Current Affairs 16th July 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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The Union Government has launched Transforming India Website (www.transformingindia.mygov.in), a repository for sharing the impact of various governance initiatives with citizens in real-time. It was launched by the Union Minister of Electronics and Information Technology and Law & Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad in New Delhi. The website provides community based platform facilitates for two-way communication between the government and citizens. It is also a social platform on which users can share their opinions about various initiatives of the government. The key facet of the website is to promote accountability in major national initiatives, act as a repository of major policies and decisions of Union Government. It also seeks to provide a central platform to citizens for sharing of transformational changes that they see around themselves.  This website will provide information in a user-friendly format that will enable citizens to view the content in the form of Infographics, e-books, performance dashboard. It will also present information in videos, daily news corner etc. format and engage with the content by comments and sharing the content through Social Media.

The Lifeline Express, the world’s first hospital on a train of Indian Railways has completed 25 years of service to the poor and underprivileged masses of rural India. To mark the occasion and celebrate the success of the train a function was held in Mumbai, Maharashtra. Lifeline Express :  The Lifeline Express is also known as the Magic Train of India. It was launched on 16 July 1991. The Lifeline Express has the distinction of being the first ever hospital-on-rails in the world. It is equipped with state-of-the-art medical facilities and equipment to cater to the needs of the rural patients.  The train is a flagship social initiative of Impact India Foundation (IIF) in partnership with the Indian Railways and the Union Health Ministry. It was started with an aim to provide on-the-spot diagnostic, medical and advanced surgical treatment for preventive and curative interventions for disabled adults and children using the Indian Railway Network.  So far, the train covered 173 projects in 18 state and also covered 2 lakh kilometres distance and has medically served more than 10,00,000 poor in rural India.

The ruins of ancient Nalanda Mahavihara (also known as old Nalanda University) of Bihar has been included in the Tentative List of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. Nalanda Mahavihara ruins comprise the archaeological remains of monastic-cum-scholastic from the 5th century BC to the 13th century AD. It located near Patna, state capital of Bihar. Nalanda Mahavihara was founded by Kumargupta I of the Gupta dynasty in 5th century CE. It was the earliest planned university of the Indian subcontinent. It was patronized by various rulers including King Harshavardhana of Kannauj (7th century CE) and the Pala rulers (8th to 12th century CE) as well as various scholars.  Nalanda was considered as a rare combination of outstanding achievements in institution-building, site-planning, art and architecture. It had attracted scholars from the Indian subcontinent and beyond and received patronage of local rulers and foreign kings for period of 800 years. Students were admitted in this university after rigorous evaluation only.  It imparted knowledge related to Buddhism, contemporary texts and philosophies, logic, grammar, science, and medicine. Presently, it is preserved in number of remains of stupas (temple-like structure), shrines and viharas (residential-cum-scholastic structure) and important art works in stucco, stone and metal. Nalanda University is the second World Heritage site in Bihar after Bodhgaya’s Mahabodhi temple to be accorded UNESCO’s World Heritage Site tag. This status will help in conservation and protection of the site in better way and also increase funds from the UNESCO.

Tata Advanced System (TASL) and Bell Helicopter, a Textron Company has signed an agreement to work together in support of India’s aviation and defense modernization initiatives on 14 July 2016. The agreement was inked with an emphasis on ‘Make in India’. As per the agreement, TASL and Bell Helicopters will join to develop both commercial and government (including military) rotary wing markets in India in the light utility and reconnaissance segments. Scope of Agreement : It is intended to include potential production and assembly capabilities, certain training and maintenance, repair and overhaul requirements.It will also include research and development programs and technology sharing that will grow industrial capabilities and result in innovative ‘Make in India’ solutions. Tata Advanced Systems Limited : Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Sons, is the strategic Aerospace and Defence arm of the TATA Group. TASL is both an operating & a holding company. TASL group is fast emerging as a key Defence and Aerospace player in India with established capabilities and demonstrated deliveries in the following areas: Missile Systems and sub-systems Radar Systems and sub-systems Command & Control Systems Aerospace & Aero-Structures Unmanned Aerial Systems  Optronic Systems  Homeland Security Solutions Missile Systems Bell Helicopter : Founded in 1935 as Bell Aircraft Corporation, Bell Helicopter continues to set the pace for the industry and expand the scope of vertical lift. It was the first company to obtain commercial certification for a helicopter. Over its 80-year history, Bell Helicopter has delivered more than 35000 aircraft to its customers around the world. Headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, Bell Helicopter has additional plants in Amarillo, Texas and Mirabel, Canada. It also maintains its key logistics supply and service centers in Amsterdam, Prague, Canada and Singapore as well as in the United States. First Bell helicopter was delivered to India in 1953. At present, more than 90 Bell aircrafts are operational in India in various sectors like commercial, civil/government, and military operations.

