Current Affairs 5th October 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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The Union Cabinet has approved the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and the African Asian Rural Development Organization (AARDO) for capacity building programmes in the field of rural development on 5 October 2016.Under this MoU, capacity building programmes for AARDO member countries will be organized every year at various Institutions of Excellence in India such as National Institute of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Indian Institute of Management and others.  The duration of each training programme shall be of two to three weeks. The Post Graduate Diploma in Rural Development Management Course at NIRD & PR under this scheme will be for one year. African Asian Rural Development Organization (AARDO) : The AARDO has its headquarters in New Delhi. It is an autonomous, inter-Governmental organization established in 1962 with the objective of promoting cooperation among the countries of the African - Asian Region. It works in the direction of eradicating thirst, hunger, illiteracy, disease and poverty in the region.  India is one of the Founder Members of the Organization and is the largest contributor in terms of membership contribution of 141100 US dollars. Since the year 2009, India is continuing to provide an Additional Contribution of 600000 US dollars to AARDO for each triennium to expand its scale and scope of the Capacity Building Programmes.

The Union Cabinet has approved the signing of MoU between India and European Union in the field of water resources on 5 October 2016 .The MoU envisages strengthening the technological, scientific and management capabilities of India and the European Union in the field of water management on the basis of equality, reciprocity and mutual benefit.  Highlights of the MoU : It provides technical exchange on water issues, including on integrated water resource management plans within river basins and through study visits.It aims to identify key environmental issues and approaches to sustainable development where exchange of experiences could be beneficial to develop cooperation in the field of water management.  It envisions a more sustainable management of water resources in India with an objective of tackling the challenges posed by water management in the context of growing population, competing water demands and a changing climate.  A Joint Working Group shall be formed to monitor the activities to be carried out in fulfillment of the MoU.  

The 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir James Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L Feringa on 5 October 2016. The trio were bestowed with the prestigious award for the design and synthesis of molecular machines. Jean-Pierre Sauvage is a French coordination chemist. Sir James Fraser Stoddart is a Scottish chemist. He works in the area of supramolecular chemistry and nanotechnology. Bernard L Feringa is a synthetic organic chemist, specializing in molecular nanotechnology and homogenous catalysis. Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir James Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L Feringa have developed molecules with controllable movements, which can perform a task when energy is added. The first step towards a molecular machine was taken by Jean-Pierre Sauvage in 1983, when he succeeded in linking two ring-shaped molecules together to form a chain, called a catenane.The second step was taken by Fraser Stoddart in 1991, when he developed a rotaxane. He threaded a molecular ring onto a thin molecular axle and demonstrated that the ring was able to move along the axle. Bernard Feringa was the first person to develop a molecular motor. In 1999, he got a molecular rotor blade to spin continually in the same direction. Using molecular motors, he has rotated a glass cylinder that is 10000 times bigger than the motor and also designed a nanocar.The 2016's Nobel Laureates in Chemistry have taken molecular systems out of equilibrium's stalemate and into energy-filled states in which their movements can be controlled.

The World Teachers’ Day (WTD) 2016 was observed across the world on 5 October 2016. The theme for the World Teachers’ Day 2016 was Valuing Teachers, Improving their Status. The theme for the 2016 WTD embodies the fundamental principles of the fifty-year-old Recommendation. It also throws light on the need to support teachers as reflected in the agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A specific education goal, SDG4, pledges to Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. The 2016 WTD also marks the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. It is also the first world Teachers’ Day to be celebrated within the new Global Education 2030 Agenda adopted by the world community in 2015. World Teachers' Day is being held annually on October 5 since 1994. It commemorates teacher organizations worldwide. Its aim is to mobilize support for teachers and to ensure that the needs of future generations will continue to be met by teachers.  

