Current Affairs 21st October 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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The National Commission of Women (NCW) has held that triple talaq was a “highly misused” custom and Government should be scrapped to protect the rights of Muslim women. NCW clearly mentioned that the traditional custom of triple talaq should be banned in an effort to protect the rights of Muslim women and it cannot be linked to the Uniform Civil Code. According to the commission Muslim feels disempowered because of the practice of triple talaq. ‘Triple Talaq’ or ‘Oral talaq’ is a procedure of divorce mentioned under the Sharia Law which is a body of the Islamic law. Under this, a husband can divorce his wife by pronouncing ‘Talaq’ thrice. The practice of ‘triple talaq’ has enabled husbands to divorce their wives arbitrarily, devoid of any substantiation. It impact adversely on the right of women to a life of dignity. The ‘triple talaq’ has been abolished in 21 Islamic theocratic countries including Pakistan. It is also against constitutional principles such as gender equality, secularism, international laws etc.  Recently Central Government in affidavit submitted to Supreme Court held that the practice of Triple talaq is against the principles of gender justice, gender equality and dignity enshrined in the Constitution. This pernicious practice is not integral to the right to freedom of religion.  Triple talaq is not an essential religious practice in Islam and violates right to equality, non-discrimination on the grounds of sex and the right to live with dignity to women in par with men guaranteed in the Constitution. National Commission for Women (NCW)  : The NCW is a statutory body generally concerned with advising the government on all policy matters affecting women. It was established in January 1992 under the National Commission for Women Act, 1990 as per the provisions of the Indian Constitution. The objective of the NCW is to represent the rights of women in the country and to provide a voice for their issues and concerns.  

Researchers from Indira Gandhi Krishi Vishwavidyalaya (IGKV),Chattisgarh have developed a protein-enriched rice variety.  The new developed rice variety has over 10% protein content, which is 3% more than what is found in any popular variety and has 30 PPM (parts per million) zinc content. The protein-enriched rice variety was developed by researchers from IGKV’s Department of Plant Molecular Biology and Biotechnology.  They had worked for seven years to develop the variety of rice that is rich in protein along with high zinc content.  This protein rice variety will play a crucial role in addressing issues of protein deficiencies and it will serve as a boon for malnourished population, especially children, in tribal-dominated Chhattisgarh. Earlier in May 2015, scientists from Indira Gandhi Agriculture University (IGAU), Raipur (Chhattisgarh) had developed a high zinc-enriched called “Chhattisgarh Zinc Rice-1”. It was the first zinc biofortified rice variety developed in India. Advantages  : Zinc and other mineral content are not lost upon polishing. The rice has long self-life and used after keeping it for long time. Even it tastes just as good as the conventional variety. Zinc is important to the body because over 300 enzymes in our body use it as an essential component in their action. Zinc is essential in supporting our immune system, in synthesising and degrading DNA, in wound healing and several other activities. Our body requires very small amount of Zinc, but if the level falls down to below normal it may result into growth retardation, diarrhoea, eye and skin lesions and loss of appetite. As per a survey conducted in 2015 very high rate of malnutrition was found among preschool children in tribal areas across Chhattisgarh which is considered rice bowl of the country. The survey had showed that over five lakh children in the state are underweight and stunted growth especially in the tribal districts.

Supreme Court has froze all financial transactions between the BCCI and state cricket associations on 21 October 2016. The apex court directed the apex cricket body not to disburse any funds, even for the match purposes, till BCCI resolved to abide by Justice RM Lodha panel recommendations. A bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur asked Lodha panel to appoint independent auditors to scrutinize all BCCI accounts. The judgment also directed the Lodha panel to ask the auditors to scrutinize the high-value contracts provided by BCCI. Justice RM Lodha Committee submitted its report to Supreme Court The apex court also directed BCCI president Anurag Thakur and Secretary Ajay Shirke to give undertaking on affidavit, before the Lodha panel and apex court by 3 December 2016, stating how much time they would need to implement reforms. Highlights  :  It directed the Lodha panel to ask the auditors to scrutinise the high-value contracts given by BCCI and also fix a ceiling of high-value contracts involving media rights.  It asked the Ladha panel’s secretary to send a copy of the apex court order to the ICC chairman Shashank Manohar.

