Current Affairs 4th March 2017 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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State Bank of India (SBI), India’s largest public lender, will resume charging customers who don’t maintain Monthly Account Average Balance (MAB) in their savings bank accounts from April 1, 2017. These charges will be based on the difference between the minimum balance required and the shortfall. The minimum monthly balance for savings bank account holders in metropolitan areas is Rs 5,000.  If the shortfall -- the gap between amount in account and Rs 5,000 (MAB in metropolitan region) is 50 per cent or less, then SBI will levy a charge of Rs 50 plus service tax. For shortfalls between 50-75 per cent, the penalty will be Rs 75 plus service tax and for gaps above 75 per cent, the charge is Rs 100 plus service tax. Similarly, in urban areas, SBI customers will need to maintain a monthly average balance of Rs 3000. In semi-urban areas, the amount is Rs 2,000, while for rural areas, the monthly average is Rs 1,000.

Former Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer and Member of Parliament (MP) Syed Shahabuddin passed away on 4 March 2017 following a prolonged illness at a hospital in Delhi NCR. He was 82. Syed was well known for his concern in the Shah Bano Case and antagonism to the Demolition of Babri Masjid. Syed Shahabuddin : Shahabuddin was the former President of All India Muslim Majlis Mushawarat, an umbrella organization of Indian Muslim outfits. Born in Ranchi, Jharkhand, Shahabuddin began working as a diplomat for the Indian Foreign Services.  He later became a politician and served three terms from 1979-1996 as a Member of Parliament of India. He edited and published a monthly journal Muslim India, a journal of research and documentation that no research scholar working on Indian Muslims can afford to ignore. It was launched in the year 1983. It was him who in the 1980s assembled Muslim MPs from all the parties and met the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to highlight the problems being faced by Muslims in India. He was also very eloquent on Babri Masjid issue. He created awareness about the issue among the public.

The World Hearing Day 2017 was observed globally on 3 March 2017 with the theme 'Action for hearing loss: make a sound investment'. This year's theme draws attention to the economic impact of hearing loss. Hearing loss poses a high cost for the economy globally and has a significant impact on the lives of those affected. World Hearing Day 2017 highlights actions which can be undertaken by decision-makers to address hearing loss. Hearing loss and its consequences can be mitigated through prevention, screening for early identification, rehabilitation through hearing devices, captioning and sign language education.  Half of all hearing loss can be avoided through prevention. Primary health care interventions including immunizing children against diseases such as measles, meningitis, rubella and immunizing adolescent girls of reproductive age against rubella will greatly reduce risk of congenital hearing loss among babies.  Identifying hearing loss through screening of newborns, school children and adults above 50 years at an early stage and then carrying out their treatment at the beginning stage itself comes out to be little cost effective.

South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has named Amjad Hussain B Sial, as secretary genera lwith immediate effect from March 1, 2017. Sial from Pakistan succeeds Nepal’s Arjun Bahadur Thapa as the Saarc secretary general who was appointed the Secretary-General in 2014. Prior to this appointment sial was Special Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad, from Pakistan Foreign Service with over 33 years of career in the diplomatic field.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed International Yoga Festival in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand via Video Conferencing and voiced that there is ample substantiation that practicing ancient yoga to keep the fight against stress and life-style related issues. The PM asserted that Yuga instils togetherness & harmony through Yoga and termed perfect way to achieve not only a healthy body, as well as produces disciplines among people and has the strength to combat climate change. The PM also went on to emphasize that Indian tradition not only puts on cleanliness of individuals but also on his surroundings.  

The Union Health Minister J P Nadda has announced that an amount of Rs. 756 crore has been approved by the government under a scheme for the treatment of 786 lakh cataract patients over the period of 5 years. The aim of the scheme is to eradicate the blindness among people due to cataract by 2022. The scheme is a part of the National Blindness Control Programme. Under the scheme the government would provide Rs. 2000 financial assistance for each cataract operation which would include the cost of lenses as well. Besides, a mobile application will also be developed to bring the government, private doctors, clinics and NGOs together for monitoring the move.

The Ministry of Women & Child Development is observing the Swachhta Pakhwada from March 1, 2017 to March 15, 2017 and raise awareness about Swachh Bharat Abhiyan among women and children. The Swachhta Pakhwada is observed by various Ministries of Government of India to achieve the goal of universal sanitation, hygiene and ‘open defecation free’ India by 2019. During the course of the progamme, various activities would be conducted throughout the country through the wide network of Anganwadi Centres (AWCs). Senior officials from the Ministry and associated organisations travel across the country on these days and conduct activities such as Swachhta Pledge, slogan writing and poster making competition, street play, demonstration and sessions on health, hygiene and sanitation for children, waste management etc. Special programmes for girl child under Beti Bachao Beti Padhao would be undertaken. Officers would make visits to childcare institutions, One Stop Centres, Swadhar Grehs and Ujjawala Homes to check on cleanliness and raise awareness about the need for clean India.

