Current Affairs 4th October 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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Telangana IT Minister K T Rama Rao (KTR) was bestowed with the Global Champion of Digital Literacy Award today by Certiport.  The Certiport found the work done by Rao deserving of a Global Champion of Digital Literacy Award.  Rao has been progressive and created a great amount of buzz around investment in Telangana for the T Hub a leading incubator to bring in innovation, entrepreneurship and initiatives to embed the Digital India campaign in Telangana. The award recognises people who are making a difference in preparing students to be digitally literate and competitive in an ever-competitive job market besides creating the infrastructure for growth of IT in their state or country and movement towards providing better governance using technology.

India and Singapore has signed three agreements, including two in the area of skill development, following delegation-level talks headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Singapore Premier Lee Hsien Loong. The two leaders witness the signing of 3 agreements in skill development and industrial property. One memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between Singapore's Institute of Technical Education (ITE) Education Services (ITEES) and India's National Skill Development Corporation on collaboration in technical and vocational education and training. Another MoU was signed between the Assam government and ITEES Singapore also on collaboration in technical and vocational education and training. A third MoU was signed in the field of industrial property cooperation. The Singapore Prime Minister, accompanied by a high-level delegation, arrived here on Monday on a five-day bilateral visit to India.

The eminent Carnatic vocalist and playback singer K J Yesudas as the brand ambassador of its ambitious ‘Haritha Keralam’ (Green Kerala) project, a massive initiative envisaged for a garbage-free and clean state. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has informed the state Assembly that the veteran singer had given his consent to be associated with the project. The government will take the initiative to clean all public water sources in the state. Ponds and streamlets will be cleaned in the first phase, while rivers, lakes and other water bodies in the second phase. One of the most ambitious initiatives of the LDF government, Haritha Keralam project focuses on a number of issues, including garbage disposal at its source and renovation and cleaning of public water sources.

The 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics was one half awarded to David J Thouless and the other half jointly to F Duncan M Haldane and J Michael Kosterlitz for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter.David J Thouless is a Emeritus Professor at the University of Washington, Seattle, USA. While, F. Duncan M. Haldane is the Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics at Princeton University, USA and J Michael Kosterlitz is the Harrison E. Farnsworth Professor of Physics at Brown University, USA. All three will jointly share the 8 million Swedish kronor prize. Discovered by  : All three Laureates used topological concepts in physics for their discoveries.  In the early 1970s, Michael Kosterlitz and David Thouless overturned the then current theory that superconductivity or suprafluidity could not occur in thin layers.  They demonstrated that superconductivity could occur at low temperatures and also explained the mechanism, phase transition, that makes superconductivity disappear at higher temperatures. In the 1980s, Thouless was able to explain a previous experiment with very thin electrically conducting layers in which conductance was precisely measured as integer steps.  At around the same time, Duncan Haldane discovered how topological concepts can be used to understand the properties of chains of small magnets found in some materials.

Karnataka has started releasing Cauvery water from Krishna Raja Sagara (KRS) dam on 3 October 2016. It was released after the legislature passed a Resolution authorizing the state government to take appropriate decisions to release water. The resolution states that the government will take an appropriate decision regarding the release of water for irrigation purposes after ensuring the drinking water requirements of the state.The move comes after the Supreme Court asked Karnataka government to apprise it whether it has released water to Tamil Nadu or not. On 30 September 2016, the Supreme Court directed Karnataka to discharge 6000 cusecs water from 1 to 6 October 2016. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said that about 1300 cusecs of water is flowing into Tamil Nadu every day through seepage. If water is released to irrigation canals in the basin region, then additional 3000 cusecs will flow down to the neighbouring state through seepage. Besides, the Union Government informed the Supreme Court that it can’t direct the government on constitution of the Cauvery Water Management Board. It said the issue fell under the domain of the legislature. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said that the government is setting up a technical panel to assess the ground realities to defuse the wrangle between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Earlier, the Union Government moved to the apex court seeking modification of its order asking it to constitute the Cauvery Water Management Board.

