Current Affairs 6th March 2017 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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State Bank of India has decided to reintroduce penalty on non-maintenance of minimum balance in accounts from 1st of April 2017. Failing to maintain monthly average balance in accounts will attract penalty up to 100 rupees plus service tax.The public sector bank has also revised its charges on other services, including ATMs. The country's largest bank will now permit savings bank account holders to free of charge cash deposit only three times a month and levy 50 plus service tax on every transaction beyond that. In case of current account, the levy could go as high as twenty thousand rupees. In metropolitan areas, there will be a charge of 100 rupees plus service tax, if the balance falls below 75 per cent of the minimum account balance of 5,000 rupees. If the shortfall is 50 per cent or less of the balance, then the bank will charge 50 rupees and service tax. The charges and average balance will vary according to the location of bank. It is minimum in case of rural branches and it is up to 50 rupees plus service tax if balance falls below 1000 rupees.  

The Union government has launched the first ever across-the-river survey in Ganga to get details about the population of aquatic life thriving in it, including that of the endangered Gangetic dolphin. According to the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), the survey will help create a baseline scientific data for the Centre to take suitable measures to improve the quality of the river water. Highlights : The first part of the census was launched on 1 March 2017 from Narora to Bijnor stretch in Uttar Pradesh, which covers a distance of about 165 km. The second part, which would cover a distance of about 250 km from Allahabad to Varanasi, is expected to be launched later this week. Along with this, another study to determine fish species’ composition in the 2,525 km long river has been launched from Harshil village in Uttarakhand. The survey is being conducted through Wildlife Institute of India (WII) under the Namami Gange programme.  Besides dolphins, the study would also help determine the number of ghariyals and turtles in the river. The counting is expected to continue till October 2017. Apart from the population count, the study would also help in understanding the distribution pattern of aquatic life in the river, the extent of threat they are facing and their habitat conditions. This is the first time that such a comprehensive and scientific study is being conducted in the river. All the studies conducted prior to this were done in bits and pieces. After the completion of the study in the river’s mainstream, a similar census will be carried out in its tributaries as well. According to an NMCG consultant (Biodiversity Centre), Sandeep Behera, the Gangetic dolphins, which are considered as one among the four freshwater dolphin species in the world, are disappearing from the Ganga’s Narora to Kanpur stretch due to pollution. He further stated that the study would hence, help determine the stretches where dolphin habitates, the conditions in that particular area and also the level of threat the species are facing in a particular belt. The NMCG chose the ongoing period for the study in order to avoid the possibility of repeat count of animals, as due to the current low water level the population of animals would be concentrated in certain pockets.

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council on 4 March 2017 approved the draft Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) Bill and the Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) Bill. With this, the Union Government can now take these two Bills to the Parliament for their passage in the Budget Session. A State-wise single registration will be required for a taxpayer for filing returns, paying taxes and to fulfil other compliance requirements.  A taxpayer needs to file one single return state-wise to report all his supplies, whether made within or outside the State or exported out of the country and pay the applicable taxes on them.  A business entity with an annual turnover of up to Rs 20 lakhs will not be required to take registration in the GST regime, unless he voluntarily chooses to do so to be a part of the input tax credit (ITC) chain.  A business entity with turnover up to Rs 50 lakhs can avail the benefit of a composition scheme under which a much lower rate of tax will be paid.   In order to prevent cascading of taxes, ITC would be admissible on all goods and services used in the course or furtherance of business, except on a few items listed in the Law. In the Services sector, the existing mechanism of Input Service Distributor (ISD) under the Service Tax law is retained to allow the flow of ITC in respect of input services within a legal entity. To prevent lock-in of capital of exporters, a provision has been made to refund within seven days of filing the application for refund by an exporter. An agriculturist, to the extent of supply of produce out of cultivation of land, will not be liable to take registration in the GST regime. In order to provide certainty in tax matters, a provision has been made for an Advance Ruling Authority.Exhaustive provisions for Appellate mechanism have been made. An anti-profiteering provision has been incorporated to ensure that the reduction of tax incidence is passed on to the consumers.

