Current Affairs 28th July 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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The Union Cabinet has cleared changes to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Constitutional Amendment Bill on 27 July 2016.The changes include dropping 1 percent manufacturing tax and providing guarantee to compensate states for any revenue loss in the first five years of rollout of the proposed indirect tax regime. It decided that any dispute between states and the Centre will be adjudicated by the GST Council, which will have representation from both the Centre and states. The existing bill provides that the centre will give 100 percent compensation to states for first three years, 75 per cent and 50 per cent for the next two years. Recommendation of the Rajya Sabha : Earlier, the Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha in its report recommended 100 percent compensation for probable loss of revenue for five years. As per the amendments, the Centre will now constitutionally guarantee States any loss of revenue from the GST subsuming all indirect taxes, including VAT, in the first five years of introduction. Omission of the 1 percent inter-state tax over and above the GST rate is one of the three key demands over which the main opposition Congress, the government hopes that the long-pending GST Bill will pass in the Parliament during the ongoing monsoon session, which ends on 12 August 2016.  Congress has been blocking the bill in Rajya Sabha due to three key demands. The other demands include GST rate in the statute and Supreme Court judge-headed dispute resolution body. Other Cabinet decisions include : The Cabinet decided to abolish existing guidelines for establishment of Joint Venture Companies by Defence Public Sector Undertakings, DPSUs. These guidelines which were notified in February of 2012 will not be required for a separate joint venture for DPSUs. The abolition of the guidelines will provide a level playing field between DPSUs and the private sector. The Cabinet gave its nod to raise foreign shareholding limit from 5 percent to 15 percent in Indian Stock Exchanges. It approved the proposal to allow foreign portfolio investors to acquire shares through initial allotment, besides secondary market, in the stock exchanges. This approval would help in enhancing global competitiveness of Indian stock exchanges by accelerating and facilitating the adoption of latest technology and global best practices. This will lead to overall growth and development of the Indian Capital Market.The Cabinet approved Bilateral Investment Treaty between India and Cambodia. It seeks to promote and protect investments from either country in the territory of the other country with the objective of increasing bilateral investment flows. The Cabinet gave its approval for setting up of new All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Bhatinda, Punjab. It will have 750 beds and incur an expenditure of 925 crore rupees. The super specialty hospital will be built under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana.  

The Union Cabinet has approved the establishment of a All India Institute Of Medical Science (AIIMS) at Bhatinda in Punjab under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) on 27 July 2016. It will provide super specialty health care to the population while creating a large pool of doctors and other health workers in this region that can be available for primary and secondary level institutions/facilities being created under National Health Mission (NHM). Highlights of the AIIMS in Bhatinda : The cost of the project for establishment of the AIIMS in Bhatinda shall be 925 crore rupees. This cost estimate does not include recurring costs (wages & salaries and operation & maintenance expenses). The recurring expenditure will be met by the respective AIIMS from their annual budgets through Grant-in-Aid to them from Plan Budget Head of PMSSY of Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The institution shall have a hospital with capacity of 750 beds which will include Emergency/Trauma Beds, AYUSH Beds, Private Beds and ICU Speciality & Super Speciality beds. In addition, there will be an Administration Block, AYUSH Block, Auditorium, Night Shelter, Hostels and residential facilities.  It will also conduct research on prevalent regional diseases and other health issues and provide for better control and cure of such diseases. The project will be completed in a period of 48 months from the date of the approval by the Union Government. The Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) was first announced in August 2003 with the primary objective of correcting the regional imbalances in availability of affordable tertiary level healthcare in the country in general.  Under this scheme, AIIMS have been established in Bhubaneshwar, Jodhpur, Raipur, Rishikesh, Bhopal and Patna while work of AIIMS Rae Bareli is in progress. Also, three AIIMS in Nagpur (Maharashtra), Kalyani (West Bengal) and Mangalagiri in Guntur (AP) were sanctioned in 2015.