The Union Cabinet has approved the amendments to the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014 on 5 October 2016. The HIV and AIDS Bill, 2014 was drafted to safeguard the rights of people living with HIV and affected by HIV.  It seeks to address HIV-related discrimination, strengthen the existing programme by bringing in legal accountability and establish formal mechanisms for inquiring into complaints and redressing grievances. It seeks to prevent and control the spread of HIV and AIDS, prohibits discrimination against persons with HIV and AIDS.It seeks to provide for informed consent and confidentiality with regard to their treatment, places obligations on establishments to safeguard rights of persons living with HIV.  It aims to enhance access to health care services by ensuring informed consent and confidentiality for HIV-related testing, treatment and clinical research. It lists various grounds on which discrimination against HIV positive persons and those living with them is prohibited.  These include the denial, termination, discontinuation or unfair treatment with regard to employment, educational establishments, health care services, provision of insurance, etc.It prohibits any individual from publishing information or advocating feelings of hatred against HIV positive persons and those living with them.   It provides for Guardianship for minors.  It requires that No person shall be compelled to disclose his HIV status except with his informed consent, and if required by a court order.  It also asks Central and State governments to take measures to prevent the spread of HIV or AIDS, provide anti-retroviral therapy, facilitate their access to welfare schemes, lay guidelines for the care and treatment of children with HIV or AIDS. It makes provision for appointment of an ombudsman by State Governments to inquire into complaints related to the violation of the Act and penal actions in case of non-compliance. There are no financial implications of the Bill.  

France has become the first country in the world to ban disposable plastic cups and plates. The country has passed a law in September 2016 that will go into effect in January 2020. The law will require all disposable tableware to be made from 50% biologically-sourced materials that can be composted at home. That number will rise to 60% by January of 2025. The measure is an addition to France's Energy Transition for Green Growth Act, a wide-reaching law adopted in 2015 with the aim of mitigating the impact of climate change. In July 2016, France imposed a total ban on the distribution of lightweight plastic bags at supermarket checkouts. Energy Transition for Green Growth Act : France enacted its Energy Transition for Green Growth Bill on 17 August 2015 following an initial presentation at the 2012 environmental conference and nation-wide public consultation in 2013. The Act lays out a roadmap for transforming France's energy model without hampering growth.

Former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman Udupi Ramachandra Rao, popularly known as U. R. Rao, was inducted into the 2016 IAF Hall of Fame on 30 September 2016 by the International Aeronautical Federation (IAF). With this, Rao became the first Indian to be inducted into IAF Hall of Fame. Udupi Ramachandra Rao : U. R. Rao is the former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation.At present, he is the Chairman of the Governing Council of the Physical Research Laboratory at Ahmedabad. He is also the chancellor of Indian Institute for Space Science and Technology (IIST) at Thiruvananthapuram.He was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 1976. On 19 March 2013, he was inducted into the Satellite Hall of Fame, Washington at a ceremony organised by the Society of Satellite Professionals International. He was the first Indian to be inducted. International Astronautical Federation : The International Astronautical Federation is an international space advocacy organisation based in Paris. It was founded in 1951 as a non-governmental organization to establish a dialogue between scientists around the world. It has over 300 members from 66 countries across the world.  It is linked with the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) and the International Institute of Space Law (IISL) with whom the IAF organises the annual International Astronautical Congress.The IAF Hall of Fame consists of a permanent gallery of honoured personalities, a citation, biographical information and a picture on the IAF website.  

The Union Government has made Aadhaar card mandatory for availing cooking gas (LPG) subsidies after November 2016.  In this regard, the Union Petroleum Ministry has asked Oil marketing companies (OMCs) to facilitate enrollments of Aadhaar of the consumers to avail the subsidy.  Currently, the government gives 12 LPG cylinders at subsidised rates per household in a year. The subsidy on every LPG cylinder is transferred directly into bank accounts of individuals who then buy the cooking fuel at market rates. The LPG subsidy is an expenditure incurred from Consolidated Fund of India. The use of Aadhaar as identifier for delivery of government services/subsidies/ benefits will simplifies the delivery processes of government. It will also bring in transparency and efficiency in the delivery processes by plugging leakages and enable beneficiaries to get their entitlements from Government directly to them without any middlemen. Aadhaar :  Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique number which acts as a proof of identity and address anywhere in the country. It is considered as the world’s largest national identification project. Its objective is to collect the biometric and demographic data of residents, store them in a centralised database. The unique number is issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).

