Current Affairs 26th October 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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According to study conducted by researchers from University of Idaho, US Uranus may have two tiny, previously undiscovered moons orbiting near two of the planet’s rings.  These two moons were detected by researchers after analysing decades-old images of Uranus’ icy rings taken by NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft which had flown by the planet 30 years ago. Scientists have found that the pattern in Uranus’ rings was similar to moon-related structures in Saturn’s rings called moonlet wakes. They have estimate the hypothesised moonlets in Uranus’ rings may be four to 14 kilometres in diameter. It means they are as small as some identified moons of Saturn. They had analysed decades-old images of Uranus’ icy rings taken by NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft which had flown by the planet 30 years ago. During their analysis they had noticed the amount of ring material on the edge of the alpha ring – one of the brightest of Uranus’ multiple rings – varied periodically. They also had found similar, even more promising pattern occurred in the same part of the neighbouring beta ring. They also had analysed radio occultations – made when Voyager 2 sent radio waves through the rings to be detected back on Earth. They also had analysed stellar occultations made when spacecraft measured light of background stars shining through the rings, which helped to show how much material they contain. Uranian moons are especially hard to spot because their surfaces are covered in dark material. These findings could help explain some characteristics of Uranus’ rings, which are strangely narrow compared to Saturn’s moons. It will also help to explain that if moonlets exist, they may be acting as “shepherd” moons, helping to keep the rings from spreading out. Two of Uranus’ 27 known moons, Cordelia and Ophelia act as shepherds to Uranus’ epsilon ring. Uranus :  Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun. It has the third-largest planetary radius and fourth-largest planetary mass in the Solar System. Uranus is similar in composition to Neptune and are classified as “ice giants” to distinguish them from the gas giants. Its primary composition of hydrogen and helium, but it also contains more ices such as water, ammonia, and methane, along with traces of other hydrocarbons

The Union Telecom Ministry has formed a committee to look into the regulator TRAI’s recommendation of a Rs. 3,050 crore penalty on top three telcos - Airtel, Vodafone and Idea. The committee has been asked to give a report on the recommendations soon likely to be before 15 November 2016. Earlier TRAI had recommended Department of Telecom to impose penalty on these three incumbents telecom companies for denying interconnection points to Reliance Jio.  According to TRAI, these three companies have violated licence norms by denying adequate interconnection points to Reliance Jio Infocomm.  Their actions also have stifled the competition and are seen as anti-consumer and against public interest. The Reliance Jio had alleged that due to inadequate interconnection points its subscribers were unable to make calls to other networks.  TRAI had recommended fine for Airtel and Vodafone to Rs.1,050 crore for 21 service areas (all, expect Jammu and Kashmir) and for Idea the penalty was pegged at Rs 950 crore for 19 service areas (all, except for Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Northeastern States).

India has been ranked 87th out of 144 countries on the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Gender Gap Report 2016. India has climbed 21 spots from 108th position in 2015.  The report measures gender gap as progress towards parity between men and women in four areas (i) Educational attainment, (ii) Health and survival, (iii) Economic opportunity and (iv) Political empowerment. Highlights of the report Top 5 Countries in 2016 Report: Iceland (1st), Finland (2nd), Norway (3rd) Sweden (4th) and Rwanda (5th).  India related facts : In this edition India has overtaken China which is ranked 99th. The improvement in India’s ranking is driven largely by major improvements in education, where it has managed to close its gap entirely in primary and secondary education. In case of education attainment, India has made considerable strides moving up from 125th rank in 2015 to 113th in 2016.  On economic participation and opportunity too, India has moved up to 136th rank in 2016, from 139th in the year 2015. On health and survival, India has made little progress moving up by one place to 142nd rank compared to 141st in 2015. On political empowerment, India continues to be ranked 9th in the world. Overall Global Facts: The global march towards parity in key economic pillar has slowed down dramatically. This gap stands at 59% which is now larger than at any point since 2008. As a consequence, global economic gender gap will now not close until year 2186. The gender gap in India has narrowed down. But India still remains one of the worst countries in the world for women in terms of labour force participation, income levels as well as health and survival. India has closed its gender gap by 2% in a year (2016), but much work remains to be done to empower women in the economic sphere. India continues to rank third-lowest in the world on Health and Survival, remaining the world’s least-improved country over the past decade.

