Today Current Affairs 3rd October 2016

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Rajeev Sharma has taken over as the Chairman and Managing Director of state-run Power Finance Corporation (PFC) Sharma succeeds M K Goel who retired on September 30, 2016 on attaining the age of superannuation. Prior to joining PFC, Sharma was the CMD of Rural Electrification Corporation (REC). Under his leadership, REC scaled greater heights in excellence by doubling the revenue and profits in the last five years. He is considered the architect of Government’s flagship schemes like Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY), the company said in a statement. Sharma holds B Tech (Electrical) and Masters Degree in engineering from IIT Roorkee and also an MBA degree from FMS, Delhi University. He has more than 30 years of experience and has served in various positions in Central Electricity Authority (CEA), Power Grid Corporation & PFC (as Director, Projects).

Indian golfer Gaganjeet Bhullar won his 6th Asian Tour title, winning the Korea Open 2016 in Incheon,South Korea.  The 28-year-old, whose last Asian title came in 2013, was awarded a cash prize of $196,000 for the win. Bhullar, an Arjuna awardee, has been a part of India's silver-winning golf team at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha.

Yoshinori Ohsumi of Japan won the Nobel Medicine Prize  2016 on 3  Oct 2016,for his work on autophagy  a process whereby cells "eat themselves" which when disrupted can cause Parkinson's and diabetes. Autophagy is a fundamental process in cell physiology with major implications for human health and disease. The process is essential for the orderly degradation and recycling of damaged cell parts and its failure is believed to be responsible for ageing and cell damage. Researchers first observed during the 1960s that the cell could destroy its own contents by wrapping them up in membranes and transporting them to a recycling compartment called the lysosome.Difficulties in studying the phenomenon meant that little was known until, in a series of brilliant experiments in the early 1990s, Yoshinori Ohsumi used baker's yeast to identify genes essential for autophagy. The prize comes with eight million Swedish kronor (around $936,000 or 834,000 euros). Last year, Irish-born William Campbell of the US, Satoshi Omura of Japan and China's Tu Youyou won the prestigious award for their discoveries of treatments against parasites.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has received total disclosure of Rs. 65,250 crore black money in the form of cash and other assets under the Income Disclosure Scheme, 2016.  The scheme launched in June 2016 has provided a one-time opportunity to those who had not paid full taxes in the past. It had provided four-month window for declaring undisclosed income or black money and ended on 30 September 2016. The scheme had provided a one-time opportunity to black money holders who had not paid full taxes in the past to come clean by declaring their domestic undisclosed income and assets. Declaration were made in respect (i) Any undisclosed domestic income. (ii) Any investment in asset representing undisclosed income, upto financial year 2015-2016. The undisclosed income or black money and assets declared was liable to total 45% tax of the undisclosed income. Benefits of Declaration: (i) No wealth tax on asset declared. (ii) No enquiry under Income Tax Act or Wealth Tax Act. (iii) Immunity from the Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Act, 1988. The scheme gave an opportunity to the defaulter to come clean by paying more than normal tax and did not reward the dishonest tax defaulters.

The World Habitat Day was on 3 October 2016 observed across the world with the theme Housing at the Centre. The 2016 World Habitat Day campaign aims to raise awareness about the need for affordable housing for all in urban areas, towns and cities. Access to adequate housing is a global challenge growing fast with urbanization. Around one quarter of the world’s urban population continues to live in slums and informal settlements. An increasing number of urban dwellers, especially the poor and vulnerable groups (women, migrants, persons with disabilities and HIV, elder, youth and LGBT) are living in precarious conditions, addressing their housing needs informally, lacking access to basic services and living space, isolated from livelihood opportunities and vulnerable to forced evictions or homelessness.Every day, as people are born in or move to urban centres in search of opportunities, the demand for housing grows. Globally, a billion new houses are needed by 2025 to accommodate 50 million new urban dwellers per year. World Habitat Day is observed every year on the first Monday of October throughout the world.It was officially designated by the United Nations and first celebrated in 1986. The purpose of the day is to reflect on the state of our cities and towns and the basic human right to adequate shelter. It also aims to remind the world of its collective responsibility for the habitat of future generations.  

