Current Affairs 20th October 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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Pakistan's media regulatory authority has decided to enforce a complete ban on Indian TV and radio contents from 21 October 2016. It has warned that the licences of those found guilty of violating the ban will be suspended. In a statement, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) said that it has decided to ban airing of Indian content at the request of the federal government. PEMRA said, the ban will come into effect at 3 PM and radio and television stations which violate the ban will have their licences suspended without a prior show cause notice. The ban extends to all Indian content on cable and radio being aired in Pakistan. Besides, it also decided to cancel the one-sided rights that were given to Indian media in 2006 by government of former military dictator Pervez Musharraf.  

Retired bureaucrat Sunil Kumar Mishra was appointed as the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) of Odisha on 19 October 2016. Governor Dr. S C Jamir approved the name of Mishra, an official release said. Earlier on 6 October 2016, a selection committee chaired by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik recommended Mishra’s name to the Governor for appointment as the CIC. Former director general of income tax Mishra will succeed former chief secretary Tarun Kanti Mishra. The post of CIC was vacant since February 2015. TK Mishra had resigned six months before his scheduled retirement on personal ground. Sunil Kumar Mishra : He is a 1981-batch IRS officer, who had served as the principal director-general of income tax of seven states, including Odisha. Mishra who belongs to Berhampur of the state has a special interest for the development of Odisha.

A top Indian-American woman academic and president of the University of Houston was today appointed as member of the US Department of Homeland Securitys Academic Advisory Council. The appointment of Renu Khator, Chancellor of the University of Houston System and president of the University of Houston (UH), was announced by US Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson. The council, which is made up of 23 members, including college presidents, academic leaders and inter-agency partners, provides advice and recommendations to the secretary on matters related to homeland security and the academic community. Since its formation in 2012, members have issued more than 120 recommendations in the areas of academic research and faculty exchange, campus resilience, cybersecurity, international students, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) academic programmes and recruitment of current students and recent graduates. Khator joined the University of Houston System in 2008 and oversees a four-university organisation that serves nearly 70,000 students, has an annual budget that exceeds USD 1.7 billion and generates nearly USD 6 billion economic impact on the Greater Houston area each year. Khator, who holds a Ph.D. in political science and public administration from Purdue University, serves as chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Board of Directors and was president of the American Council on Education.

The Ministry of Urban Development and the Ministry of Railways on Wednesday signed an MoU under which railway stations and adjoining areas will be redeveloped on smart city lines for enhancing passenger amenities, easy access to stations, enabling optimal utilisation of land at railway stations. This convergence based city development will result in qualitative improvement in city life,” Union Urban Development Minister said in a statement. He also suggested that to begin with 10 cities could be taken up for the proposed redevelopment with the involvement of public sector construction company NBCC (India) Ltd. These cities are Sarai Rohilla (Delhi), Bhubaneshwar, Lucknow, Varanasi, Jaipur, Kota, Thane, Margao(Goa), Tirupati and Puducherry. Several countries such as Germany, France, Japan, South Korea, the UK and Belgium have showed interest in redevelopment and a round-table of domestic and overseas bankers will be organised next week to discuss financing of these redevelopment projects. The MoU proposes two joint venture options for speedy redevelopment of railway station centred areas. The first being between the Railways and the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) formed for execution of Smart City Plans, with equal share in equity. In the second model, NBCC can be roped in with equal share among the three. NBCC can design, develop and execute the redevelopment plans on self-financing basis. While the Ministry of Railways will be responsible for forming joint ventures, the Ministry of Urban Development will work with the states and urban local bodies for integrating railway station redevelopment as part of smart city development plans.

