Today Current Affairs 20th May 2016

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Ending months of negotiations, Singapore Technologies Telemedia (STT) has agreed to buy a majority stake in some of prime data-center business owned by India's Tata Communications Ltd., valuing those operations at about Rs 4130 crore ($616 million).  ST Telemedia, which is a unit of Singapore state-investment firm Temasek Holdings (Private) Ltd., through its arm through ST Telemedia Global Data Centres (STT GDC),will acquire a 74% stake in data centers in India and Singapore, while Tata Communications will hold the remaining 26% stake, a joint statement from both the companies . The transaction will include Tata Communications' 14 data centres in key cities across India -- Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Pune -- and its three Singapore facilities. In 2014, the Indian data centre business of Tata Communications was transferred to its wholly-owned subsidiary Tata Communications Data Centers Private Ltd (TCDC) through a court approved process. These centres currently service a highly-diversified customer base, including blue chip enterprises in  Asia, e-commerce platforms and global multi-national corporations. Both parties will work in partnership to ensure service continuity for customers and employee engagement.  Tata Communications will retain a stake in the colocation market in these important markets, while honing its focus on the development and introduction of its advanced managed services portfolio (including IP, cloud enablement and unified communications services), and continuing to invest in its strategic partnerships globally.  For 9M FY16, managed services, including data centre operations, contributed 31% or Rs 2407 crore of data services revenues, according to a company's investor presentation dated April 2016. Data Centres alone contributed Rs 650 crore revenues in the same 9 month period ending December 2015.  India is one of the fastest growing markets for cloud services in the world, estimated to grow from $423 million in 2013 to $1.3 billion in 2017, according to research firm Gartner.  Amazon was among the potential suitors for the Tata asset which had also drawn interests from Google and private equity players like Advent, Carlyle Group, Blackstone and Bain Capital. 

Medicines with the Red Line : A public awareness campaign launched by the Union Government to curb irrational use of antibiotics. The term Medicines with the Red Line was in news on 19 May 2016 as the campaign was appreciated by the Global Review on Antimicrobial Resistance.The review was commissioned by the UK Prime Minister David Cameron in 2014 and chaired by economist Jim O’Neil. As per the review, India led the way so far with its idea of a ‘Red Line Campaign’ for antibiotics packaging. Medicines with the Red Line campaign :  It has several key messages - learn how to identify prescription drugs; curb self medication; and become more aware of the dangers of misusing antibiotics.The campaign was named so as it was mandated that all prescription only drugs should be marked with a vertical red line on the pack.The packs with red lines should be consumed only on doctor’s advice and the patients need to full course as prescribed by the doctor. The campaign was launched by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in February 2016.The launch of the campaign became inevitable due to growing misuse of antibiotics across the country. As per a report published in the Lancet journal in August 2014, India consumed 13 billion units of antibiotics in 2010, the highest in the world. Between 2005 and 2009, consumption shot up by 40 per cent.  

The cyclonic storm ROANU that emerged in the west central Bay of Bengal was in news. It came into news after India Meteorological Department (IMD) in its prediction said that the Cyclone is likely to intensify into a severe cyclonic storm by 20 May 2016 night and will hit Andhra coast. At present, ROANU is moving northeastwards and lay centred at south-southeast of Machilipatnam, about 290 km south-southwest of Visakhapatnam & 160 km south-southwest of Kakinada. IMD prediction and warning : It issued an orange warning message to Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.It issued yellow message for West Bengal as the system would turn into severe cyclonic storm.Moving northeastwards, the system is likely to cross south Bangladesh coast between Khepupara and Cox’s Bazar on 22 May 2016.It issued heavy to very heavy rainfall warning to coastal Andhra Pradesh, coastal Odisha and coastal Gangetic West Bengal under the influence of the cyclonic storm coupled with gusty winds speeds reaching 90-100 kmph. Fishermen have been advised not to venture into sea as the condition along and off Andhra Pradesh, South Odisha and West Bengal coasts are very likely to be high to very high.In Andhra Pradesh the district administrations have been asked to see that people staying in low-lying areas are shifted to safer places.It says that power and communication service will suffer minor damage, while major damage will be cause to kutcha roads. Minor damage will be caused to pucca roads over coastal Andhra Pradesh during next 48 hours and over south coastal Odisha from tonight onwards. NDRF and SDRF teams have been kept in readiness and essential items like food, water, medicines and other material has been kept ready to meet any eventuality.