Indian-origin South African girl Kiara Nirghin won the Google Science Fair prize 2016 on 1 October 2016. She won this grand prize of 50000 US dollars scholarship for using orange peel to develop a cheaper super-absorbent material that helps soil retain water. Kiara Nirghin is a Grade 11 student at St Martin’s private school. She did a project titled No More Thirsty Crops which was aimed at tackling the severe drought plaguing South Africa. Her solution to the problem of drought uses orange and avocado fruit peel, which are normally discarded The Google Science Fair is a programme for budding scientists between the ages of 13 to 18, who are invited to solve the world’s biggest challenges using science and technology. Nirghin's Project : The fruit peel serves perfect alternative to super-absorbent polymers (SAPs), which absorb and carry about 300 times their weight in liquid relative to their own mass.These SAPs are not biodegradable, are costly and full of acrylic acid, sodium hydroxide and other chemicals. It was after 45 days of experimentation that Nirghin was successful in creating a low-cost super-absorbent polymer, made out of waste products from the juice manufacturing industry. This polymer can retain large amounts of water, keep soil moist and improve crop growth without regular water supplements.

S. Sivakumar, professor at Indian Law Institute (ILI), was appointed as full-time member of the 21st Law Commission of India. Earlier, Rajkot-based lawyer Abhay Bhardwaj, who had represented the accused in the 2002 Gulbarg Society Massacre case, had been selected as part-time member of the 21st Law Commission of India. In March 2016, former Supreme Court judge Justice Balbir Singh Chauhan was appointed as the new Chairman of Law Commission of India. Former Gujarat High Court judge Justice Ravi R Tripathi was also appointed as a member of the Commission. In June 2016, Bimal Patel, Director, Gujarat National Law University was appointed as a part-time member of the 21st Law Commission of India. Law Commission of India : The Law Commission of India is an executive body established by an order of the Government of India.Its major function is to work for legal reform.Its membership primarily comprises legal experts, who are entrusted a mandate by the Government.The Commission is established for a fixed tenure and works as an advisory body to the Ministry of Law and Justice. The 21st Law Commission was constituted for a period of three years from 1 September 2015.The commission will have its tenure only till 31 August 2018. The present Law Commission has not submitted any report till date. The Law commissions since 1955 have submitted 262 reports so far to the government on various subjects.The last report, submitted on 31 August 2015, by previous chairperson Justice AP Shah, had recommended immediate abolition of death penalty for all purposes, except terrorism-related cases.  

Colombian voters in a referendum rejected the peace deal with Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels. With votes more than 99 per cent of polling stations counted, 50.2 per cent opposed the accord while 49.8 per cent supported it - a difference of less than 63000 votes out of 13 million ballots. The deal was earlier signed by President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Timoleon Jimenez in fourth week of September 2016 after nearly four years of negotiations. But, it needed to be ratified by Colombians in order to come into force. FARC rebels had agreed to lay down their weapons after 52 years of conflict in order to join the political process. President Santos had said that there is no plan B for ending the war. The result is being seen as a major setback to President Santos, who since his election in 2010, had pledged to end a conflict which has killed over 2 lakh 50000 people and displaced about eight million.

Gujarat’s 900-year-old World Heritage Site Rani ki Vav beat 10 other iconic heritage structures across the country to bag an award for the “Cleanest Iconic Place” at the Indian Sanitation Conference (INDOSAN) 2016 at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi. The ASI has maintained the monument and its surroundings very well, offering clean drinking water and proper sanitation, among other things, to tourists. In the last two years, two joint teams from the Ministry of Urban Development and Water & Sanitation have paid a visit to the monument several times before sending an application to the culture ministry for the award, along with the support of ASI. The teams visited 10 other heritage monuments in the country before zeroing in on Rani ki Vav for the award. The Rani ki Vav (the Queen’s Stepwell) was built as a memorial to a king in the 11th century AD by Queen Udaymati and is located in the north Gujarat district of Patan. It was added as part of the UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2014.

Bengaluru's Kieren Dsouza has become the first Indian to complete the Spartathlon, widely described as the "world's toughest race".  The 23-year old completed the 246.6 km distance in the 2016 edition on Saturday, in 33 hours, one minute and 38 seconds.  The Spartathlon is an annual run between Athens and Sparta in Greece, with a reported success rate of 50%.