World Hepatitis Day 2016 was observed across the world on 28 July 2016 with the theme Elimination. The day acts as a significant global platform for raising awareness about hepatitis and influence real change in disease prevention, testing and treatment. The theme for the 2016 focuses on elimination of hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030. The theme can be easily adapted for local use to achieve elimination, greater awareness, increased diagnosis and key interventions including universal vaccination, blood and injection safety etc. World Hepatitis Summit : The World Hepatitis Summit will be held from 29 March to 31 March 2017. It will be held in Sao Paulo, Brazil.It is a large-scale, global biennial event to advance the viral hepatitis agenda.It is a joint initiative between World Health Organization and the World Hepatitis Alliance (WHA). summit’s objectives are : To increase the number of countries developing practicable viral hepatitis action plans by making use of the latest public health research and technical support from WHO.To improve the implementation of existing viral hepatitis action plans through the sharing of best practice. To support clause 1.3 of WHO’s Resolution WHA67.6 which urges Member States to promote the involvement of civil society in all aspects of preventing, diagnosing and treating viral hepatitis.To discuss funding mechanisms for medicines and/or diagnostics through engagement of key stakeholders. To raise the profile of viral hepatitis by engagement of international top-tier media.To encourage and direct public health research to where it is needed by engaging key global funders. Viral Hepatitis : Viral hepatitis is caused by 5 distinct hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D and E which together are responsible for 1.45 million deaths each year.Hepatitis B and C are responsible for 80 percent of infections whereas Hepatitis A and E are only responsible for 1 percent of infections. 81 percent of world’s infants are vaccinated and protected from hepatitis B infection and 2 million hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections occur yearly through unsafe injections.These viruses are transmitted through contaminated water and food, as well as by contact with blood or bodily fluids, through unsafe injections or transfusions. Infection also occurs from a mother to a child, or through sexual contact.  

The Union Cabinet has approved the Policy for awarding waterfront and associated land to port dependent industries in major ports along with its operationalization on 27 July 2016.The Policy will result in uniformity and transparency in the procedure for awarding captive facilities. It will enable optimal utilization of capacities in major ports and increase revenue to the Major Port Authority.  Highlights of the Policy : The ambit of the Policy includes creation of new assets as well as utilization of currently unutilised existing assets such as vacant berths. The Policy will be applicable to all the Major Ports. Under the Policy, concession will be granted to Port Dependent Industries (PDI) for setting up dedicated facilities in Major Ports for import and export of cargo for maximum 30 years.  Extension of concession period on conditions including under utilization of asset as per the Concession Agreement may be allowed. After a maximum of 30 years of operation, the waterfront land in a Major Port will be allotted for construction of berths, offshore anchorages, transhipment jetties, single point moorings etc. It will be as per the terms and conditions of the Concession Agreement (CA) to be entered into between the Port Authority and the PDI concerned.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has announced that Muttiah Muralitharan, Karen Rolton, Arthur Morris and George Lohmann will be inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame on 27 July 2016. With the announcement, off-spinner Muralitharan becomes the first Sri Lankan player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. The four cricketers were voted by the ICC Cricket Hall of Famers as well as members of the media. They will be presented with commemorative caps honouring their contribution to the game to mark their induction. Muttiah Muralitharan : Deshabandu Muttiah Muralitharan is a former Sri Lankan cricketer.He was rated the greatest Test match bowler ever by Wisden Cricketers' Almanack in 2002. He retired from Test cricket in 2010.He registered his 800th and final wicket on 22 July 2010 from his final ball in his last Test match.He holds the world record for the most wickets in both test and one-day cricket. He took the wicket of Gautam Gambhir on 5 February 2009 in Colombo to surpass Wasim Akram's ODI record of 502 wickets.He held the number one spot in the International Cricket Council’s player rankings for Test bowlers for a record period of 1711 days spanning 214 Test matches He was first Sri Lankan player to be named to the new Twenty20 tournament. Karen Rolton : Karen Rolton is a former Australian cricketer.She is a left-handed batsman and occasional left-arm medium-paced bowler. She has scored the most runs for Australia in women's Test cricket.She made her international debut for Australia in 1995.She has played in 14 Test matches, scoring 1002 runs at a batting average of 55.66, including two centuries and five half-centuries.She made her top score of 209 not out against England at Headingley in 2001, setting a world record. She has twice won the Australian International Woman Cricketer of the Year award in 2002 and 2003 and then in 2005 and 2006.She was the International Cricket Council's inaugural Female Player of the Year in 2006.She also holds the highest score in Women's Twenty20 cricket with an unbeaten 96.She announced her retirement from international cricket in January 2010. Arthur Morris : Arthur Morris was an Australian cricketer who played 46 Test matches between 1946 and 1955.He is regarded as one of Australia's greatest left-handed batsmen.He was named in the Australian Cricket Board's Team of the Century in 2000.He was inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame in 2001.He passed away on 22 August 2015 at the age of 93. George Lohmann : George Lohmann was an English cricketer.He is regarded as one of the greatest bowlers of all time.He was the finest slip fielder of his time.In county cricket, he scored two centuries for Surrey and averaged 25 in 1887.He passed away on 1 December 1901 at the age of 36. ICC Cricket Hall of Fame : The ICC Cricket Hall of Fame recognises the achievements of the legends of the game from cricket's long and illustrious history. It was launched by the ICC on 2 January 2009 in association with the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA).The inaugural inductees ranged from W. G. Grace to Graham Gooch.Members of the Hall of Fame assist in the selection of future inductees.There are more English players in the Hall of Fame than players from other countries.

