Current Affairs 13th March 2017

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HSBC Holdings Plc , Europe's biggest bank, tapped an outsider for its top job on Monday, appointing insurance veteran and AIA Group boss Mark Tucker as chairman to replace Douglas Flint, who plans to step down in 2017. A one-time professional footballer, who has held several leadership jobs, including running Britain's Prudential, Tucker will take over as group chairman designate from September 1 and as non-executive group chairman on October 1.  Flint and Gulliver's departure from HSBC after six years will end one of the longest-serving management partnerships at a major global bank.

Defence minister Manohar Parrikar was appointed Goa chief minister on Sunday after BJP concluded hectic negotiations with regional parties and independents to stitch up the numbers to form a government. Governor Mridula Sinha invited Parrikar to form the government after he staked claim and showed the support of 21 MLAs.  The governor has asked Parrikar to prove majority in the assembly within 15 days of assuming charge. Parrikar's candidature was cleared by the BJP parliamentary board on Sunday evening. He will take oath as the chief minister on 14th March.

The Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and the National Skill Development Fund (NSDF) for execution of skill development programmes. The MoU was signed on 10 March 2017 in the presence of Union Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju in New Delhi. During the event, Kiren Rijiju launched an an android based and in-house developed mobile application “MySSB”. Under the MoU, the SSB will be able to provide gainful employment to the retiring and retired personnel of SSB. It will help the personnel in resettlement through the generation of second career option. The MoU will establish a framework under which the dependents of SSB personnel as well as locals, school dropouts, victims and potential victims of human trafficking will also be benefited directly in the area or the region where SSB is deployed. Under the MoU, skill development training programmes will be organised in collaboration with the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. Sectors like apparel, food processing, beauty and wellness, automotive, security and sports will be given emphasis for the said programme. Features of MySSB app :  The mobile application will cater to the general requirements and information of force personnel.  It facilitates accessibility to details of salary and allowance, general provident fund (GPF) subscription, service particulars including posting profiles and annual performance assessment report (APAR).

Election Commission of India on 11 March 2017 announced the results of the 2017 Assembly elections of Uttar Pradesh. The elections were held in 7 phases between 7 February and 8 March 2017 for 403 assembly seats. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which fought the state election without declaring its Chief Ministerial candidate, is all set for a three-fourth majority in Uttar Pradesh. To win the state, the party was successful by winning 322 seats, which also makes it the largest party in the state. On the other hand, the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) led by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav was voted out of the power in the state. The party that fought the elections in alliance with India’s oldest Party, Indian National Congress (INC), after seeing a month long family feud was decimated to 55 seats. BJP wins Election in Uttarakhand Besides, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) led by Mayawati that ruled the state under her for five times was able to win 21 seats. Mayawati ruled the states from 3 June 1995 to 18 October 1995 (for five months), 21 March 1997 to 21 September 1997 (for 6 months), 3 May 2002 to 29 August 2003 and 13 May 2007 to 7 March 2012. Uttar Pradesh Results 2017 – Party wise Seats Party Won SP+ 55 BSP 20 BJP+ 323 OTHERS 5 Election in Alapur Assembly constituency in Ambedkar Nagar of Uttar Pradesh was postponed due to the death of a Samajwadi Party candidate. Polling was held on 9 March 2017.

Students appearing for Class X board exams from next year will have to study six subjects instead of five with the CBSE remodeling its assessment scheme. Class X students have to now study five subjects — two languages, social science, mathematics and science. Students also have a choice of studying a vocational subject as an “additional” course. However, from the 2017-18 academic year, it will be compulsory to study a vocational subject. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has remodeled its assessment scheme for Class X Board examination for schools offering vocational subject as a compulsory subject under the National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF). If a candidate fails to pass in any one of the three elective subjects — science, social science, mathematics, then it will be replaced by the vocational subject (offered as sixth additional subject).

