Current Affairs 22nd October 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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Banknotes of the denomination of ₹2,000 will be in circulation soon. The Reserve Bank of India has very nearly completed preparations for introducing this new high-value currency, sources said. The notes have already been printed, and their despatch from the currency printing press in Mysuru has commenced. The move assumes significance in the wake of a demand from some quarters that notes of ₹1,000 and ₹500 denominations be withdrawn to prevent hoarding of black money. The highest denomination note printed by the RBI was the ₹10,000 note in 1938 and in 1954. They were demonetised in 1946 and 1978, respectively. There has been no official word on the introduction of new notes either from the RBI or the government. The government, on the advice of the RBI , decides on various denominations of banknotes to be issued. In value terms, ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes together accounted for 86.4 per cent of the total value of notes in circulation. .According to reports, it costs a little over ₹3 to produce a ₹1,000 note, the lowest in terms printing costs as a proportion of value. Printing notes of smaller denominations is relatively more costly.  

The Indian Immunologicals Limited (IIL) has launched CYSVAX, world’s first vaccine to fight against Taenia solium Tapeworms in pigs.  The vaccine has significant potential benefit to reduce the incidence of epilepsy in humans. The CYSVAX is a recombinant porcine (Pigs) Cysticercosis Vaccine. The vaccine has potential to break the Cysticercosis disease parasite’s life-cycle in pigs which is considered to be one of the important reasons for epilepsy in humans. Cysticercosis is a parasitic disease caused by pork tapeworm named Taenia solium. WHO has designated it as one of 17 Neglected tropical diseases worldwide. It is a zoonotic parasite disease involving pigs as intermediate hosts because it is caused by ingesting the eggs of the tapeworm Taenia solium.  Humans are usually infected by the accidental consumption of eggs present in the under-cooked pork, vegetables and greens that have been improperly washed. In humans it develops into cysts in central nervous system and cause Neuro-cysticercosis, considered as one of the important reasons for epilepsy in humans. The primary breeding grounds for tapeworms Taenia solium are open defecation and unhygienic pig rearing.  Cases of Cysticercosis in India have been reported in North Uttar Pradesh and North-Eastern states. About Indian Immunologicals Limited (IIL) IIL is Hyderabad-based subsidiary of National Dairy Development Board (NDDB). It is a market leader in veterinary biologicals and is also big player in animal and human healthcare sector in country.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has given its consent for using the Decision Review System (DRS) in the forthcoming five-Test series against England in November 2016.  BCCI will use the DRS on a trial basis to evaluate the improvements and changes made to the system over a period of time. Earlier, BCCI as well as many members of the current Indian cricket team including Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni had objected used of DRS as is not 100% accurate. The technology approved by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It includes introduction of ultramotion cameras with better frame rates for accurate ball tracking and Ultra edge, a sound based technology for determining the frame of impact and minimising manual intervention. A data retrieval system also has been included as a further safeguard. Decision Review System (DRS) :  DRS is technology-based system used in sport of cricket for the sole purpose of reviewing controversial decisions made by on-field umpires as to whether or not a batsman had been dismissed. The system was first tested in an India v Sri Lanka match in 2008. It was officially launched by the International Cricket Council (ICC) in 2009 during the first Test match between New Zealand and Pakistan. Initially, ICC had made the DRS mandatory in all international matches, but later made its use optional, so that the system would only be used if both teams agree. The DRS comprises a combination of several off-field technologies. Using these off-field technologies, the third umpire informs the on-field umpire whether to overturn or uphold their original decision. The process of checking a DRS it starts with (i) Checking of No-ball (ii) Inside Edge (iii) Pitch of Ball (iv) Location of Ball while hitting the pads (v) Ball hitting the stumps First two things are checked manually by 3rd Umpire. The rule to give out you require this three things (i) Ball should pitch In-Line of stumps or Outside off (ii) Impact of ball while hitting the pads should be In-Line of stumps (iii) Ball should be hitting stumps. Off-field technologies of DRS includes (i) footage from TV cameras placed around the ground; (ii) Hot Spot, an infrared camera system that highlights parts of the bat and body that have been hit by the ball; (iii) Hawkeye, a ball-tracking system usually used to check leg before wicket decisions; and (iv) Realtime Snickometre, a waveform of the sound captured by a stump microphone.

