Current Affairs 27th July 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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Two Indians including social activist Bezwada Wilson and musician Thodur Madabusi (TM) Krishna on 26 July 2016 won the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award 2016. Bezwada Wilson was recognized for asserting the inalienable right to a life of human dignity. He is the National Convener of the Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA). While, TM Krishna was recognized for ensuring social inclusiveness in culture. He is a Carnatic music vocalist. They are among the total six awardees selected for the 2016 Ramon Magsaysay Award. The other four awardees are : Conchita Carpio Morales (Philippines) : She has been recognized for restoring faith in the rule of law. Dompet Dhuafa (Indonesia) : She has been recognized for expanding the transformative impact of zakat.  Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (Japan) : The organisation has been recognized for building a world of genuine solidarity.  Vientiane Rescue (Laos) : The organisation has been recognized for volunteering to save lives at risk.  Ramon Magsaysay Award : The Award was established in 1957 and is widely regarded as Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize.It was established in 1957 in the memory of Philippines’ 3rd President Ramon Magsaysay who had died in air disaster in March 1957. The awardees receive a certificate, a medallion bearing the likeness of the late President Ramon Magsaysay, and a cash prize. The Award honours those individuals whose lives are characterized by selfless service which impacts the lives of the greater many.  

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands has ruled against Antrix Corporation in the case with Devas Corporation over sharing of spectrum on satellites.  A PCA tribunal has found that the Union Government’s actions in annulling a contract between Devas and Antrix Corporation Ltd.  It also found that it has denied Devas commercial use of S-band spectrum constituted an expropriation (state actions in modifying the property rights of an individual in the exercise of its sovereignty. Following the ruling, India may have to give 1 billion compensation to Devas. In 2005, Devas Corporation and Antrix Corporation had struck a deal which had provided for the launch of two satellites allowing Devas. These satellites were to establish a hybrid satellite and terrestrial communications network to supply wireless audio-visual, broadband and mobile internet service across India.  But later, Antrix Corporation terminated the contract citing changes in Indian policy and that the allocation of S-band Spectrum to companies unconnected with India’s space programme was now regarded as a risk to national security. Devas had moved to PCA, citing Antrix had contended that the national security and force majeure issues reasons for termination of deal as “contrived excuses”. It also had asked damages amounting to 1.6 billion dollars from Indian Government under the UNCITRAL (United Nations Commission on International Trade Law) Arbitration Rules. Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)  : PCA is an intergovernmental organization established in 1899. It is located at The Hague in the Netherlands. It is not a court in the traditional sense, but a permanent framework for arbitral tribunals constituted to resolve specific disputes. PCA seeks to facilitate arbitration and other forms of dispute resolution involving various combinations of states, state entities, international organizations and private parties. It was the first permanent intergovernmental organization that provided a forum for the resolution of international disputes through arbitration and other peaceful means. The PCA also administers cases under the arbitration rules of the UNCITRAL. Antrix Corporation : It is the commercial arm of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is an anglicised version of Antariksha, from the Sanskrit word for “space”. It functions under the aegis of Department of Space (DoS), an independent Department directly working under the Prime Minister.

Joint expeditions by India and the United States have discovered large, highly enriched accumulations of natural gas hydrate (an icy form of the fuel) in Indian Ocean. The discovery was made by the Union Oil Ministry and the US Geological Survey in the Bay of Bengal.  It was the result of the most comprehensive gas hydrate field venture in the world to date that comprised of scientists from India, Japan and the US. Significance This is the first of its kind discovery in the Indian Ocean that has the potential to be producible and opens up a new resource to meet needs of energy hungry India. The discovery will help unlock the global energy resource potential of gas hydrates as well as help define the technology needed to safely exploit (extract) them. Natural gas hydrates :  Natural gas hydrates are a naturally occurring, ice-like combination of natural gas and water. They are mainly found in oceans and Polar Regions. Gas hydrates are considered as vast resources of natural gas. They are known to occur in marine sediments on continental shelf margins. Composition: By nature Gas hydrates is mostly methane (CH4). Methane gas hydrate is most stable at the seafloor at water depths beneath about 500 meters. Distribution of Gas hydrates  : The amount of gas within the world’s gas hydrate accumulations is estimated to greatly exceed the volume of all known conventional gas resources. In India, gas hydrate resources are estimated at 1,894 trillion cubic meters (tcm) and these deposits occur in Eastern, Western and Andaman offshore areas. It is postulated that gas hydrate deposits along ocean margins are estimated to exceed known petroleum reserves by a factor of three.

