Current Affairs 15th November 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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Private sector lender YES Bank has appointed Amresh Acharya as Group President and head of Global Indian Banking. Acharya will report to Senior Group President, Retail and Business Banking Pralay Mondal. Acharya will play a vital role in capturing market share on a global scale and build stable CASA (Current and Savings account) deposits, and fee income through distribution of banking and investment products YES Bank offers a comprehensive product suite, technology enabled remote channels, a wide distribution network in India and partnerships with banks in various overseas markets including USA, Canada, Europe, South East Asia, UK , Australia and GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries.

Meghalaya on Monday became the first state to start India's first Cherry Blossom Festival, which is widely celebrated in Japan. The four-day festival will also provide opportunities to showcase the unique beauty of pink and white cherry blossoms as well as Meghalaya's traditional arts, culture and cuisine to the naturalists and tourists. Chief Minister Mukul Sangma inaugurated India's first Cherry Blossom Festival in this state capital of Meghalaya, where cherry blossoms are in full bloom in several parts of the city and the suburbs.’He also appreciated the partnership with Institute of Bioresources and Sustainable Development (IBSD) for joint conceptualisation and implementation of this humble yet successful start in putting Meghalaya onto the global tourist map. The Cherry Blossom Festival, popularly known as Sakura Festival in Japan, is held in April every year. Australia, Korea, China, the US and some other countries celebrate the festival which helps in creating a positive impact on the local economy.

Thiruvananthapuram has been termed as the country's breast cancer capital, with cases at a record high of 40 per lakh of population. The revelation was made during the Kerala Chapter of Indian Radiological and Imaging Association (IRIA) Conference here last week. It noted that 50 per cent of breast cancer is occurring in the age group of under 50 years. Nine lakh women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year and it is the second most common malignancy next to cervical cancer.

International Master Padmini Rout has won the 2016 National Women Premier Chess Championship. With this win, she has scored a hat-trick in the National Women Premier Chess Championship.  Earlier she had won the championship in 2014 and 2015. She was representing Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) and to secure a hat-trick of title wins after hard fought draw with her PSPB teammate Eesha Karavade. In this Chess Championship, S Vijayalakshmi of Air India won silver medal while Eesha Karavade of PSPB bagged bronze medal.  The victory has ensured that Padmini will be a part of the Indian women team in the next World team chess championship. The other two confirmed members of the team are Grandmasters Koneru Humpy and D Harika.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has formed Special Task Force to speed up the process of recalibration of automated teller machines (ATM) to dispense the new denomination notes. The Special Task Force will be headed by S.S Mundra, Deputy Governor, RBI. Representatives from the Union Finance and Home ministries, RBI, State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank and the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) will be its members. Besides, representative from each of ATM original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), cash in transit (CIT) companies and white label ATM (WLA) operators will be invited to the Task Force’s deliberation Expeditious reactivation of all ATMs in a planned manner. Draw up an action plan and ensure its implementation for quick recalibration of the ATMs to enable them to dispense the new Rs. 500 and Rs. 2,000 notes. After the Union Government had surprisely announced demonitization of old series Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 500 notes, there was issue of currency crunch across the nation. Following introduction of new series of Rs. 2,000 and Rs. 500 notes, it has become necessary to recalibrate all ATMs/cash handling machines to dispense the new design notes. However, the recalibration process will take up to 3 weeks for all the 2 lakh ATMs to operate normally.  

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has announced that the year 2016 is very likely be the hottest year on record on 14 November 2016. It stated that 2016 will likely surpass the previous hottest year, 2015. It was mentioned in the WMO’s preliminary assessment provided in its Status of the Global Climate in 2016 report. Earlier in July 2016, the WMO had announced that Carbon dioxide concentrations passed the symbolic milestone of 400 parts per million in the atmosphere in the ongoing year. Highlights of the report :  The preliminary data from 2016 reveal that global temperatures are 1.2° Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The temperatures from January 2016 to September 2016 have been around 0.88° Celsius higher than the 14°C baseline set from 1961 to 1990.The rise in temperatures for the first months of the year was driven by a strong El Nino during 2015 and 2016. The extreme ocean heat by the El Nino had contributed to coral reef bleaching and above-average sea-level rise. The temperatures in many parts of Arctic Russia were 6°C to 7°C above the long-term average. Many other Arctic and sub-Arctic regions in Russia, Alaska and northwest Canada were at least 3°C above average.If the projections about 2016 turn out to be correct, then 16 of the 17 hottest years on record have been this century. The year 1998 was the other one.  