Smooth-coated otter was sighted for the first time in the mangrove forest near the Krishna wildlife sanctuary (KWS) in Krishna district, Andhra Pradesh.  In all, seven otters were sighted in the mangrove forests and brackish water channels of Eelachetladibba and Lankevennedibba and other areas outside the KWS. The presence of the otter is a key indicator for rise of the mangrove cover in the KWS. Smooth-coated Otter  : The smooth-coated Otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) is a species of otter, the only extant representative of the genus Lutrogale. Otter is a carnivorous mammals.  The fur of this species is smoother and shorter than that of other otters. It is distributed throughout South Asia and South East Asia.  The otter lives in rivers, lakes, peat swamp forests, mangroves and estuaries. It uses swamps as natal den sites and nursery during the breeding season in early winter. Otters are social and hunt in groups. The male otter is polygamous and mates with up to the four females. It has been categorised ‘vulnerable’ in the red data book of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The Indian Coast Guard Ships (ICGSs) ‘Aryaman’ and ‘Atulya’ were commissioned into Indian Coast Guard in Kochi, Kerala. These ships are the eighteenth and nineteenth in the series of twenty Fast Patrol Vessels (FPVs) designed and built by Cochin Shipyard Limited. The ships have been christened ICGS ‘Aryaman’ and ‘Atulya’. Aryaman literally meaning is ‘Possessor of Greatness’ and Atulya meaning is ‘Unrivalled’. Both FPVs are 50m long and have displace of 317 tonnes of water. They can achieve a maximum speed of 33 knots with range of 1500 nautical miles. They are equipped with state-of-the-art weaponry, advanced communication and navigational equipment. These FPVs are ideal platform for undertaking multifarious close-coast missions such as surveillance, interdiction and search and rescue.  These ships have onboard Integrated Bridge Management System (IBMS) and Integrated Machinery Control System (IMCS). Aryaman will be based at Kochi under the administrative control of the Commander, Coast Guard Region (West). Atulya will be based at Visakhapatnam under the administrative control of the Commander, Coast Guard Region (East). Indian Coast Guard (ICG)  : ICG is India’s statutory multi-mission paramilitary organization that protects country’s maritime interests and enforces maritime law. It was established on 18 August, 1978 by the Coast Guard Act, 1978 and operates under the aegis of Union Ministry of Defence. Its headquarters are in New Delhi. ICG has jurisdiction over the territorial waters of India including its contiguous zone and exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Finance Ministry has announced the sixth tranche of sovereign gold bonds. The Applications for the bonds will be accepted from October 24 to November 2. Hoping to attract more investors, the Finance Ministry also said the issue price of the gold bonds will be ₹50 per gram less than the nominal value. Other features of the bonds remain the same. They will be be sold through banks, Stock Holding Corporation of India, designated post offices and stock exchanges. The tenor of the bond will be for a period of eight years with exit option from the fifth year to be exercised on the interest payment dates. Minimum investment of one gram will be allowed while the maximum will be 500 gram per person per fiscal year. In an effort to wean away investors from physical gold, the Reserve Bank of India on behalf of the Centre has already issued five tranches of sovereign gold bonds since last year.

India's financial hub Mumbai has been named among top 15 cities globally in terms of total wealth held, while London topped the list. According to New World Wealth, the wealthiest cities in the world are London with $2.7 trillion of total wealth, followed by New York City ($2.6 trillion) and Tokyo ($2.2 trillion) in the second and third place respectively.  Mumbai featured on the 14th place in the list with a total wealth held in the city worth $820 billion.  Home to 45,000 millionaires and 28 billionaires, Mumbai is the economic hub of India. It is also home to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) . The report further noted that among the 15 cities, Beijing, Shanghai, Mumbai and Sydney were the fastest growing in terms of wealth over the past decade (2006-2016).  Others in the list include San Francisco Bay area at the fourth place with a total wealth of $1.9 trillion; Beijing (5th, $1.8 trillion); Shanghai (6th, $1.6 trillion); Los Angeles (7th, $1.2 trillion); Hong Kong (8th, $1.1 trillion); Singapore (9th, $870 billion) and Chicago (10th, $860 billion).  Sydney at 11th place has a total wealth of $850 billion; Toronto (12th, $850 billion); Frankfurt (13th, $830 billion) and Paris (15th, $800 billion).  Meanwhile, total wealth held worldwide amounts to $185 trillion (as of June 2016). Globally, there are 13,300,000 millionaires and 1,940 billionaires in total . It includes all their assets (property, cash, equities, business interests) less any liabilities. Government funds are from the figures.   

