Current Affairs 21st May 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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Pinarayi Vijayan is set to become the next chief minister of Kerala after the Left Democratic Front (LDF) emerged triumphant in the 16 May state assembly election. The Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, chose Vijayan, 72, over V.S. Achuthanandan, 92, a former chief minister of the southern state, who led the Left’s election campaign. The Left Front had refrained from announcing a chief ministerial candidate in the run-up to the election and both Achuthanandan and Vijayan had been seen as front-runners for the position. The two leaders in the past have had their differences. The decision was taken in a state secretariat meeting held in Kerala on Friday where a majority of the members were in favour of Vijayan’s selection. The meeting was attended by party general secretary Yechury and former general secretary Prakash Karat. The move also comes as the party is making attempts to revive its organisational structure after fielding state and central committee members. This year, Vijayan contested elections for the first time since 1998. The CPM is the largest party in the LDF, which secured 91 seats in the 140-member Kerala assembly in the vote count on Thursday. Analysts are hopeful of the state’s growth under Vijayan’s stewardship. Vijayan has a record of being a good minister and a reasonably modern-minded leader. Being a first-time chief minister, he would want to prove himself. Vijayan can provide a decent administration if he creates a good team from the 91 members that have been elected. He added, While making the announcement, Yechury shared the dias with VS (Achuthanandan) which in itself is a good sign. VS may have resigned himself to being a figurehead. If VS decides to keep his ambitions in control it will be a fairly smooth government. Born in 1944 to a toddy tapper family in Kannur, Vijayan served as CPM state committee secretary from 1998 to 2015. He is the longest serving state secretary and is known to be a grassroots leader. He has been elected to the state legislative assembly four times. Vijayan became the minister for electricity and cooperation in 1996. Currently, he is a member of the central committee and the politburo of the party. He won the assembly election from Dharmadom in Kannur district with a margin of 36,905 votes.

A 42 year old woman born in Nepal, Lhakpa Sherpa has climbed Mount Everest for the seventh time. With this she has braked her own record for the most ascents to the world's highest mountain by a woman. Two other Sherpa climbers share between them a record for 21 ascents of Everest, the maximum climbs by men and also shared the record for scaling the mountain for the ​most number of times overall. Lhakpa has reached the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) peak from the Tibetan side. She is one of the 11 children of a Nepali family and was born in eastern Sankhuwasabha district where the world's fifth highest mountain, Makalu is located.   

The World Bank has announced  a new program to mobilize funds quickly against virulent disease outbreaks after the world was caught unprepared in the 2014 Ebola disaster in West Africa. World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said the new Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF) will accelerate global and national responses to disease outbreaks that threaten large populations and fragile economies. A combination of catastrophe insurance and bonds, is a direct reaction to the sluggish donor response to the outbreak of Ebola, which eventually killed close to 11,000 in West Africa and shut down economic activity for months.Pandemics pose a serious threat to global health and economic security. The recent Ebola crisis in West Africa was a tragedy that we were simply not prepared for. It was a wake-up call to the entire world.There is no effective international system ready to respond quickly to a pandemic. But he acknowledged that it took months to bring together the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to pay for deploying health personnel, supplies, and other relief to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.Kim announced the creation of the PEF at the gathering of G7 finance ministers in Sendai, Japan. The insurance will cover outbreaks of several classes of infectious diseases most at risk for epidemics: new orthomyxoviruses including influenza pandemic viruses A, B and C; coronaviruses like SARS and MERS; filoviruses like Ebola and Marburg; and other zoonotic diseases  those that move between animals and humans — including Crimean Congo, Rift Valley and Lassa fever. That list does not include Zika, the deadly mosquito-borne virus spreading through the Americas. But Kim said the bank is also putting together a separate emergency “cash window” to address that and other outbreaks not covered. Under the program the 77 least developed countries will be covered by the insurance. Unlike common insurance that repays losses after a disaster, the PEF insurance is designed to release funds as soon as a disease outbreak reaches a certain level as defined by specific criteria.The countries and the world, and the insurance industry, have the same incentives to prevent the spread of pandemics.