The seven-judge Constitution Bench of Supreme Court has questioned whether the practice of using the mass religious appeal by leaders to canvas votes for candidates amounts to a corrupt electoral practice.  The SC bench led by Chief Justice Chief Justice is re-considering its 1995 verdict which had held that canvassing votes in name of ‘Hindutva/Hinduism’ wasn’t a corrupt electoral practice, as Hinduism was not a religion but a way of life in India. Recently, the Constitution Bench of SC raised question of using the mass appeal of religious while testing the limits of Section 123 of Representation of the People Act.  It was looking into the various means by which misuse of religion or faith of the masses for electoral gains can be categorised as a corrupt practice.  It was also looking into electoral practices of political parties and candidates to rope in clerics or priests to flex their religious sway over particular religious community to swing votes. The Representation of the People Act bars candidates and political parties to appeal appeal in the name of religion. If found guilty for violation, the candidate can be disqualified.  The 1995 judgment delivered by Justice JS Verma had seeking votes in the name of Hinduism is not a “corrupt practice” under Section 123 of Representation of the People Act.  

The World Bank has pledged 2 billion US dollars aid package to Bangladesh to tackle climate change over the next three years.  The aid package is part of the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries. Bangladesh is extre mely vulnerable to climate change and accounts for almost 70% of all storm surges in the world. The aid package aims to further develop the resilience of the people at a time when climate change is putting their lives and livelihoods at greater risk. This is the second large investment announcement made by the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim during his 2-day visit to Bangladesh. Earlier he had announced to provide US $1 billion aid to Bangladesh over the next three years to fight child malnutrition. The World Bank has provided Bangladesh more than $24 billion in financing in the last 45 years. Bangladesh is the largest recipient of International Development Association (IDA) assistance, having received over 24 billion US dollars since Independence.

India has shown keen desire to initiate a joint venture (JV) arrangement with Algeria for a multi-billion dollar fertilizer plant located in the North African country.  The proposal in this regard has moved to front burner following a meeting between Algerian Minister for Industry and Mining and Indian Minister of State for Chemicals in Algiers.  However no specific agreements were signed between both courtiers at the end of Vice-President Hamid Ansari’s three-day visit to Algeria. Phosphorus is one of three important elements in the chemical fertilizers that are most important in plant nutrition along with nitrogen and phosphorus.  India, which has up to 96% phosphate dependency. Currently, India imports raw phosphate resources from a number of African countries including Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Syria and also from Russia, Canada and Israel among others. For India, forming JV Algeria will have major favourable food security implications and also could ease the fertilizer subsidy burden. India-Algeria  : India’s bilateral trade with Algeria currently stands at 1.5 billion dollars a year with the trade balance in Algeria’s favour given India’s import of oil and gas. The major item of exports from India to Algeria has been automobiles.

The Election Commission of India hosted the first ever International Conference on Voter Education in New Delhi. The three day (from 19 to 21 October, 2016) conference was inaugurated by the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Dr Nasim Zaidi. The topic of the first of its kind conference is Voter Education for Inclusive, Informed and Ethical Participation. 27 countries and 5 international organizations are participating in it.  It has been organized with an aim to share best practices, initiatives and policies of voter education by election management bodies. It aims at achieving a resolution to strengthen inclusive, ethical and informed electoral participation among member countries with the help of voter education and outreach.  It will deliberate upon five topics ranging from Role of Information Communication Technology in Voter Education, Electoral Literacy to Enhanced participation by special categories of voters and Strategies for Informed and Ethical Voting. The Conference will see the launch of the ambitious VoICE.NET project, a Global Knowledge Network on voter education.  Besides, an exhibition showcasing Voter Education tools and materials will be also organized on the occasion.  