Jawhar Sircar has resigned as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Prasar Bharati Corporation on 3 October 2016. His resignation came four months ahead of the end of his tenure which was about to end in February 2017. As per rules of the Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act, 1990, chairman or any other member may resign the office by giving notice thereof in writing to the President of India and on such resignation being accepted, the chairman or other member shall be deemed to have vacated his office. Sircar was appointed as Prasar Bharati CEO in 2012 during the rule of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. He had also served as the Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India from late 2008 to February 2012, where he reported directly to the Prime Minister for most of his tenure. Prasar Bharati : Prasar Bharati is the Public Service Broadcaster of India. It is a statutory autonomous body which was established under the Prasar Bharati Act and came into existence on 23 November 1997. The objectives of public service broadcasting are achieved in terms of Prasar Bharati Act, 1990 through All India Radio and Doordarshan.

Reliance Nippon Life Insurance has a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in Ashish Vohra. Vohra joins Reliance Nippon Life Insurance from Max Life Insurance where he spent 8 years and served as Senior Director and Chief Distribution Officer. Vohra, a mechanical engineer from IIT BHU and an MBA from IIM Bangalore, brings with him over 25-years of experience from working with various companies including Max Life Insurance, Fullerton India Credit, Citibank and Eicher Motors.  

India has ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change on the 147th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. India’s Permanent Representative to UN, Syed Akbaruddin handed over the Instrument of Ratification signed by President Pranab Mukherjee to the United Nations in New York.  With this, India became 62nd country to ratify the agreement. These 62 countries including India are responsible for almost 52% of Green House Gases (GHG) emissions. The Paris Agreement on climate change will enter into force one month after 55 countries that account for 55% of global GHG emissions ratify the agreement. The Paris Agreement was adopted by more than 190 nations at the 21st Conference of Parties of UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) held in Paris in December 2015.  It seeks to accelerate and intensify the actions and investment needed for a sustainable low carbon future. The agreement caps limit global temperature rise (global warming) to well below 2 degrees Celsius. It also seeks to funnel trillions of dollars to poor countries facing climate catastrophe. India being world’s third largest emitter of GHGs, accounting for 4.1% of the total global emission was seeking more time earlier to complete its national processes as it feared that any hasty decision may impact its developmental projects.  India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) pledge estimated a cost 2.5 trillion dollars for its climate-action plan. India will ask developed nations to provide 100 billion dollars per year in climate finance for developing nations.

Kersti Kaljulaid was elected as the President of Estonia by the parliament on 3 October 2016. With this, Kaljulaid will become Estonia’s first female president. Kaljulaid won vote 81-0, with 20 members absent or abstaining. Her selection follows two failed votes and weeks of heated debate. Kersti Kaljulaid : Kersti Kaljulaid is the President-elect of Estonia.She is due to take office on 10 October 2016 as the country's fifth President.She will be the first woman to become President of Estonia since the country declared independence in 1918 and again in 1991.She will also be the youngest person elected President, aged 46. She graduated from Tallinn Secondary School no. 44 in 1987. In 1992, she graduated from University of Tartu cum laude as a biologist. In 2001, she graduated University of Tartu with an MBA in business management. In 1996–1997, she worked as a sales manager in state-owned telecom Eesti Telefon. In 1997–1998, she worked as a project manager in Hoiupanga Investeeringute AS.In 1998–1999, she worked in the investment banking department of Hansapank Markets. In 1999–2002, she worked as the economic advisor of Estonian Prime Minister Mart Laar.Since May 2011, she has been the representative of Estonia in the European Court of Auditors.

Bihar government has notified Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016 on 2 October 2016. This new liquor ban could land drinkers in jail for up to 7 years with a fine of at least 1 lakh rupees. The notification came two days after the Patna High Court quashed its order on banning alcohol consumption. The High Court quashed it by terming its provisions as ultra vires of the Constitution. The decision of notification was taken in a special cabinet meeting which was chaired by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Chief Minister said that after imposition of ban on liquor in the state financial condition of the people has been strengthened and behavioural social change across the state is being seen. As per reports, the state government has decided to approach the Supreme Court against the Patna High Court’s order that quashed the state’s April 5 notification related to amendments in the old Excise Act. Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016 : The act creates a framework for the levy of excise duty and imposes a prohibition on alcohol in Bihar.  Prohibition on the manufacture, sale, storage and consumption of alcohol was imposed in Bihar earlier in 2016, by amending the Bihar Excise Act, 1915.  The Bill replaces the 1915 Act and the Bihar Prohibition Act, 1938.   It imposes a prohibition on the manufacture, bottling, distribution, transportation, collection, storage, possession, sale and consumption of alcohol or any other intoxicant specified by the state government.  However, it also allows the state government to renew existing licenses, or allow any state owned company to undertake any of these activities (such as manufacture, distribution, etc.). It calls for at least 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of at least one lakh rupees to the family members and occupants of a land or a building as offenders.