The Union Government has launched ‘Qora’, an indigenously developed affordable Faecal Incontinence Management System (FIMS). It was launched by Union Minister of State (MoS) for Science & Technology Y.S.Chowdary in New Delhi. The FIMS-Qora was developed under the Union Ministry of Science & Technology’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT) Bio design Programme by M/s. Consure Medical. Fecal incontinence :  Fecal incontinence (FI) is a medical condition marked by inability to control one’s bowel movements. It causes feces (stool) to leak unexpectedly from the rectum. This medical condition worldwide affects nearly 100 million bed ridden patients. Furthermore, about 50% of the psychiatric ward patients due to long-term neurological diseases have FI. At present, the only available solutions for this condition are absorbent pads and fecal drainage catheters. Significance of FIMS-Qora  : This affordable novel technology will help to address the clinical and economic implications of FI by expanding indications for use. It will also help in reducing skill level required to use a device, and introducing a new level of care for patients outside the ICU.

Emmy award-winning actor Alan Young has died, aged 96.  Young was best known for his role in the popular 1960s sitcom “Mister Ed”, where he played the hapless and somewhat klutzy owner of Mister Ed, Wilbur Post.  He also won several Emmy Awards for “The Alan Young Show”, which he hosted before “Mister Ed”.  Young also made a number of films and television shows throughout his career, and provided the voice of Disney’s Scrooge McDuck.  Alan Young : Alan Young  was an English-Canadian-American actor, voice artist, comedian, radio host, television host and personality best known for his role as Wilbur Post in the television comedy series Mister Ed and as the voice of Scrooge McDuck in Disney films, TV series and video games. During the 1940s and 1950s, he starred in his own shows on radio and television. He also appeared in a number of feature films, including The Time Machine.

United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Mary Robinson and Macharia Kamau as UN’s Special Envoys for El Nino and Climate. These appointments come at a time of great urgency as the drought and flooding associated with El Niño have created massive needs across the world. The El Niño has worst affected four regions of East Africa, Southern Africa, Central America and the Pacific. These UN Special Envoys will provide the leadership required to tackle challenges and responses to climate change and El Niño in order to scale up our humanitarian response. Mary Robinson : She is former President of Ireland. Previously she had worked as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and as UN special envoy for climate change. Macharia Kamau : He is Kenyan diplomat. Presently, he is working as ambassador to the United Nations. He is also former president of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Board. It is a weather phenomenon, which occurs every two to seven years. It affects rainfall patterns and causes both drought and flooding.

UK based banking giant, HSBC Holding Plc stated that it plans to close 24 branches in India. The decision comes after a strategic review of its retail banking and wealth management business showed customers are increasingly opting for digital banking services. This decision will impact around 10 % of the company's retail customer base and lead to 300 jobs losses. Presently, HSBC employs over 33,000 people in the country. But now the bank would consolidate from 50 branches across 29 cities to 26 branches across 14 cities, and the closures will take place gradually over the next few months. HSBC Bank : HSBC Bank plc is one of the largest banking and financial services organisations in the world. HSBC's international network comprises around 7,500 offices in over 80 countries and territories in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, the Americas, the Middle East and Africa.HSBC Bank plc is one of the four major clearing banks in the United Kingdom and is a wholly owned subsidiary of HSBC Holdings. The business ranges from the traditional High Street roles of personal finance and commercial banking, to private banking, consumer finance as well as corporate and investment banking. Across all brands the bank operates some 1800 sites in the UK.