 Narendra Kumar has been appointed as the new Chairman of the Central Water Commission (CWC), with effect from March 9, 2017 upon the superannuation of former Chairman GS Jha. A Central Water Engineering Service (1979 batch) officer, Narendra Kumar  became CWC member (river management) in October 2014. Before this, Kumar had served in the Commission as its assistant director in Design Organisation, deputy director in Project Appraisal Directorate and director in Dam Safety Organisation and Project Monitoring Directorate.

Thailand’s Model, Jiratchaya Sirimongkolnawin was crowned Miss International Queen 2016 on March 10, 2017 in the 12th edition of the beauty pageant event in Pattaya City, Thailand. Miss International Queen began in the year 2004 and has been held annually in Pattya City since then and is considered the largest and the most popular transgender pageant of the world. The 12th edition of the show was to be held in November 2016 but was postponed due to the national mourning of the death of Thailand’s king. iv. The beauty pageant brings together transgender people from around the world and is held to help transgender women feel more accepted by society. The 25-year old Jiratchaya beat 24 other contestants for the crown. Besides, Brazil’s Nathalie Oliveira won the second place while Venezuala’s Andrea Collazo was awarded the third position. Miss Sirimongkolnawin is a former dental health student at Srinakharinwirot University. She now works as a model and fashion designer.  

The State Bank of India on March 11, 2017 has legally incorporated SBI Infra Management Solutions Pvt. Ltd. (SBIIMS Pvt. Ltd.) as a wholly owned subsidiary of SBI. SBIIMS Pvt. Ltd. will now manage the premises and estate related matters of SBI. The new subsidiary will save the time of bank employees who earlier performed these non-core functions. Now these employees can handle the core functions of the bank and increase the efficiency. SBIIMS Pvt. Ltd. will handle the advisory services, transaction management, facility management and implementation of policies and initiatives. In the initial phase this new subsidiary will have 400 registered offices and will look after work related to premises and estate of State bank Group. Each local head office centre of SBI will have one circle office of SBIIMS and and about 100 zonal offices at administrative office centres of SBI will be opened.

 Private sector lender Yes Bank has signed three projects to provide payments-related solutions to smart cities. The bank finds it as a good business opportunity. Yes Bank has currently ties up with Udaipur, Nashik and Puducherry for the introduction of digital payment systems under the smart city initiative. This tie up will prove fruitful for the bank as it is follows a revenue share arrangement. It means that the bank will get some per cent commission on the usage of its facility. This will also benefit the bank as it will get new clients and help in cross-selling. Yes bank has already started its services in Udaipur by introducing RuPay card for payment for government services and retail services. It will also roll out its service in Puducherry by end of April and in Nashik in May. As per the bank in Nashik the main focus will be on government payments, while in Puducherry the bank will be launching a prepaid card for tourists.

Central Railway zone of Indian Railway unveiled India’s first air-conditioned rail ambulance on 9 March 2017.  The four-coach air conditioned ambulance will be station at Kaylan (Maharashtra) and has been made by modifying AC coaches used for passenger services. The idea for this rail ambulance came after the Diva-Sawantwadi train got derailed in Raigad district of Maharashtra in May 2014. This rail ambulance which has been designed at the rail workshop at Matunga in Mumbai, can carry and treat 50 patients at one time. It will prove beneficial as it can carry accident victims to hospital in a short time. It also has an in house operation theatre to carry out minor surgeries and provide immediate relief. When not in use for accident purpose the rail ambulance will also be used for providing medical facilities in large congregations.

Reliance Capital’s long serving CEO Sam Ghosh will leave the company on 31 March, after spending nine years at the financial services arm of Anil Ambani-led business conglomerate. Ghosh, a Chartered Accountant from England had joined the company in April 2008 as group chief executive officer of Reliance Capital, while he was elevated to the board in May 2015.

