Current Affairs 25th November 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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The Union Government has imposed safeguard duty on import of certain steel products to protect domestic manufacturers from cheap in-bound shipments. It was imposed by the Revenue Department on steel products like hot rolled flat sheets and plates of alloy (excluding hot rolled flat products in coil form) or non-alloy steel. The effective duty rate will be calculated after deducting value of goods and the anti-dumping duty payable when import price is below $504 per tonne. The duty arrived at would be 10% in the first year and will gradually reduce to 8% by 2018 and 6% by 2019. The Director General (Safeguard), in his final findings in August 2016 had found that increased imports of these steel products into India have caused serious injury to the domestic producers. Thereby it was necessary to impose safeguard duty on imports of steel products into India. Earlier, India had imposed anti-dumping duty on certain cold-rolled flat steel products from four nations including China and South Korea. The safeguard duty is tariff barrier imposed by government on the commodities to ensure that imports in excessive quantities do not harm the domestic industry. It is temporary measure undertaken by government in defence of the domestic industry which is harmed or has potential threat getting hared due to sudden cheap surge in imports.  

The 2016 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women was observed across the world on 25 November 2016. The theme for the day is “Orange the World - raise funds to end violence against women”. The colour orange in the theme symbolizes a better future without the pervasive human rights violation that affects 1 in 3 women and girls all over the globe. The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is observed to raise awareness about violence against women and discuss solutions that would work for women community. United Nations (UN) designated the day because: Violence against women is a human rights violation Violence against women is a consequence of discrimination against women, in law and also in practice, and of persisting inequalities between men and women Violence against women impacts on, and impedes, progress in many areas, including poverty eradication, combating HIV/AIDS, and peace and security Violence against women and girls is not inevitable. Prevention is possible and essential Violence against women continues to be a global pandemic The United Nations General Assembly designated 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women through a resolution 54/134 of 17 December 1999.Women's activists have marked 25 November as a day against violence since 1981. The date came from the brutal assassination in 1960, of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic, on orders of Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo. On 20 December 1993, the General Assembly, by resolution 48/104, adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Egypt recently uncovered a lost city, more than 7000 years old dating right back to its first dynasty in the southern province of Sohag.  The site was unearthed during an archaeological mission initiated by the country’s government. It lies 250 miles south of Cairo, about 400 meters away from the temple of Seti I, one of the most famous religious sites in the region named after one of the least known pharaohs of the New Kingdom period of Ancient Egypt. The discovery includes huts, pottery remains, iron tools and 15 graves. The grave sizes look bigger than some of the royal ones belonging to the kings in Abydos, indicating that those who were buried beneath held a high social standing.  Going by these evidences, experts suggest that the city could have been home to high-ranking officials and grave builders. Its discovery is expected to throw more light on one of Ancient Egypt’s oldest cities- Abydos. Abydos was Egypt’s capital at the end of the Predynastic Period and during the rule of first four dynasties. The find has come at a time when the country’s tourism industry, which was once its main source of income, is in the process of falling apart. Political unrest and terror threat from Islamic State (IS), which controls large areas of neighbouring state Libya, have been the major deterrents for tourism. The first half of 2016 just saw 1.2 million tourists, down from 14.7 million in 2010.  The discovery, however, may bring a welcoming change for the country.

The Union Government has announced major changes in the demonetisation plan after due consideration of all relevant aspects. The decisions were taken keeping in mind the operational aspects of the Scheme relating to cancellation of legal tender of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes. Highlights of the announcement : With effect from 25 November 2016, the old currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes will no longer be exchanged at the bank counters. This will encourage people who are still unbanked, to open new bank accounts.   However, there are some exemptions for certain transactions that will be valid till 15 December 2016. Have a look at these exemptions:   Payments for the transactions under all the exempted categories will now be accepted only through old Rs 500 notes. Payment of school fees up to Rs 2000 per student in Central Government, State Government, Municipality and local body schools.Payment of fees in Central or State Government colleges. Pre-paid mobile top-up to a limit of Rs 500 per top-up.Purchases from Consumer Cooperative Stores of up to Rs 5000 at a time. Payment of current and arrear dues to utilities will be limited to only water and electricity.  Toll payment at the toll plazas can also be made through old Rs 500 notes from 3 December 2016 to 15 December 2016.Foreign citizens can exchange foreign currency up to Rs 5000 per week.

Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia, and Rodrigo Londono, the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), signed a new peace agreement on 24 November 2016. The revised agreement will be submitted to Colombian Congress for approval. It will not be put to a country-wide vote, and would also not form a part of the Colombia’s constitution. It is Colombian Government’s second attempt to end Latin America’s longest-running conflict, which has killed around 220000 people. The previous deal, which was signed in September 2016, was rejected narrowly by the citizens of Colombia in a popular vote held in October 2016. President Juan Manuel Santos was awarded the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize.  The new accord introduces around 50 changes, which are intended to temper critics led by still-powerful former President Alvaro Uribe. The modifications range from a prohibition on foreign magistrates judging crimes by the FARC or government to a commitment from the insurgents to forfeit assets. Under the revised accord, the rebels will have to declare their assets. The money will be used for reparation payments to victims of the conflict. The Colombian Government and the FARC had signed the historic peace accord on 24 August 2016. However, the deal was rejected by the Colombian voters in a referendum. The peace agreement was reached after the two sides earlier in June 2016 signed the bilateral ceasefire agreement. Over the past four years, peace negotiators have managed to reach agreement on six areas and they are land reform, political participation for ex-rebels, justice for victims of the conflict, fighting drug trafficking, disarmament and the implementation and monitoring of the accord.

Bollywood actor Manoj Bajpayee won the Best Actor Award at the 10th Asia Pacific Screen Awards, beating Nawazuddin Siddiqui who was awarded a special mention in the same category. Manoj won the Best Performance award for his role as Professor Siras in "Aligarh", a powerful and personal drama based on true events.  While, Nawazuddin received a Special Mention in the Best Performance category for his role in Anurag Kashyap's "Raman Raghav 2.0". The winners in the 10th Asia Pacific Screen Awards were announced at an award ceremony in Brisbane. The event was hosted by Australian actor David Wenham and presenter Anjali Rao.  The 2016 edition of the awards marked the 10th year of the awards in recognising and promoting cinematic excellence and cultural diversity of the world's fastest growing film region comprising of 70 countries.  Asia Pacific Screen Awards : The Asia Pacific Screen Awards are the region's highest accolade in film.   The awards are the international cultural initiative of the Brisbane City Council, Australia to honor films, actors, directors, and cultures of the Asia-Pacific region. Winners of the awards are determined by an international jury and films are judged on cinematic excellence.The awards were staged for the first time in 2007.

NASA food scientists have developed snack bars, a healthier and convenient alternative to the regular breakfast that astronauts carry with them into space.  The bars have been specifically created in order to reduce weight overboard the Orion Space Capsule- the first manned NASA flight- expected to launch post-2021. The bars have been tested for flavour, texture, and long-term use. They are being looked at as the best possible meal replacement.   The main reason behind the move is limited space inside the Orion capsule. The bars will help reduce the amount of food supplies astronauts need for longer missions, limit storage space and help cut down on the waste created by them.  Developed in a variety of flavours such as banana nut, ginger vanilla, orange cranberry and barbecue nut, the snack bars weigh around 700-800 calories. This will also help the astronauts maintain a healthy weight.  Reducing weight aboard the Orion Capsule is significant, as heavier the aircraft, more the consumption of fuel and energy. However, ultimately the usage of these bars will depend on the reaction of the crew members because it is only if they like the taste of these snack bars that they will prefer to consume it for breakfast for weeks at length.  NASA’s First-Manned Orion Deep Space Mission : The NASA’s first-manned Orion Space capsule is expected to travel beyond the moon, to various distant space destinations.Unlike crew members on the International Space Station, who get to choose from 200 items for their meals and have a resupply spacecraft to deliver whatever they need or to dispose of their trash, the Orion crew will be on their own. They will have to take everything they need for the whole mission and bring it all back with them. The lighter the spacecraft, the more distance it will cover.

Trade body Indo-American Chamber of Commerce today said N V Srinivasan, NVS and Associates Managing Partner, has been appointed as its National President for the period 2016-17.  Srinivasan was elected by the committee of the Chamber during the meeting held in Mumbai recently. Bhasin and Company Managing Partner Lalit Bhasin and entrepreneur Vasant Subramanyan were elected as Executive Vice-Presidents respectively.

Talcher Thermal Power Station of NTPC on November 23, 2016 generated 11.496 Million Units of electricity at 104.13% capacity utilization which is the highest single day generation among all power stations. The station had topped the national ranking for Highest Capacity Utilization among all power stations of the country during 2015-16. The power station has an installed capacity of 460 MW, four units of 60 MW and two units of 110 MW each. First 60 MW unit of the station was set up on 7th February 1968 in the state of Odisha.Talcher Thermal was taken over by NTPC from Orissa State Electricity Board in the year 1995.he station shall celebrate its 50th year of operation in 2017. After becoming a part of NTPC, the station has witnessed transformation in the areas of Human Resources, Socio-Economic and Ecological Environment in its area through  CSR initiatives. Station has won several awards for its safety practices in these years.

YES Bank, the fifth largest private sector bank, on Thursday announced a partnership with Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) to digitise payment of bus tickets for its customers. For this the bank will install over 125 points of sale (PoS) terminals to facilitate booking through credit and debit cards at all GSRTC bus depots. The bank is already live with 50 terminals and will set up the remaining in the next couple of weeks as part of the first phase of implementation. The initiative will cover all municipal corporation locations and multiple cities including Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Vadodara and towns including Bhuj, Dahod, Palanpur and Valsad. The installation of these terminals will support the ‘less-cash’ economy envisaged by the Centre and enhance convenience for bus passengers. Over 50 per cent of cash transactions are expected to shift to card transactions, thereby reducing cash usage.

