Today Current Affairs 4th June 2016

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The Indian government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on 3 June 2016 inked an agreement for a $200 million loan to upgrade 176-km roads in Jharkhand. The financing for the Jharkhand State Roads II Project will help upgrade the existing sections of four state roads and also support improvements in the design, safety and maintenance of the road network. The project will also develop a road safety master plan of international standard, which will promote road safety in Jharkhand. The new assistance will continue the ongoing physical upgrades as well as increasing the institutional capacity of the State Highways Authority of Jharkhand (SHAJ) as an autonomous road development agency. The safety and environmental friendly features include 60 bus stop shelters, 50-km raised sidewalks in urban areas, four-km dedicated bicycle lanes and solar-powered street lights.

Internationally renowned sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik has won gold medal in people's choice prize at world championship festival of sand sculpting Russe, 2016, Bulgaria for his sand sculpture "Drugs Kill Sports". Sudarsan, who won the medal on 3 June 2016, has got highest vote from visitors.One such unsolicited issue is usage of performance enhancing drugs by sports personnel. It is an awareness sand sculpture to uphold the sanctity, richness and sports, as an ever cherished saga of entertainment source, in high esteem. This championship was started from May 26 that continued till June 3. Total 10 artists participated from around the world in this championship. The topic of the competition was 'Sport World and Olympic Symbols' and the height of the sculpture was 2 metre. Padma Shri awardee sand artist Sudarsan has participated in more than 50 international sand sculpture championships and festivals around the world and won many prizes.His sand sculptures are based on social issues and current topics. Recently, he won gold medal in Moscow for creating sand sculpture on Peace and Nonviolence.

India Post on 3 June 2016 released the "My Stamp" with Amazon India to signify three years of its relationship with the e-commerce marketplace. Usha Chandrashekar, India Post's Chief Post Master General of Karnataka Circle, handed over the stamp to e-commerce marketplace's Vice President and Country Manager Amit Agarwal. India Post has been a valuable partner to us and we look forward to our continued association as we endeavour to transform the way India buys and sells. E-commerce marketplace was celebrating its third anniversary in the country. Amazon : Amazon, is an American electronic commerce and cloud computing company with headquarters in Seattle,Washington. It is the largest Internet-based retailer in the United States. started as an online bookstore, later diversifying to sell DVDs, Blu-rays, CDs, video. Amazon has separate retail websites for United States, United Kingdom and Ireland, France, Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Australia, Brazil, Japan, China, India and Mexico. Amazon also offers international shipping to certain other countries for some of its products.In 2011, it professed an intention to launch its websites in Poland. In 2015, Amazon surpassed Walmart (a brick and mortar operation) as the most valuable retailer in the United States by market capitalization.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was conferred with Afghanistan's highest civilian honour, the Amir Amanullah Khan Award. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani conferred the award on Modi after the two leaders jointly inaugurated the Afghan-India Friendship Dam, earlier known as Salma Dam, that was rebuilt with India's. PM is awarded with the Amir Amanullah Khan Award, Afghanistan's highest civilian honour. Modi arrived here earlier on Saturday on the first leg of his five-nation tour.  

V.O. Chidambaranar Port has bagged National Award for Excellence in Cost Management for the year 2015 from The Institute of Cost Accountants of India under the category of Public Service Sector- Small. The port participated in the 13th National Awards for Excellence in Cost Management-2015, organised by The Institute of Cost Accountants of India. This is the third time this port is receiving the award , the earlier years being 2008 and 2012.  The award has been given for exemplary performance of V.O. Chidambaranar Port towards optimization of manpower, savings in electricity, implementation of Solar Energy Systems, reduction of overall cost of handling by mechanization and improvising efficiency and logistics support.  The Institute of Cost Accountants of India, a statutory body under an Act of Parliament, presents awards for excellence in Cost Management to promote and recognize Cost Management practices in the Corporate Sector. The awards under various categories were selected by a Jury panel headed by Honble Justice Mr. V.N.Khare, former Chief Justice of India and persons of eminence from Industry, Government, Judiciary and CMA profession.   