The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has launched the Indian Bridge Management System (IBMS). It was launched by Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari in New Delhi as a major step towards ensuring safety of bridges in the country. IBMS is being developed to create an inventory of all bridges in country and rate structural condition of the bridges. The rating will help for their timely repair and carrying rehabilitation work based on the criticality of the structure. IBMS is the largest platform in the world owned by a single owner, with database that could exceed one lakh fifty thousand bridge structures. Each bridge will be assigned a unique identification number or National Identity Number (NIN) based on the state, RTO zone or located on National Highway, State Highway. Bridge Location Number (BLN) will be also assigned to each bridge based on the precise location of the bridge in terms of latitude-longitude is collected through GPS.  Thereafter, Bridge Classification Number (BCN) will be assigned to the bridge structure based on the different engineering characteristics. Each bridge will be assigned a Structural Rating Number (SRN) based on allocated numbers which will be used for structural rating of bridge structures on a scale of 0 to 9. The rating will take in consideration of each component of the bridge structure like integral and non-integral deck, substructure, superstructure, structural evaluation, bank and channel, deck geometry, waterway efficiency, vertical clearance, etc.  In addition Socio-Economic Bridge Rating Number will be also assigned to the bridges. It will decide importance of bridge in relation to its contribution to daily socio-economic activity of the area in its vicinity. Based on this inventory of various numbers, IBMS will analyse data and identify bridges that need attention. Further physical inspection will be carried out to improve the operational availability of the structure, enhance its life and prioritize repair and rehabilitation work.

History writer Nayanjot Lahiri has won the prestigious 2016 John F. Richards Prize for her book Ashoka in Ancient India. The prestigious prize will be bestowed upon her at the American Historical Association (AHA’s) 131st Annual Meeting to be held in Denver, Colorado in January 2017.  Her book Ashoka in Ancient India has been critically acclaimed for its riveting account of an emperor Ashoka. She had deftly adjudicated between textual, archaeological, and geographical evidences to offer a dazzling interpretation of Ashoka and the ancient world. Nayanjot Lahiri : Nayanjot Lahiri is an eminent historian and archaeologist of ancient India. Currently, she is teaching at the newly created Ashoka University. She has several research papers and publications to her credit.  Her research interests mostly include Indian archaeology, heritage studies, archeological theory and ancient India. For her work in archaeology, she was bestowed with the 2013 Infosys Prize in the humanities. John F. Richards Prize  : The John F. Richards Prize is awarded annually by the American Historical Association (AHA). The award has been named after John F. Richards (November 1938 to August 2007) who was eminent historian of South Asia and in particular of the Mughal Empire. It recognizes the most distinguished work of scholarship or book on South Asian history published in English.  

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain was slapped a fine of Rs 25,000 by the Supreme Court for not disclosing names of officials, accused by him of not cooperating with the AAP government in containing the menace of dengue and chikungunya in the national capital.  The apex court had on Friday taken strong exception to Jain's allegation that officials were not cooperating or taking responsibility to check vector-borne diseases in the national capital and had asked him to give names and evidence of such officials . Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar sought the court's permission to file an affidavit on behalf of Delhi health secretary saying certain facts needed to be placed before the bench. The court gave liberty to Kumar to file the affidavit.  An affidavit filed by Jain in response to notices issued to Delhi government on a PIL, which was taken suo motu cognisance of by the apex court, said no official has come forward to take responsibility, even to file an affidavit on the measures taken to curb dengue and chikungunya.  Jain, in his affidavit, had alleged that officials were not taking responsibility and all files pertaining to diseases like dengue and chikungunya were being sent to the Lieteuant Governor for clearance. 