Legendary footballer Carlos Alberto Torres passed away on 25 October 2016 at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He was 72. Carlos was known for scoring one of the greatest goals in World Cup history in the 1970 final against Italy. Carlos Alberto Torres : Carlos Alberto Torres was a Brazilian footballer. He was widely regarded as one of the best defenders of all time. He captained Brazil national team to victory in the 1970 World Cup, scoring the fourth goal in the final, considered one of the greatest goals in the history of the tournament. He is also known as ‘O Capitão do Tri’. He was a member of the World Team of the 20th Century.In 2004, he was named by Pele in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players. He was an inductee to the Brazilian Football Museum Hall of Fame, and was a member of the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame. In January 2013, he was named one of the six Ambassadors of 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, others being Ronaldo, Bebeto, Mario Zagallo, Amarildo and Marta.

India has been placed at 130th position among the 190 countries in the recently released World Bank’s ease of doing business index for the year 2017. The index was released as part of the World Bank’s annual report Doing Business 2017: Equal Opportunity for All. This report had revised India’s rank to 131 from earlier 130th for the year 2016. Thus, India has improved its place by one spot in the 2017 index and its place remained unchanged from the previous original ranking of 130 in the year 2016. The ease of doing business index is annually released by World Bank in its Ease of Doing Business Report. It was introduced in 2004. In this index, ranking of country is based on index averages the country’s percentile rankings on 10 indicators each having equal weightage. A higher ranking of country in this list means that its regulatory environment is more conducive and favourable for the starting and operation of firms. 10 indicators are starting business, getting electricity, dealing with construction permits, registering property, protecting investors, getting credit, employing workers, trading across borders, paying taxes, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency. Highlights of 2017 Report Top 10 Countries : New Zealand (1st), Singapore (2nd), Denmark (3rd), Hong Kong (4th), South Korea (5th), Norway (6th), UK (7th), US (8th), Sweden (9th) and Macedonia (10th).  BIRCS Nations : India ranks lowest in Doing Business among the BRICS nations. Russia (40), South Africa (74), China (78), Brazil (123) and India (130).  India’s Neighbours : Bhutan (73), China (78), Nepal (107), Sri Lanka (110), Pakistan (144) and Bangladesh (176). India Related Facts: In the ranking, India has made a substantial improvement in some areas such as electricity connection.  But it has sliped in other areas, including payment of taxes and enforcing contracts. India has embarked on a fast-paced reform path and has acknowledged a number of substantial improvements. Some the improvement mentioned are electricity connections to businesses, paying taxes, electronic system for paying employee state insurance contributions, the Companies (Amendment) Act, electronic filing of integrated customs declarations, passage of the commercial courts and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code. Global Facts: Economies in all regions are implementing reforms easing the process of doing business. However, Europe and Central Asia continues to be the region with the highest share of economies implementing at least one reform. 96% of economies in the Europe and Central region have implemented at least one business regulatory reform. A record 137 economies around the world have adopted key reforms that make it easier to start and operate small and medium-sized businesses. Developing countries carried out more than 75% of the 283 reforms in the past year, with Sub-Saharan Africa accounting for over one-quarter of all reforms.

The Union Ministry of Urban Development has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with National Buildings Construction Corporation (India) Ltd and Central Public Works Department (CPWD). The MoU was signed for the redevelopment of General Pool Residential Accommodation (GPRA) colonies in New Delhi. Highlights of the MoU : The NBCC will redevelop Sarojini Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Nauroji Nagar and CPWD will redevelop Kasturba Nagar, Thyagraj Nagar, Srinivaspuri and Mohammadpur. The total estimated cost of the project is 32835 crore rupees including maintenance and operation costs for 30 years.  The cost of works assigned to NBCC will be 24682 crore rupees and to CPWD will be 7793 crore rupees.  The project will be implemented on self-financing basis by sale of commercial Built up Area (BUA) of 8.07 lakh sqm constructed in Nauroji Nagar and parts of Sarojini Nagar by NBCC as a part of the project. Under the Project, the existing housing stock of 12970 will be replaced by approximately 25667 dwelling units, with supporting social infrastructure facilities. The construction of the project will be completed in five years in a phased manner.