The Indian football team has achieved its best FIFA ranking in over six years. The team jumped 11 placed to be 137th in the latest list. India, who defeated 114th ranked Puerto Rico in an International Friendly in Mumbai in September 2016, garnered 230 points for the month. In August 2010, India were ranked 137th which stayed India’s best ever FIFA Ranking since then. The Indian team was ranked 171st in February 2015 and slipped to 173rd in March 2015. At present, Argentina tops the FIFA World Rankings, followed by Germany and Brazil. FIFA World Rankings : The FIFA World Ranking is a ranking system for men's national teams in association football.The teams of the member nations of FIFA are ranked based on their game results with the most successful teams being ranked highest. The rankings were introduced in December 1992, and eight teams (Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain) have held the top position, of which Brazil have spent longest ranked first.A points system is used, with points being awarded based on the results of all FIFA-recognised full international matches. The ranking system was most recently revamped after the 2006 World Cup, with the first edition of the new series of rankings issued on 12 July 2006. The most significant change is that the rankings are now based on results over the previous four years instead of the previous eight years.

An online tool, TweetCast, can predict whether citizens will vote for Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton in the upcoming US Presidential elections has been developed. The tool was developed by researchers of Northwestern University in the US. TweetCast uses a machine-learning algorithm to examine words, hashtags, tagged usernames and mentioned websites to uncover which terms are most predictive of voting preference. TweetCast : The tool was designed by Larry Birnbaum, a professor of computer science in Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and his students. It can also predict which party will dominate a particular state in the November 8 elections. As per the algorithm, tweet words "lying," "liberal," and "illegal" indicates a vote for Republican candidate Trump. On the other hand, using the words "single," "humanity," and "rights", predicts a vote for Democratic rival Clinton. The algorithm was trained on Twitter users who have publicly declared support for one of the two candidates. Researchers said that 'TweetCast' has a prediction accuracy of over 80 per cent.  

Union Government has decided to establish at least one Krishi Vigyan Kendra in each of the districts in country. These Kendra’s will be developed to provide technical assistance to farmers. The decision was announced by the Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh while interacting via video conference with all the Krishi Vigyan Kendra experts, district level officers associated with agriculture development and progressive farmers of 12 States. Besides, he Singh also called upon the farmers to use the residual husk after paddy farming to make organic fertilizer, in paper making and card-board industry and as animal feed. The Minister said this will prevent the adverse effect of husk burning on the environment.

The Police Commemoration Day was observed on 21 October 2016 across India. The day commemorates the sacrifices of ten policemen while defending the borders with China in 1959. Home Minister Rajnath Singh laid wreath and paid homage to the police martyrs at Police Memorial Ground, Chanakyapuri in Delhi. On 21 October 1959, Chinese Army personnel opened fire and threw grenades at the police party of 20 personnel.Ten of them died, seven were taken prisoners by the Chinese and the remaining managed to escape. The Annual Conference of Inspectors General of Police of States and Union Territories held in January 1960 decided that 21 October will be observed as Commemoration Day in all Police Lines throughout India to mark the memory of these gallant personnel. Since 1961, more than 33000 police personnel have sacrificed their lives for security of the nation and service to the society.  

The Milan city council hasbestowed honorary citizenship on the Dalai Lama on 20 October 2016. However, China has strongly opposed another award given to him. Lamberto Bertole, Chairman of the Council of Milan, honoured the Dalai Lama with the Milan Honorary Citizenship award at a ceremony held at the Arcimboldi Theatre in Milan, Italy. Dalai Lama : The 14th Dalai Lama is the current Dalai Lama.Dalai Lamas are important monks of the Gelug school, the newest school of Tibetan Buddhism, which is nominally headed by the Ganden Tripas.From the time of the 5th Dalai Lama to 1959, the central government of Tibet, the Ganden Phodrang, invested the position of Dalai Lama with temporal duties. The 14th Dalai Lama was born in Taktser village, Amdo, Tibet.He was selected as the tulku of the 13th Dalai Lama in 1937 and formally recognized as the 14th Dalai Lama at a public declaration near the town of Bumchen in 1939.His enthronement ceremony as the Dalai Lama was held in Lhasa on 22 February 1940. He eventually assumed full temporal duties on 17 November 1950, at the age of 15, after China's invasion of Tibet.During the 1959 Tibetan uprising, the Dalai Lama fled to India, where he currently lives as a refugee.The 14th Dalai Lama received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.