USA’s Sam Querrey on 4 March 2017 defeated second-seeded Rafael Nadal 6-3, 7-6 to win the ATP Mexico Open Men’s Singles title. The match was held in Acapulco, Mexico. It is Querrey’s first win over Nadal, improving his FedEx Head2Head record against Nadal to 1-4. Querrey is also the first American champion in 24-year history of the ATP Mexico Open.  Sam Querrey : Born on 7 October 1987, Sam Querrey is an American professional tennis player.  In January 2011, he achieved his career-high singles ranking of world no. 17. He has won nine Singles titles. His best performance in a Grand Slam event was at the 2016 Wimbledon Championships, where he reached the quarterfinal. In the third round of the tournament, Querrey defeated world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in four sets. ATP Mexico Open : The Mexican Open is a joint professional tennis tournament. It is played on outdoor hard courts. However, it was played on outdoor red clay courts until 2013. The change to hard courts was introduced in the year 2014. It is usually held annually in late February at the Fairmont Acapulco Princess in Acapulco, Mexico. The tournament is a part of the ATP World Tour 500 series on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) World Tour, and of the WTA International tournaments on the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Tour.In 2016, the Men’s Singles title was won by Austria’s Dominic Thiem. The 2017 Women's Singles title is won by Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko. The 2017 Men's Doubles title is won by Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares.The 2017 Women's Doubles title is won by Darija Jurak and Anastasia Rodionova.  

Andy Murray of the United Kingdom on 4 March 2017 won the men’s singles titles at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships 2017. To win the title, he defeated Fernando Verdaso of Spanish 6-3 6-2 at the summit clash held in Dubai, the United Aran Emirates (UAE). With this title, Murray has become the first British champion in the 25 year history of the tournament. For Murray, it was his best win over the Spaniard since the Miami Championships almost exactly eight years ago and comes after he finished as runner-up to Roger Federer in Dubai in 2012. Incredibly, it was his seventh final in his last eight tournaments and 14th in his last 16. Rohan Bopanna loses in the final of doubles clash : Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau claimed the doubles title with a 4-6 6-3 10-3 win over the Indo-Polish pair of Rohan Bopanna and Marcin Matkowski.  It is their 13th title together, which includes both Wimbledon and the ATP World Tour Finals in 2015. It is Rojer's 22nd doubles title and Tecau's 30th. Bopanna was seeking his fourth Dubai title after winning in 2012, 2014 and 2015, all with different partners. Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships : Since its inaugural edition in 1993, the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships has consistently showcased the world's best players in the competition.  In 2005, two ATP World Tour champions, Andre Agassi and Roger Federer, scaled the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah for a friendly practice session atop the helipad at the iconic hotel. The tournament has frequently been named the ATP World Tour 500 Tournament of the Year at the ATP World Tour Awards presented by Moet & Chandon. The championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free and held under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The book titled Rekha: The Untold Story authored by Yasser Usman was in news in the first week of March 2017. The book that was published in August 2016 by Juggernaut suddenly came into news after few reports claimed that Rekha was secretly married to Sanjay Dutt. As per reports, she applies vermillion on her forehead as she is married to Sanjay Dutt. It also claims that these details were mentioned in a book named, ‘Rekha- The Untold Story’, written by Yasser Usman. These claims made Yasser Usman come forward and deny such claims that are making rounds on the internet. He said, ‘this is wrong and nothing of this sort is mentioned in his book.’ Elaborating the story, Usman spoke about the part that was mentioned in the book and that is, rumours of their affair surfaced in 1984, when they, Rekha and Sanjay Dutt, were working in a film together, probably Zameen Aasmaan. In fact, rumours of that time also claimed that they got married, which later made Sanjay Dutt come out and deny the allegations. About Rekha: The Untold Story : The book, Rekha: The Untold Story tells about Rekha and her childhood and what made her enter Bollywood. It also talks about her relationship with the reigning superstar of the time, her many other love affairs, the shocking suicide of her husband and her curious relationship with her androgynous secretary Farzana.