Mumbai’s Byculla Zoo, known as Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan, on 26 July 2016 brought in eight Humboldt penguins from Soul, South Korea. The step has, however, not gone down well with wildlife experts who termed it as wasteful and unnecessary. The eight Humboldt penguins, three males and five females, will be open for public view in the next three to four months. The birds have been kept in a specially designed 1700 sq ft air conditioning chamber. They will be given special attention and consideration to understand their biological needs and behavioural patterns. The newly arrived penguins are about one to three years old and weigh around 1 to 2.5 kgs. The weight is expected to reach 4-6 kgs after they are fully-grown. Their height, which is 12.15 cms now, will also increase to 65-70 cm. Humboldt penguin : The Humboldt penguin is a South American penguin that breeds in coastal areas of Chile and Peru.The penguin is named after the cold water current it swims in, which is named after Alexander von Humboldt, an explorer. The species is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).Humboldt penguins are medium-sized penguins. They have a black head with a white border that runs from behind the eye, around the black ear-coverts and chin, and joins at the throat. They have blackish-grey upperparts and whitish underparts.They have spines on their tongue which they use to hold their prey.

Kolkata’s football club East Bengal has  announced that the 2016 Bharat Gaurav Award, also known as Pride of India Award on 26 July 2016, will be conferred on legendary athlete Milkha Singh. Singh will be honoured with the prestigious award on the East Bengal Foundation Day (1 August 2016). Along with the award, a cheque of 2 lakh rupees will also be presented to him. Besides, special awards along with a cash prize of 1 lakh rupees each will be given to East Bengal players Shyam Thapa and Shyamal Ghosh. The trophy for the Best Footballer of the Year will be given to South Korean midfielder Do Dong Hyun, who will also receive 50000 rupees. Veteran sports reporter Debashish Dutta and photo journalist Rony Roy will also be receiving awards for their contribution over the years. Milkha Singh : Milkha Singh is a former Indian track and field sprinter.He is also known as The Flying Sikh.He was introduced to the sport while serving in the Indian Army.He was the only Indian athlete to win an individual athletics gold medal at a Commonwealth Games until Krishna Poonia won the discus gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. He is best remembered for achieving fourth-place finish in the 400 metres final at the 1960 Olympic Games.He also won gold medals in the 1958 and 1962 Asian Games.He represented India in the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome and the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1958. East Bengal Football Club : East Bengal Football Club is a professional football club.It is based in Kolkata, West Bengal.It was founded on 1 August 1920. It is the most consistent football club of India.It currently competes in the I-League, the top-tier of Indian football pyramid.The club is the current holder of the Calcutta Football League. The club has represented India the most number of times in the Asian competitions.The club has a long-standing rivalry with giant club Mohun Bagan, with whom it contests the Kolkata derby.

The 2016 report of the prestigious Scimago Institutions Rankings in the fourth week of July 2016 ranked the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) as the 12th Best Government Institutions in the world. In 2016, the ranking of the premier institute jumped to 12th spot after being at 14th spot for three consecutive years. The overall global ranking of CSIR also improved from 110 to 99th position. CSIR is the only Indian organization to have found a place among the top 100 global institutions. The Scimago rankings is a classification of academic and research related institutions ranked by a composite indicator that combines three different sets of indicators based on research performance, innovation outputs and societal impact measured by their web visibility. 1  National Center for Scientific Research         France 2   Chinese Academy of Sciences      China 3   Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres           Germany 4   Max Planck Society      Germany 5   Spanish National Research Council       Spain Council of Scientific and Industrial Research : The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) was established in 1942.It is an autonomous body and the largest research and development organisation in India. It runs 37 laboratories and 39 field stations or extension centres spread across the nation.It is mainly funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology.It operates as an autonomous body registered under the Registration of Societies Act of 1860.

Odisha government has announced 60 lakh rupees cash special incentive for six sportswomen of the state who have qualified for the Rio Olympics on 26 July 2016. The six sportspersons are sprinters Dutee Chand and Srabani Nanda and four hockey players Deep Grace Ekka, Namita Toppo, Lilima Minz and Sunita Lakra, would receive 10 lakh rupees each. Chief minister Naveen Patnaik has directed the Odisha Mining Corporation to pay the special incentive amount to the six sportswomen. He said that the incentive would be of immense help for them to prepare for the mega event. While Dutee has qualified to participate in the 100-metre run, Srabani has qualified for 200-metre run event. Both have also qualified for the 4X100-metre relay race. Besides, the four hockey players of the state have found places in the Indian team. Besides, Patnaik also directed the sports department to increase the cash awards for Olympic qualified sportspersons. He directed that the cash awards be increased to 5 lakh rupees for both group and individual events. Earlier, it was 50000 rupees for group event and one lakh rupees for individual event.