Japan's Morinari Watanabe was elected the new President of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) on 20 October 2016. Watanabe emerged victorious in the election after defeating rival candidate Georges Guelzec of France by a huge margin in a vote at the governing body's Congress. Watanabe, who is the secretary-general of Japan Gymnastics Association (JGA), won 100 of the 119 votes. Guelzec, the head of the European Union of Gymnastics (UEG), received a mere 19 votes. With this, Watanabe became the ninth President of the FIG since it was established in 1881.  He will succeed Bruno Grandi, who had held the position for 20 years. Watanabe is due to officially take charge on 1 January 2016. International Federation of Gymnastics : The International Federation of Gymnastics is the governing body of competitive gymnastics. It is headquartered is in Lausanne, Switzerland.It was founded on 23 July 1881, in Liege, Belgium.  It is the world's oldest existing international sports organisation. It was originally called the European Federation of Gymnastics. It had three member countries, Belgium, France and the Netherlands, until 1921, when non-European countries were admitted and it received its current name.The federation sets the rules, known as the Code of Points, that regulate how gymnasts' performances are evaluated. Six gymnastics disciplines are governed by the FIG. They are artistic gymnastics, further classified as men's artistic gymnastics (MAG) and women's artistic gymnastics (WAG), rhythmic gymnastics (RG), aerobic gymnastics (AER), acrobatic gymnastics (ACRO) and trampolining (TRA). The federation is also responsible for determining whether gymnasts are old enough to participate in the Olympics.

In a major breakthrough in speech recognition, researchers at Microsoft claim to have developed the first technology that recognises the words in a conversation as well as humans do. A team of researchers and engineers in Microsoft Artificial Intelligence and Research created a speech recognition system that makes the same or fewer errors than professional transcriptionists. They reported a word error rate (WER) of 5.9 per cent, down from the 6.3 per cent WER the team reported just last month. The 5.9 per cent error rate is about equal to that of people who were asked to transcribe the same conversation, and it is the lowest ever recorded against the industry standard Switchboard speech recognition task. The milestone means that, for the first time, a computer can recognise the words in a conversation as well as a person would. The research milestone comes after decades of research in speech recognition, beginning in the early 1970s with DARPA, the US agency tasked with making technology breakthroughs. The milestone will have broad implications for consumer and business products that can be significantly augmented by speech recognition. That includes consumer entertainment devices like the Xbox, accessibility tools such as instant speech-to-text transcription and personal digital assistants such as Cortana. Instead, it means that the error rate - or the rate at which the computer misheard a word like "have" for "is" or "a" for "the" - is the same as you would expect from a person hearing the same conversation. Zweig attributed the accomplishment to the systematic use of the latest neural network technology in all aspects of the system. The push that got the researchers over the top was the use of neural language models in which words are represented as continuous vectors in space, and words like "fast" and "quick" are close together.

Homegrown online travel company MakeMyTrip, a Nasdaq listed firm has decided to acquire rival Indian travel company Ibibo at an undisclosed amount to form the country’s biggest online travel company.  The combined entity will compete against rivals Yatra and Cleartrip. MakeMyTrip will own 100 per cent of ibibo Group. ibibo Holdings will own a 40 per cent stake in MakeMyTrip, becoming its single largest shareholder and will contribute proportionate working capital upon the closing of the transaction. The transaction is expected to unlock value for customers, supply partners and shareholders, by combining the complementary strengths of each business. MakeMyTrip brings its strong brand, robust mix of domestic and outbound hotels and packages business and strong position in the air ticketing business.  ibibo Group, via its brand goibibo and redBus, comes with a strong presence in various fast growing travel segments including hotels, bus bookings and air ticketing.