Kerala has achieved the maximum number of enrollment and registrations under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime when compared to other states of India.The state has recorded nearly 60 percent registration of an estimated 2.5 lakh traders in Kerala migrating to the new platform. As per the statistics by the taxation department of the state, the outstanding performance by the state is even more significant since the these registrations are complete in all respects, including the crucial provision of digital signatures A business entity that is currently registered under any of the existing tax regimes is compulsorily required to enroll under GST law irrespective of the threshold limits. The existing threshold limit specified by the GST council is 20 lakhs for all the states except for North Eastern States where the limit is 10 lakhs.

The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms – C-CAMP, technology, and innovation hub, will house the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) Regional Entrepreneurship Centre (BREC) in Bengaluru. The center has been set up with the objective of encouraging the spirit of bio-entrepreneurship, facilitating the creation of life science start-ups and mentoring start-ups to increase their chances of success. BIRAC’s strategy for establishing BREC at C-CAMP is to amplify portfolio of activities, which can be leveraged by biotech start-ups to transition and scale to the next level.

The Union Government has asked all banks to provide mobile banking facility to all customers by March 31, 2017. This is part of the government’s efforts to boost the digital payment system. Banks will run a nationwide campaign to ensure that every customer who has a mobile phone is enabled for mobile banking.  Bank customers who are using UPI or BHIM app will be automatically enabled for mobile banking.

Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on 2 March 2017 won the annual Visitor’s Award for the Best University 2017.   Pranab Mukherjee, President of India, will present the Visitor’s Awards for the year 2017 at a function on 6 March 2017 at Rashtrapati Bhavan. The function will be held at a part of the ‘Festival of Innovations.’ On the other hand, Deepak Pant from Central University of Himachal Pradesh won the Visitor’s Award for ‘Innovation.’ He won the award for development of a reactor for direct conversion of waste plastic to LPG in small scale. The Visitor’s Award for ‘Research’ is jointly won by Dr Shyam Sunder from Banaras Hindu University and Professor Niranjan Karak from Tezpur University. Dr Sunder won the award for his work in the area of diagnosis and treatment of Indian Kala-azar while Professor won it for development of renewable resource based bio-degradable hyper-branched polymer nano-composites as self-cleaning, self-healing and bio-compatible smart sustainable futuristic material. Jawaharlal Nehru University : Jawaharlal Nehru University is a public central university in New Delhi.  It was established in the year 1969 by an Act of parliament. G. Parthsarthi was the first vice-chancellor of the university. In 2012, the National Assessment and Accreditation Council gave the university a grade of 3.9 out of 4, the highest grade awarded to any educational institution in India. The university is known for leading faculties and research emphasis on liberal arts and applied sciences.

The Nepal Investment Summit concluded in Kathmandu on 3 March 2017. The two-day long summit was inaugurated by the Prime Minister of Nepal Pushpa Kamal Dahal with an objective to project Nepal as an attractive investment destination. The Finance Minister of India Arun Jaitley and the President of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) Jin Liqun attended the summit. In his speech, Arun Jaitley shared India’s experience in reforming its economy and attracting foreign direct investment (FDI). He also stated that India and Nepal share deep-rooted historical, cultural and religious ties which have enabled extensive cooperation in trade and economic fields between the two countries. This was the first investment summit in Kathmandu since the promulgation of the Constitution in 2015. The aim of the summit was to project Nepal as an attractive investment destination and to explore possibilities of foreign investment in the country. Around 250 delegates from more than 20 countries, including India, participated in the summit. The summit provided national and international investors as well as development partners an opportunity to learn about Nepal’s investment scenario, regulatory environment and sectors open for investment. The summit was organised by the Ministry of Industry in association with the Investment Board of Nepal.

The Union Government has announced that half of the 4,096-km long border India shares with Bangladesh has been fenced. The remaining half will be fenced by 2019 deadline. Its aim of fencing the India-Bangladesh border is to curb infiltration and smuggling of cattle and fake Indian currency notes (FICN). However, land acquisition is a major challenge to completing the work by the deadline. Besides, government is going to use technological solutions such as cameras and lasers across cross border rivers, where fencing is not possible. India and Bangladesh share a 4,096 km land boundary, largest among the international boundaries that India shares with its neighbours. The border runs along five states, West Bengal (2,216.7 km), Assam (263 km), Meghalaya (443 km), Tripura (856 km) and Mizoram (318 km).  