The fourth edition of the India-Sri Lanka Joint Military Exercise Mitra Shakti 2016 began on 24 October 2016 at Sinha Regimental Centre in Ambepussa, Sri Lanka. The exercise will continue till 6 November 2016. The main focus of this edition of the joint exercise is to enhance inter-operability while carrying out Counter Insurgency (CI)/Counter Terrorism (CT) operations under the United Nations Mandate.  Highlights of Mitra Shakti 2016 : The Indian Contingent is represented by a platoon from the Rajputana Rifles Regiment and the Sri Lankan Army is represented by a platoon from the Sinha Regiment. In the initial two stages, both armies will get familiar with the respective methodology of such operations, each other’s arms and equipment and the command and control systems.  It will then graduate towards tactical understanding to enhance inter operability while carrying out Counter Insurgency (CI)/Counter Terrorism (CT) operations. Mitra Shakti series of bilateral exercises is one of the major bilateral defence cooperation initiatives between India and Sri Lanka since 2013. The previous exercise with the Sri Lankan Army was successfully conducted in September 2015 at Pune in India.

A group of researchers discovered a tiny threadlike millipede in the unexplored dark marble caves in Sequoia National Park in California. The study was published in the open access journal ZooKeys. The newly found millipede is recognised as the evolutionary cousin of the leggiest animal on the planet, Illacme plenipes. Highlights of newly found millipede : The millipede is named Illacme tobini after cave biologist Ben Tobin of the National Park Service.It was discovered along with many spiders, pseudoscorpions and flies in Sequoia National Park. According to diplopodologists, the new species may possess 414 legs, compared to its relative’s 750 legs. It has peculiar anatomical features, including a body armed with 200 poison glands, silk-secreting hairs, and four penises.The millipede’s closest relative lives under giant sandstone boulders outside of San Juan Bautista, California.

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has appointed New Zealand's Jason McCracken as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) on 25 October 2016. McCracken will take over FIH in February 2017. He will replace Kelly Fairweather, who is leaving for the International Tennis Federation after six years in the role. McCracken is a renowned figure in hockey family. He served as an Olympic and World Cup umpire, FIH committee member and technical official for over 20 years. McCracken’s most recent appointments were technical delegate at the Rio 2016 Olympics and tournament director at the 2014 men's hockey World Cup in The Hague, Netherlands. International Hockey Federation : The International Hockey Federation is the international governing body of field hockey and indoor field hockey. Its headquarters are located in Lausanne, Switzerland.  It is responsible for field hockey's major international tournaments, notably the World Cup. It was founded on 7 January 1924 in Paris by Paul Leautey. In 1982, the FIH merged with the International Federation of Women's Hockey Associations (IFWHA).  

Paul Beatty became the first US author to win the Man Booker Prize. He won the award for his racial satire, 'The Sellout' at a ceremony in London's Guildhall. The novel tells the story of a young black man who tries to reinstate slavery and racial segregation in a suburb of Los Angeles. Chair of the Judges, Amanda Foreman, said the book managed to eviscerate every social taboo. Beatty was honoured with the prize money of 50000 Euros from the Duchess of Cornwall, a trophy and a designer bound edition of his book. The shortlisted authors each received 2500 Euros and a specially bound edition of their book. 2016 Man Booker shortlist included The Sellout - Paul Beatty (US) Hot Milk - Deborah Levy (UK)  Eileen - Ottessa Moshfegh (US) His Bloody Project - Graeme Macrae Burnet (UK) All That Man Is - David Szalay (Canada-UK)  Do Not Say We Have Nothing - Madeleine Thien (Canada) Paul Beatty : He was born in Los Angeles in 1962 and now lives in New York. His previous novels are Slumberland (2008), Tuff (2000) and The White Boy Shuffle (1996).He received an MFA in creative writing from Brooklyn College and a MA in psychology from Boston University. In 1990, Beatty was crowned the first ever Grand Poetry Slam Champion of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. The Sellout: Paul Beatty : Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, the Sellout is a 304-page novel and narrates story of a boy born in the agrarian ghetto of Dickens, on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles. It talks about his isolated upbringing and the race trail that sends him to the Supreme Court.  

The Uttarakhand High Court on 25 October 2016 ordered a complete ban on the sale of whitener in the state. The decision came following the death of a teenager (14-year-old) in Bhowali town of Nainital district after he sniffed an excess of whitener for a kick. The single bench of Justice Rajeev Sharma directed the state government to put a complete ban on its sale. Besides, the court also ordered that items such as Iodex and Feviquick should not be sold to children below 18 years of age in view of prevalent abuse of these among teenagers. The court said, it must also be ensured that no minor gets entry into hookah clubs. Earlier in October 2016, while rejecting the bail plea of an alleged drug peddler, the court had directed the Principal Secretary of the state to constitute a special task force to combat drug abuse.  

Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has unveiled the Official Mascot for the 2018 World Cup. The Official Mascot for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia is named Zabivaka, which means ‘the one who scores’ in Russian. The mascot is the wolf developed by student designer Ekaterina Bocharova. The selected mascot had received 53 per cent of the votes, followed by the tiger (27 per cent) and the cat (20 per cent).  2018 World Cup : The 2018 FIFA World Cup will be the 21st FIFA World Cup, a quadrennial international football tournament contested by the men's national teams of the member associations of FIFA. It is scheduled to take place in Russia from 14 June to 15 July 2018. Russia was awarded the hosting rights on 2 December 2010. This will be the first World Cup ever held in Eastern Europe, and the first held in Europe since 2006. The final tournament will involve 32 national teams, which include 31 teams determined through qualifying competitions and the automatically qualified host team. A total of 64 matches will be played in 12 venues located in 11 cities. The final is expected to take place in Moscow at the Luzhniki Stadium.The winners will qualify for the 2021 FIFA Confederations Cup.

Residents of the national capital can help fight air pollution by reporting incidences of leaf and garbage burning, and dust generated by construction activities through a new mobile application.  The "Hawa Badlo App" introduced by Environmental Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA), appointed by the Supreme Court to improve the air quality in Delhi and NCR, allows people to report incidences of air pollution through it.  The app aims at inclusive participation of citizens in reporting incidences of leaf and garbage burning, building and construction dust and unpaved road dust, and thereby makes them part of the city's fight to curb air pollution . The mobile application designed by EPCA, along with the municipal corporations and departments concerned of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh governments, also include a section for officials, to resolve cases and upload evidence about what has been done, including a copy of the challan.  The app is currently focused on incidences of pollution through construction activities, garbage burning and maintenance of roads, but has the scope to include other pollution-linked violations.  The application will generate weekly reports on the status of the cases and action taken, which will be sent to the officials of the Central and state pollution control boards and municipalities. Also, EPCA will analyse this information to submit its report to the Supreme Court on actions taken in compliance with its orders.  The mobile application is also designed to filter out false complaints by creating a reputation system - similar to what is used in online product ratings.  Each complaint is geo-referenced and will provide the time and location where the evidence of violation has been collected and submitted.  EPCA will forward the complaint to the official in-charge, identified through the location and also type of violation.  The app has been made publicly available on iOS and Android application stores, and is expected to play an active role in increasing public engagement and accountability in reducing pollution during the winter season this year. 

The Cofounder launches itself as India's first startup magazine that will help boost the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country through its stories. The Cofounder, founded by Adhish Verma and Arunraj Rajendran, is the first startup magazine that will talk about real stories behind the early stage startups and entrepreneurs. The company was incorporated in 2016 with its parent company being Hirestreet Media Pvt Ltd and is backed by UK-based Sharpedge. The Magazine will emerge as the new data storage and communications medium and through its first launch of magazine are essential to inform Indian CEOs and CIOs of the different startups to aware the startup life, the struggles and the journey.  

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has laid the foundation stone of Urja Ganga, the highly ambitious gas pipeline project in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. The gas pipeline project aims to provide piped cooking (PNG) gas to residents of the eastern region of the country and CNG gas for the vehicles. The project is being implemented by state-run gas utility GAIL. It envisages laying a 2,050-km pipeline connecting Jagdishpur (UP) to Haldia (West Bengal) by 2018. From Varanasi’s perspective, 50,000 households and 20,000 vehicles will  get cleaner and cheaper fuel PNG and CNG gas respectively. The project is considered as a major step towards collective growth and development of the Eastern region of India. Under it, overall 20 lakh households will get PNG connections. The Urja Ganga project also augments existing GAIL’s network of trunk pipelines covering the length of around 11,000 km by 2540 km. Besides, under this project work on 2540-km long Jagdishpur-Haldia and Bokaro-Dhamra Natural Gas pipeline project will begin and will be completed between 2018 and 2020. Seven East India cities Varanasi, Jamshedpur, Patna, Ranchi, Kolkata, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack – will be the major beneficiary of this network development. Besides, LNG terminal at Dhamra will provide clean fuel to the Industrial Development of the Eastern states of Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal and Odisha. 25 industrial clusters in these 5 states will be developed using gas from this pipeline. Besides, 40 districts and 2600 villages will benefit from this project. It will also help in revival of defunct fertilizer plants in Barauni in Bihar, Gorakhpur in UP,