World Bank arm International Finance Corporation ( IFC ) is looking to invest $68 million or Rs 460 crore in Apollo Health & Lifestyle Limited, which runs the hospital chains small format centers. The proposed investment is part of the overall raise by the unit of $135 million or Rs 900 crore.  IFC is considering an equity investment of approximately $68 million, including approximately $34 million for its own account and approximately $34 million for IFC's Asset Management Company . IFC has earlier invested in the parent company of Apollo Health & Lifestyle , Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Limited.  Apollo Health & Lifestyle operates in the primary care space, it currently has 7 formats - Apollo Clinics (consultation), Apollo Sugar (diabetes), Apollo Diagnostics, Apollo White (dental care) and Apollo Dialysis besides Apollo Cradle (maternity) and Apollo Spectra Hospitals (day care surgery).  With the new round of financing, Apollo Health & Lifestyle plans to open 151 small-format healthcare centers, 9 maternity facilities and 64 pathology labs, which will be supported by 765 collection centers. This expansion will increase the provision of affordable private sector healthcare in the Indian market.  According to Apollo Hospitals' 2015 annual report, the company has infused Rs 127 crore in Apollo Health & Lifestyle. The unit reported revenues of Rs 166.4 crore with losses of Rs 28.4 in FY15.  Apollo Health & Lifestyle had expanded into day care surgeries by acquiring Nova Specialty Hospitals , which runs 11 day & short stay surgery centers across 8 cities, in early 2015. provides us with an opportunity to strengthen our presence in the Secondary care segment. Apollo Healthcare scrip was up more than 1.29 per cent on NSE on Friday to Rs 1,338, giving the Chennai-based healthcare group market capitalisation of over Rs 18,623.40 crore.  International Finance Corporation : The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is an international financial institution that offers investment, advisory, and asset management services to encourage private sector development in developing countries. The IFC is a member of the World Bank Group and is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States. It was established in 1956 as the private sector arm of the World Bank Group to advance economic development by investing in strictly for-profit and commercial projects that purport to reduce poverty and promote development.  

The US House of Representatives on 20 May 2016 gave its nod to a bipartisan legislation to improve defence ties with India. In this regard, an amendment to the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) was approved by the House. The amendment is dubbed as ‘Enhancing Defence and Security Co-operation with India’. Outcomes of the legislation : The legislation, once approved by the Senate and the President, will bring the country’s bilateral relations with India on par with its NATO allies and Israel. It seeks to promote greater defence trade and encourage additional military cooperation between the United States and India.The legislation is primarily aimed at easing restrictions on sale of defence equipment and technology transfer to India. It encourages the executive branch to designate an official to focus on US-India defence cooperation. It will facilitate the transfer of defence technology and maintain a special office in the Pentagon dedicated exclusively to the US-India Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI). The up gradation of the US-India relations can be seen in the context of the Pivot to Asia Doctrine of the Obama administration that aims at building new relationships in the Asia Pacific region.On the bilateral front, the legislative approval is an important milestone in the US-India relations as it addresses one of the tricky issues of defence technology transfer and sale. The legislation will give enough leverage to the executive branch of the US Government in dealing with India. For India, it encourages the government to authorize enhanced military planning with the USA.The future missions of mutual interest will be such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, counter piracy, and maritime domain awareness.

Belgian Mourad Laachraoui has won gold in the European Taekwondo Championships. Now he will compete in this summer's Rio Olympics. He has beaten Spaniard Jesus Tortosa 6-3 in the -54kg final in Montreux, Switzerland. He has won silver medal at the Summer Universiades in 2015 and has qualified for the Rio Games in August. He is the brother of Najim Laachraoui, was one of the two suicide bombers who struck Brussels airport on March 22, while a third attacker blew himself up at on a metro train, with the two attacks killing 32 people. Two days after the Brussels attacks, he said he had been "devastated" by what had happened and said he had no contact with his older brother since the latter left for Syria in February 2013.  

