Current Affairs 11th November 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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World Bank in its report has mentioned that India must take steps to improve ports and logistics and frame policies to reduce farm subsidies to emerge as an export powerhouse. It was mentioned in the World Bank’s recently released report titled ‘South Asia’s Turn: Policies to Boost Competitiveness and Create the Next Export Powerhouse’. The report has suggested a set of policy actions in four sectors agribusiness, apparel, electronics and automotive. India and the South Asia region can be Next Export Powerhouse by adopting the right set of productivity-enhancing policies. It can triple its share in global markets of electronics and motor vehicles and double its already significant market share in apparel (excluding textiles and leather) by 2030. India remains behind on ‘global value chain’ capabilities including physical capital, human capital, institutions and logistics. Farm sector : Government needs to bring out reforms including reducing subsidies and promoting competition to enhance the business environment in the farm sector. The passive and non-targeted subsidies have encouraged farmers to continue to produce low value crops using low productivity and unsustainable techniques. Improved targeted subsidies will help to benefit the poor farmers. Targeted subsidies will encourage farmers to adopt new technologies and (seed) varieties. Bedsides, restrictions on agricultural markets have constrained productive private investments in higher value food products. Automotive sector : Government should gradually reduce tariffs on final cars, as the prevailing high import tariffs on the completely built units. Electronics sector : It is faced constraints such as underdeveloped clusters and poor trade logistics. India needs to facilitate the development of clusters and improve its trade logistics to enable the seamless import and export of hundreds of components.” Apparel sector : It is facing difficulties to import man-made fibre, preventing upgrading and diversification. India needs to reform the duty drawback scheme to facilitate the import of fabrics for exports.

The 2016 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum’s Leaders Summit will be held in Lima, Peru from November 19 to 20, 2016. The theme of the summit is “Quality Growth and Human Development” and the official logo is the architecture of the ancient city of Caral.  It will be the second time Peru hosting to the APEC Summit, previously it had hosted the event in 2008. The 2016 summit will gather leaders from the world’s 21 most important member economies, as well as over 1,500 investors and entrepreneurs. Four priority areas were laid out as topics to be discussed. These are Human Capital Development, Regional Food Market, Upgrading SMEs and Regional Economic Integration Agenda. These subjects were chosen to build upon on the discussions from the 2015 APEC summit held in the Philippines. Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation  : APEC is regional economic forum of 21 Pacific Rim member economies that promotes free trade throughout the Asia-Pacific region. These 21 member countries collectively account for nearly 50% of the world’s trade and about 57% of GDP.  It was established in 1989 in order to leverage the growing interdependence of Asia-Pacific region’s economies and promote free trade in the region. Headquarters: Singapore. 21 Members Economies: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, United States, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Chile, Peru, Russian and Vietnam.  

After years of negotiations, India and Japan have signed a bilateral Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement on 11 November, 2016. With this, India has become the first non-NPT country with which Japan has signed a Civil Nuclear Agreement.  The civil nuclear agreement between the two countries was not realized so gar manly because India did not fit into Japan’s ‘Hikaku San Gensoku’ or three non-nuclear principles. These principles adopted in a resolution by Japanese parliament provide that Japan would neither possess nor manufacture nuclear weapons, nor shall it permit their introduction into Japanese territory.  The talks for Civil Nuclear Agreement between the two countries had started when a joint statement in 2006 with joint statement by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.  However, the discussions took five years to move to negotiation stage in 2010. The cause of delay was political opposition within Japan from anti-nuclear lobbies and media. Till now, India has also signed civil nuclear deal with 10 other countries viz. United States, Russia, South Korea, Mongolia, France, Namibia, Argentina, Canada, Kazakhstan, and Australia.

Guy Ryder was re-elected as the Director-General (DG) of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for another five-year term. He will assume the post the on 1 October 2017. Ryder obtained 54 of the 56 votes cast by the titular members. He was the only candidate for the post. Guy Ryder : Guy Ryder is the 10th Director-General of the International Labour Organization. From 2006 to 2010, he served as the General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).From 2002 to 2006, he served as the General Secretary of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU). International Labour Organization : The International Labour Organization is a United Nations agency dealing with labour issues. It has 187 member states. In 1969, the organization received the Nobel Peace Prize for improving peace among classes, pursuing decent work and justice for workers, and providing technical assistance to other developing nations. The ILO registers complaints against entities that are violating international rules; however, it does not impose sanctions on governments.  