The Centre has constituted a four-member Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) under the Chairmanship of MS Sahoo. Sahoo, who was till recently Competition Commission of India (CCI) Member, assumed charge as Chairman of IBBI. The oath of office was administered by Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Arun Jaitley here. Sahoo was last month appointed as IBBI Chairman for a period of five years. The members of the IBBI are Ajay Tyagi, Additional Secretary, Finance Ministry; Amardeep Singh Bhatia, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs; GS Yadav, Joint Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs; and Unnikrishnan, Legal Advisor, Reserve Bank of India. The main activity of IBBI would be to regulate the functioning of insolvency professionals, insolvency professional agencies and information utilities under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code 2016. The Centre had notified the Insolvency Code in May. The fact that IBBI has been constituted in a span of four months is a commendable effort, say economy watchers.

Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu has flagged off the all-women Mount Gorichen Expedition from his office premises in Itanagar on 29 September 2016. This will be the first all women team attempting to summit Mount Gorichen the second highest peak of Arunachal Pradesh. Its altitude is 6488 meter (21286ft) high above sea level. It belongs to the Himalaya Mountain Group and is a sub-range to Assam Himalaya. It is also the Headwaters of the Kameng River in Tawang. Anshu Jansempa, who has climbed Mt Everest twice, is leading the team of 10 members from Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh with four support staff. In 1939, an Englishman Bill Tilman was the first man to attempt climbing in the remote and unexplored Southern approaches of Gorichen, before his team succumbed to malaria. In 1993, the mountain received its first ascent by a team led by Dutchman Ronald Naar.

The International Day of Older Persons (IDOP) was on 1 October 2016 observed across the world with the theme Take A Stand Against Ageism. The theme for the 2016 IDOP draws attention to and challenges negative stereotypes and misconceptions about older persons and ageing. Ageism is a widely prevalent and prejudicial attitude that stems from the assumption that age discrimination, and sometimes neglect and abuse of older persons is a social norm and therefore, acceptable. The International Day of Older Persons was celebrated in New Delhi by honouring noteworthy senior citizens and organisations doing outstanding work for the welfare of older people. The President of India Pranab Mukharjee presented the National Awards for Senior CitizensVayoshreshtha Samman-2016 to eminent senior citizens and institutions in recognition of their service towards the cause of elderly persons especially indigent senior citizens at a function organised by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment in Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi.

Ambati Venu was appointed as Managing Director of Abbott India Ltd on 29 September 2016. The appointment came almost five months after its previous MD Rehan Khan resigned from the company in April 2016.Venu was appointed for a five-year term and will report to Bhasker Iyer, Vice President with Abbott’s Established Pharmaceuticals Division.  Ambati Venu : Venu was with GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare where he served for over two decades. Most recently, Ambati Venu was the Regional Vice President and General Manager- Asia, GSK Consumer, where he led 11 Asian countries.  Venu’s background in FMCG and OTC medicine, ability to embrace diverse cultures, engender trust and deliver productivity-led growth will be key assets at Abbott.

India has paid homage to Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi on his 147th birth anniversary on 2 October 2016. Born on 2 October 1869 in Porbandar, Gujarat, Gandhi preached the principles of tolerance and non-violence. President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other dignitaries visited Rajghat, the Samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi to offer tributes. On this occasion, an all religion prayer meeting was organised at Rajghat and several other events including Swachh and Samarth Bharat were organised across the country. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi : He taught the value of harmonious co-existence and mutual respect and his ideals of non-violence, freedom, equality and religious tolerance have eternal value.He was the preeminent leader of the Indian independence movement in British-ruled India. Employing nonviolent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. He is also called Bapu in India. Besides,  the nation also remembered the former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri on his birth anniversary. Born on 2 October 1904, he joined the Indian independence movement in the 1920s and held several important portfolios in the Jawaharlal Nehru's government including Railways and as Home Minister. Lal Bahadur Shastri led the country during the Indo-Pak War of 1965 and gave the slogan of "Jai Jawan Jai Kisan" which became very popular and is remembered even today. A special programme was held at the Shastri Memorial at Shastri Street in Tashkent where floral tributes was paid at his statue.

