Today Current Affairs 28th June 2016

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi released a book titled “The Birds of Banni Grassland” in New Delhi. The book was presented to the Prime Minister by the scientists of Gujarat Institute of Desert Ecology (GUIDE). The Birds of Banni Grassland is book based on environment and consists of a compilation of the research work, relating to more than 250 species of birds found in the Banni area of Kutch, Gujarat. Gujarat Institute of Desert Ecology (GUIDE)  : The GUIDE is located at Bhuj. For over 15 years it has been studying the plant, bird and marine life in the Rann of Kutch. GUIDE’s research activities are linked in the study of understanding and addressing environmental, ecological and social problems. It also seeks promoting sustainable development in arid and semi-arid regions of the state.

India was ranked low at 105th position globally on a worldwide Human Capital Index, which measures countries' ability to nurture, develop and deploy talent for economic growth and was topped by Finland. India ranks much below China's 71st position while Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka are also placed higher on the index released today by Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF) in this Chinese city at its Annual Meeting of New Champions  also known as 'Summer Davos' summit (held in China). Pakistan ranks further lower at 118th place. Giving India 105th rank out of the total 130 countries included in the index, WEF said the country has optimised just 57% of its human capital endowment -- placing it in the top of the bottom quartile of the Index.India was ranked 100th last year out of total 124 countries included in the 2015 index. India has got better rankings on quality of education system (39th), staff training (46th) and ease of finding skilled employees (45th) indicators. This suggests "a primary avenue for improvement for the country consists of expanding access to its numerous learning and employment opportunities. The report also showed that India had the largest share in the "global distribution of tertiary degree holders" at nearly 78 million while it was second largest after China on global distribution of recent graduates in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) at about 2.5 million. Globally also, an average of only 65% of the world's talent is being optimised through education, skills development and deployment during people's lifetimes. Finland, Norway and Switzerland hold the top three positions, utilising around 85% of their human capital. Japan leads when it comes to 55 year-olds and over. On the global index, Japan and Sweden have moved up to 4th and 5th places and are followed by New Zealand, Denmark, the Netherlands, Canada and and Belgium in top ten. Among BRICS countries, India is ranked lowest as against Russia's 28th, China's 71st, Brazil's 83rd and South Africa's 88th. Countries ranked below India include Nepal, Myanmar, Haiti, Malawi and Burundi while Mauritania, Yemen, Chad, Nigeria and Mali are placed in the bottom-five with below 50% talent optimisation.

Ace shooter Sanjeev Rajput clinched the silver medal for India in men's 50-metre rifle 3 position event of the ISSF World Cup.  Rajput shot 456.9 to win the silver medal in the last World Cup before the Rio Olympic Games.  Croatia's Petar Gorsa won the gold medal with 457.5, while Hyeonjun Kim of Korea bagged the bronze after he shot 445.5.  Rajput finished seventh in the qualification with a score of 1167 in kneeling, prone and standing position, while Olympic bronze medallist Gagan Narang was 23rd with 1161. Chain Singh was placed 32nd with a total of 1159. This is his 3rd World Cup medal, having won gold in the same event in 2011 and silver in 10-metre Air Rifle in 2010.

The IMF has cleared immediate disbursement of USD 501 million to Pakistan, taking the total amount given to the cash-strapped country to USD 6.1 billion in since 2013.  In a statement, issued after the conclusion of 11th review of Pakistan's economic performance under a three-year programme supported by an Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangement, the International Monetary Fund said the decision enables the immediate disbursement of about USD 501 million to Pakistan.  On September 4, 2013, the IMF Executive Board had approved the 36-month extended arrangement under the EFF about USD 6.64 billion or 216 per cent of Pakistan's current quota at the IMF.  The IMF had earlier advised Pakistan to continue the reforms introduced during its engagement with the Fund as those reforms had been good for the economy. The Fund had also reminded Pakistan that the current exports of USD 25 billion were not enough for an economy of over USD 280 billion and the country should aim to double that.  A recent IMF study also reminded Pakistan that it could double its tax revenues by making concerted efforts to broaden tax bases, strengthening tax compliance and rationalising the tax system in an efficient and equitable manner. The study, 'Unlocking Pakistan's Tax Revenue Potential', noted that Pakistan's tax system did not promote efficiency and fairness and was complex and fragmented. International Monetary Fund  : The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an international organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., of "189 countries working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.  

The Argentina women’s team has claimed a record seventh International Hockey Federation (FIH) Champions Trophy title with a 2-1 win over reigning  World and Olympic champions, the Netherlands, in the final at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.  The Netherlands hit back with a high-quality penalty corner flick from Eva de Goede just after half time, but Argentina held on to win their third  successive Champions Trophy title. With this win final standings are - 1: Argentina, 2: The Netherlands, 3: USA, 4: Australia, 5: Great Britain, and Individual Awards goes to  Best player :  Carla Rebecchi (ARG)  Best junior player : Maria Granatto (ARG)  Best goalkeeper : Joyce Sombroek (NED).  

Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA), an initiative of the Narendra Modi Government, was launched in June 2016. The scheme aims at boosting the health care facilities for the pregnant women, especially the poor. It also seeks to protect pregnant ladies from infectious diseases. Under the scheme, the pregnant ladies will be given free health check-up and required treatment for free on 9th of every month. The scheme will be applicable for pregnant women to avail in every government hospitals across India. Features of Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan : All kinds of medical checkups under the scheme will be completely free.Tests will take place at the medical centres, government and private hospitals and private clinics across the country. Women will be marked differently based on their health problems so that doctors can easily detect the problem.The scheme is applicable only to the women in their pregnancy period of 3 to 6 months. The women belonging to semi urban, poor and rural areas will be given preferences.

Xerxes Sapur Desai, the man who founded Titan Co Ltd, died on 27 June 2016 following a prolonged illness in Bengaluru. He was 79. Desai played a key role in introducing India to its first quartz watch in the late 80s when he set up Titan Co. Ltd (part of Tata Sons), after enduring years of resistance from state-owned HMT Watches. Xerxes Sapur Desai : Desai joined Tata Administrative Service (TAS) in 1961 after graduating from Oxford University.  He worked with Tata Press, Tata Chemicals and Taj Hotels before setting up Titan in 1986.  The idea of Titan came about in 1979, but it took him seven long years to finally set up a factory in Hosur, on the outskirts of Bengaluru, in 1986 with support from the Tamil Nadu government.With the success in watches,  Desai got Tata's approval to start Tanishq, the jewellery business that is now a trusted brand and India’s largest jewellery firm.

A report released by the American Medical Association (AMA) Council on Science and Public Health on 14 June 2016 claims that excessive blue light emitted by light emitting diodes (LED) can adversely impact human health. AMA report looked at the LED street lighting on US roadways. It also adopted guidance for communities on selecting among LED lighting options to minimize potential harmful human and environmental effects. Effects of LED light : A large amount of blue light emitted by the high-intensity LED lighting appears white to the naked eye but it can create worse nighttime glare than conventional lighting. Discomfort and disability from intense, blue-rich LED lighting can decrease visual acuity and safety, resulting in concerns and creating a road hazard. Blue-rich LED streetlights that operates at a wavelength adversely suppresses melatonin during night, thus it directly have an impact on drivers.It is estimated that white LED lamps have five times greater impact on circadian sleep rhythms than conventional street lamps. The detrimental effects of high-intensity LED lighting are not limited to humans. Excessive outdoor lighting disrupts many species that need a dark environment. For instance, poorly designed LED lighting disorients some bird, insect, turtle and fish species. The findings are similar to the findings of some surveys of recent past. These findings suggest that brighter residential nighttime lighting are associated with reduced sleep times, dissatisfaction with sleep quality, excessive sleepiness, impaired daytime functioning and obesity. Community Guidelines :  It asks communities to minimize and control blue-rich environmental lighting by using the lowest emission of blue light possible to reduce glare. It asks for an intensity threshold for optimal LED lighting that minimizes blue-rich light.  It also says that all LED lighting should be properly shielded to minimize glare and detrimental human health and environmental effects.Consideration should be given to utilize the ability of LED lighting to be dimmed for off-peak time periods.

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has cleared the appointment of NS Vishwanathan as the Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Vishwanathan is currently an executive director at the RBI, overseeing the banking regulation and non-banking department. He would succeed Khan, who will retire on July 3, ANI tweeted. The key departments under Khan are financial markets, external investments and operations, payment and settlements, information technology, foreign exchange and internal debt management. The RBI currently has four deputy governors(Kolkata,Mumbai,New Delhi,Chennai). They are H R Khan, Dr Urjit Patel, R Gandhi and S S Mundra. N. S. Vishwanathan  :  N. S. Vishwanathan M.A. (Economics) served as Principal Chief General Manager in the Department of non-banking supervision at Reserve Bank of India.He has has been an Executive Director at Reserve Bank of India since April 2014.He also server served as a Director of Punjab National Bank.He served as Nominee Director at Dena Bank Ltd.  