The World Health Organisation on 19 May 2016 released the World Health Statistics 2016: Monitoring Health for the SDGs. As per the statistics, life expectancy increased by 5 years since 2000, but major inequalities persist within and among countries. Global life expectancy for children born in 2015 was 71.4 years (73.8 years for females and 69.1 years for males), while in India it was 68.3 (66.9 for males and 69.9 for females). Highlights of World Health Statistics 2016 : With an average lifespan of 86.8 years, women in Japan can expect to live the longest.Switzerland enjoys the longest average survival for men, at 81.3 years. People in Sierra Leone have the world’s lowest life-expectancy for both sexes: 50.8 years for women and 49.3 years for men.Globally, life expectancy increased by 5 years between 2000 and 2015, the fastest increase since the 1960s. Those gains reverse declines during the 1990s, when life expectancy fell in Africa because of the AIDS epidemic and in Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The increase was greatest in the African Region of WHO where life expectancy increased by 9.4 years to 60 years.The increase was driven mainly by improvements in child survival, progress in malaria control and expanded access to antiretrovirals for treatment of HIV.The report shows that newborns in 29 countries  all of them high-income  have an average life expectancy of 80 years or more, while newborns in 22 others  all of them in sub-Saharan Africa  have life expectancy of less than 60 years.Healthy life expectancy, a measure of the number of years of good health that a newborn in 2015 can expect, stands at 63.1 years globally (64.6 years for females and 61.5 years for males). Important statistics at a glance Every year : 303000 women die due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth;5.9 million children die before their fifth birthday2 million people are newly infected with HIV, and there are 9.6 million new TB cases and 214 million malaria cases.1.7 billion people need treatment for neglected tropical diseases.More than 10 million people die before the age of 70 due to cardiovascular diseases and cancer. 800 000 people commit suicide.1.25 million people die from road traffic injuries.4.3 million people die due to air pollution caused by cooking fuels.3 million people die due to outdoor pollution.475 000 people are murdered, 80 percent of them men. World Health Statistics : The World Health Statistics series is WHO’s annual compilation of health statistics for its 194 Member States. The 2016 Statistics focuses on the proposed health and health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and associated targets.They provide a comprehensive overview of the latest annual data in relation to the health-related targets in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), illustrating the scale of the challenge.

Rakesh Kumar Mishra, a noted expert in the study of function of genes, has been appointed as the new Director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). Mishra had joined CCMB in 2001 as a senior scientist after stints at the IISc, Bangalore, the University of Bordeaux, France, Saint Louise University, USA and the University of Geneva, Switzerland for post-doctoral experience. An MSc from Allahabad University, Mishra's research interests include investigating evolutionarily conserved features of genome organisation, chromatin structure and epigenetic regulation of genes during embryonic development stages.  

Veteran CBS newsman Morley Safer, who retired from CBS News just a week ago has passed away after a 61-year career in journalism. He was 84 year old. He was a intrepid storyteller and interviewer whose name became synonymous with the news magazine "60 Minutes".  Last week only, CBS News has announced Morley's retirement. He was a correspondent on the programme 60 Minutes for 46 years, joining in 1970. During his career, he reported on a broad range of topics, including war, cyberspace, social injustices and art. Safer, a native of Canada, wrote for Canadian newspapers in the 1950s before joining the CBC as a television correspondent.  

The Odisha government has constructed 10 lakh pucca houses under various rural housing schemes in past two years. Formally dedicating the houses at a function in Bhubaneswar, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik described the project as an unique achievement in the entire country and said the government will construct 16 lakh more houses in the next three years. Stating that converting one million kutcha houses to pucca houses, chief minister Naveen said cyclone Phailin in 2013 and super cyclone in 1999 had prompted him to launch this project aimed at providing safe and secure houses to 50 lakh people of the state. During the 2015-16 fiscal, the share of Odisha was 32 per cent in the houses completed in the entire country under the Indira Awas Yojana. Claiming the Odisha has become a role model for other states for its excellence in rural housing sector, the government claims a special focus was given on destitute, widows, minorities and vulnerable tribal groups.

Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has sworn in as the new president of Taiwan and also has become the first female President of the country. The 59 year old, Tsai has begun her four-year term as president after an inaugural ceremony at the Presidential Office.  The DPP chairwoman and former vice premier scored a convincing victory in the election held in January. She took over from President Ma Ying-jeou, who has served two four-year terms since May 2008. Tsai is born in southern Taiwan and studies law at Cornell University and the London School of Economics. In 2004, she join Parliament as a lawmaker for the D.P.P.

The Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare J P Nadda on 19 May 2016 launched the Centre for Environmental Health in New Delhi. The centre was launched to assess the impact of environment-related problems like air pollution, climate change, pesticide use and sanitation on health. Highlights related to Centre for Environmental Health :  It is a joint initiative of the Public Health Foundation of India and the Tata Institute of Social Science.The centre will conduct research across a range of environmental health issues, including chemical exposure, water and hygiene.Its mandate also includes capacity-building, advocacy, outreach and remedial issues. The research component of the centre is going to be an important aspect for the government to follow. Besides, the centre will also establish a policy engagement platform with regular meetings with the government, civil society, academia and the private sector to develop pathways for better implementation of the eco-friendly policies. Public Health Foundation of India : The Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) is an autonomous foundation located in New Delhi, India.The foundation was created as a public-private initiative and launched by the then Prime minister Manmohan Singh in 2006. It was created with the aim of enhancing the capacity of public health professionals in the country over five to seven years. The PHFI initiative was collaboratively developed over two years under the leadership of former Sr. Partner Worldwide, McKinsey & Company Rajat Gupta, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and President, PHFI and former Head of the Department of Cardiology, AIIMS, K. Srinath Reddy.

President Pranab Mukherjee on 19 May 2016 inaugurated an Intelligent Operations Centre (IOC) in Rashtrapati Bhavan. President Mukherjee also launched a Mobile App Monitor for transformation of President’s Estate into a smart township. Intelligent Operations Centre : The IOC is a software solution designed by IBM.It helps collect and make sense of the rich data streaming in from several sources within the Estate to provide intelligent insights. It offers integrated data visualization, near real-time collaboration and deep analytics that will help agencies prepare for problems, coordinate and manage response efforts and enhance efficiency of services. Monitor : The Monitor mobile application is a Residents collaboration tool of the Intelligent Operation Center.The application will help residents and domain (Energy, Water, Horticulture, Waste and Security) supervisors to collaborate in a smarter way for their observations.It will enable residents to report issues such as broken street lights, electricity failure, water wastage etc. and check resolution status using their mobile devices.It will allow residents to report these issues using their mobile devices in the Estate on a real time basis.These reported observations can be used to provide enough details such as location coordinates, address to concerned departments.This will help the residents of the Estate become more socially responsible, aware and collaborative.

A two-day international Buddhist conference to mark the 2,560th birth anniversary of Lord Buddha began with Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, advocating Buddhism as a means to avoid extremism in all forms.  Over 1,200 delegates and observers from 28 countries around the world will attend the conference from May 19-20, themed Lumbini, Nepal: the birth place of Lord Buddha and the fountain of Buddhism and world peace. The four noble truths and eight fold path propounded by Buddha is a way for life that helps attain ultimate happiness in life. Objectives : The main objective of organising the event is to highlight Lumbini as birth place of Lord Buddha and the fountain of Buddhism, in the international arena, to establish Lumbini as the centre for interfaith and peace dialogue as well as developing Nepal as the fountain for world peace.  Around two dozen Buddhist scholars and renowned monks will be presenting working papers on various topics such as, "Good governance and Buddhism," Buddhism its beginning and continuity. A special programme will be held on the 2,560th anniversary of Lord Buddha in Lumbini coinciding with Buddha Jayanti . President Bidya Devi Bhandari will be the chief guest on the occasion. Around 10,000 people are expected to arrive in Lumbini to mark the occasion.  During the event, the president will announce the winner of 'Lord Buddha Peace Prize' worth USD 50,000.  Delegates from various countries including from Bhutan, Thailand, Korea, Sri Lanka and Malaysia will attend the conference.  The conference will come up with a declaration based on presentations from national and international Buddhist scholars at Lumbini

India and Slovenia have signed a Protocol amending the existing Convention and Protocol between the two countries for avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income on 17th May, 2016 in Ljubljana. The Protocol was signed by Mr. Sarvajit Chakravarti, Ambassador of India to Slovenia on behalf of India and Mr. Dusan Mramor, the Slovenian Minister of Finance on behalf of Slovenia.  The Protocol will broaden the scope of the existing framework of exchange of tax related information which will help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance between the two countries and will also enable mutual assistance in collection of taxes.   

