establishment of a strong monitoring mechanism.  Prashikshak users will comprise pre-service teacher educators, DIET faculty and principals, policy makers at district, state and national level and the general public. The portal will strengthen the teacher education system in four ways : a.  It will equip government officials with data for decision making b. empower aspiring teachers  c. Support innovation in teachers’ education  d.Increase transparency. It will help DIETs to make informed decisions about their institutes and compare the performance of their institute against other DIETs by facilitating online reporting of data. It will provide insightful analysis to strengthen the teacher education scheme in the country and allow states to spot areas where resources can be targeted. District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs)  : DIETs were formed under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme on Teacher Education (CSSTE). They offer pre-service and in-service teacher training programmes for Government elementary school teachers.

Scientists for the first time have found clear evidence that the thinning in the ozone layer above Antarctica is starting to heal. Ozone layer in the atmosphere’s stratospheric layer comprises of Ozone (O3), an allotrope of oxygen.  It plays important role in blocking harmful ultraviolet radiation (UV) from the Sun. The absence or thinning of Ozone layer increases the chances of skin cancer, cataract damage in human beings and even causes harm to animals and plants. In the research, scientists have found that ozone hole was around 4 million square kilometres in September 2015, smaller than it was in the year 2000. It was based on detailed measurements of the amount of ozone in the stratosphere between 2000 and 2015.  These measurements were based on data obtained from weather balloons, satellites and model simulations. The healing of ozone layer was due to the long term phasing out (banning) of ozone-destroying chemicals (ODCs) such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in Montreal Protocol 1987.  More than half the shrinkage of ozone hole was due solely to the reduction in atmospheric chlorine. However, it has found that on the role of volcanoes in thinning of the ozone layer is making the problem worse.

The World Bank Group signed an agreement with the International Solar Alliance (ISA), consisting of 121 countries, led by India. It has committed to provide $1 billion support to Indian solar energy projects. The World Bank-supported projects include solar rooftop technology, infrastructure for solar parks, bringing innovative solar and hybrid technologies to market and transmission lines for solar-rich states. The cumulative investment in solar would be the World Bank’s largest financing in this sector for any country. ISA was launched at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris at end-November last year, by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President François Hollande. Through ISA, India aims to collaborate with global agencies and mobilise around $1 trillion of investment in solar energy by 2030. The agreement was signed for India by Arun Jaitley and Piyush Goyal, the minister of finance and coal, power & renewable energy, respectively, and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. The World Bank Group will develop a road map to mobilise financing for development and deployment of affordable solar energy, and work with other multilateral development banks and financial institutions to develop financing instruments in this regard. The World Bank also signed an agreement to give close to $625 million for the Grid Connected Rooftop Solar Programme under the National Solar Mission. The project will finance the installation of around 400 megawatt of solar photovoltaic power projects. The development of a $200-million shared infrastructure for the Solar Parks Project under a public-private partnership model, is also under preparation.

The 2016 Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit concluded on 24 June 2016 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.The 2-day meeting was conducted under the presidency of Uzbekistan. Highlights of the summit :  India and Pakistan signed the Memorandum of Obligations on 24 June 2016. The signing of Memorandum of Obligations by India and Pakistan started the formal process of joining the SCO as a full member. They are expected to become full members by the next meeting at Astana in 2017. Shanghai Cooperation Organization :  The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is a Eurasian political, economic and military organisation.It was founded in 2001 in Shanghai by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. These countries, except for Uzbekistan had been members of the Shanghai Five, which was founded in 1996. After the inclusion of Uzbekistan in 2001, the members renamed the organisation as SCO.The 2015 Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit was held in Ufa, Russia.