The book on Cricket Player Virat Kohli titled ‘Driven: The Virat Kohli Story’ was published in the presence of  Coach Raj Kumar Sharma, Virender Sehwag, Kapil Dev, Anil Kumble, Ravi Shastri, Ashish Nehra, Ajay Jadeja, Karthik Murali, Hari Gidwani and Anjum Chopra in New Delhi The book was authored by senior journalist Vijay Lokapally and published by Bloomsbury India. The book celebrates the career of Virat Kohli and introduces readers to the man not known to many.

Mumbai-based photographer and conversationalist Nayan Khanolkar has brought home the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award, which is considered "Oscars of wildlife photography". Nayan was awarded the ‘Urban Wildlife category’ award in London. His picture shows a leopard staring directly into the lens as it walks underneath a tiny yellow bulb between two mud-splattered homes of tribals in Aarey Colony. This was the 52nd installment of the award, in which Khanolkar won from 50,000 entries across 90 countries. With his infrared cameras, he would place them at a strategic points, ensuring the camera settings were best to capture the light, and hoping that the leopard would pass in front of it. Khanolkar lives with his wife and parents in Dombivli. Every day, he would travel to Goregaon to check his cameras.

Azure Power Global Limited announced the pricing of its initial public offering of 3,409,091 equity shares at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), thereby becoming the first Indian solar company to be listed on NYSE. The IPO offering includes 2,242,424 equity shares to be sold by Azure Power and 1,166,667 shares to be sold by certain selling shareholders, at a price to the public of $18.00 per equity share.  Azure Power will also receive gross proceeds of $75 million from the sale of equity shares in connection with a concurrent private placement transaction at a price per share equal to $18.00 per equity share. The gross proceeds to Azure Power and the selling shareholders from the initial public offering and the concurrent private placement are expected to be approximately $136.4 million, before deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses. Azure Power intends to use its net proceeds primarily to fund the purchase by Azure Power of equity shares of its subsidiary, Azure Power India Private Limited (“AZI”), and to fund future operating expenses of Azure Power. Net proceeds to be received by AZI as a result of such purchase are intended to be used for growth capital requirements, new project development and other general corporate purposes. 

A Saudi Arabian Prince Turki bin Saud al-Kabir was executed in October 2016 for shooting a man, Adel al-Mohaimeed, dead. He Prince shot the man during a brawl three years ago in the capital Riyadh. As per a report, he became the 134th person to be put to death in 2016. This incident is a rare example where a royal family member was executed after being subjected to the death penalty. One of the most well-known cases of execution of the ruling family member was of Faisal bin Musaid al Saud, who assassinated his uncle, King Faisal, in 1975. The interior ministry statement said that the prince had pleaded guilty to shooting his compatriot. He was executed in the capital but no details were given that how he was executed. Maximum people executed (convicted for murder and drug trafficking) in the Kingdom are beheaded with a sword.