The order covers all diesel vehicles older than 15 years.  Along with barring them from the roads, the NGT has also banned them from being parked in the capital. Highlights of the imposed ban : The transport department has created a list of deregistered vehicles. The number totals to about 1.91 lakh. The list has been sent to the traffic police along with instructions to impound them immediately.   It included details like: Name of the vehicle’s owner  Vehicle’s registration number and address Location of the regional transport office where it was registered The act will be carried out under section 207 of the Motor Vehicles (MV) Act.  Those found violating the order will be issued challans under section 39/192 of the Motor Vehicles Act. The violators would also have to pay a fine of 2000 rupees.  The impounded vehicles will be kept at locations decided by the transport department, of which 21 have already been identified but they will not be enough to accommodate all 2 Lakh vehicles.   The traffic pits, where the vehicles are taken to immediately after, have the capacity of holding only 1000-2000 heavy vehicles at a time.   To make the process smoother, the traffic officers have requested the government to provide additional land space. Besides this, the transport department also prepared a list of diesel vehicles aged between 10 and 15 years, which totals to about a lakh. These vehicles will also be deregistered once the NGT issues orders.  The phasing out of these vehicles is a subsequent step to bring down the alarmingly high level of air pollution in the capital city. The government had in the first week of November 2016 issued a ban on construction and demolition activities and also on overloaded trucks not meant for the city.  The ban on diesel vehicles has however had a negative impact on the 100 crore rupees worth business in Delhi.  

Action movie star, writer, director and martial artist Jackie Chan on 12 November 2016 was awarded the honorary Academy (Oscar) Award for his extraordinary achievements in the movies. With this, Chan became the first Chinese actor in history to receive the prestigious honour. In September 2016, the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science voted to present the award to Jackie Chan, Anne V Coates, Lynn Stalmaster and Frederick Wiseman.  Coates is a British editor; Stalmaster is a Casting Director and Wiseman is a Documentary Maker. Academy Honorary Award :  The Academy Honorary Award was initiated in 1948 for the 21st Academy Awards. The award was previously referred to as the Special Award.It is given by the discretion of the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). It is given to commemorate motion picture achievements that are not covered by existing Academy Awards.Prior winners of competitive Academy Awards are not excluded from receiving the Honorary Award.The Honorary Award is presented at the Annual Governors Awards.

The State Bank of India (SBI) launched the first set of newly issued 500 rupee notes in their Bhopal branch on 13 November 2016. The new notes are expected to help control the havoc caused by demonitisation of high-denomination currency and ease pressure on banks’ cash position. For SBI, which was only handing out 100 rupee notes until now, the introduction of new 500s will definitely help fasten their work process. Elements of the New 500 Rupee Note : Stone grey in colour, the 63mm x 150mm note has Mahatma Gandhi’s image on one side and Red Fort on the other.  It bears a guarantee clause and the signature of Reserve Bank of India Governor, Urjit Patel.  It has Swachh Bharat logo printed on the reverse.  Its security thread will change from green to blue when tilted. It has Ashoka pillar emblem on the right. It also has the numeral value of 500 written in Devnagari script. For the visually impaired, it has 500 written in Braille in a circle on the right and bleed lines on both sides in raised print. While Bhopal was the first city to get a peek at the new 500s, SBI banks in Delhi and Mumbai are also expected to start giving out the notes soon. In fact, some ATMs of the bank have already been recalibrated to support the new currency.   

As part of its efforts to continue the global transition to zero-and-low carbon energy sources, the United States (US) has announced two financial projects worth 95 million US dollars for India. The projects announced on 14 November 2016 aims at bringing more energy-efficient appliances to rural sector of the country. The White House in its statement said the US has committed 75 million dollars in Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) financing for renewable energy projects in India. The 75 million US dollar OPIC, sponsored by ReNew Power Projects, is for a utility-scale PV project in Telangana. Rest 20 million dollars will be used to launch a 20 million dollar partnership with the philanthropic sector to bring more efficient appliances to Indian villages. It is a part of 250 million facilities committed by the United States to support India’s 400 MW new solar power projects in different states of India. The process, known as the US-India Clean Energy Finance program (USICEF), will address a key financing gap in the Indian distributed solar market by funding early-stage project preparatory work. It is anticipated that the USICEF will unlock up to 400 million US dollars in long-term debt financing from OPIC and private sector investors. The White House fact sheet says that the Rockefeller Foundations Smart Power for Rural Development Initiative will announce a new partnership with the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) Global Lighting and Energy Access Partnership (Global LEAP). This will help in accelerating the deployment and use of energy efficient off-grid devices in rural India. This decision on funding the Global LEAP is subject to Congressional notification. LEAP will support in developing and rolling out a programme to deploy energy-efficient devices at selected Smart Power supported mini-grid sites. A strategy will be developed to reduce energy costs for some of the poorest people residing in India. As believed, deployment of the LEAP programme will reduce energy consumption by at least 50 percent of rural households. Programme implementation would result in Increasing revenue for mini-grid operators by over 300 percent per household It will help in generating rural employment by involving people in distribution and supply chain management of the devices.  