India has signed agreement with Russia to lease second Akula-II class nuclear attack submarine (SSN). The deal is believed to be worth about $2 billion.  The lease to transfer a multipurpose Project 971 nuclear submarine to India from the Russian Navy was signed in Goa on the sidelines of 8th BRICS Summit. The second nuclear submarine is expected to arrive in Indian waters in 2020-21. India had earlier leased first Akula-II class nuclear attack submarine (SSN) for a period of 10 years from Russia. It was inducted into service as INS Chakra (formerly known as K-152 Nerpa) in April 2012. Its lease expires in 2021. Since then, India had expressed interest in leasing at least one more submarine to train Navy crew in complex submarine operations to have a large fleet of nuclear submarines. Akula-class  : submarines Akula-class submarines of Project 97 (NATO name Akula-II) weigh around 8,140 tonnes. They are considered one of the most silent SSNs in service and are capable of sailing at speeds up to 35 knots. They are nuclear powered but are armed with conventional land attack missiles. INS Arihant  : Earlier in August 2016, India had quietly inducted its first indigenously built nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) Arihant into service completing its nuclear triad. Besides, follow-on submarines are also planned and at least two are in various stages of construction which will give India strategic foothold in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). The second indigenous nuclear submarine of the same class, INS Aridhaman, will be commissioned in 2018.

Maharashtra Government has launched Kaushalya SETU (Self-Employment and Talent Utilisation) initiative on 19 October 2016. The initiative, which is a skill development programme for students, is likely to generate employment for as many as 7.5 lakh people in state. For the purpose of employing skilled people, the state also signed 22 MoUs with various industries. The best part of the initiative is that it would help in bridging the gap between education and employment. Highlights of Kaushalya Setu initiative : Students of Maharashtra State Board of Secondary & Higher Secondary Education, who fail to clear Class X or SSC exam, would be accommodated in the skill development courses. This will help in ensuring that these students do not lose a year. The launch will play a leading role in fulfilling Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Skill India Mission-2020 It is a mechanism launched by the Union Government under NITI Aayog to support all aspects of start up businesses and other self-employment activities, particularly in technology-driven areas. SETU is a Techno-Financial, Incubation and Facilitation Programme.

The Indian Boxing Council (IBC) in the second week of October 2016 was inducted into the World Boxing Organisation (WBO) with voting rights. The decision was taken at the WBO's annual convention at Puerto Rico. The Indian Boxing Council is a licensing body for the country's professional boxers. World Boxing Organisation : The World Boxing Organization is a sanctioning organization that recognizes professional boxing world champions.  It is recognized by the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) as one of the four major world championship groups. The other groups are the World Boxing Association (WBA), World Boxing Council (WBC), and International Boxing Federation (IBF).The WBO's headquarters are located in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The WBO started after a group of Puerto Rican and Dominican businessmen broke out of the WBA's 1988 annual convention in Isla Margarita, Venezuela over disputes regarding what rules should be applied.Its first president was Ramon Pina Acevedo of the Dominican Republic.

Regulator Irdai has imposed a penalty of Rs 6 lakh on Shriram Life Insurance for "casual" approach towards certain norms, among other violations.  The company was charged that under a product (Shriram Credit Shield), in many instances, the insurer had covered the loan term of less than three years and provided flat cover of Rs 5,000 for the balance period (till completion of three years). The insurer should note that whenever they realise the demand of a specific feature that is not available in the approved File and Use, they should approach Irdai for revision of the product in order to include the required feature. The new feature can only be marketed post approval of the revision. So, the life insurer resorting to such practice again indicates their casual approach towards regulatory prescriptions with regard to File and Use. Another charge was that group claims paid date for the financial years 2011-12 and 2012-13 revealed that death claims were settled in favour of Group Master Policyholder. Further, the life insurer had not obtained a confirmation of receipt of claim payment from the beneficiaries. In this case, a penalty of Rs 1 lakh has been levied.  The regulator said "the penalty of Rs 6 lakh shall be debited to the shareholders' account of the life insurer" and the amount should be remitted to the Irdai within a period of 15 days.

