Current Affairs 9th July 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will lead a delegation of over 110 Indian companies that will showcase their engineering prowess at a trade fair in Russia. India is the partner country for 'INNOPROM 2016', which is the largest annual international industrial trade fair of Russia. The 4-day fair starts from the coming sunday (10th july) in Ekaterinburg.  Apart from the large, medium and small Indian companies participating in the event, states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh are also going to showcase their industrial strengths.  The Chief Ministers of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan will lead their state delegations. Central government departments including Heavy Industries, Electronics and IT, Ministries of Power, Tourism and Renewable Energy, will also form part of the official delegation. Russia is the first country to have agreed to invest under the 'Make in India' umbrella in two key strategic sectors - nuclear and defence.  India and Russia have also set a goal of boosting bilateral trade to 30 billion dollars and mutual investment to 15 billion dollars by 2025. The two-way trade stood at 6.18 billion dollars last year.

Noted Pakistani philanthropist, social activist, ascetic and humanitarian Abdul Sattar Edhi has passed away in Karachi. He was 92 years old.  Edhi was born at Bantvain Gujarat to a family of memon traders in 1928 but during partition, Edhi migrated to Karachi and started his welfare mission in 1951 opening his first home for homeless and sick in the Kharadar area. He was the founder and head of the Edhi Foundation in Pakistan and known as Angel of Mercy, Pakistan’s ‘Father Teresa’ and was considered country’s most respected figure.  For his contributions to the humanity, he received numerous accolades including Nishan-e Imtiaz (highest civilian honour), Pakistan Civil Award, International honours include Ramon Magsaysay Award, International Balzan Prize, 2007 UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Prize and 2011 London Peace Award among others. He also wrote the book - Abdul Sattar Edhi, an autobiography: A mirror to the blind.

Bornean orangutan, a primate species has been declared critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). The declaration was based on the assessment for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species was carried out earlier.  IUCN assessment has found that population of Bornean orangutans has dropped by nearly two-third since the early 1970s. It has projected that their population will further decline to 47,000 animals by 2025 representing population loss of 86%. Bornean orangutan  : Bornean orangutan is a primate species native to the island of Borneo. Found only in the wild in Sumatra island (Indonesia) and Borneo in the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah and Kalimantan. Together with the Sumatran orangutan, Bornean orangutan belongs to the only genus (Pongo) of great apes native to Asia. Orangutans share approximately 97% of their DNA with humans. They are highly intelligent and display advanced tool use and distinct cultural patterns in the wild. Reasons for decline in Population Deforestation : It has dramatically shrunk habitat of Bornean orangutan. About 40% of Borneo’s forests lost since the early 1970s to plantation agriculture and it will continue. Hunting: In past four decades, about 2000 and 3,000 of Borneo’s orangutans were killed every year for their meat. Slow Breeding: They are slow breeders and produce only one offspring every six to eight years on average. 

The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) has constituted a cyber-cell to check the online abuse and harassment of women and children on social media platforms. Announcement in this regard was made by Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi in New Delhi. The WCD Ministry has advised women and children to send their complaints, if they are being abused or harassed on social media platforms using the hashtag #IamTrolledHelp.  The cyber-cell was constituted in the wake of reported increase in abuse or harassment of women on social media. Besides, WCD Ministry will be working with Twitter India to address abusive behaviour, violent threats (direct or indirect), harassment on social media They will also be working together for the empowerment of women and children to deal with abuse, harassment and hateful conduct on social media. The complaints received by the WCD Ministry, which are of a grave nature will be reported to Twitter India for necessary action. The Ministry will also be working with the Cyber-crime Cells of the police, wherever required.