Chandigarh will be hosting ‘Destination North East 2017’, a three-day event from 6 March 2017 to showcase North East as a potential destination for investment. The event organised by the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), Government of India and PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry will see round table discussions and exhibition stalls, displaying various features of the North East in order to attract investment in different sectors including handloom and handicraft, tourism, horticulture and floriculture, skill development, food processing, organic farming and bamboo development, rural livelihoods and entrepreneurship and microfinance. Highlights : Destination North East 2017 would be inaugurated by Jitendra Singh, the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region. The main objective of the event is to showcase the North East region (NER) as a great investment potential by highlighting its rich cultural heritage, customs and traditions. The main theme of this year’s festival is to highlight the use of appropriate technologies in all sectors of development for NER. According to S N Pradhan, Joint Secretary of DoNER, the main focus would be on the 3 H mission, which includes Horticulture, Handicraft and Handloom. Besides providing an opportunity to different sectors to deliberate upon their achievements, issues and challenges, the event would provide a platform to discuss and develop linkage strategies at B2B and people to people level. The festival would also include cultural programmes and performances from popular orchestra groups like Shillong Chamber Choir and Angaraag Mahanta (Papon). Some of the event participants include the Office of Principal Scientific Adviser to Government of India and Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR). Destination North East is an annual event and this is the first that it is being organised outside Delhi.

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) 2017 report, which is under preparation, claims that nearly 45 per cent of the 1263 species available in India are found in Himachal Pradesh. The state forest department of Himachal Pradesh was one of the participants of the four-day long event. Himachal Forest Department has been participating in the eBird event the since 2013. Highlights  : As per available eBird data, in total 564 bird species were reported from Himachal Pradesh. •These 564 species is nearly 45 per cent of the 1263 species found in whole country. •Till date, 2833 bird check lists have been uploaded to e-Bird from all districts of Himachal Pradesh with highest number of 453 bird species reported from the Kangra district only. • The data was contributed by nearly 50 bird watchers including staff of the Himachal Forest Department and volunteers. Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) 2017 event : Great Backyard Bird Count is the first online citizen-science project that was launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time. The event is annually organised for four days in the month of February. It is organised to create an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds. GBBC 2017 engaged bird watchers from the general public in the counting of birds. The event/initiative that ran from 17 February to 20 February 2017 was headed by SK Sharma, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest Wildlife. The event was coordinated by the bird count India partnership, a coming-together of a number of Indian groups and organisation that are interested in birds, nature and conservation. A detailed report is in preparation and will be published shortly. eBird is a website for recording and maintaining the bird sighting data and is based at the Cornell University s Laboratory of Ornithology. The next GBBC will be conducted from 16 February to 19 February 2018.

The world’s oldest aircraft carrier in active service, INS Viraat will be decommissioned on 6 March 2017. The iconic carrier will receive a ceremonial send off in Mumbai. Similar to the decommissioning of INS Vikrant, India’s first aircraft carrier in January 1997, INS Viraat’s send off would also be an emotional moment for the naval officers and other personnel who were deployed on the ship.  Highlights :  INS Viraat is the longest serving aircraft carrier in the Indian naval fleet. It was commissioned into the Indian Navy on 12 May 1987.  It will be retiring after serving the country for nearly three decades.  The decommissioning ceremony will be attended by Manohar Parrikar, the defence minister along with several other dignitaries. The event would witness the lowering and wrap-up of the naval flag installed on the warship at sunset.  INS Viraat :  It was built in 1943, during the Second World War. It was commissioned as the Royal British Navy’s HMS Hermes in 1959 and decommissioned in 1984.  It was sold to India in 1987 and served the navy for 27 years. The ship sailed for the last time under its own power in July 2016 from Mumbai to Kochi where it was dry-docked and prepared for decommissioning. Though the historic ship’s ultimate fate is still undecided, there is a possibility that it may be turned into a museum to preserve it as a relic of maritime history forever. The Ministry of Defence is, however, yet to take a final decision, as converting the carrier into a museum would require an investment of about ₹1000 Cr besides the daily running cost.