Indian Railways in the second week of October 2016 won the World Railway Shooting Championship Cup. The tournament was held at Saint Mandrier, France. It is the first time that Indian Railways emerged victorious in this competition. In 2015, the Indian Railways were the runners up team. Indian Railways team won a total 10 medals, which include 5 Gold, 3 Silver and 2 Bronze, to bag the Overall Championship at the 15th International Shooting World Championship (USIC). The purpose of USIC is to encourage the practice of amateur sport among railway employees all over the world. The Western Railways members along with Coach Anuja Tere Jung represented Team India. The team defeated Germany and France to win Gold in 50 Meter Rifle Event. Swapnil Kusale and Tejaswini Muley won Gold and Silver medal respectively. In Air Rifle, Ayonika Paul won Gold by defeating France and Norway while Suma Shirur won silver and Gurjit won Bronze. In Air Pistol, all three Indian shooters Jitendra Vibhute, Sumedh Devlaliwala and Vipin Rana bagged Gold, Silver and Bronze respectively.

The Union Ministry of Shipping has sanctioned the Capital Dredging Project of Ro Pax Ferry Services between Gogha & Dahej, in Gulf of Cambay in Gujarat under Sagarmala programme. The total project cost is estimated to be Rs 234 Crore of which 50% will be funded by the Union Government under the Sagarmala programme. Significance of Project  : This is first of its kind project in India as it will be executed in the area of world’s 2nd highest tidal range. This project on completion will result in reduction in motorable distance of 231 kms between Gogha and Dahej in Gujarat to mere 31 kms.  It will pave way for launching India’s first roll on-roll off (Ro-Ro) vessel passenger ferry services on this route by April 2017. Besides, it will reduce the travel time to 1 hour from 7 hours.  It will also result in savings in fuel, reduction in CO2 emission and reduction in road congestion. The project will open up new avenues in coastal shipping & tourism and help in socio-economic development of proximate areas. It will also help in utilisation of inland waterways through River Narmada for shipping goods from industries located upstream. Sagarmala Programme :  The Sagarmala Programme is Union Government’s flagship strategic, customer-oriented initiative to achieve the broad objective of promoting port-led economic development in India.  The ambitious programme seeks to harness vast potential of India’s 7,500 km long coastline, 14,500 km of potentially navigable waterways and strategic location on key international maritime trade routes.  It envisages the growth of coastal and inland shipping as a major mode of transport for carriage of goods and people along the coastal and riverine economic centres. Sagarmala when integrated with the development of inland waterways will help to reduce cost and time for transporting goods, benefiting industries and export/import trade. The Gulf of Cambay (also known as Gulf of Khambhat) is an inlet of the Arabian Sea in the state of Gujarat along the west coast of India. It divides the Kathiawar peninsula to the west from the eastern part of Gujarat state. Narmada, Tapti, Mahi and Sabarmati rivers drain into it.

Noted British statistician Sir David Cox was named the inaugural recipient of the International Prize in Statistics on 19 October 2016. He is honoured for Survival Analysis Model Applied in Medicine, Science, and Engineering. The International Prize in Statistics Foundation is recognizing Cox specifically for his 1972 paper in which he developed the proportional hazards model that today bears his name. Cox Model : The Cox Model is widely used in the analysis of survival data and enables researchers to more easily identify the risks of specific factors for mortality or other survival outcomes among groups of patients with disparate characteristics. From disease risk assessment and treatment evaluation to product liability, school dropout, reincarceration and AIDS surveillance systems, the Cox Model has been applied essentially in all fields of science, as well as in engineering.Successful application of the Cox Model has led to life-changing breakthroughs with far-reaching societal effects. Some of these effects are: Demonstrating that a major reduction in smoking-related cardiac deaths could be seen within just one year of smoking cessation, not 10 or more years as previously thought. Showing the mortality effects of particulate air pollution, a finding that has changed both industrial practices and air quality regulations worldwide.Identifying risk factors of coronary artery disease and analyzing treatments for lung cancer, cystic fibrosis, obesity, sleep apnea and septic shock. His 1972 paper is one of the three most-cited papers in statistics and ranked 16th in Nature's list of the top 100 most-cited papers of all time for all fields.  Sir David Cox : Cox is a noted figure in the field of statistics. In 2010, he received the Copley Medal, the Royal Society's highest award that has also been bestowed upon such other world-renowned scientists as Peter Higgs, Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein.He was knighted in 1985. He is a fellow of the Royal Society, an honorary fellow of the British Academy and a foreign associate of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. He has served as president of the Bernoulli Society, Royal Statistical Society and International Statistical Institute.

