Current Affairs 13th October 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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Government has appointed Reserve Bank's Executive Director G Mahalingam as a Whole-Time Member of markets regulator Sebi.  Apart from the Chairman, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) can have three Whole-Time Members (WTMs). Mahalingam's appointment follows the retirement of Prashant Saran as WTM in June this year. In a recent notification, the Finance Ministry said Gurumoorthy Mahalingam has been appointed as WTM for a period of five years or till he attains the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.  He would be getting a consolidated monthly salary of Rs 3.75 lakh.  The search process for another WTM has been started as an existing member is due to retire this year. The current tenure of Sebi Chairman U K Sinha would end next year.  Mahalingam is Executive Director and former regional director of Reserve Bank of India. He has also been associated with NISM (National Institute of Securities Markets), an educational initiative of Sebi, as part of its visiting faculty.  Associated with RBI for last 30 years, he has served in various roles including that of Inspecting Officer, Chief Forex Dealer, Chief Investment Dealer, Head of Internal Debt Management Department.  In his current role at the central bank, Mahalingam is involved in monitoring and surveillance of money, forex, government securities and derivative markets intervention operations, among others  

The Union Cabinet has approved the establishment and operationalisation of Indian Institute of Management (IIM) at Jammu. It will become operational from the Academic Year 2016-17 at the transit or temporary campus at Old Government College of Engineering & Technology. For the initial four years from 2016 to 2020, the IIM will function in the temporary campus. The student strength intake in Post Graduate Diploma Programme (PGDP) in Management for year 2016-17 will be 54. It will be progressively increased to 120 in 4th year. Meanwhile, steps will also be taken up for setting up campus at Jammu and an out-campus in Kashmir region.  The Detailed Project Report under preparation for the permanent campuses and the process for setting up of the campuses would start after it.  The Union Cabinet also approved formation of an IIM Jammu Society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860. IIM Jammu will be run and managed by the Society with a Board of Governors (BOGs) to be constituted by the Central Government.  BOGs will administer the Institute and would be responsible for establishment and operationalisation of the Institute. It was announced as part of Prime Minister’s development package for Jammu & Kashmir. The IMM coupled with opening of IIT at Jammu, NIT Srinagar and two new AIIMS institutions, one each in Jammu region and Kashmir region will help in meeting the requirement of high quality living and education in Jammu & Kashmir. IIM are the country’s premier institutions imparting best quality education in management. At present, there are total nineteen IIMs. Out of these, thirteen IIMs are located at Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Indore, Lucknow, Raipur, Kozhikode, Rohtak, Ranchi, Shillong, Kashipur, Trichy, Udaipur. New six IIMs were started in 2015 and they are located at Amritsar, Nagpur, Sirmaur, Sambalpur, Bodhgaya and Vishakhapatnam.

The Central Government has brought final draft of the National Water Framework Bill, 2016 to provide uniform national legal framework to manage water in a better and efficient way The comprehensive draft Bill proposes model law for all states. However, water being a State subject under VII Schedule of constitution the law will be not binding on States for adoption. The water shortage problem is escalating and country has witnessed acute drought situation in certain parts. In future, such situations may increase backdrop of climate change. Besides, presently in absence of institutional arrangement there are inter-state water disputes because states do not their contributions to a river’s catchment area to resolve conflicts. Every person has a right to sufficient quantity of safe water for life within easy reach of the household regardless of his/her socio-economic factors. All basin states have equitable rights over the use of river water provided such use does not violate the right to water for life of any person in the river basin. States must recognise the principle that the rivers are public trustees and not owned by the basin-States. All the basin States are equal in rights and status, and there is no hierarchy of rights among them.  Here equality of rights means not equal but equitable shares in river waters. Managing water at river basin-level and right measurement of State’s contribution to river system to in order to resolve conflicts. Establishing River Basin Authority (RBA) for each inter-State basin to ensure optimum and sustainable development of rivers and valleys.  Establishing institutional arrangements to deal with inter-state water disputes in order to “obviate” disputes through negotiations, mediation or conciliation. Proposes other mechanisms such as National water quality and footprint standards, Integrated river basin development and management plan and Graded pricing system.