Distinguished agricultural scientist Neelamraju Ganga Prasada (NGP) Rao, fondly referred to as the Father of Hybrid Sorghum, passed away on 27 July 2016 in Hyderabad following a brief illness. He was 89. NGP Rao is well-known for basic and applied research in breeding and agronomy of several dryland crops.  Neelamraju Ganga Prasada Rao : Born in Korisapadu, Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh, Rao had his early education in the Agricultural College, Bapatla.Due to his efforts, sorghum hybrids CSH1 CSH5 and CSH9 became popular and were cultivated in over 8 to 10 million hectares. His contributions in dryland crops, particularly long staple desi cotton, pigeonpea, castor and novel cropping systems, were well recognised. Rao also held various positions such as Consultant to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Project Coordinator (Sorghum), All-India Coordinated Sorghum Improvement Project, many more. He has around 200 research publications in national and international journals. He was awarded with the SS Bhatnagar Prize for Biological Sciences for his efforts.

The European Union’s executive has appointed Michel Barnier, former French Financial Services Commissioner  on 27 July 2016, as its Chief Negotiator for the United Kingdom’s exit from the bloc. Barnier will be a prominent figure in the negotiations over Britain’s exit from the union. In June 2016, Didier Seeuws, a Belgian diplomat, was appointed as head of a Brexit task force by the European Council. Michel Barnier : Michel Barnier is a French Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) politician and Vice President of the European People's Party (EPP).He was appointed Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries in the French government on 18 June 2007. He stepped down from the position on 7 June 2009 after his election as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP).In February 2010, he was confirmed as European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services. As European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, he handled many important issues, such as the reform of the financial sector, the banking union and the digital single market.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced that it will launch the Olympic Channel on 27 July 2016. The channel will be launched on 21 August 2016, at the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games Rio 2016. The channels original programming will include short-form and long-form content, focusing on elite athletes, their quest for success and sport around the world.  Olympic Channel : The Olympic Channel is a digital-first, multiplatform global Olympic media entity, which aims to broadcast the Olympic Movement and its inherent values all year round, especially in the periods between the Olympic Games. It is a free platform that will present original programming, live sports events, news and highlights offering additional exposure for sports and athletes all year round. The primary objectives of the Olympic Channel  : Provide a platform for the continuous exposure of Olympic sports and athletes beyond the Olympic Games period and help create anticipation while providing opportunities to "re-live the experience" after the Games.Continuously highlight the relevance of the Olympic Movement's ideals to the challenges of today's world. Provide a platform for sharing the IOC's very rich patrimonial assets and archives with the world and create additional value and content for the IOC archives.As a matter of priority, engage the young generations around the world using methods that are relevant to them, building understanding, entertainment and education. According a statement by IOC, the channel will be available online, worldwide via an app for Android and iOS devices and at olympic channel.com. In addition, the Channel will be also available on YouTube and social media - Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The Olympic Channel will first be offered in English with an option of subtitles in nine different languages. International Olympic Committee : The International Olympic Committee is a not-for-profit independent international organisation made up of volunteers, which is committed to building a better world through sport. It redistributes more than 90 percent of its income to the wider sporting movement, which means that every day the equivalent of 3.25 million US dollars goes to help athletes and sports organisations at all levels around the world.  