China has blocked a tributary of the Brahmaputra River in Tibet on 30 September 2016. According to Chinese state run Xinhua news agency, China is constructing a hydro project on Xiabuqu River, a tributary of Brahmaputra in Xigaze in Tibet, closely located to Sikkim. The blockade of the Brahmaputra river tributary may impact water flows into the lower riparian countries like India and Bangladesh. This blockade of the tributary comes at a time when India has decided to suspend talks with Pakistan under Indus Water Treaty as part of its efforts to hit back at Pakistan in the aftermath of the Uri attack. Like the Brahmaputra, the Indus also originates in the Tibetan plateau in China. Earlier in 2015, China operationalised its 1.5 billion dollar Zam Hydropower Station, the largest in Tibet, built on the Brahmaputra river, which raised concerns in India. The most important fact is that India and China have no water treaty similar to Indus water treaty between India and Pakistan. But they have established an Expert Level Mechanism on the trans-border Rivers. In October 2013, the two nations signed a memorandum of understanding on strengthening cooperation on trans-border Rivers and as per the agreement, Beijing will provide data on water flows to India. Chinese Project : The Chinese Lalho Project in Xigaze of Tibet on the Xiabuqu river, which is a tributary of Yarlung Zangbo (it is the Tibetan name for River Brahmaputra), involves an investment of 4.95 billion Yuan (about 740 US dollars). The project that started in 2014 will be completed by 2019. As per reports, China in its 12th five year plan has plans of three more hydropower projects on the mainstream of Brahmaputra, which have been approved for implementation. Chinese dams on Brahmaputra will affect India :  Chinese ambitious efforts to redraw its water map will have its affect on India because the vast densely populated region of North-east India depends on water from Brahmaputra and its tributaries. The river is a lifeline of the region and blockade of water due to any cause will adversely affect the environment as well as the economy of the region. If in any situation, China blocks the water of Brahmaputra from flowing into India, then it may lead to feminine in North-East states of India. China will have its control on the water of the River after it completes its work of the dams on River Brahmaputra. This means that this is direct attack on India by China, which is also a violation of International norms of sharing river waters.  

Daniel Ricciardo won the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix held at the Sepang International Circuit in Selangor, Malaysia on 2 October 2016. Max Verstappen finished second while Nico Rosberg ended at the third position. Malaysian Grand Prix : The Malaysian Grand Prix is a round of the Formula One World Championship. It has been held at the Sepang International Circuit since 1999. The FIA-sanctioned racing in Malaysia has existed since the 1960s.Since 2011, the race has been officially known as the Malaysia Grand Prix. Daniel Ricciardo : Daniel Ricciardo is an Australian racing driver who is currently competing in Formula One for Red Bull Racing.He won the British Formula 3 Championship in 2009.After Mark Webber announced his retirement from Formula One, Ricciardo was confirmed as his replacement at Red Bull Racing for 2014.In his first season with Red Bull, he finished third in the championship with his first three Formula One wins, in Canada, Hungary and Belgium.

The crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan will be the chief guest for the 68th Republic Day celebrations on 26 January 2017.  In this regard, announcement was made the by Union Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesman Vikas Swarup in New Delhi after the crown prince accepted invitation. Earlier Chief guests of Republic Day parades: 2016- Francois Hollande (French President), 2015- Barack Obama (US President), 2014- Shinzo Abe (Japanese Prime Minister), 2013- Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck (King of Bhutan), 2012- Yingluck Shinawatra (Then Prime Minister of Thailand), 2011- Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (Then President of Indonesia).  It should be noted France holds distinction of being the guest of honour for the maximum five times of Indian Republic Day parade followed by Bhutan (four times); Mauritius and Russia (three times each). India-UAE Relations deeply rooted in history and strategic cooperation which is driven by mutual aspirations of both countries. UAE is lynch-pin of the economic, defence and strategic strands of the India’s coordinated strategy to outreach west Asia.  UAE is India’s third largest trading partner after China and the United States. Bilateral trade between UAE and India is around 60 billion dollars. Besides, there are also more than 2.6 million Indians living in the UAE and their annual remittance is estimated to be around 14 billion dollars.

Scientists have discovered a new species of Pika, a mammal belonging to the rabbit and hare family in the Himalayas in Sikkim. It has been identified as ‘Ochotona sikimaria’.  It is quite distinctive from all other pika species based on the fecal pellets and tissue samples. Ochotona sikimaria Pika species looks similar to the Moupin Pika, genetically it is completely different. Their specific differences are not visible in physical observation. But they are genetically very different. Pikas are members of the rabbit family and look like tailless rats. They live in the mountains or in temperate regions. They are a keystone species and ecosystem engineers.  They do not hibernate unlike other mammalian species inhabiting such cold climates. The common name pika is basically used for any member of the Ochotonidae family.