Virat Kohli was presented with the ICC Test Championship mace for leading his team to the top of the Test Team Rankings on 11 October 2016. On behalf, of ICC the mace was presented by former India captain and ICC Cricket Hall of Famer Sunil Gavaskar following the conclusion of the third and final Test against New Zealand in Indore. The achieved the number-one spot on the ICC Test Rankings after it took a 2-0 lead in Kolkata, but the Test team rankings are only updated at the end of the series. Thus on completion of the series, India formally replaced its arch rival Pakistan at the top of the table at the end pf Indore Test. India won the Indore Test by 321 runs. With this, Kohli became only the second India captain after Mahendra Singh Dhoni and 10th overall to receive the mace, even though it is for the third time since Kohli took over as captain that India has led the rankings table. Earlier, India topped the rankings very briefly in January-February 2016 as well as in August 2016. India’s longest stint at the number-one position was from November 2009 to August 2011 under Dhoni. The other captains to have received the mace are Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Steve Smith (all Australia), Andrew Strauss (England), Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla (both South Africa), MS Dhoni (India) and Misbah-ul-Haq (Pakistan).

Bob Dylan on 13 October 2016 won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature. Dylan was bestowed with the precious award for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition. Bob Dylan : Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, artist and writer. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when his songs chronicled social unrest, although he repudiated suggestions from journalists that he was a spokesman for his generation. His early songs such as Blowin' in the Wind and The Times They Are a-Changin became anthems for the American civil rights and anti-war movements. His lyrics have incorporated various political, social, philosophical and literary influences. His accomplishments as a recording artist and performer have been central to his career, but songwriting is considered his greatest contribution. Since 1994, he has published six books of drawings and paintings, and his work has been exhibited in major art galleries.As a musician, he has sold more than 100 million records, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time.He has also received numerous awards including eleven Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and an Academy Award.  The Pulitzer Prize jury in 2008 awarded him a special citation for his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power. Nobel Prize in Literature :  The Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded annually to an author from any country who has produced the most outstanding work in an ideal direction in the field of literature. The Prize has been awarded since 1901. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895. A Literature Nobel Prize laureate earns a gold medal, a diploma bearing a citation, and a sum of money. The amount of money awarded depends on the income of the Nobel Foundation that year.In 2015, Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize in Literature "for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time."

State-run Bank of Maharashtra (BoM) has renewed its corporate agency tie-up with United India Insurance Company (UIIC).  Customers can buy the entire gamut of UIIC products at any of the 1,896 branches of the bank across the country. They can buy insurance products related to motor, fire, health, marine, overseas travel policy and personal accident from the bank's branches. 

Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of State (with Independent charge) for Petroleum and Natural Gas, on 12 October 2016 launched the National Seismic Programme (NSP) on Mahanadi basin (onshore) in Odisha. The Programme was launched to carry out assessment of unappraised areas across the country for potential oil and natural gas reserves. Highlights of National Seismic Programme : The massive 2D seismic survey will cost the government more than 5000 crore rupees. ONGC will carry out the National Seismic Programme in most parts of the country. Oil India Ltd will undertake the project in north-eastern states. NSP will cover an estimated 48243 line kilometre, covering 26 sedimentary basins divided into 11 units. The presence of gas has been established about 30 km offshore of Dhamra in a discovery by Reliance in the past. ONGC has sought time from the government to pursue further exploration at two deep water blocks that the company has not surrendered. ONGC, which has already begun survey in Saurashtra, aims to have three-fourths of the total area in the country to be appraised by 2020. In Odisha, the survey will be carried out in about 2500 line kilometres divided into the Bhadrak-Jajpur area and the smaller Chilika Lake area at a cost 79.57 crore rupees.

India ranked 97th out of 118 countries on the International Food Policy Research Institute’s (IFPRI) Global Hunger Index (GHI) in 2016, behind Nepal, Sri Lanka,  Bangladesh, among others, but ahead of Pakistan and three other Asian countries. It was positioned at 80 out of 104 countries the previous year. While India has improved its score on various parameters over the past few years, two out of five children below five years of age are stunted in India. Stunting measures chronic malnutrition and affected children’s height would be considerably below the average for their age. Besides, the country was still rated with ‘serious’ hunger levels in the 2016 Index. The country had only the fifth highest rank in the whole of Asia, better than only North Korea (98), Pakistan (107), Timor-Leste (110) and Afghanistan (111). Nepal (72), Sri Lanka (84), and Bangladesh (90) had higher ranks among 96 countries than India’s. Also, India had the lowest rank among BRICS nations, with Brazil in the top 16, Russia at 24, China at 29 and South Africa at 51. Globally, the Central African Republic, Chad, and Zambia were estimated to have the highest levels of hunger. For the developing world, the GHI score is estimated to be 21.3 which, according to the report, is at the lower end of the ‘serious’ category.  According to the report, there are some “bright spots” in the fight to end world hunger. It estimates that the level of hunger in developing countries has fallen by 29 per cent since 2000, with 20 countries reducing their GHI scores by around 50 per cent each since 2000.