India named Parveen Rana as a replacement for dope-tainted wrestler Narsingh Yadav for Rio Olympics in the 74kg freestyle category on 26 July 2016. The Rio Olympics is scheduled to happen from 5 August to 21 August 2016. Freestyle wrestler Rana had earlier won a gold medal in the 74kg category at the Dave Schultz Memorial Wrestling Tournament in USA in 2014. United World Wrestling on its website said that it had informed the Wrestling Federation of India that they would be allowed to replace Narsingh in the 74kg freestyle category or give up the qualification spot. The world wrestling body said the Indian Olympic Association expressed their desire to enter Parveen as their replacement. Narsingh was replaced : Narsingh had failed a dope test recently and was under provisional suspension, virtually out of the Games. Narsingh claims that he is a victim of conspiracy. Narsingh is to face the National Anti-Doping Agency's disciplinary committee on 27 July 2016 to prove his innocence. Wrestling Federation of India and Olympic medalist Yogeshwar Dutt are among those who have come out in support of the grappler. Parveen Rana's selection also comes as a major shock for two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar who was being seen as Narsingh's replacement. Narsingh and Sushil, both, had earlier staked their claim to represent the country in the Games. But, Narsingh was favoured as he had earned the Olympic quota in the World Championships in 2016. Parveen is regarded as Sushil Kumar’s understudy at Delhi’s Chhattrasal Stadium. He represented the country at the 2014 Asian Games which had Sushil missed due to injury.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Brazil free of measles. The step was taken after no case of the disease was registered in 2015 on 26 July 2016 . From 1985 to 2000, Brazil saw no domestic cases of measles, although it broke out in 2013 in the northeastern states of Pernambuco and Ceara. The WHO it had worked alongside the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) to eradicated the disease, with a joint investment of 335000 US dollar going towards measles control.The health agency also hired 165 dedicated nursing staff in Brazil. The WHO will issue a certification for the eradication of measles to Brazil in the coming months. Measles : Measles is a highly contagious infection caused by the measles virus.Symptoms usually develop 10–12 days after exposure to an infected person and last 7 to 10 days. It is an airborne disease, which spreads easily through the coughs and sneezes of those infected.It may also be spread through contact with saliva or nasal secretions. Nine out of ten people who are not immune and share living space with an infected person will catch it.Measles affects about 20 million people a year, primarily in the developing areas of Africa and Asia.Most of those who are infected and who die are less than five years old.

The Union Government on 26 July 2016 approved nearly 1600 crore rupees for Jammu and Kashmir under skill development initiative 'Himayat'. The allocated fund will be invested in training 1.24 lakh local youths in vocational courses. As per Jammu and Kashmir Rural Development Minister Abdul Haq Khan, under the reanimated Himayat programme, youths from both rural and urban areas of the state would be imparted training in various job-intensive vocational courses over the next three years. They will be given training for six-months, nine-months and one year job-oriented courses. Himayat : Himayat is a training-cum-placement programme for unemployed youth in Jammu and Kashmir. Under which youth of the state will be provided short-term training, in a range of skills for which there is good market demand. At the end of the training, the youth are assured of a job and there is one year post-placement tracking to see how they are faring. Features : Himayat will be implemented in partnership with private agencies or NGOs who are into placement linked skill training for youth. The scheme aims to train 100000 youth in 5 years and provide at least 75% of them with jobs.Training centres will be developed in each block (geographical area), catering to the specific needs of the local youth.Support will be available for trainees after training and during placement as well. 

Former Indian diplomat Arundhati Ghose passed away on 26 July 2016 in New Delhi.The eminent diplomat headed the Indian delegation at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. Arundhati Ghose : Born on 25 November 1939, she studied at Cathedral and John Connon School.She graduated from Lady Brabourne College in Kolkata. Thereafter, she studied at Visva-Bharati University in Shantiniketan.Later, she joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1963.She was the first Permanent Representative of India to the UN Offices in Geneva. She served as the Head of the Indian delegation that participated in the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva in 1996.She also served as Ambassador to the Republic of Korea and the Arab Republic of Egypt. She was also a member of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters from 1998 to 2001.She was also a member of Task Force on non-proliferation and Disarmament set up by the Ministry of External Affairs in 2007.