HDFC Ergo General Insurance, the insurance arm of mortgage lender HDFC, has acquired L&T General Insurance for Rs 551 crore, the first such consolidation in India’s crowded general insurance sector, which currently has 29 players. L&T General Insurance had reported gross earned premium (GEP) of Rs 483 crore for the last financial year, which puts the deal value at 1.14 times of the GEP. HDFC Ergo expects significant cost synergies arising out of business, technology optimisation and rationalisation of offices. L&T General Insurance is a wholly-owned subsidiary of infrastructure and engineering major Larsen & Toubro. The move marks an exit from the insurance business for the infrastructure behemoth. The company received licence to operate general insurance in 2010 and it has not been able to break even since then. It reported Rs 102 crore loss for 2015-16.L&T had invested Rs 705 crore by way of share capital in L&T General Insurance, and the sale means it is exiting the business at a loss of Rs 154 crore on its investment. The general insurance firm had a net worth of Rs 142 crore at the end of the last financial year. Once the deal goes through, this would be the first-ever merger of two insurance companies in India. The company is also believed to be in discussion to dilute its holding in its mutual fund business L&T Mutual Fund.L&T General Insurance is among the few companies in the sector without a foreign partner. The Insurance Laws (Amendment) Act of 2015 has allowed foreign direct investment up to 49 per cent in insurance companies. HDFC Ergo is a joint venture between HDFC and Germany-based Ergo Insurance Group. Mumbai-based Arpwood Capital was the banker to HDFC Ergo for the deal. HDFC Ergo, a 51:49 joint venture between housing finance major HDFC and global insurance major Ergo International Germany, is the fourth largest private sector general insurer in India. During the financial year ended March 2016, the company wrote gross premiums of Rs 3,467 crore and made a profit after tax of Rs 151 crore.

Tata Trusts has entered into a partnership with the Madhya Pradesh government to work together in areas of healthcare , nutrition , mental health and cancer care in the state.  Through this collaboration, the state government will be able to achieve convergence of their programmes and improve efficiencies as well. Tata Trusts will play a role in setting up of these initiatives along with strategic and technical advisory support . As part of a a Memorandum of Understanding ( MoU ) signed with the state, Tata Trusts will also work together with the government in overseeing successful execution of the identified programme .This partnership has a focus on high priority districts of Madhya Pradesh and the aim is to improve the health indicators in these districts in areas of cancer, mental health and nutrition. Under the MoU, state government and Tata Trusts will jointly work work upon implementation of the TRI (Transforming Rural India) initiative, set up by latter to improve the quality of lives of communities through a multi-dimensional approach by bringing in various partners and stakeholders .Tata Trusts will recruit experts in the technical team of Lead Development Partner (LDP). 

Andhra Pradesh, the state finance department, Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) and the Special Purpose Vehicle Bhogapuram International Airport Company Ltd., (BIACL) have entered into a formal agreement, paving the way for the International Airport to come up near Visakhapatnam. Andhra Pradesh government would stand guarantor to the Rs.650-crore loan to be extended by HUDCO. The amount will be released in 10 to 15 days to BIACL which will be utilised by the government to acquire 2,400 acres for the Airport in the first phase.  The land acquisition process is expected to be over in about six months and the HUDCO loan comes with a moratorium of three years and the loan would have to be repaid over 17 years. The BIACL would invite international bids for the construction of the airport which will be big enough for the biggest aircraft Airbus 380 to land and accessible to three north Andhra districts.

Nita Ambani, Founder and Chairperson of Reliance Foundation has been nominated as a candidate to be a new member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). She is the first Indian woman to be nominated to the IOC and is being considered in the category of volunteers who represent the IOC and Olympic Movement in their country. If she gets elected at the IOC Session scheduled from August 2 to 4, 2016 at the 129th IOC Session in Rio de Janeiro, she will become the first Indian woman to be on the apex sporting body. Sir Dorabji Tata was the first Indian representative in the IOC while Raja Randhir Singh was a member from 2000-2014 and is currently a honorary member of the IOC. Nita Ambani spearheads all sports initiatives of Reliance Industries’, notably cricket, football, kabaddi, basketball, tennis and golf either through company, foundation or its joint ventures. International Olympic Committee (IOC)  : The IOC is the supreme authority of the Olympic Movement headquartered at Lausanne, Switzerland. It shepherds success through a wide range of programmes and projects. It acts as a catalyst for collaboration between all parties of the Olympic family It ensures the regular celebration of the Olympic Games, supports all affiliated member organisations of the Olympic Movement and strongly encourages, by appropriate means, the promotion of the Olympic values.