India has accepted an invitation to attend the next meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT), to be held in Lahore in March 2017. The last round of the PIC was held in July 2016. This development came after two months of diplomatic negotiations, with World Bank officials playing mediator in encouraging Pakistan to extend the invitation and for India to accept. t signals a major shift in India’s position on talks with Pakistan on IWT as it had announced suspending talks after the Uri terror  attacks in September 2016. This decision was taken by meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and attended by National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, Water Resources Secretary and senior PMO officials. Decision taken in the meeting: Utilise water from Indus River under India’s share to fullest. It also suspended talks on the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC), the dispute redressal mechanism until terrorism stops. It decided to build more run-of-the-river hydropower projects on western rivers (Indus, Jhelum, Chenab) to exploit full potential. In November 2016, India also rejected World Bank’s decision to constitute a Court of Arbitration to look into complaints from Pakistan over India’s construction of Kishenganga and Ratle river water projects. India had clearly mentioned that WB’s decision was biased in Pakistan’s favour. Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) IWT is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan. It was brokered by the World Bank (then the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development). It deals with sharing of water of six rivers — Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum between the two countries. It was signed by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and President of Pakistan Ayub Khan in Karachi on September 19, 1960. As per treaty, control over three eastern rivers —Ravi, Beas and Sutlej was given to India. While control over three western rivers — Indus, Jhelum and Chenab was given to Pakistan. It allows India to use only 20% of the water of Indus river, which flows through it first, for irrigation, power generation and transport. Most disagreements and disputes have been settled via legal procedures, provided for within the framework of the treaty. Under it, a Permanent Indus Commission was set up as a bilateral commission to implement and manage the Treaty. The Commission maintains and exchanges data and co-operates and solves disputes arising over water sharing between the two countries. The Treaty also provides arbitration mechanism to solve disputes amicably. The treaty has survived India-Pakistan wars of 1965, 1971 and the 1999 Kargil standoff besides Kashmir insurgency since 1990. It is most successful water treaty in world.

Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) has successfully coordinated Operation Thunder Bird from January 30 to February 19, 2017 in its fight to end poaching of India’s wildlife animals. It also had convened Operation Save Kurma, a species specific operation on turtles between 15 December 2016 and 30 January 2017.  Operation Thunderbird: It is code-name of INTERPOL’s (International Criminal Police Organization) multi-national and multi-species enforcement operation for wildlife protection. It has resulted in huge seizures of 2, 524 Live species of scheduled animals, 9 wild animal carcasses, 19.2 kg elephant ivory, 1 tiger skin, 1 organ pipe coral, 1 jar snake venom, 8 leopard skins and 1 Indian Mujtac skin. The operation brought about a unanimous approach by the state enforcement agencies in the fight against wildlife crime in the country. It had received overwhelming response from the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Maharashtra, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Uttrakhand, Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. Operation Save Kurma: It was species specific operation on turtles. Under it total of 15,739 live turtles were recovered from 45 suspects, having inter-state linkages. It helped the enforcement agencies to focus on the existing trade routes and major trade hubs in the country, which will be continued in future.

West Bengal Government has given official language status to endangered tribal language Kurukh, mother tongue belonging to the Dravidian family. It was given this status by the state government last month and but was announced recently by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.  In West Bengal, it is spoken by Oraon tribal community who live in Dooars (alluvial floodplains in northeastern India that lie south of outer foothills of Himalayas and north of Brahmaputra River basin). Most of the tribal languages in West Bengal have their origins in the Austro-Asiatic and Tibeto-Barman families. But Kurukh is an exception which has its origin from the Dravidian family is Malto, which is not spoken in West Bengal, but in the Jharkhand’s Rajmahal hills area. Santhali, Munda and Hoe languages spoken in state that belong to Austro-Asiastic family, while the languages spoken by the Tamang, Lepcha and Bhutia tribes of the Darjeeling hills are of the Tibeto-Burman group. Kurukh language Kurukh language belongs to subfamily of Dravidian languages, spoken by some 17 lakh people (2001 census report) of the Oraon tribes of Chota Nagpur plateau of east-central India. It is closely related to Kumarbhag Paharia and Sauria Paharia languages, which are together referred to as Malto. Its script is called Tolong Siki. The language has been listed “vulnerable”state in UNESCO’s list of endangered languages. Jharkhand has recognised Kurukh as a language and its script in 2003. It allows students can write their school final examination in its script.

The State Legislative Assembly has passed the West Bengal Clinical Establishments (Registration, Regulation and Transparency) Bill, 2017, by a voice vote. It repeals the West Bengal Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2010. It aims to overhaul private healthcare in state and take stringent measures against health institutions accused of medical negligence and corrupt practices. The legislation seeks to bring transparency, end harassment of patients and check medical negligence in private hospitals and nursing homes. It brings clinics, dispensaries and polyclinics under its ambit. It makes mandatory for private hospitals to pay compensations in case of medical negligence. Hospitals violating this law will be liable to pay fine of Rs. 10 lakh or more. Compensation in case medical negligence: Rs 3 lakh for minor damages, Rs 5 lakh for big damages and minimum Rs. 10 lakh in case of death. This compensation will be given within six months. The compensation amount will not be more than Rs 50 lakh. Regulatory Authority: Establishes 13 member West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission to monitor activities of private hospitals. The high-powered commission will be headed by sitting or former judge. It will have status of a civil court. It will be empowered to summon both parties in case of a dispute and examine case before passing an order. Penal measures: It ranges between compensation and scrapping the licence of the physician/hospital. The commission can put offender behind bars up to 3 years. It can also order trying the offender under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) provisions if it deems fit. Fair Pricing: Hospitals with more than 100 beds must start fair price medicine shops. They are mandated to declare bed charges, ICU charges and package costs which can’t be altered.  

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