Finance ministers and central banks governor from the Group of Seven developed nations kicked off the first day of their meeting in Sendai, Japan. They have held discussions on the world economy, ahead of next week's G7 summit (26-27th May), to be held in Ise-Shima, central Japan. The participants countries in 42 G-7 summit 2016 are France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, Canada, Unites States and European Union. Ahead of G-7 summit kickoff, the G-7 financial leaders discussed the future of the global economy with noted economists, including Nobel laureate Robert Shiller, a professor at Yale University, and Martin Feldstein, a professor at Harvard University. The participants are said to have exchanged views on what their governments can do to put the global economy back on track and achieve sustainable growth. Among world economic issues that they have discussed are the slowing Chinese economy and lower crude oil prices.  They also discussed ways of dealing with tax evasion and questionable tax avoidance in reaction to disclosures in the Panama Papers.  G7 summits : G7 summits are annual top-level meetings attended by the heads of the G7 (group of seven) nations and the President of the European Commission. At the summits, the heads of states gather at a round table and try to reach a consensus and make decisions by freely exchanging views on various global issues faced by the international community. After each summit, a communique containing the main results is issued. Under the leadership of the heads, the summits have provided key opportunities to effectively address the issues which need to be solved swiftly by the international community. Japan will assume the G7 presidency for one year from January to December 2016. The summit will be held in Japan for the first time since the Hokkaido Toyako Summit in 2008, eight years ago.

President Pranab Mukherjee will visit China from May 24 to 27 during which he will hold talks with the top Chinese leadership,He will be visiting China at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping and he will be accompanied by a high level delegation which includes Union Minister for Textiles-Santosh Gangwar, 4 members of Parliament and heads of prominent higher education institutes of the country. Mukherjee, the first President to visit China after his predecessor Pratibha Patil’s trip in 2010, will arrive in the highly industrialised Chinese city Guangzhou on May 24. The city has strong business links with India.  Besides interacting with the Indian community, which has over 3,000 businessmen, Mukherjee will also address India-China Business Forum to highlight the investment opportunities in India. Top Chinese officials of the province are expected to attend the event. A number of Indian and Chinese businessmen are also expected to take part in the event, official sources . The President’s visit, which is a reciprocal visit to Xi’s trip to India in 2014, will be followed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Chinese city of Hangzhou to take part in the G20 leaders summit to be held on September 4 and 5 this year.Xi was expected to travel to India to take part in the Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS) summit scheduled to be held in Goa from October 15-16 this year. 

An Indian Army team has successfully summited the world’s highest mountain peak, Mount Everest.The Indian Army team led by Lt. Col. Ranveer Jamwal successfully summits Mount Everest.The Additional Director General Public Information (ADG PI) tweeted. Concurrently, two members of the team are attempting the Everest- Lhotse traverse and later five members would be participating in Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon (THEM) on May 29, 2016. The expedition team is scheduled to return to Delhi on June 10, 2016. Team leader Lt Col Jamwal is a reputed climber with several successful expeditions to his credit and was also the team leader during last year’s Everest Expedition. The 30 member team  :  5 Officers, 4 Junior Commissioned Officers and 21 Other Ranks -- to scale Mount Everest and Mount Lhotse was formally flagged off by the Vice Chief of Army Lt Gen MMS Rai on March 29, 2016 in New Delhi. This is the same expedition team which was located at Everest Base Camp when an earthquake of 7.9 magnitude struck Nepal on April 25, 2015 causing destruction and triggered massive avalanches on Everest. The avalanche hit Mount Pumori destroying camps of many expedition teams, killing 22 international climbers and local sherpas, and leaving over 70 injured, some of them critically. The Indian Army team, which was safe, had quickly regrouped and began helping in relief work. Officials said that, as various agencies gradually moved their mountaineers down, Indian Army team were the last to leave Everest Base Camp.