State Bank of Patiala has been conferred "Special Award for Excellence in MSME lending" for its performance in lending to the MSME sector during the year 2013-14 and 2014-15 with a growth of Rs 2597 crore (annualized 23%) and Rs 994 crore (annualized 7.10%) respectively, covering the entire range of services.  The award was given by Kalraj Mishra – Union Minister for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises, Government of India.  The Bank is maintaining momentum in lending to this sector during the current financial year also. With a view to extend the coverage of MSME sector, the Bank has 30 MSME specialized branches.  State Bank of Patiala : State Bank of Patiala, founded in 1917, is associate bank of the State Bank Group. Presently, State Bank of Patiala has a network of 1445 service outlets, including 1314 branches, in all major cities of India.

Tata Steel has been conferred the Sustainable Manufacturing of Make in India Award at the Make in India Awards 2016. This award will greatly motivate us to set higher benchmarks in the steel industry, and to make a meaningful contribution to society and the nation. Tata Steel continues to stand out for its initiatives pertaining to safety, corporate social responsibility and climate change initiatives. Its sustainability practices encompass the Company’s Steel Works, iron ore mines and collieries, the city of Jamshedpur, its periphery areas and over 800 villages in the states of Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh. The Make in India Awards 2016 were classified under seven categories and several other prominent companies were nominated for the award under the `Sustainable Manufacturing of Make in India category.

Banks in India will either replace or ask users to change the security codes of as many as 3.2 million debit cards in what's emerging as one of the biggest ever breaches of financial data in India, people aware of the matter said. Several victims have reported unauthorised usage from locations in China.  Of the cards, 2.6 million are said to be on the Visa and Master-Card platform and 600,000 on the RuPay platform. The worst-hit of the card-issuing banks are State Bank of India, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, YES Bank and Axis Bank . The breach is said to have originated in malware introduced in systems of Hitachi Payment Services, enabling fraudsters to steal information allowing them to steal funds. Hitachi, which provides ATM, point of sale (PoS) and other services . A forensic audit has now been ordered by Payments Council of India on Indian bank servers and systems to detect the origin of frauds that might have hit customer accounts. NPCI Managing Director AP Hota . HDFC Bank said it had already taken action in the matter a few weeks back. "Besides advising those customers who we know have used a non-HDFC Bank ATM in the recent past to change (their) ATM PIN, we are advising our customers to use only HDFC Bank ATMs as we believe security controls at some of the other bank ATMs may not be at par with HDFC Bank ATMs . Banks had been receiving multiple complaints from customers about cards being used in China at various ATMs and point of sale terminals. They in turn alerted Visa and MasterCard. A forensic audit is being conducted by Bengaluru-based payment security specialist SISA.  Some sources said the malware infection took about six weeks to detect, compromising transactions that took place during this period. As many as 3.2 million cards were used on the Hitachi network during this time. 

Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today launched a logo of the Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM).  The logo has been designed keeping in mind the slogan of the National IPR Policy: Creative India, Innovative India.  It was designed by the National Institute of Design.  CIPAM has been created as a professional body under the aegis of DIPP to take forward the implementation of the National IPR Policy that was approved by the government in May 2016.  CIPAM is working towards creating public awareness about IPRs in the country, promoting filing of IPRs through facilitation and providing inventors with a platform to commercialise their IP assets.   

The Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal II (KWDT-II) headed by Justice Brijesh Kumar, has decided to maintain status quo on the allocation of Krishna River water among all four riparian states viz. Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.  However, tribunal decided to confine the reallocation of Krishna water to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The KWDT-II pronounced its judgement on the litigation prompted by Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Both states in their petition had sought fresh allocation of Krishna River water among all four riparian states. They had urged that Section 89 in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 meant redistribution of Krishna water among all the four riparian States not just between both of them. KWDT-II verdict :  In its verdict, the tribunal said that Section 89 the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 was not applicable to all four riparian states but is meant only for Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Thus, there was no need to re-allocate of Krishna River water among all four riparian states. The river water should be re-allocated between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, from the share of undivided Andhra Pradesh. Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT) :  Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal (KWDT) is a tribunal set up by the Central Government in 1969 under the Interstate River Water Disputes Act, 1956 to resolve the disputes between the states of Karnataka, Maharashtra and then undivided Andhra Pradesh over sharing of Krishna river water. Under the Article 131 of the Constitution which deals with the Supreme Court’s exclusive jurisdiction to adjudicate disputes between States is not an unrestricted one. The apex court can exercise its jurisdiction under Article 131 in an inter-State dispute, provided other Articles in the Constitution allowed it to do so. Article 262 (2) of the Constitution allows Parliament, by law, to bar the Supreme Court from interfering in an inter-State water dispute. It means that award of water tribunal appointed under a law to resolve inter-State water dispute would be final and deemed to have the force of a Supreme Court order or decree. Thus, it can be said that the award of the tribunal formed under the Inter-State Water Disputes Act, 1956 eclipses the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction.  