Captain Radhika Menon became the first woman in the world to receive the Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea for the year 2016 from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). She will be bestowed with this award for saving the lives of seven fishermen, whose hopes of survival were all over.  The award will be presented to her at the ceremony set to take place at IMO Headquarters in London on 21 November 2016. She was chosen by 116th session of IMO Council meeting held in London. Captain Menon had displayed great determination and courage in leading the difficult rescue operation in the Bay of Bengal in June 2015.  She had rescued all seven fishermen from the fishing boat Durgamma, which was adrift following engine failure and loss of anchor in severe weather. For this bravery she was nominated for the award by the Government of India. Radhika Menon :  She had joined the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) as a trainee radio officer in 1991. She was the first woman to do so and is native of Kodungallur in Kerala. Later on she ascended the hierarchy by clearing exams for the posts of second mate and chief mate and did the sea time required to appear for the master’s certificate in 2010. In 2011, Radhika Menon had made history by becaming the first woman to become captain of Indian Merchant Navy. In 2012, she took charge of MT Suvarna Swarajya. Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea : It is an annual Award established by IMO. It seeks to provide international recognition for those who perform acts of exceptional bravery at the risk of losing their own life.

The country’s largest IT services firm Tata Consultancy Services stated that its non-Executive Director Phiroz Vandrevala has resigned from the company. However, Vandrevala, also the Vice-Chairman and MD of Diligenta, a TCS subsidiary, will continue with this role.  Phiroz Vandrevala has relinquished office of Non Executive Director of the company, due to personal reasons, with effect. Mr. Vandrevala had been a director on the TCS board since September 2007. With over 25 years of consulting and leadership experience with TCS, Vandrevala had been involved in TCS’ foray into the life and pension industry at the outset and has also overseen the transformation of the UK—based Diligenta.

The Union Government has launched Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) portal (http://kvk.icar.gov.in). It was launched by Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Radha Mohan Singh in New Delhi. The portal aims to provide information and advisory to the farmers and facilitate online monitoring of the KVK activities. Features of Portal  : Provides provisions for online monitoring of KVKs. Reporting of major events of KVKs on regular basis and submission of monthly reports online. Provide information on different services being provided by different KVKs. Provide weather and market related information to the farmers and others.  Government’s forthcoming programmes will also be available on it. It will help create awareness about various programmes and benefit farmers and youth in joining different training programmes being organized by KVKs. Question and answer facility is available for the farmers on the portal. Agriculture related information of the districts is available. Agricultural Officers and the farmers may register themselves and seek different informations related to KVKs. The mandate of KVK is technology assessment and demonstration for its application and capacity development. At present there are 645 KVKs operational in the country.

Kerala Government has proposed a “Fat Tax” on fast food items like burgers, pizzas, donuts and pasta etc. served in branded restaurants in a bid to discourage the junk food culture.  The first-of its-kind move in the country was announced in the maiden budget of the CPI(M)-led LDF Government in Kerala presented by Finance Minister Dr. T.M. Thomas Issac. The revised state budget for 2016-17 expects the Fat tax will add an additional Rs.10 crore to the state coffers. The fat tax’s major concern is with issues related to public health more than revenue generation. Implications  : The revenue impact of the fat tax will be modest, but it could have a big impact nationwide on the food industry if other states follow suit. Companies will pass on this tax partially or fully to the customer which may make the customer cut back on pizzas and burgers. Critics believe that imposing the tax is not going to change consumption patterns but will have an impact on the volume of such food products sold. It will discourage junk food and play some role in healthy lifestyle of people as Kerala has one of the highest numbers of patients of diabetes or hypertension in the country caused due lifestyle changes. Fat tax : It proposed tax on foods or drinks judged to be unhealthy and whose consumption is believed to be linked to rising obesity levels. It is similar to the sin tax imposed on items such as alcohol or tobacco to discourage their consumption. Fat tax on junk food has been successfully imposed in European countries such as Denmark and Hungary. Kerala isn’t the first state to impose so-called Fat tax. In January 2016, Bihar government decided to impose a 13.5% value-added tax (VAT) on items such as salted peanuts, samosas, sweets and a few branded snacks.

Kevin Turner has resigned as the Chief Operating Officer ( COO) of Microsoft with effect from 31 July 2016. Being the COO, Turner was handling Microsoft's enormous sales operations. He had been at Microsoft for 11 years. Turner would now be joining Citadel Securities as Chief Executive Officer. Kevin Turner :  In his 11 years of service as Chief Operating Officer, Turner has driven a strong track record of results, execution excellence and improved efficiency, while also driving customer satisfaction.  Prior to his role at Microsoft, Turner spent nearly 20 years at Wal-Mart Stores, where he rose through the ranks and was the youngest corporate officer ever at age 29. He held various leadership positions at Wal-Mart, including Chief Information Officer for Wal-Mart Stores. He had also served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of SAM’S CLUB, a division of Wal-Mart Stores.