Indian-American associate professor from US Vinaya Manchaiah has been named as the Future Leader of Audiology. In this regard, he was inducted into the 2016 class of the ‘Jerger Future Leaders of Audiology’ by the American Academy of Audiology. He is among the one of only a dozen individuals selected from across the US for this prestigious honour. Vinaya Manchaiah  : Manchaiah is associate professor at the Lamar University in Texas. He hails from South India, Manchaiah and holds a PhD in disability research from Linkoping University, Sweden.  He is the co-founder of non-profit NGO Audiology India, for which he served as president from 2011 to 2015. The organisation seeks to foster hearing and ear health care in India. American Academy of Audiology : It is the world’s largest professional organisation of audiologists. The members look to provide hearing care services through research, education, and increased public awareness of hearing and balance disorders.

The Delhi Police has launched a mobile application “Delhi Police Senior Citizen” for senior citizens to provide immediate assistance to them in distress.  The facility was launched by Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung at a function in New Delhi on the occasion of International Day of Older Persons (observed on October 1). The application has an SOS button integrated with a dedicated existing helpline for Senior Citizen – 1291. The app has been designed with features that allow users to press the SOS button in case of an emergency. The call will reach a dedicated station.  If the user is unwell, an ambulance will be sent. In case for any other reason, a beat constable will be asked to contact the user. In case, the user does not respond to operator’s calls, a beat constable will swiftly visit the house to verify the reason of distress.

The International Day of Non-violence is being celebrated on 2 October throughout the world on the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.  Observance of this day seeks to promote the principles of non-violence through education and public awareness and is observed by all countries of the UN. In India, this day is celebrated as Gandhi Jayanti to mark birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi who was leader of Indian independence movement and also pioneer of philosophy of non-violence. International day of Non-Violence  : The International Day of Non-violence was established by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) by passing the resolution in 2007 in an effort to spread the message of non-violence.  The resolution reaffirms the universal relevance of Mahatma Gandhi’s principle of non-violence and desire to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence.

The BRICS nations have adopted the ‘New Delhi Declaration on Education’ to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all. The declaration was adopted at fourth Meeting of BRICS Education Ministers Conference held in New Delhi. It was attended by Ministers of Education and assigned representatives of BRICS nations viz. Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa. Reiterates commitment to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4) which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and the Education 2030 Framework for Action. Initiate actions to formulate country-specific targets within the broader scope of the SDG4.  Integrate the SDG4 related targets with sub-national and the national level education sector development plans and programmes Build capacity at the subnational and national levels for measuring and monitoring progress towards SDG4 and corresponding targets using the indicators adopted by the UNGA.  Share the best practices available in BRICS nations on collaboration in education, innovation and research through the BRICS Network University (BNU). Organize annual conference of BNU in country of current BRICS Chair. Encourage participation of more universities in BRICS University League to collaborative research and facilitate student mobility. Strengthening coordination within the BRICS TVET Working Group to develop national reports and share experience related to workforce demands and supply of skilled personnel.  Information and communication technologies (ICTs) will be used for improving access to education, teacher development, enhancing quality of teaching-learning process etc. Developing a nodal institution within each country and also institutional network to share ICT policies, e-resources, including e-Libraries and Open Educational Resources.

The National Mission on Bioeconomy has launched in Shillong, Meghalaya by the Institute of Bio-resources and Sustainable Development (IBSD). The mission is unique to south-east Asia and India has become one of the few countries to tap bio-resources. The purpose of the mission is to boost rural economy by utilizing bio-resources. Besides, it can be optimally utilized can create a large number of jobs at village level. It also focuses on sustainable utilization of renewable biological resources for food, bio-energy and bio-based products through knowledge-based approaches.  It has potential to generate new solutions for the planet’s major challenges in the field of energy, food, health, water, climate change and deliver social, economic and environmental benefits. Bioeconomy is a new concept and few countries like US, Canada, European Union (EU) and Australia have started initiatives in this field. India is the fast-growing bioeconomy at US 35 billion dollars in 2015, which can even rise to USD 100 billion in future.

Murga has won the first prize at the Swachh Bharat Short Film Festival (SBSFF). The short film was directed by young filmmaker Katyayan Shivpuri from Maharashtra.  The Union Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu bestowed award upon Katyayan with a certificate and cash prize of 10 lakhs rupees. The SBSFF was organised and curated by National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) on behalf of the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.  The festival was the cinematic presentation of short films of not more than 3 minutes duration, dedicated to the Swachh Bharat Mission initiative of Central Government. It had received 4,346 entries in more than 20 languages from across the country, including Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.