Current Affairs 26th July 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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In an attempt to double the income of farmers by 2022, the Rajasthan government plans to bring in latest technological innovation and introduce best farming practices by inviting experts to Global Rajasthan Agritech Meet (GRAM) in Jaipur from November 9 to 11. The event, organised by the Rajasthan government in association with Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), will showcase investment opportunities in the sector involving products such as pressure irrigation, solar pumps, custom hiring of farm machinery and implements, farm mechanisation and agro-processing etc.  To be attended by over 40,000 farmers, it will have representatives from the Netherlands, Israel, Australia and Canada.

Hinduja National Power Corporation Limited (HNPCL), part of the Hinduja Group,  has commissioned its 1,040 Mw Power project at Visakhapatnam. The power plant consists of two units of 520 Mw each. According to Ashok Puri, Managing Director, HNPCL, Unit-1 started supplying power to the grid in January 2016, and that currently both units are operational. He said the entire power generated by the project is being sold to state-owned southern and eastern power distribution companies of Andhra Pradesh.  The plant will cater to the growing power needs of industry in and around Visakhapatnam and the southern Region, which includes some of the fastest growing economies in the country. The project cost is estimated at $1.25 billion and has been financed by a mix of debt and equity. A State Bank of India-led consortium of 15 Indian banks is a lender to the project, according to the company. The project has been allocated coal by Mahanadi Coalfields Limited. Andhra Pradesh is the first state to implement 24x7–Power for All Scheme.  Its total installed capacity is 15,311.17 Mw and it aims to achieve 29,000 Mw by 2019.

The Finance Ministers from the Group of 20 (G-20) major economies have pledged to boost the global economy, which is showing a weak recovery.  This announcement was made at the end of the two-day meeting of G-20 Finance ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting held in the Chinese city of Chengdu. Highlights of meeting G-20 :  Finance ministers expressed concern about Britain’s plan to leave the European Union and how Brexit will affect the world’s economy.  Member nations are well positioned to pro-actively to address the potential economic and financial consequences from such developments. They vowed to reject trade protectionism, which became a prominent issue at the meeting.  They expressed the importance of reducing the excess production of steel that has led to a glut on the global market.

Flipkart Ltd has acquired online fashion portal Jabong through its unit Myntra in a move to maintain its position as the market leader on 26 July 2016. However, the financial details of the deal were not revealed. This acquisition will strengthen Flipkart Group's position in Fashion and Lifestyle segment to compete with Amazon Fashion in India. Jabong : Jabong was founded in 2012 . In September 2014, its investor Rocket Internet merged Jabong with four online fashion retailers in Latin America, Russia, the Middle East, South-east Asia to create Global Fashion Group (GFG).  It offers more than 1500 international high-street brands, sports labels, Indian ethnic and designer labels and over 150000 styles from over a thousand sellers. Global Fashion Group has been on the lookout for a buyer of Jabong for the last few months. The company was in touch with Snapdeal as well as Future Group and Amazon, but a deal failed to pass through.  In 2014, Amazon reportedly wanted to acquire Jabong but it couldn't due to the price tag that was a steep 1.2 billion US dollars.

Second phase of the Feed the Future-India Triangular Training Programme was launched on 25 July 2016. The programme was launched in New Delhi by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare and the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID).  The programme will provide specialized agriculture training to 1500 agricultural professional across Africa and Asia. Objectives of Training : To address human and institutional capacity gaps in food & nutritional security in select African and Asian countries. Highlights :  Under this 32 Training programme of 15 day-duration will be conducted in India and 12 Training programs of 10 days duration will be conducted in selected African and Asian Countries during 2016-20.The entire expenditure will be met by USAID and National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE), Hyderabad.The training areas will be identified based on demand analysis conducted in participating countries. The programme covers 17 countries and they are In Asia : Afghanistan, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Mongolia, and Vietnam In Africa : Kenya, Malawi, Liberia, Ghana, Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Tanzania, Sudan, Botswana and Ethiopia Earlier, a team of faculty of MANAGE visited Cambodia and Vietnam in Asia and Tanzania and Mozambique in Africa as part of Demand analysis. The programme will help in harnessing the expertise and innovation of the two countries, i.e. India and the US, which in return will unlock new opportunities to address global development challenges. It will also help in bringing closure of the shared objective of eliminating global poverty and hunger. A new Agriculture Partnership between US and India to achieve Ever Green Revolution to address Global Food Security was announced during the State visit of US President Barak Obama to India in November 2010. The effort included Triangular Cooperation adapting technological advances and innovative solutions to address Food Security Challenges in Africa. This pilot stage focused on three African Countries i.e., Kenya, Liberia and Malawi with potential to expand throughout the African Continent in future.