Sweden has  inaugurated a test stretch of an electric road on 22 June 2016. With this, the country has become one of the first countries in the world to conduct tests with electric power for heavy transports on public roads. The test was conducted on parts of road E16. It involved a current collector on the roof of the truck cab feeding the current down to a hybrid electric motor in the truck. Highlights : The tests will continue up through 2018.They will provide knowledge of how electric roads work in practice. It will offer a glimpse on whether the technology can be used in the future. The experiment is based on the government’s goal of energy efficiency and a fossil fuel-free vehicle fleet by 2030. It will also contribute to strengthening Sweden’s competitiveness.Three government agencies are partially funding the project. They are: Swedish Transport Administration : It is a government agency responsible for long-term infrastructure planning for all kinds of transport, i.e. road, rail, shipping and aviation. It owns, constructs, operates and maintains all state-owned roads and railways and operates a large number of ferry services. Swedish Energy Agency : It works for the use of renewable energy. Vinnova : It is the Swedish government agency that administers state funding for research and development.  

Gudni Johannesson won Iceland’s presidential election on 26 June 2016. The history professor who ran as an independent in the election was able to secure 39.1% of the vote. He will succeed Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, who served 20 years as head of state. The elections were held in the backdrop of the Panama Papers leak in April, which implicated several top officials of the country. Johannesson, a history professor, who is a newcomer in the politics decided to run for the presidency after the leak and rode a wave of anti-establishment sentiment. Halla Tomasdottir, a businesswoman without party affiliation, came second with 27.9%. While David Oddsson, a former conservative prime minister and central bank governor won just 13% of the vote. President in Iceland : A president, elected head of state, in Iceland holds a largely ceremonial position. The president is elected to a four-year term by universal adult suffrage and has limited powers. The constitution does not limit the number of terms the president is allowed to serve. He acts as a guarantor of the constitution and national unity and carries the powers to block legislation. There have been five presidents since Iceland became a Republic in 1944.

India maintained its number three position in the recently released MRF Tyres ICC ODI Team Rankings which is being headed by world champions Australia.  South Africa’s three loses and one no-result has meant it has dropped two points to join India on 110 points, but behind Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s side when the points are calculated beyond the decimal point. MRF Tyres ICC ODI Team Rankings List :  Rank     Team                Ratings 1    Australia                   123 2    New Zealand             113 3    India                         110 4    South Africa              110 5    England                     104 6    Sri Lanka                   104 7    Bangladesh                 98 8    West Indies                 94 9    Pakistan                     87 10    Afghanistan               51 11    Zimbabwe                 46 12    Ireland                      41 MRF Tyres ICC ODI Team Rankings : The ICC Player Rankings is a widely followed system of rankings for international cricketers based on their recent performances. The current sponsor is MRF Tyres who signed a 4-year deal with the ICC that will last until 2020. The ratings were developed at the suggestion of Ted Dexter in 1987. The intention was to produce a better indication of players' current standing in the sport than is provided by comparing their averages. Career averages are based on a player's entire career and do not make any allowance for match conditions or the strength of the opposition, whereas the ratings are biased towards recent form and account for match conditions and the quality of the opponent using statistical measures. Initially the rankings were for Test cricket only, but separate One Day International rankings were introduced in 1998. Both sets of rankings have now been calculated back to the start of those forms of the game. The rankings include the top 10 Test, ODI and T20I batsmen, bowlers and all-rounders based on the rating of each player.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has launched a new scheme Kalinga Siksha Sathi Yojana (KSSY) with an aim to provide education loan at 1 percent interest to students for pursuing higher studies . The State government dedicated this scheme to former Chief Minister Biju Patnaik on his Birth Centenary. Patnaik had instituted Kalinga UNESCO award for the popularisation of science when he was only 35 years old. Highlights of the Kalinga Siksha Sathi Yojana : Poor students aspiring to pursue professional and technical education can now avail themselves of study loan up to 10 lakh rupees at one percent interest rate.This will be a major help for students pursuing higher education including Management, Law, Engineering, Medicine etc. It will reduce the loan burden of parents who are not able to effort money for higher education. Odisha government will provide a cost of 500 crore rupees from its own resources for this purpose. Criteria For Availing the Loan : Family income must be below 4.5 lakh per annum.Security deposit as per bank rules. Students will have to repay the loan amount after 4-5 years moratorium period. Maximum 10 lakh loan can be availed. Bankers to decide to whom loan would be provided  

Uttar Pradesh government has declared that all natural calamities including unseasonal heavy rain, lightning, Loo and storm and others will be treated as state disaster in June 2016. As per the decision all victims of these disasters will be given relief as per provisions made under State Disaster Relief Fund by the Union government. A large number of people suffer due to these natural causes every year and the new system introduced will greatly benefit the victims and their kin. He also apprised that the notification in this regard has also been issued. Besides, bus stations across all 75 districts of state will soon have sanitary napkin vending machines. For this purpose, the state government is working to install coin-based automatic sanitary napkin vending machines at bus stations. Expected to be launched on World Population Day on July 11, the project would be rolled out in three phases.

