Current Affairs 30th July 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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The Cochin Chamber of Commerce & Industry is launching an Aadhaar based e-Certificate of Origin service.  A certificate of origin, a critical document in the course of export, is issued to exporters by the Chamber of Commerce to avail duty benefits under Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) or prove from where the goods originated.  Chambers of Commerce in countries like Australia, Belgium, UK & U.S already provide online certificates of origin to speed up the application, issuance process and provide a more secure documentation environment. It also saves time, costs and increases transparency.  This user-friendly online solution enables the Cochin Chamber of Commerce& Industry to manage digital requests and digitally sign off electronic certificates of origin on behalf of exporters and freight forwarders.  The process reduces the overall time and cost of procuring and sending critical export documents. Importers can also be sure that these goods actually originated from the mentioned location, as the chances of manipulation of a digital document are virtually nil. 

India's largest insurer Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) has signed an agreement with private sector lender Axis Bank as its bancassurance partner wherein the bank will distribute LIC's products to its customers. In the preliminary phase, the bank will distribute LIC’s life insurance products across its branches in West Bengal, Bangalore and Haryana  Panchkula. Additionally, the bank will also provide post sales services such as premium collection and renewal of policies. From April 1, norms have been revised under which corporate agents like banks are allowed to tie-up with three life, three non-life and three standalone health insurance companies. Earlier, the bancassurance model where banks sold insurance meant that they could only sell products of one life, one non-life and one standalone health insurer. Apart from LIC, Axis Bank also has a tie-up with Max Life Insurance in the life insurance space. Over the last five years the Life Insurance business at Axis Bank has grown at a CAGR of over 25 per cent. The partnership with LIC would enable us to further expand our existing bouquet of offerings and put forth a compelling proposition for our customers.

The newly formed ministry of electronics and IT (MEIT) has got a new Secretary. In a swap, Kerala cadre IAS officer Aruna Sundarajan has been appointed Secretary of the ministry while the current Secretary Aruna Sharma has been moved to the ministry of Steel. Sharma's deployment comes barely six months after she was given charge of the ministry.  The department which has been recently broken away from the ministry of communications and IT and has been designated as an independent ministry handles some marque projects of the Narendra Modi government including Digital India and Aadhaar and plays a key role in others such as Make in India with its push on electronics manufacturing.  Sundararajan, has had past stints in the department as the CEO of the National Common Service Centre (CSC) apart from being administrator of the USO Fund which comes under the department of telecom and is well regarded in the industry for her understanding of the technology domain. MEIT is currently working on the next version of the CSC scheme expanding their numbers from 1,00,000 earlier to 2,50,000. Sundararajan who will take charge on Monday, has also been IT Secretary of Kerala.  The development also comes after former Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad only retained the department of electronics and IT after the recent cabinet reshuffle while moving to the Law Ministry. Manoj Sinha was made the new Minister of State of Communications (Independent Charge) and given the charge of the two other departments in the ministry, Telecommunications and Posts. 