The first elephant sanctuary in Latin America has opened in Brazil to provide a home for an estimated 50 circus animals from across the region.  Guida and Maia, both over 40 years old, are the first residents. The Global Sanctuary for Elephants bought the land of 2,800 acres, for $1m (£820,000) to be paid over five years. The area is located in the western state of Mato Grosso. The first phase of the project will host up to six animals. The sanctuary will not be open for visitors.

The retirement age of doctors in government hospitals in Haryana has been raised to 65. The decision comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement in Saharanpur recently that the retirement age of government doctors would be raised to 65 years. Vij  the decision would benefit 312 doctors, including 57 medical officials, 159 senior medical officials and other senior health officials such as health department directors and Director General Health Services. The Haryana government had earlier decided to raise the retirement age from 58 to 62 years and the process was on to implement this decision

Indian and Chinese armies conducted a day-long exercise focused on humanitarian aid and relief, where a fictitious situation of an earthquake was emulated . it a part of ongoing initiative to enhance interaction and cooperation between India and China", and added that it increased "trust and cooperation between the two border guarding forces along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh.  The second such exercise to be held by the two countries, the joint exercise named "Sino India Cooperation 2016" was held under the provisions of Border Defense Cooperation Agreement, 2013.  The first exercise of the series was held in February this year in eastern Ladakh in Chushul-Moldo area.  The exercise was a great success and has not only refined the drills to provide succor to the border population in case of natural calamity but has also increased the level of trust and cooperation between the two border guarding forces along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh . It also the exercise complements the Hand in Hand series of the India-China joint exercises and the effort of both the nations to enhance cooperation and maintain peace and tranquility along the border areas.  Exercise Hand in Hand series, which started in 2007, was held at Kunming Military Academy in Yunnan province of China in 2015 . The 12-day-long exercise was focused on counter-terrorism and anti-insurgency operations, along with humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations.   

London has topped the 2016 Global Power City Index for the fifth consecutive year with Mumbai ranked 39th on the list of the worlds leading global cities for business, innovation and culture. The 2016 Global Power City Index (GPCI) report, which was released by the Mori Memorial Foundations Institute for Urban Strategies, ranked London as the leading overall city, highlighting the capitals strong cultural offering, ease of doing business and global transport links. The report ranks 42 major cities of the world across six key measures of economy, research and development, culture, accessibility, environment and livability. Mumbai, the only Indian city to feature on the index, was ranked 39th. London performed well across all areas, retaining its top spot for the fifth year in a row and ranking above other cities such as New York, Tokyo and Paris. The UK capital was first awarded the leading position in 2012, the year it successfully hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Games. New York experienced no significant change in its ratings, retaining its No. 2 slot, also for the fifth year running. Paris dropped out of the top three to fourth position, due largely to a perceived decrease in the levels of cultural interaction and research and development. The terrorist attacks of November 2015 are also likely to have influenced those ratings. Singapore completes the top 5 cities in the annual ranking. The Japan-based Mori Memorial Foundations Institute for Urban Strategies has published its GPCI report annually since 2008. The GPCI index is based on an evaluation of 70 criteria, analysing the strengths and weaknesses of global cities amid intensifying competition.