Global ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service estimates India’s economic growth at 7.5 per cent in both 2016 and 2017. Unlike China, it says, this country is less exposed to external headwinds and would benefit from lower commodity prices. The economy grew 7.5 per cent in the first nine months of FY16. So, Moody’s does not expect higher expansion. It also said an otherwise robust economic environment faces hurdles in the form of banks’ balance sheet repair and high corporate debt. The 23.55 per cent increase in public sector salaries proposed by the 7th Pay Commission is worth 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). It is not yet known how this proposal will be implemented but higher public sector wages will most likely contribute to strong consumption growth,” it said. Moody’s rating for India sovereign debt is Baa3, the lowest investment grade. The ratings agency added the pay increase will also probably raise inflationary pressure. “However, we assume the government will cut spending to maintain the deficit in line with the 3.5 per cent of GDP objective, thereby mitigating some of the inflationary effects. In its report, Global Macro Outlook 2016-17: Global growth faces rising risks at time of policy constraint, it cautions that a robust economic environment is constrained by “banks’ balance sheet repair and elevated corporate debt” and “corporate pricing power being limited by the impact on food price inflation and households’ budgets of consecutive droughts. Gross non-performing assets of public sector banks crossed Rs 4.04 lakh crore by December-end 2015, a rise of 450 per cent since March 2011. Moody’s said global growth would fail to pick up steam over the next two years, as a slowdown in China, lower commodity prices and tighter financing in some countries weigh on economies.

The 27th edition of the India-Indonesian CORPAT (Coordinated Patrol) concluded on 19 May 2016 in Belawan, Indonesia. The closing ceremony Belawan saw the two navies conducting interactive session on measures to enhance inter-operability.The 27th CORPAT was conducted from 29 April to 19 May 2016. Highlights of closing ceremony of 27th CORPAT :  The closing ceremony was held from 16 May to 19 May 2016.Indian Naval Ship Karmuk entered Belawan harbour on 16 May 2016 with the Senior Officer Commodore Girish Kumar Garg. The ship was escorted by Indonesia Navy ship KRI Imam Bonjol into the harbour.The first woman IFS officer from Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Dr Shalia Shah, Counsul General of India in Medan (Indonesia), was present to receive the Port Blair based ship. Coordinated Patrolling (CORPAT) : The Indian and Indonesian navies have been carrying out Coordinated Patrolling along the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) twice a year since 2002. It is being carried out to keep the vital part of the Indian Ocean Region safe and secure for commercial shipping and international trade. The CORPAT has strengthened understanding and interoperability between the two navies.It has also instituted measures to prosecute vessels engaged in unlawful activities and conducting search and rescue as well as pollution control.  

Indian women’s team settled for a bronze medal after suffering a 0-3 defeatat the hands of defending champions China in the semifinals of the Uber Cup badminton championship, at Kunshan in China. After top shuttlers Saina Nehwal and P V Sindhu went down narrowly against their respective opponents in the two singles match, Jwala Gutta and N Sikki Reddy also bit the dust in the first doubles, ending India’s campaign. Indian eves had scripted history in the last edition when they won a historic bronze in New Delhi and they repeated the feat this time at Kunshan Sports Center Stadium. Uber Cup : The Uber Cup or World Team Championships for Women, is a major international badminton competition contested by women’s national badminton teams.The Uber Cup is named after a former British women’s badminton player,Betty Uber, who in 1950 had the idea of hosting a women’s event similar to that of the men .So far, only 5 countries have won the Uber Cup with China the most successful team with 13 titles, followed by Japan (5 titles), Indonesia (3 titles), United States (3 titles) and Korea (1 title).The cup follows a similar format to that of the men’s competition of theThomas Cup.

Transport Minister of Turkey Binali Yildirim on 20 May 2016 emerged as the country’s Prime Minster. He was named as the prime minister after he was formally chosen for the post in a closed vote.He will be the sole candidate for the Justice and Development Party (AKP) leadership at a special party congress on 22 May 2016. He will succeed Ahmet Davutoglu, who earlier stepped down from the post following an increasing public rift with Erdogan.The AKP will hold the special congress to elect a new leader on 22 May 2016. Binali Yildirim :  He is a close ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for about two decades.From 1994 to 2000, he served as the director general of the Istanbul Ferries Company (IDO).In August 2001, he entered politics and became a co-founder of the AKP alongside Erdogan. In 2002, he was chosen as a Member of Parliament (MP) and was named as the transport minister.In 2014, he resigned as transport minister because of his candidacy for the Izmir mayorship in the local elections.He lost the candidacy to opposition leader Aziz Kocaoglu.After this, he served as an adviser to Erdogan, before entering parliament again and returning to his role as the transport minister. Appointment of Yildirim will also reinforce Erdogan's hold on government as he seeks to extend his powers. Erdogan, who is no more the leader of APK after being appointed as the President of the country, will try to tighten his grip on the party founded by him via Yilirim.