The Strategic Forces Command (SFC) which forms part of the National Command Authority (NCA) has been added to the Second Schedule of the Right to Information Act (RTI), 2005. In this regard, Union Government has issued a notification mentioning SFC has been brought under sub-section (2) of Section 24 of the RTI.  The Section 24 of the RTI exempts security and intelligence establishments from its purview. Section 24 and Second Schedule of RTI. Section 24 of the RTI Act 2005 : It says that this law is not applicable to the intelligence and security organisations specified in the Second Schedule. However, the only exception these organisations have is for information on allegations of corruption and human rights violations. Second Schedule : It includes 26 intelligence and security agencies under its ambit. Some of them are (i) Intelligence Bureau (IB), (ii) Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of the Cabinet Secretariat (iii) Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), (iv) Special Frontier Force (SFF), (v) Border Security Force (BSF) (vi) National Security Guards (NSG) and (Vii) Assam Rifles. Section 8 of the RTI : It deals with exemption from disclosure of information under this legislation. It says that there shall be no obligation on Government to provide any citizen information, disclosure which will affect (i) India’s sovereignty and integrity, (ii) security, (iii) strategic, scientific or economic interests of the state and (iv) relations with foreign States or (v) will lead to incitement of an offence. Strategic Forces Command (SFC)  : The SFC is a tri-Service command that forms part of India’s Nuclear Command Authority (NCA). It was created on January 4, 2003 by an executive order of Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) headed by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Function: It is responsible for the management and administration of the country’s tactical and strategic nuclear weapons stockpile. It is headed by a Commander-in-Chief of the rank of Air Marshal. The first commander-in-chief of SFC was Air Marshal Teja Mohan Asthana. Nuclear Command Authority (NCA)  : NCA is India’s nodal authority responsible for command, control and operational decisions regarding India’s nuclear weapons programme. It has Executive Council and Political Council. The NCA’s directives are executed by the Strategic Forces Command The Executive Council is chaired by the National Security Adviser (NSA). It gives inputs to the Political Council, which authorises a nuclear attack if need be. The Political Council is chaired by the Prime Minister and is advised by the Executive Council. This separation of power mechanism is meant to ensure that the nuclear weapons are under civilian control (elected government). Besides it act as a Command and Control (C2) mechanism prevents their accidental or unauthorised use.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has constituted a seven-member expert committee for exploring possible alternatives to pellet guns as non-lethal weapons  on 26 July 2016. The committee will be chaired by Joint Secretary (Police Modernisation) TVSN Prasad. It has been asked to submit its report within two months. The committee was constituted to rethink on the use of pellet guns after its use by CRPF for crowd control in Kashmir was blamed for causing fatal injuries and blindness among protestors during the recent unrest. Other members of the committee are Atul Karwal, IG, CRPF, Srinagar Rajeev Krishna, IG, BSF Rajesh Kumar of J&K Police Tushar Tripathy of Indian Ordnance Factory Board Manjit Singh of Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory, Chandigarh Naresh Bhatnagar of IIT, Delhi As per report, since killing of the Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, CRPF personnel fired some 2102 pellet cartridges in the valley. The pellets were fired to disperse protesters. Pellet guns, which are loaded with lead balls, have been categorised as a non-lethal weapon. It is fired from an air gun. It has the capability of causing fatal injuries by penetrating deep into the skin. Generally, it is used to disperse crowds. Pellet guns are being used since 2010 in Kashmir to disperse and control crowd.  Earlier, the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had announced in Parliament that a committee would be set up to review the use of pellet guns and find an alternative.

Srinivasan K Swamy, popularly known as Sundar, was conferred with the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award by the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) on 29 July 2016.The award was bestowed on him in Mumbai. Srinivasan K Swamy : He is a veteran of almost four decades in the advertising industry.He is the Chairman of RK Swamy Hansa, a marketing communications group.He has been the President of AAAI for three consecutive terms (2004 – 2007).He is also the Vice Chairman of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI).He is a Board Member of the Audit Bureau of Circulations. He was also president of the All India Management Association (AIMA) during 2008-09. He was the president of The Madras Chamber of Commerce & Industry (2008-10), Madras Management Association (2001-02), and the Advertising Club, Madras (1988-89) as well. AAAI’s Lifetime Award : The AAAI’s Lifetime Award was instituted in 1988. It is the highest recognition bestowed on an individual in India for outstanding contribution to the advertising industry.So far, the award has been conferred on 23 other peoples. Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) : AAAI is the official, national organisation of advertising agencies, formed in 1945, to promote their interests. The Association promotes professionalism, through its founding principles, which uphold sound business practices between Advertisers and Advertising Agencies and the various media. Currently, AAAI is truly representative, with a very large number of small, medium and large-sized agencies as its members, who together account for almost 80% of the advertising business placed in the country. It is thus recognised as the apex body of and the spokesperson for the Advertising industry at all forums – Advertisers and Media owners and their associations and Government.

Four writers, three of them from Rajasthan, were today given the Bharatiya Jnanpith's 11th Navlekhan award for the year 2015 in a ceremony. Amlendu Tiwari and Balram Kawant were awarded for their respective novels 'Parityakt', and 'Sara Morila,' while Om Naagar and Tasneem Khan were awarded for their non-fictions 'Nib Ke Chire Se' and 'Yeh Mere Rahnuma' respectively. The awardees were chosen by a selection panel headed by senior writer and journalist Madhusudan Anand and comprising of eminent literary figures Vishnu Nagar, Govind Prasad and Om Nischal.The ceremony was attended by Jananpith Director Leeladhar Mandloi who said authorsa Tiwari and Om Nagar would be given a cash awards of Rs. 50,000 each along with a certificate of merit and an idol of Vagdevi. Besides awarding the two, the Bharatiya Jananpith will publish the works of all the four awardees.