Tetsuya Takano has resigned as the Chairman and Director of Ricoh India Ltd on 25 July 2016. Takano was succeeded by Ian Peter Winham with immediate effect. Ian Peter Winham : Winham joined the Ricoh Group in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) in 2002 as CFO.  He was appointed Executive Vice President, CIO and CFO of Ricoh Europe in 2007. In 2014, he took on a global role as Head of Global Capital Management. In April 2016, he was appointed Corporate Vice President of Ricoh Company Ltd. Takano's resignation came following the disclosure of Ricoh India that found its accounts falsified and estimated to incur a loss of 1123 crore rupees for the fiscal year that ended 31 March 2016.

The United Nations Department of Field Support (DFS) has announced that India provided 100000 US dollar for the Trust Fund in support of victims of sexual exploitation and abuse on 22 July 2016. With this, India has become the first country in the world to make a contribution to the Trust Fund. The UN Secretariat had requested voluntary contributions to the Trust Fund when it was established. UN Trust Fund  : The UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women awards grants to initiatives that demonstrate that violence against women and girls can be systematically addressed, reduced and eliminated.Since its creation in 1996, the UN Trust Fund has awarded 116 million US dollar to 426 initiatives in 136 countries and territories. It was established by UN General Assembly resolution 50/166.It is administered by UN Women on behalf of the UN System. The agency works to prevent violence against women and girls by empowering groups especially at risk of violence. It works to improves access to services, such as legal assistance, psychosocial counselling and health care.It works to strengthen implementation of laws, policies and action planson violence against women and girls.

The first round-the-world solar powered flight by Solar Impulse 2 was completed on 26 July 2016 after the aircraft landed successfully in Abu Dhabi. The plane has travelled 26744 miles since setting off from Abu Dhabi. The aircraft has racked up 558 hours of flight time. Solar Impulse 2 : Construction of Solar Impulse 2 started in 2011.The wingspan of Solar Impulse 2 is 71.9 m, slightly less than that of an Airbus A380, the world's largest passenger airliner.It is made of carbon-fibre.It weighs only about 2.3 tonnes. It features a non-pressurized cockpit 3.8 cubic metres in size and advanced avionics, including an autopilot.It has 17248 solar cells built into the wings that supply the plane with renewable energy, via four motors.It was first publicly displayed on 9 April 2014. Its inaugural flight took place on 2 June 2014, piloted by Markus Scherdel.The aircraft reached its maximum altitude during a flight on 28 October 2014.By the end of May 2015, the plane had traversed Asia.It made an unscheduled stop in Japan to await favourable weather over the Pacific. The aircraft began the flight from Japan to Hawaii on 28 June 2015.Piloted by Andre Borschberg, the plane reached Hawaii on 3 July 2015, setting new records for the world's longest solar-powered flight both by time (117 hours, 52 minutes) and distance (7212 km).The plane landed at Moffett Field in California on 23 April 2016. With Bertrand Piccard in the cockpit, the aircraft crossed the Atlantic Ocean and arrived in Seville, Spain, on 23 June 2016. The aircraft next landed in Cairo, Egypt, on 13 July 2016.On 23 July 2016, the plane departed Cairo and landed in Abu Dhabi on 26th July 2016.