Kerala has started observing Ramayana month in the temples on 16 July 2016 . In Malayalam it is termed as the Ramayana Masam. The Ramayana Month starts with the commencement of Malayalam month ‘Karkidakam’. During this month the temples and homes of the state recites Adhyatma Ramayanam Kilippattu written by medieval devotional poet Thunjath Ezhuthachan for the 30 days. Ezhuthachan is regarded as the father of Malayalam literature. The reading of epic Ramayana begins on the first day of the month and is completed on the last day of the month Karkkidakom. The Ramayana is recited by the elder members’ everyday in the evenings after lighting traditional lamp Nilavilakku. During this observation of the Ramayana month in the state, several competitions and cultural activities based on Ramayana is organised across the state. This unique custom has been preserved across the state over the centuries. Karkkidakam : Karkkidakam (July - August) is the last month of Malayalam calendar and is considered as month of rain and scarcity (Panjamaasom). As per belief, the month brings good luck and prosperity to the families as well as spiritual strength to go through different difficulties that comes during monsson. Karkkidakam month comes ahead of Chingam that brings colourful festival of Onam for the Malayalis.

A book titled Courage & Commitment : An Autobiography by Margaret Alva was in news in the second week of July 2016. Via this book, Alva narrates her forty-year career under four Prime Ministers, namely Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, PV Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh. It also tells about her transition from politician to Governor. In the book, the Alva narrates her trials and triumphs and controversies that rocked her career as a politician leading to expulsion from Congress Party in 1979. She provides details of her spats with Sanjay Gandhi, her role in framing Rajiv Gandhi’s last campaign tour and her involvement with the Jain Hawala investigation when in charge of the CBI. In the book, Alva also speaks about her denunciation of the manipulation of seats by her own party; and the events leading to her resignation in 2008 from the post of the AICC General Secretary in charge of eight states. At the same time, she also offers rare insights into the lives of national and international political luminaries. Margaret Alva :  Margaret Alva is a political leader from the Indian National CongressShe was the governor Rajasthan and Uttarakhand.She was elected to Rajya Sabha in 1974, 1980, 1986 and 1992 as a representative of Congress.During her time in the Rajya Sabha, she was its vice-chairman (1983-85) She also served terms as Union Minister of State in the ministries for Parliamentary Affairs, Youth and Sports and Women and Child Development, and more In her HRD role, between 1985 and 1989, Alva oversaw the Rajiv Gandhi-led government's 28-point plan intended to improve the rights and involvement of women and children.Her 1989 proposal that 33 percent of seats in panchayat raj (local government) elections should be reserved for women became law in 1993 She was elected to the 13th Lok Sabha as a Member of Parliament in 1999  

Madhya Pradesh Cabinet gave its nod to set up Happiness Department in the state on 15 July 2016. The department will work as knowledge resource centre on the subject of happiness. With this approval, Madhya Pradesh became the first state of the country to set up such a Department. Apart from the department, the cabinet also decided to establish a state Happiness Institute under the Happiness Department. Initially it will have a budget of three crore 60 lakh rupees. Functions :  It will prepare guidelines for coordination between different departments for propagating happiness in the state. It will identify and define the parameters of happiness and efficiency.It would also prescribe action plan and activities for experiencing happiness.The department will assess mind-set of state's people from time to time. It would compile and publish survey reports pertaining to status of happiness.It will undertake constant researches regarding means of expanding happiness and improve norms to assess them. The Happiness Department will include a Chairman, a CEO, a director each for Research and Coordination and an accounts officer, four posts of Research Assistant, six Junior Assistant and five peons. Earlier, the plan of having a Happiness Department was announced by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in April 2016. The decision of having such a department was made after making an in-depth study of the measures undertaken by United Nations, the Government of Bhutan and the US' International Management Institute to assess the status of happiness among citizens. At present, Bhutan is the only country to have officially adopted gross national happiness instead of gross domestic product as their main development indicator. It adopted the happiness index after UN General Assembly in July 2011 passed a resolution inviting member countries to measure the happiness of their people and to use this to help guide their public policies.  