India will become the third largest aviation market in the world by displacing the UK in 2026, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) . The 20-year forecast also says that China will displace the US as the world’s largest aviation market (defined by traffic to, from and within the country) around 2029.  India is currently the ninth largest aviation market in the world in terms of passengers.  Growth will also increasingly be driven within developing markets. Over the past decade the developing world’s share of total passenger traffic has risen from 24% to nearly 40%, and this trend is set to continue. The aviation body also expects air passengers to double in 2035 to 7.2 billion from 3.8 billion air travelers in 2016.  The prediction is based on a 3.7% annual Compound Average Growth Rate (CAGR) noted in the release of the latest update to the association’s 20-Year Air Passenger Forecast . People want to fly. Demand for air travel over the next two decades is set to double. Enabling people and nations to trade, explore, and share the benefits of innovation and economic prosperity makes our world a better place .  

Kochi became the first Indian city to be officially declared as one of the venues for hosting the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup. The tournament will be hosted in the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium of the city. A 23-member high-level delegation comprising experts from FIFA and Local Organising Committee (LOC) ratified Kochi as the venue for next year's mega event. Earlier, the delegation visited the Jawarharlal Nehru International Stadium. With this, the event also became the first FIFA event to be held in the subcontinent. Tournament Director of the LOC, Javier Ceppi said that besides Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the team also visited the prospective training grounds in Kochi -- Parade Ground, Fort Kochi Veli Football Ground, Maharajas College Ground and Government Boys High School Panampilly Nagar.  2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup : The FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 will be held in India. This will be first time that the planet’s second most populous country will host a FIFA event. Till date, India has successfully hosted a wide range of sporting events like from the Asian Games to the Commonwealth Games and world championships in sports like cricket and field hockey. The tournament is slated to be held from September to October 2017. India in Football : Indian football team took part on the 1948 London Olympics, their first major international tournament.The nation qualified regularly for the Olympics until 1960. The 1956 Melbourne Olympics saw the national football team finish a very respectable fourth.The main success for Indian football came in that era with gold medals at the Asian Games in New Delhi 1951 and Jakarta in 1962. India was invited to participate in the 1950 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Currently, football is one of the most followed sports in India and is only behind cricket in terms of reputation and popularity. This has been the result of a series of initiatives and investments in the future of the sport. History of Football in India : India has been playing football since 19th century. India’s oldest and surviving clubs namely, Mohammedan Sporting and Mohun Bagan, were formed just three decades after the first club in the world, Sheffield FC, was established. Indeed, India’s Durand Cup is the world’s third oldest football competition.

Scientists have discovered that Tasmanian devil milk contains an arsenal of antimicrobial compounds that can kill some of the most deadly bacterial and fungal infections, including golden staph. The study was published in Scientific Reports. Highlights of the study : As per the research, Tasmanian devils produce six different types of the antimicrobial compounds that hold the power to kill several drug-resistant superbugs. Scientists were able to successfully synthesise the antimicrobial compounds in the lab to test their effectiveness against a number of drug-resistant bacterial and fungal pathogens. When tested against 25 different bacterial and six fungal strains, the six varieties of antimicrobial compounds were found to kill golden staph, responsible for food poisoning, pneumonia, and toxic shock syndrome. They were also found to produce Enterococcus, which can cause urinary tract infections and meningitis.The compounds also killed Candida krusei, a rare yeast species associated with high mortality, and the deadly and hyper-virulent airborne fungus called Cryptococcus gattii.  Tasmanian devil : The Tasmanian devil is a carnivorous marsupial of the family Dasyuridae.They are found in the wild only on the Australian island state of Tasmania.It became the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world following the extinction of the thylacine in 1936. It is characterised by its stocky and muscular build, black fur, pungent odour, extremely loud and disturbing screech, keen sense of smell and ferocity when feeding. The Tasmanian devil's large head and neck allow it to generate among the strongest bites per unit body mass of any extant mammal land predator. Tasmanian devils are currently under serious threat from Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD), a highly infectious parasitic facial cancer that has wiped out more than 70 percent of the species.

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