Noted archaeologist Buddha Rashmi Mani was appointed as Director General of National Museum for three years or till attaining the age of 70 years on 25 July 2016. His appointment was approved by Appointments Committee of Cabinet.He had retired as Additional Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in 2015.  Buddha Rashmi Mani :  Earlier, he had supervised the excavation work in the disputed Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya in 2003. During his 30-year stint with the ASI, he led excavations in Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. Mani is also General Secretary of the Indian Archaeological Society where he edits the journal Puratattva. A BHU alumnus, Mani did his PhD on the Kushanas.  Mani and his team courted controversy in 2003 when their excavation report stated that features of a 10th-century temple were found beneath the site where the 16th-century Babri Masjid stood until its demolition in 1992. The Allahabad High Court later directed the ASI to replace Mani as leader of the excavation team.

A conference titled 'Made in Afghanistan' was recently held in Delhi to promote Afghanproducts and boost trade relations between both nations. 'Made in Afghanistan: Harnessing the Economic Potential' was the theme of two-day long event held to strengthen India-Afghan relations in terms of trade, commerce and investment opportunities. An MoU was also signed between FICCI-FLO andAfghanistan women business federation during the event. The delegates from Afghanistan also appreciated the wayIndia helps Kabul in uncertain conditions. The exhibition is to promote the Afghan products. I was very impressed to see the exhibition. We are very grateful to India for facilitating the exhibition and it will go in a long way for enhancing trade relations between two countries," Afghan ambassador to India, Shaida Mohammad Abdali. The traders from Afghanistan also exhibited their products in the exhibition sponsored by the Indian Government. The traders were very positive in terms of trade relations between the two nations and hoped to get better promotion of their products in the Indian market as it will have a significant impact on their country's economy. If India hosts more conferences then it will be very helpful for the businessman and woman of both countries. If India can import more of our products and promote it in their markets then it will have a great effect on our economy. We hope that both countries will have stronger relations in the future because we have a long history of friendship and will get much more success in future. India will also host a conference later this year and invite several countries for discussion on economic integration and cooperation.

Mumbai-headquartered, Axis Bank has stated that the Reserve Bank of India has granted approval for appointment of Sanjiv Misra as Additional Director and the Non-Executive (Part-Time) Chairman of the bank for a period of three years with effect from July 18, 2016, up to July 17, 2019 (both days inclusive).  Mr. Misra has a Master’s degree in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics, a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School, USA, and a Ph. D from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Dr. Misra was a member of the Indian Administrative Service for over 35 years during which period he held a wide range of key positions in the Federal and state governments, including as Managing Director of the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation and stints at senior levels in the Government of India in the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Petroleum and the Ministry of Finance.  He was a Secretary in the Ministry of Finance till his superannuation in 2008. Subsequently, he served as a Member of the 13th Finance Commission, a constitutional position with the rank of a Minister of State.  

Federal Bank has signed an agreement with Reliance Jio Money for one-click payment service.Reliance Jio Money is a wallet application that will be launched soon for mobile devices where Federal Bank will enable a direct payment option for its customers. Through this service, the leading private sector bank's customers can complete a transaction without funding the wallet. The bank's customers will get a facility to directly pay from their account for the services offered through the wallet (without pre-loading their wallet). This arrangement will help customers retain cash in their account and use it only when a transaction is made unlike other instances where a wallet will require the user to maintain balance exclusively in the wallet. Once launched, the bank's customers will be able to perform a variety of transactions across numerous merchants in just a click. This arrangement would empower customers to retain the funds with their accounts while enjoying the host of services available in the app," said Shalini Warrier. The bank is very keen on improving customer experience in the digital space and will be coming up with a lot more arrangements and innovations to excite the customers.

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) is organizing a day-long conference on Startup India in New Delhi with an aim To improve ease of doing business,Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said a start-up would now need only a certificate of recognition from the government to avail IPR-related benefits.Earlier ,a budding entrepreneur had to go through an elaborate process of approaching an inter-ministerial board to procure the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) benefits. “A start-up would now require only a certificate of recognition from the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) and would not be required to be examined by the inter-ministerial board, as was being done earlier. This is one rapid change. Under the ‘Start-up India’ action plan, the government has announced three-year tax holiday and other benefits to these entrepreneurs. Close to 4,400 technology start-ups exist in India and the number is expected to reach 12,000-plus by 2020, driven by a young and diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem, she said. On the rate of success of start-ups, Nirmala Sitharamansaid: “World-over, the success rate is not very high. The Minister also said that seven proposals for research parks, 16 for TBIs (Technology Business Incubators) and 13 proposals for Start-up Centres have been recommended by the National Expert Advisory Committee formed by the Human Resource Development Ministry. In January, Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled a slew of incentives to boost start-up businesses, offering them a tax holiday and inspector raj-free regime,capital gains tax exemption and Rs 10,000 crore corpus to fund them.