Anil Joshi, the Cabinet Minister of Punjab, on 5 March 2017 inaugurated tricolour on the tallest flag post at Indo-Pakistan Attari border. The flag was hoisted on the Indian side, which is located just at a stone throw away distance from Pakistan. The flag post was built at an approximate cost of Rs 3.50 crore was a project of the Amritsar Improvement Trust Authority of Punjab Government. Measurement of the flag post • Length - 110 meters • Width - 24 metres • Height - 360-foot • Weight - 55 tonnes Due to the election Code of Conduct is in place in the state, the minister has availed special permission from the Election Commission for the inauguration. The flag post became attraction for thousands of tourists who were present at Wagha border to watch the Beating Retreat Ceremony during the sunset. Even visitors from Pakistan’s gallery were also watching the Indian flag with keen interest touching the sky. Due to its size, it is visible from all sides even from Pakistan’s Lahore city too. The flagpole was set up near the tourism building just at 150 meters distance from border.

Dr Thomas E Starzl, a surgeon who performed the first successful liver transplant on a human patient, passed away on 4 March 2017 in Pittsburgh. He was 90. Dr Starzl’s death was announced by the University of Pittsburgh. He had been affiliated with the university since 1981. Thomas E Starzl :  Born on 11 March 1926, Thomas Earl Starzl was an American physician and researcher. He was an expert on organ transplants.He is often referred to as "the father of modern transplantation." He obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. In 1950, he earned a Master of Science degree in anatomy from the Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago.In 1952, he obtained a PhD in neurophysiology and an MD with distinction. After obtaining his medical degree, he trained in surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. He performed the first human liver transplant in 1963.  He performed the first successful human liver transplant in 1967. He performed both the transplants at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. He performed the first simultaneous heart and liver transplant on six-year-old Stormie Jones in 1984.

Former Indian cricketer Akash Chopra released book titled Numbers Do Lie, 61 Hidden Cricket Stories which takes a different look at stats. The defensive opening batsman narrated about the cricket records and player performances more lucidly that reflects player’s impact in the game of cricket. It is based on the Impact Index analytics by Jaideep Verma, Soham Sarkhel and Nikhil Narain. The book is more about Impact Index measures performance based on the match in series context and not just plain statistics.

Sweden’s coalition government of Social Democrats and Greens instituted a military draft for both men and women to tackle the deteriorating security environment in Europe and around Sweden. The country has abolished compulsory military service for men in 2010 because there were enough volunteers to meet its military needs. The country runs on Volunteer policy that Armed Forces with enough trained personnel and never had a military draft for women. Presently over 20,000 people now work for the Swedish armed forces, but this draft was announced to raise the strength of the forces by 1,000 active troops as well as 7,000 reservists.

A renewed agreement between Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir has been sealed for the completion of the Shahpur Kandi Dam project, work on which was halted two years ago following a dispute. This move comes days before its annual Indus Water Commission meeting with Pakistan in Lahore later this month. The dam will help India utilize its share of waters under Indus Water Treaty. The 55.5-metre high Shahpur Kandi dam in Punjab, will help in providing irrigation facility to 5000 hectares of land in Punjab and 32173 hectares in J&K, besides generation of 206 MW power The pact will pave the way for completion of the dam also would stop the Ravi waters from flowing into Pakistan.