The Union Ministry of Railways has declared the Okha-Kanalus and the Porbandar-Wansjaliya railway sections of Gujarat as Green Train Corridors.  All trains passing on these 175-km long lines (141-km-long Okha-Kanalus route and the 34-km-long Porbandar-Wansjaliya route) are now equipped with bio-toilets.  On these routes, about 29 trains consisting of nearly 700 coaches have been equipped with bio-toilets to prevent open discharge free zone on tracks as part of the Swachh Bharat Mission. Green Train Corridors : Green Train Corridors are sections of the railways which will be free of human waste discharge on the tracks.  Trains running on these corridors will be equipped with bio-toilets. Thus, it will completely stop discharge of human waste from trains onto the ground which in turn would help in improving cleanliness and hygiene. The 114-km long Rameswaram-Manamadurai section of Tamil Nadu was made the India’s first Green Rail Corridor in July 2016. The Union Ministry of Railways has taken up a mammoth task of equipping human discharge free bio-toilets in all its coaches by 2021-22 in order to contribute to mission ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’. It aims at completely stopping discharge of human waste from trains onto the ground in order improving cleanliness and hygiene. Biotoilets :  The environment-friendly bio-toilets for passenger coaches were developed jointly by Indian Railways and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). In the bio-toilet fitted coaches, human waste is collected in biodigester tanks below the toilets and is decomposed by a consortium of anaerobic bacteria.  By the process of hydrolysis, acetogenesis, acidogenesis and methanogenesis, the anaerobic bacteria converts human faecal matter into water and small amount of gases (including methane).

Vice Admiral S V Bhokare has assumed office as the Commandant of the Indian Naval Academy at Ezhimala in Kerala  on 20 October 2016. With this, Bhokare became the first officer from the submarine arm of the Indian Navy to take over the charge of the Indian Naval Academy. ice Admiral Bhokare :  Vice Admiral Bhokare is a specialist in navigation and direction.He graduated from the National Defence Academy, Khadakvasla and Defence Services Staff College, Wellington in Tamil Nadu. He attended the Higher Command Course at Army War College, Mhow. He also holds a Master's degree in Defence and Strategic Studies from Australian Defence College, Canberra. In his career spanning 32 years, he has commanded three frontline submarines, INS Sindhughosh, INS Sindhudhvaj and INS Sindhushastra, as well as guided missile frigate INS Beas and submarine base INS Vajrabahu. Indian Naval Academy :  The Indian Naval Academy is the initial officer training establishment of the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard, located in Ezhimala, KeralaIt is situated between Mount Dilli and the Kavvayi backwaters. It has a 7 km beach front on the Arabian Sea.It conducts basic training for all officers inducted into the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard. It is the largest naval academy in Asia.The Naval Academy was established in May 1969, while its Ezhimala campus was inaugurated on 8 January 2009 and the name was changed to Indian Naval Academy.  

The State Bank of India (SBI) has declared Silchar as its 5th zone in North-East India on 20 October 2016. This zone will cater to the banking needs of the people of Mizoram, Tripura and Manipur along with the Barak Valley. The other four zones of SBI in region are located in after Guwahati, Shillong, Dibrugarh and Jorhat. Earlier, Silchar was under Guwahati zone and it was tough on the part of the bank to address the complaints and issues of the customers with such a difficult terrain. The bank has 736 branches across North East together with 3000 ATMs and 3000 customer service points for customer facilitation. Besides, SBI also opened its administrative office at Silchar. This office will facilitate banking issues for the customers of the region.

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