World Metrology Day celebrates the signature by representatives of seventeen nations of the Metre Convention on 20 May 1875. The Convention set the framework for global collaboration in the science of measurement and in its industrial, commercial and societal application. The original aim of the Metre Convention  the worldwide uniformity of measurement  remains as important today as it was in 1875. The World Metrology Day project is currently realized jointly by the BIPM and the OIML together with PTB International Technical Cooperation. The theme for 2016 is "Measurement in a Dynamic World", referring to both the challenge of accurately measuring dynamic quantities and the rapid pace of change in metrology today. Numerous instruments are utilized in dynamical legal metrology, including: Automatic weighing instruments Electricity meters Instruments that measure the flow of water and other liquids or gases Taximeters Of course, metrology as a whole extends far beyond these instruments. Whether you’re checking the time on your smartphone, planning your route to the office or looking up the weather forecast, there are thousands of metrologists across the world and down through history to thank for such seemingly mundane conveniences.

The first World Conference on Tourism for Development (WCTD) was held in Beijing, China from May 18 to 21, 2016.  It was held under the theme ‘Tourism for Peace and Development’ to advance the contribution of tourism to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The event will be jointly organized by the Government of China and United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Its focus was on discussion to align national development strategies of countries with the SDGs and the role of public and private partnerships (PPP) in the 2030 SDGs. It also analyzed how to advance the contribution of tourism to the 17 SDGs including the sector’s ability to promote local culture, create jobs and be an agent of change towards more sustainable consumption and production (SCP) practices. The conference complemented two high level sessions focusing on (i) Tourism for Poverty Reduction (ii) Tourism for Peace. Beside China as chair of the G20 also hosted the 7th G20 Tourism Ministers’ Meeting under the theme “Sustainable Tourism – An Effective Tool for Inclusive Development”.

Union Cabinet has approved promulgation of an ordinance to keep state boards out of the ambit of common medical entrance exams i.e. National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for one year. Through the ordinance, the order of the Supreme Court on NEET will be put on hold for a year i.e. for the academic year 2016-2017. Earlier in May 2016, Supreme Court had refused to modify its April 2016 order making NEET mandatory for admission to undergraduate medical courses across the country for one year. The apex court order had implied that all government colleges, deemed universities and private medical colleges would be covered under NEET. It also had scrapped all those examinations which had already taken place or were slated to be conducted separately. Several State governments and major political parties had favoured deferring implementation of the apex court verdict. Several State governments also wanted their exams to be the basis for admission for their 85 per cent quota for the academic year 2016-2017. So far, as per the SC order 6.5 lakh students have already sat for the first phase of NEET held on 1 May 2016. The next phase of the exam was scheduled on 24 July 2016.

Union Health Minister on 20 May 2016 launched the ‘Kayakalp Fortnight’ at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi. It has to be observed from the date of launch to 3 June 2016 throughout the country in various Central Government hospitals. The aim of the Kayakalp Fortnight is to intensify Kayakalp initiative under the Swachch Bharat Abhiyaan. Under the initiative, various activities towards cleanliness will be undertaken during the fortnight.As part of it senior officers of the Ministry will be inspecting various Central Hospitals in the country to take stock of the existing status and to intensify the Swachhta drive.States also have been requested to take up similar campaigns in their respective States. Kayakalp initiative :  Kayakalp initiative was launched in 2015 to set protocols for hygiene and sanitation at government health facilities.  It is an initiative towards total “Swacchta” in public health facilities.It is aimed towards building confidence of the users in public health facilities, provide quality service and encourage team work.  It seeks to encourage every public health facility in the country to work towards standards of excellence to help the facilities stay clean and hygienic.

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