Dangal' won the Viewer's Choice Best Film award at Zee Cine Awards 2017 on 11th March 2017.  Salman Khan won the Best Actor and Anushka Sharma was named the Best Actress for their film 'Sultan' based on votes by viewers.  Further, the song 'Channa Mereya' from the film 'Ae Dil Hai Mushkil' was named the Viewer's Choice Song of the Year.

Great Barrier Reef in Australia’s eastern coast is experiencing an unprecedented second straight year of mass coral bleaching.  This is for the first time Great Barrier Reef has bleached two years in sequence. Earlier in March and April 2016, 2,300-km reef suffered had its most severe bleaching on record due to warming sea temperatures.  Coral Bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, such as warmer sea temperatures, cause corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, draining them of their colour. The 2016 bleaching was more severe in the northern areas of the bio-diverse site.  But now more bleaching was being observed in the central part of the reef, which earlier had escaped widespread severe bleaching. The back-to-back occurrence of widespread bleaching is resulting in decrease in stress tolerance of these corals, which means that they may not fully recover. Great Barrier Reef  : It is the biggest coral reef system in the world composed of over 2,900 individual reefs. It was recorded as a World Heritage site in 1981. The reef is located in the Coral Sea, north east of Australia and covers an area of approximately 348,000 sq km. It is credited as the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms and is visible from the outer space.

For the first time in India, four states Odisha, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand have decided to conduct a synchronised elephant census in May 2017.  These four together have the maximum number of human-elephant conflict-prone regions in India. This decision was taken by senior Forest Department officials of the four States during a regional workshop.  These states will conduct the census based on an identical set of rules using the direct and indirect counting methods The direct counting method is based on sighting of elephants while the indirect method uses the elephant ‘dung decay’ formula, in which the analysis of dung is used to estimate the population. The indirect method has already been used by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.  Direct method can be used alone because it is not possible to cover entire area during the census As per the 2015 census, Odisha has 1,954 elephants while Jharkhand has 700, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal had approximately 275 and 130 elephants, respectively.  

Election Commission of India on 11 March 2017 announced the results of the 2017 Assembly elections of Uttarakhand. The elections were held in a single phase on 15 February 2017 for 70 assembly seats. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which fought the state election without declaring its Chief Ministerial candidate, succeeded in winning 57 seats, which also makes it as the largest party in the state. On the other hand, the ruling Congress led by Harish Rawat failed in saving the government in the state. The party was decimated to 11 seats. Uttarakhand Results 2017 – Party wise Seats Party  Won BJP - 57 INC - 11 BSP - 0 OTHERS-2 The election in Karnaprayag in Uttarakhand was delayed following a BSP candidate's demise. The assembly voted on 9 March 2017 to choose a candidate from the seat.

Election Commission of India on 11 March 2017 announced the results of the 2017 Assembly elections of Goa. The elections were held in a single phase on 4 February 2017 for 40 assembly seats. Congress succeeded in winning 17 seats. This win in the state helped Congress to emerge as the largest party in the state. On the other hand, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar failed in saving the government in the state. The party was decimated to 13 seats. Goa Results 2017 – Party wise Seats Party Won AAP-0 INC-17 BJP-13 OTHERS-5  

The World Kidney Day 2017 was observed on 9 March 2017 with the theme Kidney Disease and Obesity: Healthy Lifestyle for Healthy Kidneys. The WKD 2017 sought to promote education about the harmful consequences of obesity and its association with kidney diseases.  World Kidney Day : The WKD is a joint initiative of the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations (IFKF). The day is a global health awareness campaign with a focus on the importance of the kidneys. The day was launched to reduce the frequency and impact of kidney disease and its associated health problems worldwide. The International Society of Nephrology (ISN) : The ISN is a not-for-profit society dedicated to advancing the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of kidney diseases. The society, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2010, is active in over 126 countries across the world. The International Federation of Kidney Foundations (IFKF) : The IFKF, a not-for-profit federation, was established in 1999. At present, it has a membership of 63 kidney foundations and patient groups in more than 41 countries. The foundation seeks to improve the health, well-being and quality of life of individuals with kidney disease.  