A group of scientists from Temperate Sericulture Research Institute of SKUAST, Srinagar, succeeded in introduction of Sericulture in Poyen Village of Kargil. Development of Sericulture activities in Kargil will serve purpose of achieving cocoon productivity. It will ultimately increase employment and generate income for rural youth and tribal farmers. During 2015-16, 31 unemployed girls/women farmers received training at Poyen village and produced quality Bivoltine cocoons for the first time in Kargil district. On the instructions of Chairman Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council Kargil Haji Mohd Hanifa Jan, 40 days intensive Bivoltine Silk Worm rearing training programme was organized in the same village jointly by the institute, CSR & TI, Central Silk Board, and Ministry of Textiles.  Sericulture : Sericulture is the rearing of silkworms for the production of silk. Bombyx mori (the caterpillar of the domesticated silk moth) is the most widely used and intensively studied silkworm.Silk was first produced in China as early as the Neolithic period. Sericulture has become an important cottage industry in countries such as Brazil, China, France, India, Italy, Japan, Korea and Russia.At present, China and India are the two main producers, with more than 60% of the world's annual production.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has launched BGR-34, an anti-diabetic ayurvedic drug designed for type 2 Diabetes mellitus.  The anti-diabetic ayurvedic drug BGR-34 has been jointly developedby National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) and Central Institute for Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP). BGR-34 :  BGR-34 works by controlling blood sugar and limiting the harmful effects and toxicity of other drugs. It contains 34 identified active phyto-constitutes from herbal resources. It has been economically priced at 5 rupees per tablet as compared to latest DPP4 inhibitors globally. Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) :  CSIR is an autonomous body and the largest research and development (R&D) organisation in India. It was established in 1942. It operates as an autonomous body registered under the Registration of Societies Act of 1860.  It is mainly funded by the Union Ministry of Science and Technology. CSIR’s R&D activities include aerospace engineering, ocean sciences, structural engineering, metallurgy, life sciences, chemicals, mining, food, petroleum, leather, and environment.

Tata Trusts and the University ofChicago will collaborate in ideation and solution-seeking to complex developmental challenges in crucial areas like sanitation, energy and the environment. The health vertical will examine healthcare access through insurance with projects in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The water and sanitation vertical will begin a major project on decentralised irrigation with water tanks in Telangana.  The energy and environment vertical will examine projects to improve reporting of emissions by plants in Gujurat and Maharashtra, to provide rural electrical power via solar microgrids in Bihar, and to encourage individuals to pay for better electricity supply in Bihar. The generation of new solutions to development challenges, through two additional projects. We will support an Urban Challenge in Delhi that asks NGOs and government officials to propose new ways to tackle air pollution," Malani, the Lee and Brena Freeman Professor at the UChicago Law School and Professor at the Pritzker School of Medicine. The UChicago's International Innovation Corps (IIC) and OpenIDEO, a division of the design consulting firm IDEO, to use OpenIDEO internet based platform to crowdsource solutions to, for example, urban sanitation problems, and then to pilot those solutions using IIC teams in collaboration with municipal governments. The IIC programme was already operating in India. However, we wanted to verify the government projects IIC helps implement. At the same time we wanted to ensure that impact evaluations UChicago was conducting in India had an impact on policy and implementation. Which combines research (impact evaluation) and implementation (mainly through IIC). In addition, we folded in training component for government officials and NGO leaders because we felt they were the primary change agents in India and could best help scale impactful interventions. A proposal was then made to Tata Trusts, which were already working on two IIC projects.

The Union Government has appointed Sujoy Bose as the first Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF). His selection for the CEO of NIIF was recommended by a search-cum-selection committee under the chairmanship of Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das. Sujoy Bose :  Prior to this appointment, he was the Director and Global Co-Head of Infrastructure and Natural Resources at International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector lending arm of the World Bank. He has rich experience at international level in the infrastructure sector, including experience in raising funds from international investors. He had worked at IFC for over 23 years where he had served as chief investment officer (CIO) and head of IFC African Latin American and Caribbean Fund at IFC Asset Management Company. National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF)  : NIIF is India’s quasi sovereign wealth fund (SWF) formed to attract investment from both domestic and international sources for infrastructure development in the counry. It has been incorporated as a company under the Companies Act, 2013 and has been duly authorized to act as investment manager of the fund.  The objective of NIIF is to maximize economic growth of the country mainly through infrastructure development in commercially viable projects (both greenfield and brownfield), including stalled projects. For the investment purpose, NIIF will solicit equity participation from strategic anchor partners. An initial budgetary allocation of 4000 crore rupees has also been made in 2016-17 Union Budget. However, Government will make further allocation when necessary.