In a cabinet meeting on February 28, 2017, the Assam government led by the Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal decided to make Sanskrit a compulsory language for students up to class 8 in the state. Besides, the government also decided to promote computer education in the state. The government would also appoint teachers for the two subject. The government will also connect each panchayat of the state with Internet facility by the end of 2017-18. The decision to make Sanskrit mandatory was highly appreciated by the Assam Sanskrit Sahitya Sabha and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) as it would prevent western impact on state’s culture. However, the All Assam Students Union (AASU) criticized the decision to make Sanskrit compulsory instead of promoting Assamese language in the schools.

A rocket carrying a classified U.S. satellite for the National Reconnaissance Officeblasted off from California. The Atlas 5 rocket lifted off with grade kerosene (RP-1) and liquid oxygen, the Atlas 5 rocket produced about 860,000 pounds of thrust and roared away into a clear sky over Vandenberg Air Force Base. The satellite called NROL-79 is described only as a national security payload for the NRO that has been put on space. The Mission did not reveal much information about the satellite.

 Sri Lanka has bagged the most “Popular Tourism Destination” Award for the second consecutive year at the International Travel Fair (GITF) Travel Fair in Guangzhou, China. This award shows china’s interest in the island nation besides China has been Sri Lanka’s second largest source market for tourism since 2014. The GITF award will further label Sri Lanka among visitors to gain greater exposure andvisibility for its unique destination brand.

The 13th Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) Summit, an inter-governmental regional group of 10 countries was held in Islamabad, Pakistan on March 1, 2017 under the chairmanship of Prime Minister of Pakistan Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. The theme of the summit was “Connectivity for Regional Prosperity”. The summit aimed at increasing cooperation in areas such as trade, energy, tourism and economic growth. The ECO was formed in 1985 by Pakistan, Iran and Turkey. It now also includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Highlights of the Summit : During the summit, the countries discussed steps to be taken to augment cooperation in the areas of connectivity, trade, energy, tourism, investment, industry, economic growth, productivity, social welfare and environment. The Summit unanimously adopted the Islamabad Declaration 2017 that represents the collective political will of Member States to focus on connectivity of energy, infrastructure, transport, and trade for regional prosperity. Besides, the Summit also adopted the ECO Vision 2025 which provides guidelines to the Organization in all spheres of ECO activity. iv. China was the special guest to address the summit. The event highlighted the regional connectivity between Pakistan and China based on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) being implemented to link up the two nations through a network of infrastructure projects. The CPEC is part of the Chinese Belt and Road (B&R) project through which China aims to link up the world for greater connectivity to facilitate trade and commercial activities.

Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam has launched a portal named after latechief Minister Jayalalithaa which will be a hub of learning, interaction, opportunity, and connection on the occasion of her 69th birth anniversary celebrations. The launched portal will a hub of learning, interaction, opportunity, and connection. The portal was based on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) model. This initiative will help students get assistance from reputed teachers free of cost, which reflects Jayalalithaa’s Vision TN 2023, where she had set goals for development in various sectors, including education to make the state as Knowledge hub of the country.

Google India and Telangana government have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at supporting the digitization efforts of the state. Google India will provide Google Cloud credits and access to all cloud platform products to eligible startups engaged with Telangana government’s T-Hub initiative and through its Developer Relations team provide technical mentor-ship and advisory support to various startups. The MoU was signed in the presence of Telangana Minister for IT and Industries K T Rama Rao and Google India representatives.

Strategic research projects at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) Centre-ARCHEM supported by the Defence Ministry will get a whopping Rs. 113 crore funding for the next five years. The University, among the top five in the country will very soon become the first public-funded University to house a 500 MHz NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance), as a joint facility between the the Advanced Centre for Research in High Energy Materials (ARCHEM) and the School of Chemistry. Established in 2005, Archem will drive at least 30 national projects, which are aimed at boosting indigenous efforts of critical defence technologies. At least 30 projects, approved by an expert committee will be funded. Of these 22 are in Chemistry and 8 in Physics.