Uttarakhand Governor K K Paul has unveiled here the plaque of a statue of Tamil poet and philosopher Thiruvalluvar for installation in Haridwar.  The programme was held at the Raj Bhawan here on the first day of Tamil new year. The statue is being installed on the efforts of BJP Rajya Sabha MP Tarun Vijaywho has contributed Rs 20 lakh from his local area development fund. Unveiling the plaque, the governor said teachings of saints like Thiruvalluvar have shown people the way for hundreds of years. Though India is home to diverse cultures, all of them have the same basic ethical system. Thiruvalluvar's statue in the ancient city of Haridwar was in way a celebration of India's diverse cultural heritage.  He also stressed the need for translating the ancient texts of Hindi, Tamil and other Indian languages to help national integration.  Tamil language and writers were being promoted in north India and stressed the need for making people more aware of the works of Thiruvalluvar and other great Tamil writers.

Tamil Nadu has maximum number of urban internetsubscribers in India accounting for over nine per cent of country's total 231 million urban subscribers, withMaharashtra and Delhi having over 19 million users each. Tamil Nadu boasts of over 21 million urban internet subscriber base, with Maharashtra and Delhi competing almost neck-to-neck with 19.7 million and 19.6 million subscribers respectively, followed by Karnataka with 17 million users, as on March, 2016. The urban internet subscriber base stands at 231 million. That, along with 112 million of rural subscribers, pegs the total internet subscriber base in India at over 342 million, according to government data giving service area-wise break-up of rural and urban internet subscriber base. The telecom circle of UP East has the highest number of rural internet subscribers at 11.2 million and almost a matching number of urban users. Maharashtra is next in this pecking order with 9.7 million rural internet subscribers, with Andhra following close on heels with just over 9 million rural internet subscribers. To improve internet penetration in rural areas, government is in the process of establishing a massive network infrastructure by connecting all 250,000 gram panchayats through optical fibre, providing broadband connectivity by all categories of service providers. The ambitious project BharatNet (formerly National Optical Fibre Network project) is planned to be implemented in three phases. In the first phase, 100,000 gram panchayats will be connected by March 2017, and this connectivity would be further extended to the remaining 150,000 panchayats by December 2018. The third phase involving a future-proof network involving fibre between districts and blocks, is planned to be completed by 2023.

American broadband telecommunication company, Verizon Communications Inc is all set to announce an agreement on coming Monday to buy Yahoo Inc for about 5 billion, according to a news report.  The announcement will come before the start of New York trading hours, the source added. The deal will end months of uncertainty about Yahoo's future after the company announced plans to review strategic alternatives in February. The transaction would boost Verizon's AOL internet business, which the company acquired last year for $4.4 billion, by giving it access to Yahoo's advertising technology tools, as well as other assets such as search, mail, messenger and real estate.  It would also mark the end of Yahoo as an operating company, leaving it only as the owner of a 35.5 per cent stake in Yahoo Japan, as well as its 15 per cent interest in Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

Travel services provider Thomas Cook (India) has entered into a partnership with Matrimony Bazaar to tap the 'romantic leisure travel' segment which is seeing an "exponential" growth.  The company however did not disclose any financial details about the partnership. The romantic leisure travel segment is witnessing exponential growth with Indian couples expressing increasing appetite for fresh, new and off-beat locales with engaging itineraries . Thomas Cook India's internal research and consumer analysis shows the significant and growing potential of the honeymoon/romantic travel segment - a 20 to 25 per cent year-on-year increase in demand over the last three years . To harness the potential in this segment the company has launched its 'Love Trails' portfolio across 19 international destinations such as New Zealand, Fiji, France, Seychelles, Greece, Hawaii, Germany, South Africa, Maldives, Switzerland, Bali, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Mauritius. 