The Union Government launched the Stage II of India’s HCFC Phase Out Management Plan (HPMP) for the 2017-23 period. The plan was launched by the Union Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change (Independent Charge) Anil Madhav Dave in March 2017 in New Delhi. Features of HPMP II : It seeks to phase out the use of Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and harmful ozone-depleting substances (ODS). It also promotes the usage of non-ozone depleting and low global warming potential technologies. Under the HPMP-II, India secured USD 44.1 million from the Multilateral Fund for Implementation of Montreal Protocol of the United Nations for phasing out 8,190 MT of HCFC consumption from 2017 to 2023. The plan will cover more than 400 enterprises, including micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the foam manufacturing sector. And, 6 large air-conditioning manufacturing enterprises will be supported for conversion to non-HCFC technologies from HCFCs. The plan will promote energy efficiency, adoption of green building norms and cold chain development with non-HCFC alternatives. The plan gives adequate attention to synergize the Refrigeration and Servicing (RAC) servicing sector trainings under the Skill India Mission. As per the plan, nearly 16,000 service technicians will be trained under HPMP-II. The plan is expected to result in net direct CO2-equivalent emission reductions of about 8.5 million metric tonnes annually from 2023. The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances that are responsible for ozone depletion including HCFCs. Under the Montreal Protocol, various initiatives to phase out Hydrochlorofluorcarbons (HCFCs) were taken up with an aim to complete phase out by 2030 of these chemicals. At present, HCFCs are used in various sectors like refrigeration and air conditioning (RAC) and polyurethane foam manufacturing. As a signatory to the Montreal Protocol, The HPMP Stage-I has been already implemented in the country, which has successfully met all the ODS phase-out targets.

Prominent Konkani writer Mahabaleshwar Sail was on 9 March 2017 selected for the Saraswati Samman 2016 for his novel Hawthan. The 74-year-old writer's novel, published in 2009, was shortlisted from 22 books written in as many languages. The selection for the award was made by a jury presided by the 29th Chief Justice of India (CJI) AS Anand. Mahabaleshwar Sail is Goa-based renowned bi-lingual writer. So far, he wrote 4 Marathi dramas and 7 Konkani novels. Sail also written 5 short stories and a novel in Marathi. The novel 'Hawthan' is a well-researched work of fiction. The book presents the cultural map of the traditional potter community of Goa. Saraswati Samman :  It is named after Goddess Saraswati, Indian goddess of learning. The award was instituted in 1991 by the KK Birla Foundation.The award consists of 15 lakh rupees, a citation and a plaque. The inaugural award was given to Harivanshrai Bachchan for his four volume autobiography - Kya Bhooloon Kya Yaad Karoon, Needa Ka Nirman Phir, Basere Se Door and Dashdwar Se Sopan Tak. The Saraswati Samman for 2015 was given to Padma Sachdev for her autobiography titled Chitt-Chete, which was written in Dogri language.

India on 11 March 2017 successfully test-fired the BrahMos Supersonic Cruise Missile. The purpose of the test was to validate the capabilities of the missile. Features of BrahMos Missile :  It is the first supersonic cruise missile system known to be in service. The missile is capable of carrying a conventional as well as nuclear warhead of 300 kilograms. The BrahMos is a multi-stage missile having a solid propellant in the first stage and the ramjet liquid propellant in the second stage.It can be launched from land, sea, sub-seas and air. It operates on ‘Fire and Forget Principle’ by adopting varieties of flights on its way to the target. It approaches the enemy target with a top speed of Mach 2.8, which is about three times faster than the US subsonic Tomahawk Cruise Missile System. The missile has been developed by the BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited. It is a joint venture between the Russian Federation's NPO Mashinostroeyenia and India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The missile derives its name from the names of two rivers, namely the Brahmaputra of India and the Moskva of Russia. While the navy and army versions of the missile were inducted in 2005 and 2007 respectively, the air version is still in the testing stage.