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif inaugurated the operational activities of the revamped strategic Gwadar port in the south-western Balochistan Province.  With the operationalisation of the deep sea port, the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), linking western China to the Arabian Sea became a reality. The port was operationalised after a Chinese commercial ship laden with around 250 containers set off for West Asia and Africa.  The ship was carrying Chinese goods which were ferried by major trade convoy that started from Kashgar in western China on 30 October 2016 reached Gwadar on 12 November 2016.  It was considered as watershed moment in the history of Pakistan and symbol of Pakistan’s commitment to China’s ‘One Belt-One Road’ (OBOR) initiative, of which CPEC is a key port. Benefits to Pakistan: China’s OBOR initiative integrates with Pakistan’s Vision 2025 which seeks to transform the country into a hub of trade and commerce. The CPEC would ultimately integrate South Asia, China and Central Asia. India’s concern: The CPEC is being laid through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).  

The Union Government has said that the “termination” clause in the recently signed historic civil nuclear deal with Japan will be not binding on India. But the “termination” clause merely records the “views” of the Japanese side considering its “special sensitivities” as Japan is the only nation to have suffered a nuclear attack. Besides, the Union Government has also insisted that India has made “no additional commitments” over the similar agreements signed with the US and other countries. The historic India-Japan Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (or nuclear deal) was signed on 11 November 2016. The ‘Note on Views and Understanding’ signed after the agreement effectively allow Japan to invoke an “emergency” suspension of nuclear supplies if India goes for testing a nuclear weapon and to contest any compensation claims from India in court.   This note has been included to help the Japanese Government to clear the nuclear deal in the Parliament or Diet in early 2017. In Japan, there is political opposition for making an exception for India as it is not signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) India has given a voluntary moratorium on nuclear tests and has traditionally refused to link its nuclear trade with pre-conditions on testing, holding it is a matter of nuclear sovereignty. The nuclear agreement with Japan follows the same template as that of the India-US nuclear deal.  However, in this case the circumstances triggering a possible termination are not sharply defined. Thus, note on views and understanding signed with Japan is simply a record by the negotiators (i.e. India and Japan) of respective views on certain issues and not binding.

The 18 year old Indian golfer Aditi Ashok became the first Indian woman to win a Ladies European Tour title by clinching the Hero Women’s Indian Open at the DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurgaon on November 13, 2016. Aditi shot an even par 72 on the final day carrying a two-stroke overnight lead. She finished with a total score 3-under 213 and won a prize of USD 60,000. Brittany and Belen finished tied second with identical totals of 2-under 214after 54 holes

Swiss major Molinari Rail will set up a manufacturing and assembly centre for auxiliary power units for diesel locomotives in India by next year.  Molinari Rail AG has entered into a strategic pact to design, manufacture and deliver the auxiliary power units (APUs) for 1,000 diesel locomotives to be built in India for Indian Railways. For Indian Railways and we will manufacture and assemble auxiliary power units here in India for the 1,000 diesel locomotive programme. By this, Molinari Rail is following the 'Make in India' strategy of creating new jobs and local expertise. However, he declined to share details about the investment needed for the project.  Molinari, who is also the board member of SwissRail Industry Association, said the group will form a Lucknow-based company that will manufacture 100 auxiliary power units per annum, which can be ramped up later.  Molinari has the SwissRail Industry Association is keen to invest in India. The association has 110 members and most of them are SMEs and family-owned companies.  The members are all very innovative, competitive and delivering world class Swiss quality. Most of them are into exports and of course India is a natural place to work for us. Swiss industry and especially Swiss rail industry has always collaborated with India for a long time. Headquartered in Switzerland and having major sites in Austria and Germany, Molinari Rail delivers customised solutions for the rail industry worldwide.

TAFE, the world’s third largest tractor maker, in collaboration with the Rajasthan government, is setting up a Centre of Excellence  ‘JFarm Rajasthan’  and a Custom Hiring Centre in six zones in Rajasthan at a total outlay of Rs.970 crore. Mallika Srinivasan, Chairman & CEO.  This JFarm centre will showcase the latest and best in agronomy and farm practices, latest trends in production, protection and processing of crops, and also the world’s best in terms of showcasing farm mechanisation trends and their applicability to India. The JFarm is an advanced model of TAFE’s adaptive agri-research center in Chennai. It will also host, a farm skills development centre, agricultural extension service, and hi-tech technology demonstration and customer experience centres at Bhawanimandi and Jhalawer.