India and Singapore have agreed to enhance the scale of existing bilateral military interaction and decided to expand the interaction between the armed forces. Decision in this regard, was taken at inaugural Singapore-India Defence Ministers’ Dialogue (DMD).  The Dialogue was co-chaired by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his Singapore counterpart Dr. Ng Eng Hen. Besides, both ministers issued a joint statement after the meeting to strongly condemned terrorism and renewed their commitment to cooperation in counter terrorism efforts. It also emphasised the importance of safeguarding maritime security in international waterways. Both countries also agreed cooperation between Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Singapore research agency on research-oriented projects. They also agreed to collaborate between industries under ‘Make in India’ initiative. India and Singapore had signed a Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) in 2003 which was revised in 2015.  During the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Singapore in November 2015, defence cooperation was identified as a key sector under the India-Singapore Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership. In May 2016, both countries also had convened the first meeting of their Defence Industry Working Group. In it both sides agreed to set up industry level working mechanisms to foster cooperation in aerospace, electronics and other areas of mutual interest.

Haryana Government has launched Asia’s first ‘Gyps Vulture Reintroduction Programme’ at the Jatayu Conservation Breeding Centre at Pinjore. It was launched by state Chief Minister Manohar Lal by releasing 2 captive bred Himalayan Griffons vultures in the pre-release aviaries close to the breeding centre at Pinjore.  The vultures were released as part of the soft release or reintroduction programme, in a pre-release aviary where they would have an unobstructive view of the surrounding. This would help them in getting used to the habitat in which they would be released in the wild in future. These birds have been wing-tagged and were leg-ringed for identification. Himalayan Griffon vultures : They are closely related to the critically endangered resident Gyps species of vultures but are not endangered. The IUCN has listed this species as Near Threatened . They are scavengers, preying on dead animals as they have a robust digestive system which can even digest disease-causing pathogens found in rotting meat of dead. Thus, they help in keeping environment clean. Decline in vulture population  :  The main reason for rapid decline in population of vulture is due to Diclofenac, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug which is given to cattle in inflammation and pain. Though vultures have robust digestive system, they are not able to break down Diclofenac and die of renal failure or kidney failure after eating carcasses of cattle administered with the drug. Preventive steps taken by Government  : The Diclofenac drug was banned by Union Government of India for veterinary use in 2006. It was banned to bring down prevalence of the drug in cattle carcasses and make the environment safe for vultures. Later in July 2015, the multi-dose vials of Diclofenac drug for human use were banned by the Drug Controller General of India.

Assam Assembly has passed Assam Ease of Doing Business Bill, 2016 to facilitate ease of doing business in the state. The bill seeks to attract fresh investment in the state through an easy computerised clearance system. The bill has the provision for speedy processing of applications and issue of clearances for setting up industries. The basic aim of the bill is to create an investment-friendly environment for economic development of the state. The bill provides for establishing a bureau under the name of Assam Bureau of Investment Promotion for the purpose of overall supervision and administration of the speedy processing of applications and issue of various clearances.

A team of scientists from Harvard University (United States) has created a unique bionic leaf that uses sunlight (solar energy) to split water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen and hydrogen-eating bacteria to produce liquid fuels from CO2. This artificial photosynthesis device has been dubbed bionic leaf 2.0.  The new system can convert solar energy to biomass with 10% efficiency.  Its efficiency is much higher than the 1% seen in the fastest growing plants. Scientists had used a new cobalt-phosphorous alloy catalyst for this experiment in order to increase efficiency. The catalyst chemical design allows the system to self-heal i.e. doesn’t allow material to leech into solution.  Significance : This artificial photosynthesis system can be used to generate usable fuels. This artificial leaf use solar power to split water and make hydrogen fuel.

NASA scientists using a new satellite-based method have located 39 unreported and major human-made sources of toxic sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions that cause pollution. The unreported emission sources were found in the analysis of satellite data from 2005 to 2014.  These sources are clusters of coal-burning power plants, oil and gas operations and smelters notably found in West Asia, Mexico and parts of Russia. SO2 is a known health hazard and cause of acid rain. Currently, SO2 monitoring activities include the use of emission inventories that are derived from ground-based measurements and factors, such as fuel usage. The satellite-based estimates of the emissions were 2 or 3 times higher than those reported from known sources in these regions. The unreported and under-reported sources account for about 12% of all human-made emissions of SO2.  This discrepancy can have a large impact on regional air quality. Researchers using a new satellite also have located 75 natural sources of SO2 in the form of non-erupting volcanoes that are slowly leaking the toxic gas. The satellite-based data is the first to provide regular annual information on these volcanic emissions as they are located remote locations and not monitored.