Actress-turned-author Twinkle Khanna has shared the first look of her second book titled 'The Legend Of Lakshmi Prasad'.  "My new book of stories that will hopefully make you laugh a lot and sigh a little," Twinkle captioned the picture.  Her first book was 'Mrs Funnybones: She's Just Like You and a Lot Like Me', which was published in 2015.

ICICI Bank has become the first Indian lender to complete a banking transaction using Blockchain technology.  This remittance transaction has been completed in partnership with Emirates NBD, a lender from the West Asia.  India’s largest private sector lender has managed to authenticate remittance transaction messages as well as original international trade documents related to purchase order, invoice, shipping and insurance, etc electronically on Blockchain in real time. Blockchain technology simplifies the process and drastically reduces duration of the transaction to few minutes, compared with few days otherwise. Blockchain allows one to change the age-old process of maintaining a ledger that can be accessed only by one party. Blockchain puts in place a distributed ledger that allows a participatory model.  A recent PwC survey stated that banks and financial institutions are increasingly looking at adopting and implementing Blockchain to improve efficiency.

The first BRICS trade fair and exhibition began Wednesday in India's capital city of New Delhi. The fair, according to officials, provided a platform for respective BRICS countries to exhibit state-of-the-art technologies and advances made in industrial development. The three-day fair was held at Pragati Maidan. According to organisers, the fair has attracted more than 600 exhibitors. The BRICS trade fair will focus on start-ups and will bring together young entrepreneurs from across BRICS nations on this platform. The trade fair showcased advances in several sectors including aerospace, agro-processing, auto and auto components, health care and pharmaceuticals, railways, infrastructure, tourism, gems and jewellery and skill development. Reports said intra-BRICS trade grew to 297 billion U.S. dollars in 2014, from 281 billion U.S. dollars in 2012. The BRICS Business Forum will be held on Thursday and over 1,000 business delegates are likely to participate from all BRICS countries. The 8th BRICS summit is scheduled to take place on Saturday and Sunday in western Indian state of Goa.

India is at the second position among countries with the highest increase in their contribution to high-quality scientific research, according to a new report which shows that the growth of research in the country is only behind China’s. The institutions from India among the top 100 highest performers across the globe include Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). While India made its mark, Chinese institutions are leading the world in rapidly increasing high-quality research outputs, according to the Nature Index 2016 Rising Stars report. As many as 40 of the top 100 performers are from China with 24 of those showing growth above 50 per cent since 2012. The US  which remains the largest contributor to high-quality scientific papers overall  has 11 entrants into the top 100, despite many starting from a high base. Nine institutions feature from the UK, eight from Germany and five from India. The Rising Stars report used the Nature Index which tracks the author affiliations of published research articles by more than 8,000 global institutions in a group of 68 journals. An earlier report, published by National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), shows that less than three per cent of school-going children want to pursue a career in science in India.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has launched the ‘Samajwadi Smart Phone Yojana’, under which smartphones will be distributed among people in the state. To be eligible, applicants have to be residents of Uttar Pradesh, above 18 years of age and should have completed high school. Only those who meet this criteria and have a family income below Rs 6 lakh per annum will be able to apply for the scheme. Akhilesh also launched a start-up policy mobile application and an app of the Uttar Pradesh Traffic Police aimed at connecting commuters with traffic police.  