India ranks second after Indonesia on the global list of shark fishing nations as fishing of the species in the country has progressed from being "incidental" to "targeted". Shark fishing in India has progressed from being incidental to targeted over the years. The transformation occurred only during the 1990s due to increasing demand in the international market which has caused serious concerns about the sustainability of these catches. Mechanised trawl nets, gillnets and line gear operations contribute to maximum exploitation," WWF India said on the eve of Shark Awareness Day. WWF India said under India’s Wildlife Protection Act of India 1972, of the 88 shark species found in Indian waters, four have been listed as protected under Schedule I. Exploitation and trade of these four species - whale shark (Rhincodon typus), Pondicherry shark (Carcharhinus hemiodon), Ganges shark (Glyphis gangeticus) and the speartooth shark (Glyphis glyphis) is banned. Globally, finning is a common practice of removal of shark fins for export purpose to nations, particularly China, for its use in soups and other delicacies. The remaining shark body is discarded into the sea. According to its report released last year, around one in four species of sharks, rays and skates is now considered to be "threatened" globally, primarily due to overfishing.   

 Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan unveiled SV.CO, the digital makeover of Startup Village designed to help thousands of college-goers make an early start in entrepreneurship. The government's allocation for startups at Rs 300 crore is the highest to date in the state and higher than of the Central Government's Department of Science and Technology. The state will fund 1,000 startups every year with Rs two lakh for converting ideas to prototypes. The best prototypes will be given Rs 1 crore interest free loan to convert the prototype into a successful startup. SV.CO, the digital business incubation platform that constitutes the second phase of the successful Kochi Startup Village, set up in Kochi in 2012. The Kochi Startup Village between 2012-15, supported more than 500 startups and helped create 3,000 jobs. With SV.CO, Startup Village will scale up its activities by reaching out to five million students in 3,500 engineering colleges across the country by providing them a completely digital incubation framework, ranging from application for admission to teaching, mentoring and graduation. It will provide opportunities to students in far-flung cities and towns who may not have access to physical infrastructure or the mentoring that they need in the early stages of entrepreneurship. SV.CO provides a month of free training to students in entrepreneurship on its online platform. Students can form teams and apply at www.sv.co. Once selected, they will be guided right from picking an idea to building a prototype and its launch to early customers within six months. SV.CO is venturing into unchartered territory and creating a new model of how to go beyond physical space to reach out to potential entrepreneurs across the country and offer them mentorship, networks and infrastructure.

The country's first of its kind industrial park, exclusively for women entrepreneurs, was launched on 15 July 2016 by Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat at the Federation House. The event was organised by FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO).The park will be located in Uttarakhand's Sitarganj district. The park, which will be spread over 200 acres, is expected to attract women entrepreneurs and help them to initiate start-ups in the state.The women, who are inclined towards the proliferation of small and medium industrial units in the state, will receive government support.particularly women entrepreneurs, to make use of the cordial industrial relations in the state to facilitate investment. To accelerate women's participation in the process of economic development, the first step is to develop and promote entrepreneurship among women and for this concerted effort is required from the industry, government and the society. And the second and the most important step is for the women themselves to discover their talent and unleash the entrepreneur within. FLO plays a crucial tool in sensitising and educating the women, empowering them and bringing them to the forefront.  

The West Bengal government has set a target to construct toilets across all villages of the state by March 2019 to enable open defecation free (ODF) rural Bengal.  Mr. Dibyendu Sarkar, Commissioner in the State's Panchayat and Rural Development Department, has said that, by March 2019, his department plans to have toilets across all rural homes in the state.  Mr. Sarkar also said that Hooghly, East Midnapore and North 24 Parganas districts will be ODF by September this year, while the districts of Burdwan and South 24 Paraganas are working fast and hope to achieve Open Defection Free (ODF) by March 2017.  He also said that, in 2015, Nadia district became the first to achieve ODF status in the country.