As many as 30 PSBs, private and foreign banks have joined the NPCI's Unified Payments Interface (UPI), a system that allows money transfer between any two bank accounts by using a mobile phone.  The UPI system has already started pilot projects for funds transfer and customers of these 30 banks can download the app from Google Play Store on their Android phones.  The UPI app enables customers to make online as well as offline payment to merchants from their bank accounts, without typing card or net banking/wallet details and IFSC code.  The 30-banks already participating in the pilot include HSBC Bank, Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, State Bank of India and Punjab National Bank. 

Garo tribals People of Meghalaya celebrated the harvest festival of Wangala to marks the end of a period of toil for farmers wanting a good output from their fields. On the first day of the festival, the people offer their agriculture produce to the Sun God, while on the second day or Kakkat, they will dance Wangala Dance This festival is also known as Annual 100-drum Festival. Meghalaya State Festival : Bob Dylan Festival and Ahaia Festival.  

In the wake of demonetisation, bank deposits with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have reached a record high of Rs. 4.3 trillion, beating the earlier record of Rs. 1.7 trillion in May 2009.  The RBI accepts money from various banks by offering government securities as collateral.  The Indian banking system had collected deposits worth Rs. 5.12 trillion as of 18 November.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has liberalised norms for angel investors to invest in early-stage entities. In this regard, SEBI in its meeting decided to amend the SEBI (Alternative Investment Funds) Regulations, 2012.  This decision was taken based on the recommendations received from the NR Narayana Murthy Alternative Investment Policy Advisory Committee. Increased the upper limit for number of angel investors in a scheme from 49 to 200. Angel Funds will also be allowed to invest in start-ups incorporated within 5 years instead of the earlier norm of 3 years. The requirement of minimum investment amount by an angel fund in any venture capital undertaking has been reduced to Rs. 25 lakh from earlier Rs. 50 lakh.  The lock-in requirements of investment made by angel funds in the venture capital undertaking has been reduced to one year from three years. Such funds also have been allowed to invest in overseas venture capital undertakings. It will be up to 25% of their investible corpus in line with other Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs). This move was taken as part of its attempts to facilitate fund-raising for start-ups and help to boost investment in the early stages for start-ups in the country. It will benefit start-ups looking for raising venture funding not just for the money but for the other value addition.  It will help start-ups raising money from a venture capital firm brings such as direction and mentorship from seasoned investors. Angel investors invest in small startups or entrepreneurs. These investors are often among an entrepreneur’s family and friends. The capital provided by angel investors to these startups may be a one-time investment to help them to propel their business or it may ongoing injection of money to support and carry starup through its difficult early stages.

The potential hydro power projects in the Himalayan region face increased flood risks from the formation of new lakes and the expansion of existing ones due to melting glaciers. It was revealed by study conducted by Swiss researchers on the impact of climate change in the Himalayas. The study made analysis of Himalayan glaciers and their possible future impact on livelihoods in States adjoining the region.  It found that the global warming could cause Himalayan glaciers to melt rapidly increasing the flow of water. 441 hydro-power projects spanning India, Nepal, Pakistan and China are on possible Glacier Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF) tracks. It means that these projects could be gorged with extra water from melting glaciers. These 441 projects accounts 66% of constructed and potential hydro power projects, Thus, almost a third of these hydro-power projects could experience GLOF discharges well above what these dams account for.  If the hydro-power projects are situated close to these glaciers, they would have to account for higher water flows. The fear of floods can be mitigate by taking in to consideration extra need of design or safety features in these projects. In this study, 129 hydro projects from India were analysed. In the Parvati Valley catchment area, 12 lakes in 1989 had increased to 77 lakes in 2014 and in the Beas basin, six lakes (in 1989) had increased to 33 (in 2011).  Most of the lakes were in Himachal Pradesh are relatively small or with a capacity less than of a million cubic metres, and only a few of them had a capacity larger than 10 million cubic metres of water.

The Palampur Assembly Constituency of Kangra district, Himachal Pradesh became the first e-assembly constituency of the country. The system was inaugurated by State Assembly speaker Brij Behari Lal Butail at a function held in Palampur on 22 November 2016. The system will help the residents of the constituency to know about the development works going on by one click on the computer. In addition, the residents would also send their requirements about funds for different schemes in their respective areas online. This system would be introduced in other 67 constituencies of the state in next six months. This conversion of the Palampur into an e-constituency is Himachal Pradesh government’s commitment to Union Government’s Digital India mission. It is necessary to mention that the Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly was the first assembly of India to adopt the e-Vidhan system, making it paperless. This e-Vidhan system helped the state in automating the day to day functioning of assembly. The system was launched with following objectives To take environment-friendly measures by reducing paper usage and increase online communicationsRemoval of unneeded processes which were responsible for delaying the flow of information among various stakeholders To improve efficiency in working Auto-compilation of queries and reportsTo monitor works in Vidhan Sabha and Government departments and others  

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