Harikatha, a traditional art story-telling was in news for its revival due to patronage from various cultural organisation. Harikatha is a form of Hindu religious discourse in which the storyteller explores a religious theme, usually based on the life of a saint or a story from an Indian epic. Harikatha : Harikatha is an art form composed of storytelling, music, drama, dance, poetry, and philosophy in South India especially in villages of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. It had originated from Ajjada village of Srikakulam in Coastal Andhra.  Its aim is to imbue truth and righteousness in the minds of people and sow the seeds of devotion in them. It also aims to educate people about knowledge of atman (self) through stories and show them the path of liberation.  Harikatha at its peak was a popular medium of entertainment, which had helped to transmit cultural, educational and religious values to the masses. Harikatha involves the narration of a story, intermingled with various songs relating to the story. The subject for the Harikatha story may be any Hindu religious theme. Usually the narration of story involves numerous sub-plots and anecdotes, which are used to emphasise various aspects of the main story.  The main story teller is usually assisted by one or more co-singers, who elaborate the songs and Mridangam accompanist. The storyteller uses a pair of cymbals to keep beat.

Pampore, a town situated on the eastern side of river Jehlum on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway in Jammu and Kashmir, was in news in second week of October 2016. It came in news after Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) complex located in the area was attacked by two militants.  The terrorists had stormed into the EDI complex in the wee hours on 10 October 2016 and took positions inside one of the buildings. The attack saw gun battle between security forces and militants that holed up the government building. The gun battle that lasted for 56-hours ended after the two militants were shot dead. Details about the slain terrorists were being ascertained but prima facie there were indications that they belonged to Lashkar-e-Toiba. The operation was called off after the security forces searched all the 50 rooms of the building because there were reports that three terrorists were present in the building. The operation has reduced the multi-storey building to a skeleton after many of its walls were blown up. Pampore  : It is worldwide famous for its Saffron and is known as "Saffron Town of Kashmir".The area is about 11 km from Srinagar city centre Lal Chowk. Pampore is located at 34.02°N 74.93°E.

International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) was observed globally on 13 October 2016 with theme Live to Tell: Raising Awareness, Reducing Mortality. The day encourages every citizen and government to take part in building more disaster resilient communities and nations. The 2016 edition marks the launch of the new "Sendai Seven" campaign by United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). Sendai Seven is centred on the seven targets of the Sendai Framework, the first of which is reducing disaster mortality. UNISDR’s campaign seeks to create a wave of awareness about actions taken to reduce mortality around the world. The Sendai Seven Campaign is an opportunity for all, including governments, local governments, community groups, civil society organisations, the private sector, international organisations and the UN family, to promote best practices at the international, regional and national level across all sectors, to reduce disaster risk and disaster losses. United Nations data says, worldwide, women and children are up to 14 times more likely than men to die in a disaster and roughly 60% of preventable maternal deaths and 53% of preventable under-5 deaths take place in conflict and disaster settings. Other groups affected disproportionately include persons living with disabilities, older persons and indigenous people. The International Day for Disaster Reduction began in 1989, after a call by the United Nations General Assembly for a day to promote a global culture of risk-awareness and disaster reduction. Earlier, the day was celebrated on the second Wednesday of October (Resolution 44/236, 22 December 1989). But in 2009, the UN General Assembly formally designated 13 October as the annual date (Resolution 64/200, 21 December 2009). Annually held on 13 October, the day celebrates how people and communities around the world are reducing their exposure to disasters. It also raises awareness about the importance of reining in the risks that they face.

The First World Tsunami Awareness Day will be celebrated on 5 November 2016 at the Asian Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) 2016. The event will be organised with Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Champions at the Conference. The Conference will be organised from 3 November to 5 November 2016 at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi by the Government of India in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). The significance of the day to tsunami awareness can be traced back to the year 1854. A villager in Wakayama Prefecture, Japan, was concerned about an impending tsunami after a high-intensity earthquake on 5 November 1854. He set up a fire to rice sheaves on the top of a hill. Fellow villagers, who went atop to put off the fire, were saved even as a tsunami destroyed their village down below. This was the first documented instance of a tsunami early warning. To commemorate that day of “Inamura no Hi” (the burning of rice sheaves), a resolution was jointly proposed by 142 countries including Japan as a follow up of the third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The United Nations designated the 5th November as World Tsunami Awareness Day.The observance of the day will help to spread awareness among people across the world in matters related to the dangers of tsunami. It will also stress on the importance of early warning systems in order to mitigate damage from the often devastating natural hazard.  It also aims at reviving traditional knowledge about tsunamis. Awareness raising activities will be organized throughout the Conference through thematic events, exhibitions, and distribution of awareness materials.

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