Taro Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. has announced that its CEO, Mr. Kal Sundaram, has stepped down. He will return to India, to assume an executive position at Sun Pharma’s global headquarters after the completion of his assignment at Taro at the end of 2016. Taro Pharmaceutical is the US arm of Sun Pharma. Sun Pharma acquired a controlling stake in Taro in 2010. The Company’s Board will conduct a formal process to appoint a CEO to solely focus on Taro. Mr. Sundaram will assist the Board with its search, and will remain with Taro through the end of 2016 to ensure a smooth and successful transition for his successor. Kal Sundaram, also known as Kalyanasundaram Subramanian, became CEO of Taro in April 2012. He had been Sun Pharma’s CEO since April 2010 and played a role in accelerating the company’s growth in India and other emerging markets.  Sundaram has almost three decades of experience, much of which has been in the pharmaceutical industry, largely with GlaxoSmithKline Plc. (GSK), where he has held the country, regional and global responsibilities. Sundaram left GSK India as its managing director.

Senior NCP leader Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar has been re-elected as the Chairman of Maharashtra Legislative Council at a one-day special session of the House.  The procedure of his election has been completed in the special sitting to enable him to conduct the business of the Upper House during the Monsoon Session of the legislature beginning July 18. Nimbalkar was administered the oath of office by Pro-tem Chairman Jayant Patil of Peasants and Workers Party. While the post of Deputy Chairman of the House is lying vacant and the election for which was not held.  The post fell vacant after the incumbent Vasant Davkare of NCP lost the Council election from the Thane local bodies constituency to Shiv Sena's Ravindra Phatak last month.  Although, the NCP has already announced that Dhananjay Munde will continue to be Leader of Opposition in the Council.

Senior bureaucrat S K Kohli was appointed as Controller General of Defence Accounts (CGDA).  The Appointments Committee of Cabinet has approved Kohli's empanelment for promotion to the post of CGDA, an order issued by Department of Personnel and Training . He is an Indian Defence Accounts Service officer.  The CGDA is mandated to audit, payment and accounting of all charges pertaining to the armed forces, including bills for supplies and services rendered and for construction and repair works, pay and allowances and pensions, among others.  

India and South Africa have signed Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) and agreements in four areas of bilateral co-operation. These MoUs were signed in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and South African President Jacob Juma in Pretoria, South Africa. PM Narendra Modi Modi had arrived in South Africa from Mozambique on the second leg of his four-nation tour of Africa. Signed agreements  : MoU on Tourism. MoU on Grass root innovation (Science and Technology) MoU on Information and Communication technology (ICT). Both countries also signed Programme of Cooperation in Arts and Culture. Besides, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had one to one talk with the South African President Jacob Juma on various issues. Both countries have agreed to cooperate in combating terrorism, regionally and globally. They also focused on enhancing business and investment ties further in areas of minerals, mining, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. India also thanked the South African President for support to India’s NSG membership.

India has set up an apparel training centre in Kaduna, Nigeria to support textiles industry of the West African country. This is a first of its kind centre in Nigeria which has been set up by India in partnership with their government. The training centre was established under the Cotton Technical Assistance Programme for Africa which is being implemented by the Department of Commerce. It aims to support and catalyze the initiative of Nigeria in realising the objectives to rebuild the cotton and textile value chain. The centre also seeks to address the need for skilled workforce for domestic as well export-oriented apparel industry in the West African region. India-Nigeria relations  : Nigeria is an important trading partner of India. The bilateral trade between both countries stood at US 12.17 billion dollars in 2015-16 as against US 16.36 billion dollars in 2014-15. Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer and its major chunk of crude export is to India. There are over 100 Indian companies operating in Nigeria mainly in hydrocarbons, telecom, textiles, electrical equipment, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, plastics, IT and autos sectors. India’s exports to Nigeria include pharmaceuticals, machinery and instruments, chemicals, transport equipment and electronic goods. While, major items India imports from Nigeria are crude, petroleum, non-ferrous metals, wood and wood products, cashew nuts.  