For the first time in 16 years, Odisha has achieved highest decline in Infant Mortality Rate (IMR). This decline is far better than the national average. According to the fourth round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), Odisha’s IMR has come down by 29% between 2005 and 2015 which is highest trend in the country. It was 96 per 1000 births in 2000 has been reduced to 40 in 2015-16. The IMR in the state has gone down by 25 points between NFHS 3 (2005-06) and NFHS 4 (2015-16), as against national average of 16. According to NFHS-4, the Odisa’s IMR is better than six major States Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Assam, Rajasthan and Jharkhand. In 2000, Odisha was only above Chhattisgarh in the national ranking. Institutional delivery in Odisha was recorded at 85.4% in NFHS-4 as against the national average of 78.9%. Similarly, 78.6% children (aged 12 and 23 months) were fully immunised as against national average of 62%. State also has achieved increase in institutional deliveries, family planning and antenatal care of mothers. It has as also registered significant decline in under-five mortality rate, anaemia and malnourishment. The impressive and sharp decline in IMR and overall improvement in different health indicators of the State in the last 16 years was achieved due to several initiatives of the government. It includes IMR Reduction Mission and Nabajyoti scheme launched in 2001, which had carried through initiatives to strengthen institutional deliveries, improve antenatal check-ups, immunisation and family planning coverage.  Besides, state’s MAMATA scheme, a conditional cash transfer scheme for pregnant women and lactating mothers also has made a significant contribution in ensuring safe deliveries and healthy infants.

combine operations in Ghana. The agreement was signed between Tigo Ghana Limited, subsidiary of Millicom and Airtel Ghana Limited, subsidiary of Airtel. The transaction is subject to obtaining approvals from the relevant authorities in Ghana and the satisfaction of customary closing conditions. Once completed, it will provide the opportunity to develop nationwide digital infrastructure and services in Ghana. Highlights of the Togo-Airtel tie-up : As per the agreement, Airtel and Millicom will have equal ownership and governance rights in the combined entity. The combined business will serve nearly 10 million customers, of which 5.6 million are data customers.  It will cover more than 80 per cent of Ghana's population with high-speed data and provide the widest 3G coverage across the country. The combined business is also expected to provide Ghanaian customers with a major boost in both rural and urban network coverage, in turn, translating into better voice quality, high-speed data services and reinforced network stability and resilience.  With the combined fibre footprint and increased number of data centres, enterprise customers such as large corporations and SMEs will have access to a diverse portfolio of world-class solutions. Mobile Financial Services will also be greatly enhanced with combined agent networks and platforms. The combination of Tigo and Airtel will create an operator that will be able to offer Ghanaian consumers and businesses a state of the art network with high-speed mobile data coverage.  This tie-up is expected to fetch in revenues close to USD 300 million, making them one of the largest communications service provider in Ghana. Airtel Ghana contributes around 6-7 per cent to Bharti Airtel’s Africa revenue which totaled close to USD 900 million for the July-September quarter in 2016.  

Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal on 3 March 2017 approved the Delhi government’s proposal to hike the minimum wages of labourers by 37 per cent. However, the notification for its implementation will be issued on 6 March 2017. Once implemented, this hike will be the historic and the highest in the independent India. As per this Delhi Cabinet’s decision, for an unskilled worker the minimum wages will be Rs 13350 per month against the existing Rs 9724 per month.  On the other hand, for the semi-skilled and skilled workers, the wages will increase from Rs 10764 to Rs 14698 and from Rs 11830 to Rs 16182 per month, respectively. Highlights :  The hike in minimum wages will benefit around 50 lakh people in Delhi. State and district level monitoring committees will also be formed to ensure that employers pay the new minimum wages to the workers. Employers will also be required to provide online information regarding the payment of minimum wages by them. Earlier, there were inspectors who used to verify whether an employer is paying minimum wages to employees or not.   The Minimum Wages Bill, which is awaiting the Centre’s approval, proposes a penalty of Rs 50000 and jail term up to three years for violation of the provisions of minimum wages. At present, the penalty is Rs 500, while the jail term is six months.

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