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the first National Tribal Carnival in New Delhi to promote a sense of inclusiveness among the tribals.  The main purpose of this four-day carnival is to promote a sense of inclusiveness among the tribals.  It will also showcase and promote various facets of tribal culture on a large scale. In this carnival around 1,600 tribal artists and around 8,000 tribal delegates from across the country are taking part. Besides, eminent tribal personalities who have excelled in various fields like arts and culture, literature, sports, academics and medicine will also participate.  The idea behind the carnival is to preserve and promote various facets of the tribal life relating to culture, tradition, customs and their skills. Besides it also seeks to expose it to the general public with a view to utilise the potential for overall holistic development of the Scheduled Tribes.  The carnival will host activities like displaying documents on traditional socio-culture aspects, exhibition of art/artifacts, cultural performances. It will also demonstration of skills like paintings, traditional healing practices, sports, etc.  It will also host workshops on issues like implementation of Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA), Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006.

Disarmament Week is an annual event that is observed from 24 October to 30 October in various parts of the world. The annual observation of the Week starts on the anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, which is observed as the United Nations Day. On the occasion, the United Nations invites states to highlight the danger of the arms race, propagate the need for its cessation and increase public understanding of the urgent tasks of disarmament. The week was established by the General Assembly in 1978 through resolution S-10/2. In 1995, the General Assembly invited governments, as well as NGOs, to continue taking an active part in Disarmament Week (resolution 50/72 B, 12 December 1995). It invited the Secretary-General to continue using United Nations information entities as widely as possible, to promote a better understanding among the public of disarmament problems, and the aims of the Week. 26 September 2013 : High-level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament  The general assembly via its Resolution 67/39 decided to convene a high-level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament that will be held as a one day plenary meeting on 26 September 2013, to contribute to achieving the goal of nuclear disarmament. Arms Trade Treaty : This year during the annual United Nations Treaty Event - , much of the attention was focused on the Arms Trade Treaty, which was signed by 27 countries – including the United States – and ratified by three, bringing the total number of signatures to 113 and the total number of parties to seven. Disarmament : Disarmament is the act of reducing, limiting, or abolishing weapons. Disarmament generally refers to a country's military or specific type of weaponry. It calls for total elimination of weapons of mass destruction, like nuclear arms.

Haji Ali Dargah Trust told Supreme Court (SC) that it will grant equal access to women to the inner sanctorum of the Haji Ali shrine in Mumbai on a par with men. The Dargah Trust sought four weeks time for making changes in the infrastructure. A bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao granted time to the trust and disposed off its appeal against the Bombay High Court order asking it to give equal access to women also. Senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, appearing for the trust, filed an additional affidavit on behalf of the Dargah trust to allow women inside the shrine.  The Supreme Court earlier on 17 October 2016 extended the stay granted by Bombay High Court to facilitate an appeal  against its decision to lift the ban on entry of women. The bench remarked that if you are not allowing both men and women to go beyond a point, there is no problem. But if you are allowing some to go beyond a point while others are not, it is a problem. The 15th century shrine located on a rocky outcrop in the Arabian Sea, 500m from the Mumbai coastline, houses the tomb of Sufi saint Haji Ali. The trust had banned women from the inner sanctum in 2012. On 26 August 2016, the Bombay High Court lifted the ban after hearing the petition filed by Noorjehan Fiaz and Zakia Soman, founders of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), against the ban, calling it unconstitutional. The High Court had held that the ban contravened Articles 14, 15 and 25 of the Indian Constitution. It also held that the trust had no power to alter or modify the mode or manner of religious practices of any individual or any group.

A team of scientists in October 2016 discovered a secret Nazi base of German dictator Adolf Hitler located 1000 kilometres from the North Pole. For decades, this location of the mysterious site known as Schatzgraber or Treasure Hunter on Alexandra Land in the Arctic Circle had remained unknown. Highlights of the Discovery :  About 500 items of historical value were collected on the grounds of the former Treasure Hunter German station that operated on the Alexandra Land island of Franz Josef Land. The supposed weather station is believed to have been constructed on direct orders from Hitler in 1942, a year after his invasion of Russia. It was in service from 1943, before being abandoned in July 1944 when its crew was poisoned after being forced to eat raw polar bear meat infected with roundworms while running low on supplies. Researchers exploring the isolated island, which is now a Russian Territory, discovered relics including the ruins of bunkers, discarded petrol canisters and even paper documents dating from the Second World War. Researchers found bullets, scraps of tents and personal items such as shoes; many of which appear to be dated and marked with the swastika.

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