The Tourism Ministry has sanctioned 25 projects worth Rs 2,048 crore for 21 states and Union Territories under 'Swadesh Darshan' since January last year, when the scheme was launched.  Of the sanctioned amount, about Rs 403 crore has been released to the states and UTs for projects which have been approved . The states and UTs for which the projects have been sanctioned under the scheme include Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Kerala, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Bihar . For the northeastern states, the ministry has sanctioned nine projects worth Rs 821 crore, while three projects worth Rs 282 crore have been approved for tribal areas in Nagaland, Chhattisgarh and Telangana. For Buddhist Circuit, the ministry has sanctioned two projects worth Rs 108.11 crore for Bihar and Madhya Pradesh . The Tourism Ministry had launched 'Swadesh Darshan' scheme with an objective to develop theme-based tourist circuits in the country.  Under this, 13 thematic circuits have been identified for development, namely North-East India Circuit, Buddhist Circuit, Himalayan Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Desert Circuit, Tribal Circuit, Eco Circuit, Wildlife Circuit, Rural Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Ramayana Circuit and Heritage Circuit. 

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has launched a pilot project of e-complaint system on an experimental basis in Pune.  After the pilot project, the system will be launched across the state in next eight months. The project has been launched during the concluding ceremony of 14th Maharashtra Police Duty Meet at SRPF ground at Ramtekdi. So now with the help of this system, citizens can now register a police complaint online at any city police station from anywhere. But as per current laws, FIRs have to be registered at the police station only.  Also, a new SMS gateway has been launched wherein people get the acknowledgment of the FIR on the phone through a system generated SMS, and also when accused are arrested, charge sheet/final report submitted to the court.

Global payments leader SWIFT  said ICICI Bank and Axis Bank have become the first domestic lenders to sign up for its global payments innovation initiative, which already has over 70 other leading banks globally.  The initiative aims to enhance cross-border payments by leveraging Swift's messaging platform and global reach and in the first phase, the initiative will focus on business-to-business payments.  Designed to help corporates grow their international business, improve supplier relationships, and achieve greater treasury efficiencies, the new service will enable corporates to receive an enhanced payments service directly from their banks.  The service offers key features such as the same day use of funds, transparency and predictability of fees, end-to-end payments tracking, and transfer of rich payment information.  Kiran Shetty, head of India and Subcontinent at Swift said, "by being the first domestic banks to join the global payments innovation initiative, ICICI Bank and Axis Bank reiterate their commitment to offering greater speed, transparency and predictability to their clients when it comes to cross-border payments."  On the partnership, ICICI Bank's Ajay Gupta said the association will help it to add value to its corporate clients.  The Belgium-based Swift is a global member-owned cooperative and a leading provider of secure financial messaging services.  It provides its members a platform for messaging and standards for communicating, apart from offering products and services to facilitate access and integration, identification, analysis and financial crime compliance to over 11,000 banking and securities companies, market infrastructure and corporates in over 200 countries. 

Vodafone M-Pesa, a mobile phone-based money transfer service, has tied up with Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) to enable consumers pay their electricity bills instantly.  Vodafone M-Pesa offers customers a cashless, secure platform for electricity bill payments with the largest network of agents (or CashIn Points) to enable digitisation of money for cash holding population. M-Pesa is a mobile phone-based money transfer, financing and microfinancing service, launched in 2007 by Vodafone for Safaricom and Vodacom, the largest mobile network operators in Kenya and Tanzania.  It has since expanded to Afghanistan, South Africa, India and in 2014 to Romania and in 2015 to Albania. M-Pesa allows users to deposit, withdraw, transfer money and pay for goods and services (Lipa na M-Pesa) easily with a mobile device.

The Government of Karnataka has set-up a dedicated start-up cell for speeding up the implementation of theinitiatives under its start-up policy and its IT minister Priyank Kharge.  This is the first time in India that a government has come up with a dedicated Start-up Cell guided by the Start-up Policy, which envisages the growth of 20,000 new start-ups, including 6,000 product start-ups, by 2020 in Karnataka. A portal, www.startup.karnataka.gov.in, was launched to enable and educate start-ups on the State government’s policies and provide access to various benefits under the policy.  All technology-based start-ups thatfall under the criteria listed by the State government can register with the portal.