India's second eco-friendly airport in Vadodara is all set to open its doors to passengers. Located on the city's outskirts, the new terminal is equipped with facilities of international standard. The facility has also been rated by Green Ratings of International Habitat Assessment, the highest national rating for green buildings conceived by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). This terminal building boasts of several features of a green building. Energy efficient glass has been used. A sheet measuring 164.4 mts has been used on roof top, which is a world record. As a green initiative, sugarcane pulp has been used for decoration at the VIP and CIP lounge. The new integrated modular terminal building at Vadodara is part of the central government's ongoing project to modernize existing airports and develop them on part with international airports. Constructed for a whopping Rs. 160 crores, the new facility is spread over an area of 17,500 square metres. With 18 check-in counters, it has a capacity to manage as many as 700 passengers, including 200 international passengers, during peak hours. The new terminal is a unique steel structure which is designed as per the advanced building management system. It is equipped with hi-tech security systems, energy saving cooling system, rain water harvesting system, super sensitive fire safety alarm and automatic glass cleaning facilities. A food court will serve delicious food to both passengers and visitors. The new terminal building has a parking facility for approximately 230 cars, 100 Taxis and 10 coaches.Vadodara being an important industrial, cultural and educational hub of western India, attracts visitors from parts of India and abroad. In 2015-16, over nine lakh passengers travelled from existing airport at Vadodara. The number of passengers witnesses an increase of 30 per cent every year. The new airport will help boost the economy of Vadodara and nearby areas.

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated the 28th Accountants General Conference in New Delhi . The institution of CAG is one of the oldest in the country with a history of more than one and a half centuries. He stated that Albert Einstein had once observed. At the time of independence, in 1946-47, the receipts of Government of India amounted only to Rs 3,706 crore and its expenditure to Rs. 3,443 crore. Nearly seven decades later, in 2014-15, government receipts and expenditure had both increased to about Rs. 17 lakh crore. This unprecedented growth has obviously led to newer paradigms in public financial management. Concept of governance is rapidly changing and leveraging technology would enable the government to effectively reach out to the poorest of the poor. Increased use of technology platforms would help to ensure that benefits of Government schemes and programmes effectively reach the disadvantaged and financially excluded sections of society.  Among the dignitaries present on the occasion were Smt. Sumitra Mahajan, Speaker, Lok Sabha, Shri KV Thomas, Chairman, Public Accounts Committee and Shri Shashi Kant Sharma, Comptroller and Auditor General of India. 

The three-day Air Force Commanders’ Conference held at Air force Headquarters, New Delhi. The Air Force Commanders briefed the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha on various issues relating to operational capability, maintenance and HR. Future plans for enhancing IAF’s capability were also discussed. The Air Chief expressed satisfaction with the operational preparedness of the IAF to meet any challenge to National security. The Commanders the Government’s appreciation of the professionalism displayed by the IAF in execution of airlift of Indians from Yemen.  On the last day,the OFB, BDL and HAL teams put on table the constraints on their side and both parties agreed to take the programmes forward through discussions and by working out mutually acceptable solutions.

Pakistan has warned India that it will take appropriate action if India violates the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) unilaterally. It also mentioned that it was closely monitoring the situation after India decided to suspend all talks with Pakistan on IWT in the wake of the Uri attack. Around 65% of the Pakistan’s geographical area including entire Pakistan’s Punjab province is part of Indus basin. The water of Indus River is lifeline of Pakistan and is source of irrigation, hydro power and drinking water for millions of Pakistanis. If the water from rivers is stopped by India it can surely cut lifeline of Pakistan. Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) :  IWT is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan which was brokered by the World Bank (then the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development). The treaty deals with sharing of water of Indus water system having six rivers — Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum between the two countries. It was signed by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and President of Pakistan Ayub Khan in Karachi on September 19, 1960.  As per treaty, control over three eastern rivers Ravi, Beas and Sutlej was given to India. While control over three western rivers Indus, Jhelum and Chenab was given to Pakistan. It allows India to use only 20% of the water of Indus river, which flows through it first, for irrigation, power generation and transport. Most disagreements and disputes have been settled via legal procedures, provided for within the framework of the treaty. Under it Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) was set up as a bilateral commission to implement and manage the Treaty. The Commission solves disputes arising over water sharing.  Besides, treaty also provides arbitration mechanism to solve disputes amicably. A Permanent Indus Commission was set up as a bilateral commission to implement and manage the Treaty. The Commission solves disputes arising over water sharing It is most successful water treaty in world. Even, it has survived India-Pakistan wars of 1965, 1971 and the 1999 Kargil standoff besides Kashmir insurgency since 1990.