India and Bangladesh have agreed to enhance cooperation on anti-terror efforts with Dhaka saying that New Delhi will be "side-by-side" with it in fighting terrorists. Both leaders concurred on the need to immediately operationalise the Agreement on Combating Terrorism and Organised Crime and Illicit Drug Trafficking between the two countries. During the Home Minister-level bilateral talks between India and Bangladesh in New Delhi yesterday, the ministers also agreed on the need to sign a Repatriation Treaty to simplify and expedite the process of repatriation of each other's nationals. Both sides also agreed to undertake urgent action for the repatriation of released prisoners and victims of human trafficking.

Bastian Schweinsteiger has retired from the German national team, marking the end of a glittering international football career. The 31-year-old midfielder was an instrumental player for Germany when they won the World Cup in 2014, and earned 120 caps for his nation - scoring 24 goals. Bastian Schweinsteiger is a German professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for English club Manchester United and the German national team.  A right-footed player, he usually plays as central midfielder. Earlier in his career, he primarily played as a wide midfielder. On 2 September 2014, Schweinsteiger was named captain of the national team following Philipp Lahm's international retirement.

Shambhu Singh Yadav, a retired IAS officer and secretary to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav was appointed as the Deputy Lokayukta of the state. The governor today appointed Shambhu Singh Yadav as the new Deputy Lokayukta (Up-Lokayukta) of the state. The government had recommended Yadav, a 1997-batch IAS officer, presently posted at the Chief Minister's secretariat on extension.  Yadav, considered close to ruling Samajwadi Party, had retired three years ago and served as special secretary to former Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav in the previous SP government in 2003.  The Deputy Lokayukta is appointed in consultation with Lokayukta and the CM. The post of Deputy Lokayukta was vacant since Swatantra Singh's term ended last year.

India has approved a $318 million loan for Sri Lanka Railways to upgrade its communications system and rolling stock in the Tamil-dominated north. This money will be used to improve the signal system from Maho to Anuradhapura in the north central province and from Anuradhapura to Omanthai in the north.  It will also be used to buy six power sets with air-conditioned carriages, 10 engines and 160 carriages, 30 wagons with oil tanks and 20 container carrying wagons.  The Cabinet had approved a proposal by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to enter into an agreement with Exim Bank of India for the loan.  India has already given loans of about $996 million to develop Sri Lanka's railway service which were used to improve northern and southern railway lines and buy engines and power sets. 

Intex Technologies has appointed cinestar Madhuri Dixit as brand ambassador for its consumer durable products, including washing machines and refrigerators. The actor has been signed for a period of two years . In addition to Madhuri, Intex already has many other stars as its brand ambassadors for other product categories. For the mobile phones, the brand has Farhan Akhtar as the national brand ambassador, Sudeep Sanjeev for Karnataka, Mahesh Babu for Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and Suriya for Tamil Nadu.  Intex Technologies : Intex Technologies founded in 1996, is an Indian smartphone, consumer durables and IT Accessories manufacturer. Intex is headquartered in New Delhi, India.Intex manufactures Smartphones, IT accessories and consumer electronics durables.India's first Firefox OS powered mobile phone, Intex Cloud FX, was launched by Intex.India's First Linux-based Sailfish OS powered mobile phone, the Aqua Fish was launched by Intex.   

The International Day of Friendship was on 30 July 2016 observed across the world.  The Day is aimed at supporting the goals and objectives of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace and the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010). On this day, UN encourages governments, international organizations and civil society groups to hold events, activities and initiatives that contribute to the efforts of the international community towards promoting a dialogue among civilizations, solidarity, mutual understanding and reconciliation. The International Day of Friendship was proclaimed in 2011 by the UN General Assembly with the idea that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities. The resolution (A/RES/65/275) places particular emphasis on involving young people, as future leaders, in community activities that include different cultures and promote international understanding and respect for diversity.