To mark the first death anniversary of former President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the foundation stone for National memorial of Dr. Kalam was laid at Peikarumbu in Rameswaram (Tamil Nadu). Also, a life-size statue and a 3-D model of the memorial of the ‘Missile man of India’ were unveiled by Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu and Manohar Parrikar. An exhibition named ‘Mission of Life’ depicting the life of Dr. Kalam and his achievements towards nation building was also inaugurated. The event was attended by a host of dignitaries.  Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen "A. P. J." Abdul Kalam was the 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007. A career scientist turned politician, Kalam was born and raised in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, and studied physics and aerospace engineering. He spent the next four decades as a scientist and science administrator, mainly at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and was intimately involved in India's civilian space program and military missile development efforts. He was a recipient of several prestigious awards, including the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour.  

The Odisha government has approved three projects involving investment of Rs 874 crore and employment potential of 630 persons.  The government's nod to the three projects came at the State Level Single Window Clearance Authority (SLSWCA) . The SLSWCA approved a proposal of Coca-Cola Beverages Private Limited for expansion of its non-alcoholic plant at Industrial estate in Khurda with a total investment of Rs 500 crore, said Kalyan Mohanty, General Manager of Industrial Promotion and Investment Corporation of Odisha Limited.  A proposal of P & A Bottlers Limited to set up 2.50 lakh hectolitre capacity brewery at Balarampur of Dhenkal district with an investment of Rs 102 crore which would generate employment for 116 persons, also got the state government's nod. The third project which also got approval was Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited Common User Facility Centre at Dhutra of Jharsuguda district for storage of petroleum products with investment of Rs 272 crore. This unit would provide employment to around 166 persons. While approving the projects, Chief Secretary Padhi directed the departments concerned to facilitate grounding of these projects by quickening procedures.  These projects included Gandhamardan-B mining project of Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC), Daitari Mining project of OMC, South Kaliapani Mining project of OMC, Construction of 220 KV Transmission Line from Laxmipur to Damonjodi Aditya Aluminium Project, approach road to RSB Transmission Pvt Ltd.  Establishment of railway siding in Jalpaposhi village of Keonjhar district by Bhusan Steel Limited, Construction of Odisha Power Generation Corporation ash pond in Jharsguda district were also discussed. This apart construction of railway corridor in Jharsguda Sundargarh districts, construction of flay over at Info-valley and Khandagiri crossings in Bhabaneswar, widening of road from Mendhasala to Sea Food park at Deras.

Manipur is the 14th state to join the UDAY. It is also the first North Eastern state to opt for the UDAY for improving the efficiency of the DISCOM. Manipur has joined the Ujwal DISCOM (distribution company) Assurance Yojana (UDAY) scheme meant for revival of debt-stressed power distribution utilities and will get benefits of around Rs 263 crore. The combined DISCOM debt to be restructured in respect of these states is around Rs 2.16 lakh crore as on September 30, 2015. Government of India, Manipur and the DISCOM of Manipur signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) under the UDAY scheme on Tuesday for operational turnaround of the DISCOM. The reduction in aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses and transmission losses by Manipur to 15 per cent and 3.20 per cent respectively is likely to bring additional revenue of around Rs 208 crore during the period of turnaround. The state would also gain around Rs 32 crore due to coal reforms. Besides demand side interventions in the UDAY such as usage of energy-efficient light emitting diode bulbs, agricultural pumps would result in gain of around Rs 17 crore. That improvement in operation efficiency would enable the DISCOM to borrow at cheaper rates in future, for their infrastructure development and improvement of existing infrastructure. The expected benefit to the State on this account is around Rs 6 crore during the turnaround period. An overall net benefit of approximately Rs 263 crore would accrue to the state by opting to participate in the UDAY, by way of cheaper funds, reduction in AT&C and transmission losses, interventions in energy efficiency, coal reforms etc. during the period of turnaround. The healthy DISCOMs in Manipur would be in a position to supply more power. Thus, the scheme would allow speedy availability of power to around 188 villages and 2.43 lakh households in the state that are still without electricity.

The Lok Sabha passed the Lokpal and Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill, 2016 without discussion. The bill seeks to amend the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 which provides Lokpal (at Centre) and Lokayukta (at States) statutory backing to inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries and for related matters. Enable the leader of the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha in the absence of a recognised Leader of Opposition to be a member of the selection committee that would select the ombudsman.  Amends section 44 of parent Act that deals with provision of furnishing of details of assets and liabilities of public servants within 30 days of joining the government service.  The amendment has removed the period of 30 days. Now the public servants will make declaration of their assets and liabilities in the form and manner as prescribed by government.

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