Union Government has unveiled the regional air connectivity scheme UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam naagrik) on 21 October 2016, which seeks to get more people to fly in the smaller towns. The Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju who launched the scheme in New Delhi said the scheme is expected to be rolled out by January 2017. The scheme UDAN envisages providing connectivity to un-served and under-served airports of the country through revival of existing air-strips and airports. The scheme would be in operation for a period of 10 years. The Ministry of Civil Aviation took a major step today towards making flying a reality for the small town common man. UDAN : It is a unique market-based mechanism to develop regional connectivity, under which Airlines will bid for seat subsidies. Airline operators will bid for up to 40 subsidised seats and minimum seats will be 9. There will be 50 percent seats on market based pricing.The scheme ensures affordability, connectivity, growth and development. This first-of-its-kind scheme globally will create affordable yet economically viable and profitable flights on regional routes so that flying becomes affordable to the common man even in small towns. UDAN aims to increase ticketing volume from 80 million to 300 million by 2022. Under the scheme, airlines will have complete freedom to enter into code sharing with larger airlines for connectivity and they will be exempted from various airport charges.Airlines will get exclusive rights for three years to fly on a particular regional route. Airfares will be capped at 2500 rupees for an hour's flight for regional flights.On each such route, the minimum frequency would be three and maximum of seven departures per week. Route networks would also be encouraged under the scheme to achieve economies of scale and optimal usage of aircraft. The UDAN is likely to a give a major fillip to tourism and employment generation in the hinterland. Through introduction of helicopters and small aircraft, it is also likely to significantly reduce travel timings in remote and hilly regions, as well as islands and other areas of the country. The state governments would reap the benefit of development of remote areas; enhance trade and commerce and more tourism expansion. MoS for civil aviation Jayant Sinha said the scheme is inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision to make air travel accessible to common people. The ministry wants to add 50 more airports and connect them to bigger cities and towns in next four years.

The book titled The Adivasi Will Not Dance, penned by Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar, was in news in the second week of October 2016. The book was recently shortlisted for The Hindu Prize 2016. The characters of the book are set in the fecund, mineral-rich hinterland and the ever-expanding, squalid towns of Jharkhand. The book, a collection of stories, offers the glimpse in the lives of troupe-master Mangal Murmu, who refuses to perform for the President of India and is beaten down; Suren and Gita, a love-blind couple, who wait with quiet desperation outside a neonatal ward; Panmuni and Biram Soren, who move to Vadodara in the autumn of their lives, only to find that they must stop eating meat to be accepted as citizens, and several other characters. Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar : Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar is a medical officer with the Government of Jharkhand.He is also author of the critically acclaimed novel The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskey, which was shortlisted for The Hindu Prize 2014 and the Crossword Book Award 2014.He received the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar in June 2015.

India has signed a 650-million US dollar loan agreement with the World Bank for the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor-III (EDFC-III) Project on 21 October 2016. The project will benefit industries of Northern and Eastern India, which rely on railway network for transportation of material inputs and exports. These industries also depend on railway network for transportation for the distribution of bulk processed and semi-processed commodities and consumer goods. Railway passengers will also be benefitted through decongestion of the existing passenger lines. The project is being developed by Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Ltd. (DFCCIL). It would also help in creating jobs in the northern and eastern regions of the country. The EDFC-III Project is to augment rail transport capacity, improve service quality and enhance freight carriage throughput on the 401 km Ludhiana-Khurja section of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor It seeks to develop institutional capacity of DFCCIL to build, maintain and operate the entire DFC network. The third loan agreement that the World Bank has signed for the Eastern Corridor, which is about 1840 km long and extends from Ludhiana to Kolkata. EDFC is going to be a broad gauge corridor. This will have double line and will be electrified. The corridor will also pass through Dadri (The origin point of Western Dedicated Freight Corridor) which will serve as a junction. This project is in continuation of Phase-I and II of the EDFC Projects being implemented by the DFCCIL with the World Bank loan of US$ 975 million and US$ 1100 million respectively on the Dadri-Khurja-Kanpur; and Kanpur-Mughal Sarai stretches of the Eastern Rail Corridor (Ludhiana-Delhi-Kolkata).  

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