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has introduced PEHAL programme in Shimla district. The programme aim to expediting developmental works and government schemes through effective implementation at grassroots level. With this Shimla has become the 1st district in the state to launch such different programme to work as a team with the people. The PEHAL will focus on five areas namely- Primary Education, Forest Rights, Health and Sanitation, Campaign against drugs and skill development, and Women Empowerment. The district authorities have already begun works on all these areas with a distinct strategy. The programme also attempt to integrate the various stakeholders in the development story of the district.   

Election Commission on 19 May 2016 announced results of 2016 Legislative Assembly Election of West Bengal. The elections were held in six phases between 4 April 2016 and 5 May 2016 for 294 assembly seats. In the elections, ruling All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) of Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee crossed the two-third mark by winning 211 seats. Congress-Left combine has taken 76 seats while BJP has bagged three seats. Independents and others have won four seats. 2016 West Bengal Election Result :  Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) : 3 Communist Party of India (CPI) : 1 Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) : 26 Indian National Congress (INC) : 44 All India Forward Bloc (AIFB) : 2 All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) : 211 Revolutionary Socialist Party : 3 Gorkha Janmukti Morcha : 3 West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC Supremo, Mamta Banerjee won from Bhabanipur Assembly Constituency. She defeated her nearest Congress rival Deepa Dasmunshi by over 25 thousand votes. West Bengal Speaker Biman Banerjee has won from Baruipur Paschim Constituency.

IFS officer A V S Ramesh Chandra Presently High Commissioner of India to Uganda, has been appointed as the Ambassador of India to Romania. He Joined Indian Foreign Service in August 1989. He did Master’s Degree in Veterinary Science majoring in Dairy Technology from Andhra Pradesh Agricultural University (APAU) in Hyderabad. He was expected to take up his assignment shortly.

State-owned BHEL has commissioned a 250 mw thermal unit in Maharashtra.The unit has been commissioned at Parli Thermal Power Station (TPS), located in Beed district in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL)  in a BSE filing. The project is owned by Maharashtra State Power Generation Company (Mahagenco). This is the eighth coal-based unit commissioned by BHEL at Parli TPS. BHEL has been a major partner in the power development programme of the state and has commissioned 16,000 mw of power generation capacity in Maharashtra, its highest in any single state. The 200-270 MW rating class sets supplied by BHEL today form the backbone of the Indian power sector and have been performing much above the national as well as international benchmarks.

Tamil Nadu elections 2016 : J Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK has clearly headed to retain power in Tamil Nadu by winning 134 seats as arch rival DMK gave a strong fight bagging 89 segments. Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, set to create history by becoming the first ever leader to retain power in the state since 1989, as she retains R K Nagar constituency defeating DMK rival by 39,545 votes. Jayalalithaa secured 97,218 votes against Shimla Muthuchozhan who polled 57,673 votes. Of the 232 seats that went for voting on May 16, Congress has won 8 seats while Indian Union Muslim League has one seat in its pocket. Her arch-rival and DMK President M Karunanidhi retained his Tiruvarur constituency by a huge margin of more than 65,000 votes. Addressing jubilant party workers, Jayalalithaa called the victory a historic one and vowed to strive for the people with renewed vigour. Tamil Nadu election result 2016 NOTO  for 5.55 lakh  2016 Tamil Nadu Election Result : Status Known For 232 out of 234 Constituencies All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam : 134 Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam : 89 Indian National Congress : 8 Indian Union Muslim League : 1 Polling was postponed in two Thanjavur and Aravakurichi constituencies and  by the Election Commission. The May 2016 assembly elections in Tamil Nadu will go down in the history with many firsts, including being the first time since 1984, when the AIADMK has retained power. AIADMK general secretary J.Jayalalithaa became the first chief minister to get elected for a successive term since 1984. It was also the first time that AIADMK contested the highest number of constituencies  227, while with its allies contesting under AIADMK’s two leaves symbol, it was the first time in the party’s history to have fought an election under its symbol in all the 234 seats.