Maharshi Dayanand University (MDU), Rohtak has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with non-profit public organization namely Global Village Foundation (GVF) for collaborative studies and research on social and economic public policies.  The MoU was signed in the presence of Haryana Chief Minister, Manohar Lal and Finance Minister, Capt. Abhimanyu in Chandigarh. The MoU was signed by the Registrar of the MDU, Jitender Bhardwaj and Chairman GVF Balram Nandwani.  This MoU with GVF will facilitate new knowledge generation, innovative technology development, skill development, inter-disciplinary research, and establish a platform for socio-economic public policy formulation. Chairman, GVF Balram Nandwani expressed happiness over this academic collaboration with the University.  Haryana Chief Minister congratulated the MDU and the GVF for signing this MoU. He said that need of the hour is to orient higher education and research towards social concerns, and utilize the research to achieve goals of development.

State-run BHEL has commissioned another 250 MW unit based on eco-friendly Circulating Fluidized Bed Combustion (CFBC) technology, using low quality coal (lignite) as the primary fuel.  The project is equipped with CFBC technology that enables use of low quality lignite as fuel. The second unit of this project is also at an advanced stage of completion.  This is the third 250 MW unit based on CFBC technology, commissioned by BHEL, with two others commissioned earlier in Tamil Nadu.  CFBC boilers are highly fuel flexible and can burn a wide variety of fuels, including lignite, efficiently. These boilers are also highly environment friendly with very low pollutant emissions. Lignite reserves in the country have been estimated at around 40.9 billion tonnes. Presently, only a small percentage of the total reserves of lignite have been exploited. CFBC boilers provide an excellent opportunity for gainfully using these huge lignite reserves.  BHEL's scope of work in the contract envisaged design, engineering, manufacture, supply, erection and commissioning of boilers, steam turbines and generators along with associated auxiliaries and electricals, and state-of-the-art Controls & Instrumentation (C&I), among others. 

The Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) successfully conducted proof firing tests of Armament system for 155 mm x 52 calibre New Advanced Towed Artillery Artillery Gun System (ATAGS). The tests were conducted as part of technical trials at Proof & Experimental Establishment (PXE) in Balasore, Odisha. ATAGS is fully indigenously built towed artillery gun system undertaken in mission mode by DRDO as a part of artillery modernisation programme of Indian Army. Pune based Armament Research & Development Establishment (ARDE) is the nodal laboratory of DRDO for design and development of ATAGS along with collaboration of other DRDO laboratories.  The Armament system of ATAGS mainly comprises a barrel, muzzle brake, breech mechanism and recoil mechanism to fire 155 mm calibre ammunitions. It has a longer firing range of 40 Kms with accuracy and precision and provides greater fire power. It is also has night firing capability in direct fire mode.  ATAGS has been configured with all electric drive in order to ensure maintenance free and reliable operation over a longer period of time. It also has advanced features in terms of high mobility, quick deployability, auxiliary power mode, advanced communication system, automatic command and control system.

The eleventh edition of Asia-Europe Meeting Summit (ASEM11) or ASEM 2016 began in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. The theme of the Summit is ‘Partnership for the Future through Connectivity‘. World leaders including from the leaders of 51 member countries and the representatives of European  Union and Asian are attending the two day summit. Indian delegation is led by Vice President Mohmmad Hamid Ansari. India’s agenda for the summit is to push the efforts to boost inter-continental connectivity. ASEM2016 is being held in the new world environment following Britain’s exit from the European Union and a global economic slowdown.  It is also first major multilateral diplomatic gathering after recent ruling by UN-backed international tribunal which has struck down China’s claims in strategic South China Sea. ASEM2016 will also take into consideration the issue of terrorism during deliberations after recent terror strike in Bangladesh and some European countries. Asia-Europe Meeting Summit (ASEM)  : ASEM is an informal process of dialogue and cooperation that brings 53 entities – including 51 countries (including India) from Asia and Europe and two regional bodies European Union (EU) and the ASEAN.  It was officially established in March 1996 at the first summit in Bangkok, Thailand.  The dialogue addresses political, economic and cultural issues between the two regions. It also seeks to strengthen the relationship between the two regions in a spirit of mutual respect and equal partnership. ASEM represents around 62.3% of the world’s population, 57.2% of the global GDP and almost 60% of the world’s trade.

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