The Centre has announced an investment of over Rs 5,000 crore to construct a 12-km-long elevated railway corridor inside Guwahati, contributing to the smart city project.  The Indian Railways will form a joint venture in the form of a special purpose vehicle with the state government to implement the project.  In the next 15 days, DPR will be prepared. The exact shareholding between the two partners will be known later. We will start the work in the next few months . There will be seven platforms in the 12 km stretch and the terminals will be developed for commercial purposes as well . The three stations in Kamakhya, Guwahati and New Guwahati will be connected to metro line, which is coming up in the city. The entire project is meant to contribute to the smart city project . There will be four elevated tracks with 12 level crossings and it will take just 15 minutes to cross the stretch.The three projects are -- doubling of tracks in New Bongaigaon-Kamakhya section via Goalpara, Digaru-Hojai line and electrification of Jalpaiguri-Guwahati route.  These three projects will entail a cumulative investment of Rs 3,758.83 crore and will be completed by 2021. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the coastal state of Goa on November 13, 2016 to lay foundation stone for two projects : Greenfield airport in North Goa and Tuem Electronic city. The function was held at Dr Shama Prasad Mukherjee stadium in Bambolim village. The first phase of the airport is expected to be commissioned in the financial year 2019-20.The Tuem Electronic City project is expected to generate 25,000 jobs for the youth in the state. Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Pune on November 13, 2016 to inaugurate the International Conference and Exhibition on Sugarcane Value Chain  Vision 2025 Sugar organised by Vasantdada Sugar Institute (VSI) at Manjari.

The IFS officer B. Nagabhushana Reddy appointed as the Ambassador of India to the Republic of Chad with residence in Abuja (Nigeria). He is currently working as the High Commissioner of India to the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Nigeria, an African country on the Gulf of Guinea, has many natural landmarks and wildlife reserves. Protected areas such as Cross River National Park and Yankari National Park have waterfalls, dense rainforest, savanna and rare primate habitats. One of the most recognizable sites is Zuma Rock, a 725m-tall monolith outside the capital of Abuja that’s pictured on the national currency.

Pro-Russia, anti-migration candidate Rumen Radev won the Bulgarian presidential election, partial official results showed . Former air force commander Radev won 59.4 percent of the vote, compared with 36.2 percent for the candidate of the ruling centre-right GERB party, Tsetska Tsacheva, with 99.3 percent of polling stations counted. Bulgaria faces an uncertain future after centre-right Prime Minister Boyko Borisov quit his post following the crushing defeat of his presidential nominee at the hands of Radev. Bulgaria  : Bulgaria is a Balkan nation with diverse terrain encompassing Black Sea coastline, a mountainous interior and rivers, including the Danube. A cultural melting pot with Greek, Slavic, Ottoman, and Persian influences, it has a rich heritage of traditional dance, music, costumes, and crafts. At the foot of domed Vitosha mountain is its capital city, Sofia, dating to the 5th century B.C.

State Bank of India has announced that Rs 50 and Rs 20 notes too will be dispensed from ATMs soon. The announcement comes as a breather for citizens who were grappling with shortage of cash and limited denominations ever since the demonetisation was announced on November 8. Citizens were in a difficult situation after Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 were declared illegal by the central government. Following the decision, ATM kiosks and banks witnessed an unprecedented flow of citizens who thronged to withdraw cash. The announcement was made by SBI chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya. The chairman said that the bank will start dispensing Rs 50 and Rs 20 denominations once the rush decreases. 

The moon came closer to Earth than at any other time since 1948. The 'supermoon' reached its brightest in Asia on 14 November 2016. The Moon was closest, only 2 lakh 21 thousand 524 miles (356509 km) away at 11:21 GMT. With this, the full moon came closest and appeared the largest in a period of 68 years. The day, gave an opportunity to sky-gazers around the world to assemble near landmarks, on beaches and atop tall buildings to have a look at the Super Moon (perigee full moon). Last time, the moon came closer to earth on 26 January 1948 and next time it will come this close to Earth again on 25 November 2034. On that occasion, it will be even closer, that is, it will be at a distance of 2 lakh 21 thousand 485 miles. Super Moon and why it turns up to be the largest and closest : When the perigee, the closest approach, and the full moon coincide, it is known as a supermoon. The technical name for supermoon is the perigee-syzygy of the Earth–Moon–Sun system. On the occasion when the moon turns up to be a supermoon, the moon comes close to Earth. It happens due to its process of orbiting the planet, which is elliptical, not circular. This elliptical orbit allows it to come closer than it is at other times.

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