The Supreme Court of India held Punjab Government’s 2004 law, terminating the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal water sharing agreement, as unconstitutional. The court in its judgement made it clear that the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004 is "unconstitutional" and Punjab could not have taken a "unilateral" decision to terminate the water sharing agreement with neighbouring states. Punjab State Legislature had passed the Act to escape from the duty of constructing its section of the canal link and sharing river waters with its neighboring states. A presidential reference was made regarding the same in 2004 by the then president, A P J Abdul Kalam seeking legal clarity on the sharing of water from the SYL canal between the north Indian states, following which it was taken up for hearing by the Supreme court in March 2016. Headed by Justice A R Dave, a five-member bench of the apex court including Justice PC Ghose, Justice Shiva Kirti Singh, Justice A K Goel and Justice Amitava Roy unanimously ruled that all the five questions contained in the Presidential reference have been answered in negative. SC Ruling : The SC rules that Punjab cannot take a ‘unilateral’ decision to terminate the water sharing agreement signed with Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi and Chandigarh. The bench further stated that the 2004 Act went against Supreme Court’s 2003 judgement that mandated the construction of the canal.Through the act, the then Congress government of Capt Amarinder Singh chose to nullify the Supreme Court ruling and proceeded to halt construction of the canal. The bench reserved its verdict on the issue on 12 May 2016 after the central government maintained its earlier neutral stand of 2004 that the states concerned should settle their dispute among themselves. The Supreme Court also appointed the Union Home Secretary and Punjab's Chief Secretary and Director-General of Police [DGP] as the 'joint receivers' of land and other property meant for the SYL canal till the final outcome of the judgment. In 2016, Punjab assembly also sought to pass a bill commanding restoration of land acquired to build the canal link to the farmers completely free of cost. The move was contested by the Haryana Government at the apex court and won a stay of the order. Amarinder Singh, under whom this controversial was passed, has sent his resignation to the Lok Sabha Speaker and declared that the MLA’s will also be following suit to protest against the injustice done to the state.He demanded imposition of President’s rule in the state, voicing concerns over Badal government’s reaction after the court order. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said that legal action will be decided after consulting the Advocate General of the state. Punjab cabinet has decided not to spare water for any other state in the wake of Supreme Court decision on SYL canal water sharing agreement. It claimed that the state has no spare water and it is the lifeline of Punjab. Punjab cabinet has decided to convene a special session of Punjab Assembly on 16 November 2016 to discuss the matter.  

The International Competition Network (ICN) has announced that the Competition Commission of India (CCI) would host the 2018 ICN Annual Conference. The Conference will be held at Delhi in March–April 2018. By virtue of the event, CCI is also inducted as an ex-officio member of the steering group member of the ICN for a period of 3 years. Competition Commission of India : The Competition Commission of India was set-up on 14 October 2003 to prevent practices having adverse effects on competition.It also aims at promoting and protecting interest of consumers and to ensure freedom of trade carried on by other participants in markets in India. It became fully functional in May 2009 with Dhanendra Kumar as its first Chairman. It has been a member of the ICN since 2003. International Competition Network : The International Competition Network is an informal, virtual network that seeks to facilitate cooperation between competition law authorities globally. It was established in 2001 after the publication of a Final Report of the International Competition Policy Advisory Committee to the US Attorney General and Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust. It comprises 132 members from 120 competition jurisdictions exclusively devoted to international competition enforcement. It holds an Annual Conference which is hosted by a member competition agency. The last such Conference was hosted by Competition Commission of Singapore in April 2016. The Portuguese Competition Authority is hosting the next conference in May 2017.  

Mumbai's Western Railways women's team won the 33rd Indian Oil Servo Surjit Hockey Tournament. The team defeated Haryana XI 4-2 in the title clash played at the Olympian Surjit Hockey Stadium in Jalandhar. In the 14th minute of the game, Western Railways’s Anupa Barla netted the ball after dodging goalkeeper Shewata of Haryana. She struck again in the 34th minute to make it 2-0. In the second half, Haryana girls scored two goals in 40th and 50th minutes of the game to reduce the margin. Jaspreet Kaur and Neha scored goals for the team. Western Railways Mayengbam Lily Chanu and Manjit Kaur then struck to complete the score sheet. The winners were presented a cash award of 1 lakh rupee and trophy and runners-up got 75000 rupees and Trophy. Jaspreet Kaur of Haryana XI was declared the Best Player of the Tournament. Surjit Hockey Society : Surjit Hockey Society came into existence in 1984. It was instituted to keep the name of Sardar Surjit Singh Randhawa alive, who lost his life in a fatal car accident near Jalandhar on 7 January 1984. Randhawa was a member of World XI, Asia Stars XI and he participated in number of International events i.e. Olympics, World Cup, Champions Trophy, Asian Games, besides many other International Tournaments.  