Parliament has passed the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2016.  The bill was first passed in Rajya Sabha and later in Lok Sabha during Monsoon session of Parliament.  It seeks to amend the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 to widen the scope of the law against child labour and stricter punishments for violations. The Bill calls for complete ban employment of children below 14 in all occupations and enterprises, except those run by his or her own family. It defines children between 14 to 18 years as adolescents and bars their employment in any hazardous occupations.  It makes child labour a cognizable offence attracting a jail term of up to two years and penalty upto fifty thousand rupees. The Bill has a provision of creating Rehabilitation Fund has also been made for the rehabilitation of children.

The BRICS Policy Planning Dialogue was successfully concluded in Patna, Bihar. Delegates of BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa had attended the meeting. The two day (25-26 July 2016) dialogue provided a common platform to BRICS countries for sharing of best practices in foreign policy planning and assessment between the BRICS countries. Highlights of dialogue :  It forwarded the Policy Planning talks initiated under the Chairmanship of Russia in 2015 in line with 2016 theme of “Building Responsive, Inclusive and Collective Solutions”.  Discussions on exchanges on strategic assessments of international situation and regional situation of each country were held.  They also discussed the role of BRICS in international governance, ongoing cooperation at BRICS Forum and reflected on areas of convergence among BRICS.  They also discussed ways to enhance sharing of best practices in foreign policy planning and assessment between the BRICS countries.

India’s Rio Olympics bound shot putter Inderjeet Singh (28) has been tested positive for a banned substance. In the out-of-competition test conducted by National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), Inderjeet’s ‘A’ sample was tested positive for a banned steroid.  The NADA has asked Inderjeet Singh if he wants to test his ‘B’ sample and if so, to do this within seven days. If his ‘B’ sample also tests positive, he will have to miss 2016 Rio Olympics Games in August 2016. Besides, he may be banned for four years under the new WADA Code.  Inderjeet Singh had won a bronze medal in the 2014 Asian Games. He had won the gold medal at the Asian Athletics Championships in 2015. He had qualified for the 2016 Olympics by achieving qualification mark with a throw of 20.65 m in May 2015 at 19th Federation Cup.

The Union Government has issued notification for the implementation of 7th Pay Commission. It was issued as per the Cabinet approval in June 2016. With this issuance, 4.8 million central government employees and 5.2 million pensioners will get the increased payout from their August 2016 salaries. Besides, Union Government has given CBSE chief Rajesh Kumar Chaturvedi an additional charge of Chief of the implementation cell of the Seventh Central Pay Commission. The 7th Pay Commission hike will result in increase in salaries of central government employees in the range of 7 thousand rupees to 18 thousand rupees per month.  A fitment factor of 2.57 will also apply for pay revision of all employees and the rate of annual increment has been retained at 3%. There will be two dates for grant of increment i.e. on January 1 and July 1 every year – instead of the existing July 1 only. Employees will be entitled to only one annual increment on either of these two dates depending on the date of appointment, promotion or grant of financial upgradation.  It is estimated that the total burden on the exchequer on account of the 7th Pay Commission recommendation will be 1.02 lakh crore rupees in 2016-17. There will be an additional impact of 12,133 crore rupees on arrears and of salary and pension for two months. The 7th Pay Commission headed by Justice AK Mathur had recommended 14.27 per cent hike in basic pay at junior levels in November 2015. The Commission had recommended changes in the pay of around 1 crore individuals which includes 33 lakh central government employees, 14 lakh armed forces personnel, and 52 lakh pensioners.

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has setup a seven-member expert committee for exploring the other possible alternatives to pellet guns as non-lethal weapons.  The Committee will be headed by T V S N Prasad, Joint Secretary in the MHA. It will submit its report within two months.  Other members of the committee : Atul Karwal (IG, CRPF), Rajeev Krishna, (IG Operations, BSF), Tushar Tripathy (DDG, Small Arms, Ordnance factory Board) and Naresh Bhatnagar (Professor at IIT, Delhi). Earlier Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had announced in Lok Sabha that an expert committee will be set up to recommend alternatives to pellet guns. Pellet guns have been categorised as non-lethal weapon. In this gun, pellets are loaded with lead balls and once fired disperse into huge numbers.  They may not kill the person they hit, but penetrates skin tissue and cause serious injuries. Pellet guns are being used since 2010 in Kashmir to disperse and control crowd i.e as deterrence to antisocial elements. The use of pellet guns is blamed for causing fatal injuries and blindness among protestors in Kashmir.

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