The United Nations World Day against Trafficking in Persons 2016 was observed across the world on 30 July 2016. On this day, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) launched the campaign #igivehopeto show victims of human trafficking. The day aims at raising awareness of the plight of human trafficking victims, and promoting and protecting their rights. In 2013, the General Assembly held a high-level meeting to appraise the Global Plan of Action. Member States also adopted resolution A/RES/68/192 and designated July 30 as the World Day against Trafficking in Persons. Human Trafficking : Human trafficking is the trade of humans, most commonly for the purpose of sexual slavery, forced labour, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others.This may include providing a spouse in the context of forced marriage or the extraction of organs or tissues. Human trafficking can occur within a country or trans-nationally. It is a crime against the person because of the violation of the victim's rights of movement through coercion and because of their commercial exploitation.It is thought to be one of the fastest-growing activities of trans-national criminal organizations. The forthcoming UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2016 identifies a clear pattern linking undocumented migration to trafficking in persons.The UNODC report highlights the links between human trafficking and refugee flows from countries including Syria and Eritrea, and involving Rohingya refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh.  

Noted Tabla maestro Pandit Lachu Maharaj passed away in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh due to cardiac arrest. He was 73 years old. Lacchu Maharaj was renowned internationally and his table performance had drawn attention of the connoisseur of performing arts from across the country and world. Lachu Maharaj :  His real name was Lakshmi Narayan Singh. He belonged to Banaras gharana of classical music. He had started playing tabla at tender age of 10 under guidance of his father Vasudev Singh.  He was famous for his pure Banarasi style. His unique style of playing table coupled with perfection had earned him fame as Lachu Maharaj.  He had developed spiritual and philosophical table tunes which he had used to play often during his practice sessions (riyaaj).  He had lived a simple life and stayed out of publicity and even refused awards. Bollywood actor Govinda is his nephew. Union Government had decided to give him Padma Shri award but he refused saying that no award was bigger than laurels from the audience.

Eminent author and social activist Mahasweta Devi passed away in Kolkata, West Bengal after a multi-organ failure. She was 91. Her writings had mainly focused on the marginalised communities in the country and served as the voice of the oppressed and downtrodden. Mahasweta Devi  : Mahasweta Devi was born in Dhaka (now in Bangladesh) in 1926 into a family of literary figures. Her first book Jhansi’r Rani (The Queen of Jhansi) was published in 1956 when she was teaching at Kolkata’s Bijoygarh College. In a literary career spanning more than 50 years, she has written over 120 books i.e. 100 novels and over 20 collections of short stories.  She was the author behind award-winning Hindi films Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa (1998) and Rudaali. Some of her noted stories are Agnigarbha (Womb of Fire), Aranyer Adhikar (The Occupation of the Forest), Dhowli, Dust on the Road, Bashai Tudu, Till Death Do Us Part, Old Women, etc.  As a social activist, she was founder member of Aboriginal United Association and had started a tribal magazine named Bortika in 1980.  Awards and Honours : Sahitya Akademi award (1979), Padma Shree (1986), Jnanpith (1997), Ramon Magsaysay award (1997) and Deshikottam award (1999).  

Haryana Government has launched Pashudhan Bima Yojana, an insurance cover scheme for cattle breeders in the state. It was launched by Haryana Animal Husbandry and Dairying Minister, O. P. Dhankar in Jhajjar. Pashudhan Bima Yojana will provide insurance cover to cattle breeders in the state at different premium rates for different animals. Insurance cover will be provided at a premium of Rs 100 for cows, buffaloes, bulls, camels and at Rs 25 for sheep, goat and pig for a period of three years. Under it, the insurance companies would give compensation in case of death of animal (cattle).  The scheme is free of cost for cattle breeders from the scheduled castes. The state Animal Husbandry and Dairying Department has set a target to cover one lakh cattle under Pashudhan Bima Yojana.

The first-ever meeting of BRICS Employment Working Group (BEWG) was held in Hyderabad, Telangana from July 27 to 28, 2016. The agenda of the two day meeting was to shape the agenda for labour and employment track in BRICS countries. Highlights of meeting  : BRICS member countries were able to reach a consensus on employment generation, social security agreement and networking of labour institutes. The meeting set the agenda to promote decent work and promote job creation between BRICS countries. The foundation works for BEWG were also laid by delegates from member countries. India has drafted the Terms of Reference (TOR) of BEWG which has now been finalised.  Besides, India also put forth some proposals for concrete collective action in the field of social security as well as research and capacity building. The BEWG meeting is a prelude to the BRICS Labour and Employment Ministerial Meeting scheduled on September 27-28, 2016 under the Indian Presidency at Agra, Uttar Pradesh.  The need to set up employment working group was first recognised at the first BRICS Labour and Employment Ministers meeting held at Ufa, Russia in 2015.

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