Film-maker and elephant researcher Prajna Chowta (46) has been appointed Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite (Knight in the National Order of Merit) by the French government.  She has been conferred with the France’s one of the highest civilian recognitions in recognition of a life devoted to caring for wild Asian elephants. Prajna Chowta :  She is the founder of Aane Mane Foundation, which has been researching and conserving wild Asian elephants for the past 16 years.  As elephant researcher, she was instrumental in developing one of the first GPS collars and an online monitoring system for elephants in India. She has authored Elephant Code Book on captive elephant management as well as the French book Enfant d’Elephant (Elephant’s Child) in 2014. With this Prajna Chowta joins few other Indian women to be appointed a Knight by French Government. Earlier in 2016, businesswoman Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and actor Kamal Hassan were recognised under the French government’s Legion of Honour award.

Anil Ambani led Reliance Group and French aerospace giant Dassault Aviation have signed deal to set up a joint venture called Dassault Reliance Aerospace.  The Dassault Reliance Aerospace will execute offsets for the recently concluded India-France deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets. It will be the largest offset contract to be executed by any defence company in India. The contract value is estimated up to Rs. 30,000 crore. The proposed strategic partnership between Dassault and Reliance will also focus on promoting research and development (R&D) projects under the IDDM program. IDDM stands for Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured.  It is programme on the lines with the new provision introduced in Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2016. The JV will focus on aero structures, engines and electronics and intends to infrastructure and supply chain in India for the aerospace sector. In September 2016, India and France had signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for 36 Rafale multi-role jets in fly-away condition worth €7.87 billion (about Rs. 59,000 crore).  The deal has a 50% offset clause to be executed by Dassault Aviation and its partners in India. Through the offsets, government seeks to bring in much needed expertise to build the domestic defence and aerospace industry.

The Union Urban Development Ministry has declared urban areas of Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh open defecation free (ODF). These are the first states to become open defecation free in urban areas.  It was announced on the occasion of second anniversary of the Swachh Bharat Mission and 147th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi observed on October 2, 2016. In all, 180 and 110 cities and towns in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh respectively were declared ODF by their chief ministers. So far, total of 405 out of the 4,041 cities and towns across India have claimed to have become open defecation free.  The Union Government has set ambitious target of making 334 more cities open defecation free by March 2017.  In rural India, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Kerala have achieved more than 90% of toilet construction in households. But Bihar, Odisha and Jammu and Kashmir are still trailing with fewer than 30% of households with toilets in rural areas.

The State Bank of India today announced its entry into Myanmar by opening a branch in the capital city of Yangon, becoming the first domestic lender to do so. The Yangon branch is the 54th foreign branch of the nations largest lender, chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya, who opened the office, said in a statement here today. This branch extends the global presence of SBI in 37 countries through 198 offices SBI has been associated with Myanmar since 1861, when the erstwhile Bank of Bengal operated its branch in the then Rangoon. Later, as part of bank nationalisation, the operations of the Rangoon branch of SBI were taken over by the Peoples Bank of Burma in February 1963. The Myanmarese central bank earlier this year allowed SBI to open a branch with the primary objective of extending wholesale banking services to foreign corporates. India has been a major trading partner of Myanmar for centuries. Since the signing of India and Myanmar trade agreement in 1970, bilateral trade has been growing steadily and rose from USD 328 million in 1997-98 to USD 2.052 billion in 2015-16.

World Space Week is an annual event that is observed from 4 October to 10 October 2016 in various parts of the world including Europe and Asia. 2016 World Space Week is being observed with theme Remote Sensing: Enabling our Future. This year's theme celebrates Earth Observation from Space for the betterment of the human race. By Resolution 54/68 of 6 December 1999, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed World Space Week, to celebrate the contributions of space science and technology to the betterment of the human condition. The dates recall the launch of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik I, on 4 October 1957 and its entry into force on 10 October 1967, of the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies.World Space Week is the largest annual space event in the world. It builds the workforce of tomorrow by inspiring students, demonstrates visible public support for the space program, educates the public about space activities, and fosters international cooperation into space outreach and education. Since 2007, more than 94 nations have participated in more than 2250 events with more than 1.3 million attendees.Each year a theme is selected by the World Space Week Association Board of Directors in close coordination with the UN Office of Outer Space Affairs. The theme provides broad guidance to World Space Week participants on the content of their programs.The theme is selected to increase the impact of World Space Week on all humanity further, by using a uniform theme globally.