Chhattisgarh Government has launched Lakshya Bhagirathi campaign to complete the irrigation projects that could not be completed. Under the campaign, the state water resources department has identified 108 projects that could not be completed. Most of the projects identified under campaign are minor and middle. For the last three decades, the projects were pending for required clearances. Of the 108 projects, the water resources department has set a target to complete 88 projects in the financial year 2016-17.  The districts with irrigation potential has been below 10% had been given priority in the campaign. These projects on completion would provide irrigation in additional 71322 hectares of area. These irrigation projects will be milestone in enhancing growth in the agriculture sector in the state which falls under Rice-agro-climatic zone of the country. About 80% population of the state is rural and their main livelihood is agriculture and agriculture based small industries. Besides, the economy of the state is mainly based on agriculture and forestry.  The agriculture sector contributes around 38% to the State’s Net Domestic Product. Of the total workforce of 8.3 million, 5.9 million (around 71%) are engaged in agriculture.

Maharashtra government has signed an agreement with Canada to implement a joint action plan on urban infrastructure development in the state.  The Canada-Maharashtra action plan seeks to introduce companies, solutions and financing from the North American country for urban development and implementation of state-led infrastructure projects.  The plan envisages supporting Indo-Canadian partnerships, including private sector companies, universities and colleges to speed up project implementation, promote economic development and contribute to rising standards of living in the state.  A working group comprising officials from the Consulate General of Canada and Maharashtra's home, urban development, housing, labour, information and technology departments and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority will oversee implementation of the projects. 

The first International Agrobiodiversity Congress (IAC) held in New Delhi has adopted New Delhi Declaration on Agrobiodiversity Management. In the declaration, 900 participants from 60 countries have urged researchers and policy-makers to strengthen and promote complementary conservation strategies to conserve and use agrobiodiversity. Agrobiodiversity Conservation : Nations must accord top priority to the agrobiodiversity conservation and their sustainable use towards achieving targets of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) relating to poverty alleviation, food and nutritional security, good health, gender equity and partnership. Traditional knowledge : Recognises importance of traditional knowledge on agrobiodiversity of farm women and men, pastoralists and other tribal and rural communities and also their role in its conservation and use for a food and climate resilient world. It calls upon nations to develop the necessary funding, legal and institutional mechanism to ensure and facilitate their continued active participation. Conservation strategies : Urge policy-makers and researchers to initiate, strengthen, and promote complementary conservation strategies to conserve and use agrobiodiversity. It must include wild relatives of crop to ensure a continuum between in situ, ex situ and on farm conservation strategies to combat food and nutrition insecurity as well as adverse effects of land degradation, climate change and biodiversity loss. Modern technologies : Researchers must employ modern technologies including, but not limited to, space, genomic, computational and nano-technologies for characterization, evaluation and trait discovery using genetic resources. Their aim should be to achieve equality, efficiency, economy and environmental security in agricultural production systems and landscapes. Global exchange : It reemphasizes the necessity of global exchange of plant, animal, aquatic microbial and insect genetic resources for food and agriculture to meet the ever-growing food and nutritional needs of each country. Countries need to harmonise their multiple legal systems and prioritize the improvement of their phytosanitary capacities to facilitate safe transfer of genetic resources using latest technologies and trans-boundary partnerships. Agrobiodiversity index : It suggests developing and implementing an agrobiodiversity index to help monitor conservation and use of agrobiodiversity.  

GIC Housing Finance has S Gopakumar, general manager with Oriental Insurance Company, has been appointed as Managing Director of the company.  Warendra Sinha resigned as Managing Director and CEO of GIC Housing Finance following his elevation as whole time director of National Insurance Company. He resigned consequent to the orders of the Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance elevating him as a General Manager and Whole Time Director of National Insurance Company Ltd, GIC Housing Finance said in a regulatory filing to stock exchanges.

Bharti Airtel has announced the appointment of Vani Venkatesh as CEO – Retail. In her new role, Venkatesh will be responsible for driving Airtel’s retail strategy to deliver a seamless customer experience across retail touch point.  Venkatesh takes over from Rohit Malhotra, who after spending over nine years with the company in various senior positions, has decided to pursue opportunities outside of Airtel . Venkatesh has over 19 years of work experience. In her last role, she was responsible for the medical nutrition business at Abbott Healthcare (India). Prior to Abbott Healthcare, she worked with McKinsey & Company, where she led projects across industries.  She began her career with Hindustan Unilever in the Finance division. Vani is an MBA from Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. She is also a qualified CA, Cost and Works Accountant and Company Secretary. Airtel has been investing to improve experience at customer touch points – both physical and online. The Company has revamped and rolled out Company Owned Company Operated Airtel stores across the country as a one stop shop for all customer requirements. Till date over 550 COCO stores in multiple formats have been opened across the country. These COCO stores are supplemented by over 2400 franchisee retail stores across India.   

Standard Chartered Bank has launched ‘Unified Payments Interface’ (UPI)solution for its corporate and financial institutional, and commercial banking clients. This will enable clients to send and receive money using a Virtual Payment Address without entering additional bank account details.  The bank said UPI allows real time ‘push and pull’ of funds, thus providing companies with a collections mechanism that can be used in multiple industries to ease the payment process for end customers. Instead of just sending payment reminders, companies can now collect funds by sending a ‘pull’ request which the end customer can authorise on his smart phone using a UPI app.

Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa announced increasing motherhood leave period for women government employees from six to nine months, the state government issued an order to implement it. A Government Order (GO) of the Personnel and Administrative Reforms Department remembered that Jayalalithaa had made an announcement in the Tamil Nadu Assembly in September, promising to increase the leave period from the existing six months or 180 days to 270 days. The maternity leave might be arrange from the “pre-confinement rest to post-confinement recovery, at the option of the women Government servant, the order added  those under maternity leave at present are also eligible for 270 days of leave. Necessary changes to the Fundamental Rules would be issued separately, it added. Woman employees “with less than two surviving children”, were eligible for the 9-month maternity leave with full pay.

The Employees' State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) has launched 'Kahin Bhi-Kabhi Bhi' medical service for its insured in the Delhi region under which the beneficiaries can visit day-care units for minor ailments.  Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya launched such facility and inaugurated the 6-bedded Day Care Unit of ESI Dispensary, Sector-7, Dwarka . Dattatreya  Dwarka ESIC dispensary has now become a complete unit in itself with medical facilities like general OPD care, family welfare services, full-time laboratory and X-ray and diagnostic care.  Now, insured persons and their family members of Delhi need not visit ESIC hospitals for minor ailments requiring only day care like diarrhoea, high fever, acute asthama attacks, abdominal pain, chest pain and the like.  Besides, in future, day care centres will be developed at three more ESIC dispensaries in Delhi with high OPD attendance in Nandnagari, Mangolpuri and Jwalapuri that will cover all zones of Delhi.  The minister further told the gathering that ESIC has decided to open 6-bedded day care centres at various ESI dispensaries all over the country.  These centres will become a complete unit in themselves with medical facilities. To further improve the medical services for patients from the working class, facilities like dental care, physiotherapy, X-ray plant on PPP model, mother and child tracking and courier services to deliver medicine at the doorstep of the insured will also be provided.  All 4 ESIC Hospitals of Delhi at Basaidarapur, Rohini, Okhla and Jhilmil will also be converted into super specialty hospitals . The minister added that ESIC has become one of the largest social security organisations, offering a better and brighter service to all the ESIC beneficiaries. 

Renowned theatre personality and Padma Shri, Prof Raj Bisaria is all set to weave another feather in his cap with the Madhya Pradesh government honouring him with its prestigious 'Kalidas Samman' national award for 2015-16 for achievement in theatre. The ceremony will be held on November 10 in Ujjain, which is also the birthday of the 80 year old. The annual award constituted in 1980 awards personalities in the four fields of classical dance, classical music, theatre and plastic arts. Previously, the likes of Pandit. Ravi Shankar, Pandit Jasraj, MF Husain, Shambhu Mitra, Habib Tanvir, Ebrahim Alkazi among others have been its recipients. With over 100 productions to his name, Bisaria started TAW with plays in English with the first play being Shakespeare's Othello. Bisaria also founded the Bhartendu Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1975. Apart from theatre, TAW also introduced other allied performing arts for the very first time, including Irshad Panjatan's Indian mine in 1967 and modern dance by an American dance company, Indian classical dance by Sonal Mansingh in 1970 and other forms including Hindi theatre, environmental theatre presentation, painting and miniature exhibits.

The regional news Unit of Radio Kashmir Jammu has started morning news bulletin in Gojri language on 10 November 2016. The five minutes Gojri news bulletin will be aired at 10:15am daily from the transmitters of Radio Kashmir Jammu. Gojri is one of the most widely spoken languages of the state and over 20 percent chunk of the population in the state consists of Gojri speaking people. The radio news bulletin was formally launched and inaugurated at Abhinav Theater, Jammu by Deputy Chief Minister Dr. Nirmal Singh. After inaugurating the bulletin, the Deputy Chief Minister said that the bulletin will help in a big way in disseminating important information to people of the State in general and Gujjar Bakerwal community including nomadic tribes in particular. Gojri : Gojri also known as Gujari is a variety of Indo-Aryan spoken language. It is also known as Gujjar Bhakha, Gojari or Gujar Apabhramsha. It is mainly spoken by the Gujjars of India and Pakistan.  The Government of Jammu and Kashmir has recognized Gojri by including it into sixth scheduled of the constitution.The language was used as literature language as early as 12th century. Poet Bhoja in 1014 AD referred to Gaurjar Apabhramsha (Gurjar Apabhramsha). In India the language is mainly spoken in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Murree, Nathiagalli, and few other places. Jammu and Kashmir is the only Indian state to have its own Constitution. It was adopted on 17 November 1956 and came into force on 26 January 1957.

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