Haryana Government has notified the "Freight Assistance Scheme" for the exporting Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) located anywhere in the State on 25 July 2016. It has given time till September 9 to submit the claim application on the web portal of the Industries and Commerce department for the financial year 2015-16. The decision was taken in backdrop of the additional cost that is borne by the MSMEs exporting unit located in the state due to large distances from the sea ports. This distance results in making their products non-competitive in comparison to the exporting units located in the coastal area. In order to enhance competitiveness of exporting units, this scheme would defray the transportation cost. Under the scheme the freight assistance to the extent of one percent of Free on Board (FOB) value or actual freight excluding government fee and taxes on transportation of goods from place of manufacture to the sea port, whichever is less and maximum up to 20 lakh rupees per annum, would be given for export of goods, manufactured by the exporting MSME set-up anywhere in the state. The assistance would be admissible only in case of direct export of the goods manufactured by the exporting unit and no amount would be given for export by air.

The Lok Sabha has passed the Institutes of Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2016 on July 25, 2016. The Bill seeks to amend the Institutes of Technology Act, 1961, which declares certain Institutes of Technology as institutions of national importance. Highlights : The Bill seeks to add six new Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh, Palakkad in Kerala, Goa, Dharwar in Karnataka, Bhilai in Chhattisgarh, and Jammu.  It also seeks to bring the Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad within the ambit of the Act.  All these institutions will be declared as institutions of national importance. The Bill provides for the incorporation of IIT (Indian School of Mines), Dhanbad.  It states that until the statutes in relation to IIT (Indian School of Mines), Dhanbad are made under the Act, the statutes applicable to IIT Roorkee will apply to it. The Institutes of Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Human Resource Development, Prakash Javadekar, on 19 July 2016.

The Union Government is planning to redraw Red Corridor by reducing the number of Maoist (LWE: Left wing extremism) affected districts by about a fifth. In this regard, approximately 20 of the 106 districts which have been described as being Maoist-affected and are part of the Red Corridor may be removed from the list.  Consequences : Once these districts are taken off the list of Red Corridor, the financial aid made available to these districts annually for various developmental works will dry up. The Red Corridor is a region in the eastern part of India that experiences considerable Naxalite–Maoist insurgency. There are 106 districts spanning across 10 States in the Red Corridor.’ Of these, 44 districts are worst-affected. These 10 states are Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Telangana, Odisha, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Union Government adds districts into Red Corridor by taking into considerations  (i) Their violence profile.  (ii) Assessment of logistical and other support provided to armed Maoist cadres by their sympathisers and ground worker  (iii) Positive changes brought about by development work that these districts have seen.  

Scientists are working towards storing digital data in the base sequence of DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid). Thus they are seeking to make the genetic material capable to store data for long time in durable format as an archive data for the future. DNA : information-storing molecule DNA is by its essence an information-storing molecule. It carries the genetic instructions used in the growth, development, functioning and reproduction of all known living These genetic instructions are passed from generation to generation by the genes. It basically transmits the blueprints for creating the human body. DNA store information :  The information in the DNA is stored in strings i.e. in the form four-letter DNA code. It is basically sequences of four building blocks (nuclear strands) abbreviated as A (Adenine), C (Cytosine), T (Thymine) and G (Guanine) found in DNA molecule. Specific sequences of these blocks give the body directions for creating particular proteins. DNA carry Digital information :  Basically digital devices store information in binary format (1s and 0s) i.e. in a two-letter code that produces strings of 1s and 0s. For ex. capital ‘A’ stored as 01000001 in binary format. In case of converting and storing digital information in DNA involves translating between the two sequences or codes of four building blocks. For ex. capital ‘A’ converted and stored as AATATG. The DNA digital data storage technology uses artificial DNA made using oligonucleotide synthesis machines for storage and DNA sequencing machines for retrieval of stored data. Using this technology strings of DNA can be custom-made that can carry the new code, and store information that code contains. Advantages : DNA digital data storage technology has very long durability i.e. scientists can store digital information in DNA sequences for thousands of years. Information stored in DNA consumes very little space. Challenges : Making this technology practical and much cheaper using current technology is hugely expensive.

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