Shri R Ravindra, presently Ambassador of India to the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, has been concurrently accredited as the Ambassador of India to the Republic of Guinea.  The Republic of Guinea is a country on the West coast of Africa. Guinea, officially the Republic of Guinea , is a country on the West coast of Africa. Formerly known as French Guinea , the modern country is sometimes referred to as Guinea-Conakry in order to distinguish it from other parts of the wider region of the same name, such as Guinea-Bissau and Equatorial Guinea. Guinea has a population of 10.5 million and an area of 245,860 square kilometres.

Polythene will be banned at all national monuments from October 2, the 2nd anniversary of the Swachh Bharat Mission which coincides with Gandhi Jayanti.  Union Minister Mahesh Sharma clarified that plastic bottles will not be banned. This ban will be applicable in 100-metre radius of the monuments. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the Swachh Bharat Mission on October 2, 2014. It aims to eliminate open defecation, manual scavenging and encourage modern and scientific municipal solid waste management, among others

Kotak Mahindra Bank, the country’s fourth largest private sector lender, has acquired BSS Microfinance in an all-cash deal for Rs 139.2 crore. The bank said with this, it has entered the microfinance space that has been growing at a rapid pace. This acquisition will allow Kotak to tap the lower end of the customer base and will also help the bank in meeting the priority sector lending (PSL) targets, as BSS’ loans book qualifies for PSL. At the end of the quarter ended June, BSS had microfinance loans of Rs 483 crore in its books and had a net worth of Rs 73 crore. In FY16, BSS had made net profit of Rs 14 crore. The lender has managed to keep its bad loans in check. As of now, BSS has a presence in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. However, after the acquisition, the bank plans to expand the geographical presence. Private banks have increasingly started looking at microfinance companies as acquisition targets. Recently, IDFC Bank also bought over South India-based lender Grama Vidiyal Microfinance for an undisclosed amount and made it a subsidiary. This comes at a time when the microfinance industry is believed to have had grown at 60 per cent last financial year. Prior to this, in 2014, Kotak Mahindra Bank had acquired Bengalaru-headquartered ING Vysya Bank in an all-stock deal. Kotak Mahindra and associates are significant shareholders in Business Standard Private Limited.

A 34-feet long 'Lamp of Humanity' was inaugurated byGujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani in the city here as part of the Gujarat Vibrant Navratri 2016 celebrations.  The lamp is made up of stainless steel and has a diameter of 15.8 feet, with the authorities claiming that the initiative has already entered the Guinness Book of World Records, as the 'world's biggest lamp'. The lamp, which was lighted in the GMDC ground in the city yesterday as part of Gujarat Vibrant Navratri 2016 celebrations, took a year's time for completion. The Navratri 2016 celebrations will last till October 10 and the tourism department is expecting that more than eight lakh people will take part in the event, out of which over three lakh will be foreigners.  This year, the event has put up pavilions which will showcase major tourist destinations of the state and 25 food stalls which will exhibit food items indigenous to each district of Gujarat like Suttarpheni, Gulabpaak etc.  Apart from this, Gujarat is also a host for the 2016 Kabbadi World Championship, to be held between October 7 and 22.

Jharkhand became India’s first state to implement Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) in Kerosene on 1 October 2016. The scheme is being implemented in four identified districts of the State namely Chatra, Hazaribagh, Khunti and Jamtara. In a statement, Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry said that under the DBT Scheme, PDS kerosene is being sold at non-subsidised price and the subsidy is being transferred to consumers directly into their bank accounts. This initiative is aimed at rationalising subsidy and plugging the leakages. The scheme aims at eliminating subsidised Kerosene from the supply chain for targeting the beneficiaries and end pilferage and black-marketing. It also aims at cutting down adulteration of cheap cooking and lighting fuel with diesel. The government had plans to implement the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) in Kerosene in 33 districts identified by 9 State Governments by 1 April 2016. The identified states were namely, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat. But the date of its implementation was pushed back due to problems like lack of bank accounts and it’s seeding with Aadhaar number, which didn’t allowed government in creating biometric database of beneficiaries. As a part of this scheme, implementing States will be given fiscal incentives equivalent to 75 % of subsidy saved in the first two years, 50 % of subsidy saved in third year and 25 % of subsidy saved in 4th year.  

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