Considered one of the most iconic wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal has been voted among the top five tourist attractions in the world, second in Asia and led the popularity list in India, according to a leading travel planning and booking site Trip Advisor. The iconic 'monument of love' is ranked number 5 in the global list of the recently released TripAdvisor's Travellers' Choice Landmarks Awards, which put Machu Picchu in Peru and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center in Abu Dhabi as the top two destinations for travellers. Award winners were determined using an algorithm that took into account the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for landmarks worldwide, gathered over a 12-month period. India has a rich cultural history which is often reflected in the architectural landmarks that we've built and any recognition on the world stage is truly well deserved. The Taj Mahal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for being the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage. The Amber Fort in Jaipur also figures on the 8th list of in the Travellers' Choice Landmarks in Asia. Known for its combination of Mughal and Rajput architecture, Amber fort is one of the major tourist attractions in Jaipur. The most fascinating state room inside the fort is the Sheesh Mahal, also known as the mirror palace, adorned with thousands of mirror tiles which supposedly can be fully lit just by a single candle. This fort along with Jaigarh Fort, is located immediately above on the Cheel ka Teela (Hill of Eagles) and connected by a subterranean passage. This passage was meant as an escape route in times of war to enable the royal family members to shift to Jaigarh Fort. The Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) in Amritsar, Punjab is ranked number 3 on the Travellers' Choice Landmarks -India list. Taj Mahal : The Taj Mahal more often Persian for Crown of Palaces) is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan (reigned 1628–1658), to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.The Taj Mahal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for being "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage". Described by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore as "the tear-drop on the cheek of time", it is regarded by many as the best example of Mughal architecture and a symbol of India's rich history. The Taj Mahal attracts 7–8 million visitors a year. In 2007, it was declared a winner of the New7Wonders of the World (2000–2007) initiative.

Indian journalist and Councillor Philip Abraham has been elected the Deputy Mayor of Loughton town in the United Kingdom. Councillor Carol Davis, the newly-elected mayor presented the Deputy Mayor’s Badge to Philip Abraham. Mr. Abraham is a journalist from Kerala and is editor of Kerala Link. He had won the election to the Loughton Town Council in 2012. He was the first person of Asian origin to be elected to Loughton Town Council Loughton is a vibrant town in the Epping forest district of Essex and has migrant population is less than 2 per cent. The elected deputy mayor normally goes on to become the mayor for the following year. India’s former defence minister V K Krishna Menon was the first person from Kerala to become a Councillor in Britain. He was a Labour Councillor for the Borough of St Pancras from 1934 to 1939.

Veteran Gujarati folk singer Diwaliben Bhil passed away in Junagadh, Gujarat. She was 80. Diwaliben Bhil had given her voice to various Gujarati folk songs, film songs and Garba (Gujarati folk dance). Diwaliben Bhil :  She was born in tribal family in Gir jungle and was married at the age of 9. Later at age of 20, she shifted to Junagadh. She received fame after Akashwani team found out her singing talent and recorded her song when she was signing Garba in Vanzari chowk area of Junagadh. Later she was invited to sing in Akashwani and recorded her first song, ‘Ful utarya fulwadi ae re lol’. Since then she performed on All India Radio and Doordarshan. Award and Honours : Union Government had honoured her with Padma Shri award in 1991.

A joint US-Australian military research team successfully tested a hypersonic technology in the Australian desert. In the test, scramjet attached to a rocket booster was successfully sent to an altitude of 278 km at Mach 7.5 (seven times the speed of sound). The team was running a series of 10 trials of the hypersonic technology at the world’s largest land testing range located at Woomera in Australia and at Norway’s Andoya Rocket Range. Hypersonic flight involves travelling at more than 5 times the speed of sound (Mach 5). For this purpose, scientists working in the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation (HIFiRE) programme are developing an engine that can fly at Mach 7 speed. HiFiRE programme consists of a scramjet engine attached to a rocket booster. Scramjet : It is a supersonic combustion engine that uses oxygen from the atmosphere for fuel. It is lighter and faster than fuel-carrying rockets and is suitable for flying at hypersonic (Mach 5 and above) speed. Scramjet engines do not have moving parts. It has rotating compressor and turbine in a jet engine. In the engine, air is compressed and expanded by complex systems of shockwaves located in front of the aircraft. Significance : It is a game-changing technology that could revolutionise global air travel, and also provide cost-effective access to space. It can be very useful as an alternative to a rocket for putting satellites into space.

Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and its alliance partners have won an absolute majority in 2016 Assam state assembly election by winning 87 seats (16.46% votes) in the 126 member House.  BJP alone has won 60 seats (29.5% votes) on its own, thus making history by winning an Assam assembly election for the first time. BJP’s ally Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) has won 14 seats (8.1% votes) while another ally Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) has bagged 13 seats (3.9% votes). Indian National Congress (INC) has won 26 seats (31% votes), while its ally All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) won 13 seats (13% votes) and one seat was won be an independent candidate. BJP’s Chief Ministerial candidate Sarbananda Sonowal has won from Majuli seat, defeating his nearest rival by more than 18000 votes. Outgoing Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has won in Titabar seat, with a margin of over 17000 votes. BJP’s Chief Ministerial candidate Sarbananda Sonowal has won from Majuli seat, defeating his nearest rival by more than 18000 votes. Outgoing Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has won in Titabar seat, with a margin of over 17000 votes. The general election for the 14th Assam legislative assembly was held in two phases on April 4 and 11, 2016 to elect members of the 126 constituencies in Assam. The overall voter’s turnout was 84.72% which is highest in the history of Assam. The turnout saw an increase from the 2011 Assembly election turnout which was 75%. Election Commission of India (ECI) also conducted trials of 2300 Voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines attached along with EVMs (electronic voting machines) in 10 assembly constituencies in the state.

India’s largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) formally started merger of 5 associative banks and Bharatiya Mahila Bank with itself. The merged entity will have India’s one-fourth of the deposit and loan market. Post-consolidation, SBI’s market share will increase from 17 per cent to 22.5-23 per cent, while the total business of the merged entity will be over 35 lakh crore rupees. Against this backdrop, it is pertinent to analyse pros and cons of consolidation in the Indian banking sector. Arguments in favour of consolidation : India is the fastest growing major economy in the world. To sustain this growth, there is a need for mega banks that only will ensure investments into the large scale infrastructure projects. At present, there are a total of 27 public sector banks (PSBs) in the country. Apart from the SBI, all the remaining banks are regional banks. Hence, consolidation helps in leveraging the benefits of economies of scale. Banking sector is suffering from non performing assets (NPAs) problem. To overcome this, the government is resorting to capital infusion. Consolidation will increase capital efficiency, apart from improving the ability of banks to recover bad loans. Consolidation will help in leveraging the synergies among the banks that have diverse portfolios, focus areas and coverage areas. As the government is the only common owner of all the PSBs, the process of consolidation is much easier and effortless.Indian companies are going global. Now we are home to many multinational companies that have presence in various sectors of the economy. Again this context, big-ticket Indian banks are the most proper platforms to deliver financial services to them. At present, there is not a single Indian bank in the top 50 global banks list. The consolidation is expected to fill this gap, and, consequently, help build the ‘Brand India’ among international investors. International experience is also favourable towards consolidation. Banks in Japan gained a lot as a result of large scale merger and acquisition process between 1990 and 2004. Arguments against consolidation : Experts argue that consolidation should take place in a positive environment. The present process of consolidation is not driven by the inherent strength of the banking system. It is resorted to escape from the problem of NPAs.There are apprehensions among the labour unions that the consolidation will lead to job losses.  

India and China are home to more than a third of the global burden of mental illnesses. It was revealed by the Lancet journal on 18 May 2016 to mark the launch of China-India Mental Health Alliance Series. Key findings of the study : Nearly one-third of the global burden of mental illness and substance abuse disorders is borne by India and China combined. This is higher than such cases in all developed countries put together.While India accounted for 15 percent of the global mental, neurological and substance use disorder burden, China accounted for 17 percent. Developing countries as a whole accounted for three-fourths of the global burden of mental illnesses.That burden will become much heavier in coming decades, especially in India, where it is projected to increase by a quarter by 2025. In India, only 10 percent with mental disorders are estimated to receive evidence-based interventions. In China, the treatment-seeking rate is less than 6 percent. Less than one percent of national healthcare budgets in China and India are allocated to mental health care.In the USA the figure is nearly 6 percent, while in Germany and France it is pegged around 10 percent.  China-India Mental Health Alliance Series : The China-India Mental Health Alliance comprises experts from both countries and elsewhere. The experts have worked to produce a collection of systematic reviews based on extensive literature searches of both international and national databases.The series is aimed at encouraging further collaboration between Chinese and Indian mental health research communities to address shared concerns.Vikram Patel (India) and Michael R Phillips are the Series leaders.