All-time boxing icon Muhammad Ali died on 3 June 2016 in the Phoenix, Arizona, after a 32-year battle with Parkinson's disease. He was 74. Muhammad Ali : He was born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. on 17 January 1942.He was considered as one of the most recognized sports figures of the past 100 years.He was crowned Sportsman of the Century by Sports Illustrated andSports Personality of the Century by the BBC. He also wrote several best-selling books about his career, including The Greatest: My Own Story and The Soul of a Butterfly. He won the world heavyweight championship in 1964 at the age of 22.He converted to Sunni Islam in 1975 and changed his name to Muhammad Ali and 30 years later He began adhering to Sufism. Ali remains the only three-time lineal world heavyweight champion; he won the title in 1964, 1974, and 1978.He was nicknamed The Greatest and was involved in several historic boxing matches. Notable among them in which Ali was winner were the first Liston fight, three with rival Joe Frazier, and one with George Foreman.  

Asia’s largest annual security forum Shangri-La Dialogue was inaugurated in Singapore to talk about security issues in the Asia-Pacific region. The forum has been organised by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). The three day event will be attended by at least 20 Defence Ministers from Asia-Pacific countries including India represented by Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. Territorial disputes in the South China Sea, North Korea’s military provocations and Islamist extremism, migration, cybersecurity, counterterrorism and military competition are expected to dominate discussions this year. The dialogue gathers military representatives from world’s most powerful countries to discuss pressing and significant defence and security issues.  It also provides opportunities to defence ministers, military chiefs and high-ranking defence officials to hold bilateral meetings on its sidelines. The dialogue is also attended by legislators, academic experts, journalists and business delegates from around the globe. It generally acts as a vehicle for public policy development and discussions on defence and security in the Asia-Pacific. The IISS Asia Security Summit was launched in 2002 by the Singaporean government and British think tank the International Institute for Strategic Studies. This annual dialogue got its name from the location of the meeting, the Shangri-La hotel in Singapore.

P Sreeramakrishnan was on 3 June 2016 elected as the Speaker of the 14th legislative assembly of Kerala. He was the candidate of ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) and a two-time legislator from Ponnani constituency. In the voting held, he secured 92 votes against UDF's V.P. Sajeendran from Kunnathunadu constituency, who got 46 votes in the 140-member legislative assembly. The only MLA of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) O Rajagopal voted in favour of P Sreeramakrishnan whereas the Independent MLA PC George's vote was marked invalid. Earlier on 25 May 2016, veteran CPI-M leader Pinarayi Vijayan was sworn-in as 12th Chief Minister of Kerala. In the Assembly Election held in May 2016, the CPI (M)-led left Democratic Front (LDF) came back to power in Kerala after 5 years, winning 91 seats in the 140 member Assembly, while UDF won 47 seats. The other two seats were won by BJP and Independent candidate each.

P Dhanapal and Pollachi V Jayaraman on 3 June 2016 were unanimously re-elected as Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively for the 15th Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly. The two AIADMK leaders held the respective offices in the previous assembly also. As Soon as the House assembled on 3 June 2016, the Protem Speaker S Semmalai announced Dhanapal as Speaker as he was the only person to file nomination for the post. His name was proposed by AIADMK Chief and TN CM J Jayalalithaa and Finance Minister and Leader of the House O Panneerselvam. As a convention, the Leader of the House and leader of the Opposition M K Stalin (DMK) conducted Dhanapal to his chair. Newly elected Speaker announced V Jayaraman as the Deputy Speaker as there was no other nomination filed for the post. Dhanapal was re-elected as Member of Legistative Assembly (MLA) from Avinashi (Reserved) constituency for sixth term while Jayaraman was re-elected from Pollachi constituency  for fourth term. All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) won the May 2016 Assembly elections for a consecutive term. It was 133 MLAs in the 234-member house with three vacancies.The Party can ensure election of its nominees for the key posts.