Russian President Vladimir Putin in July 2016 signed the “anti-terrorist” legislation adopted by the lower and upper houses of parliament in June 2016. This anti-terror amendment is dubbed as Big Brother by US intelligence contractor turned privacy activist Edward Snowden. Critics say that the measures may cost billions to the internet and telecom companies. Highlights  : Law enforcement agencies will be granted access to any user’s messages without any judicial oversight. It boosts the surveillance powers for the security services by requiring communication providers to store users’ calls, messages, photographs and videos for six months, and the Metadata for up to three years. They will have to provide Federal Security Service (FSB) with access to this data and any necessary encryption mechanisms necessary to use it.The law also criminalises several offences and lowers the age of criminal responsibility to 14 from certain crimes.  It extends prison sentences for online crimes like abetting terrorism.

Zydus Cadila, a leading global healthcare firm, on 7 July 2016 inked a non-exclusive, royalty free agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP). Under the pact they will be manufacturing global pharma major Bristol-Myers Squibb’s daclatasvir tablets used for the treatment of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV). Bristol-Myers Squibb’s daclatasvir is a novel direct-acting antiviral (DAA) that is proven to help cure multiple genotypes of HCV. The agreement sub-licences Zydus to produce and sell daclatasvir in 112 low and middle income countries. Between 130 and 150 million people worldwide are estimated to have HCV. The MPP licence allows generic manufacturers to develop fixed-dose combinations that offer the potential to treat all of the six major genotypes of HCV. Daclatasvir, in combination with other DAAs, for example sofosbuvir, produces high cure rates after 12 weeks of treatment, with recent Phase III studies demonstrating  that  the  regimen  could  cure  up  to  100%  of  HCV  patients  depending  on genotype and stage of liver disease. Zydus Cadila : Zydus  Cadila  is  an  innovative,  global  pharmaceutical  company  that  discovers,  develops, manufactures and markets a broad range of healthcare therapies. The group launched its own patented NCE –Lipaglyn, the world’s first drug to be approved for the treatment of diabetic dyslipidemia. It also launched ‘Exemptia’ the world’s first biosimilar of Adalimumab for the treatment  of  inflammatory  arthritis,  Ulcerative  Colitis  and  Crohn’s  Disease  in  adult  & paediatric  patients.  The group aspires to be a research-based pharmaceutical company by 2020. The group employs over 19000 people worldwide.

The second phase of Haritha Haram programme of Telangana government was launched in the state on 8 July 2016. Chief Minister Chandrasekhar Rao participated in the plantation programme at Gundrampalli near Chityal in Nalgonda district by planting a Neem sapling. Ministers, legislators, officials besides a large number of school children and MGNREGA workers have been asked to take up similar plantations across the state. 2nd Phase of Haritha Haram programme : The two-week long Haritha Haram programme aims at planting 46 crore plants, including 25 lakh in Hyderabad, to improve green belt in the state. The trees were planted over 163 kms of highway by over a lakh of people on the first day of the programme.As part of its five year programme to increase the forest cover in the state to 33 percent, the government has selected Hyderabad - Vijayawada highway as a pilot project to plant trees on either side of highways.Flowering, fruit bearing and shade providing trees are proposed to be planted. The state government has proposed to take up plantation on the two sides of the national highways to Mumbai, Warangal, Bengaluru and Nagpur in near future.About 60 crore saplings of different variety have been kept ready for the 2 week long programme while the state is receiving good amount of rainfall so far during the current season. The state Government with the help of all departments, institutions, Non Government Organisations, school children and individuals has taken up this task as part of the second phase Harita Haram programme. Haritha Hāram programme of Telangana : It is a flagship programme of the Telangana Government which envisages increasing the present 24% tree cover in the State to 33% of the total geographical area of the State. The thrust areas to achieve the above are two-fold; one, initiatives in notified forest areas, and the other, initiatives in areas outside the notified forest areas. National Forest Policy of India envisages a minimum of 33% of the total geographical area under forest/tree cover to maintain environmental stability and ecological balance; that are vital for sustenance of all life-forms, human, animal and plants.  

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