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal released the “Assam Human Development Report 2014” and the Vision and Strategic Architecture Document on SDGs, namely, “Assam 2030: Our Dream, Our Commitment” Assam has witnessed a “steady and continuous improvement” in human development with its latest Human Development Index (HDI) estimated at 0.557 against the national average of 0.586 This is the second Human Development Report for the state, the first was published a decade back in 2003. The present Report is based on a survey of 39,998 households and 1,87,511 individuals from 27 districts of the state.

President Pranab Mukherjee has presented the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowships (Akademi Ratna) and Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards (Akademi Puraskars) for the Year-2015 on 4 October 2016. The awards were presented at a function in Rashtrapati Bhawan. C V Chandrasekhar, an eminent personality in the field of performing arts, was conferred with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellow (Akademi Ratna). The Fellowship of the Akademi is the most prestigious and rare honour, which is restricted to 40 numbers at any given time. Presently there are only 40 Fellows of the Sangeet Natak Akademi. Forty three artists from field of Music, Dance, Theatre, Traditional/Folk/Tribal Music/Dance/Theatre and Puppetry and Overall contribution/scholarship in Performing Arts for the Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards (Akademi Puraskar) for the year 2015. These forty-three (43) artists include two joint awards. The awardees are Music :  2015 Akademi Award in field of Music was conferred on eleven artists and they are Krishna Bisht and Mashkoor Ali Khan for Hindustani Vocal Music Kartik Kumar for Hindustani Instrumental Music–Sitar Brij Narayan for Hindustani Instrumental Music–Sarod R N Thyagarajan and R N Tharanathan (joint award) for Carnatic Vocal Music Suguna Varadhachari for Carnatic Vocal Music, Lalgudi G J R Krishnan for Carnatic Instrumental Music–Violin, Mambalam M K S Siva for Carnatic Instrumental Music-Nagaswaram Bhupinder Singh, Hridyanath Mangeshkar and Prafulla Kar for Other Major Traditions of Music–Sugam Sangeet Dance :  2015 Akademi Award in field of Dance was conferred on nine artists and they are Ranganayaki Jayaraman for Bharatanatyam K Kunhiraman Nair for Kathakali G Padmaja Reddy for Kuchipudi Aloka Kanungo for Odissi Sharodi Saikia for Sattriya Dance Mandakini Trivedi for Mohiniattam Sadashiva Pradhan for Chhau Dance W Lokendrajit Singh for Contemporary/Experimental Dance Rajkumar Bharathi for Music for Dance Theatre :  2015 Akademi Award in field of Theatre was conferred on nine artists and they are Nand Kishore Acharya and Shafaat Khan for Playwriting Parvez Akhtar and Mushtaq Kak for Direction Manoj N Joshi and Himani Shivpuri for Acting Pradeep Mulye for Allied Theatre Arts–Scenic Design Sarojini Nangiar for Other Major Traditions of Theatre–Kutiyattam Rani Balbir Kaur for Overall Contribution in Theatre Traditional/Folk/Tribal Music/Dance/Theatre and Puppetry :  2015 Akademi Award in field of Theatre was conferred on ten artists and they are Khuman Lal Sao for Folk Music of Chhattisgarh Ramchandra Singh for Folk Theatre of Bihar Khem Raj for Folk Music of Jammu and Kashmir S R D Prasad for Martial Art of Kerala Chhaya and Maya Khutegaonkar joint award for Folk Dance of Maharashtra-Lavani Gangmei Aluna Kabuini for Traditional Dance and Music of Manipur Paramjit Singh Sidhu for Folk Music of Punjab Sayeed Sabri Jaipuri for Qawwali, Rajasthan K K Ramachandra Pulavar and T N Sankaranathan for Puppetry Overall Contribution/Scholarship to Performing Arts :  Shanta Gokhale and Chaman Ahuja were conferred with the 2015 Akademi Award The honour of Akademi Fellow has been conferred since 1954 and Akademi Award since 1952. These honours not only symbolize the highest standard of excellence and achievements, but also recognize sustained individual work and contribution.  

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has released the fourth Bi-Monthly Monetary Policy Statement 2016-17 on 4 October 2016. The key announcement under the policy was the interest cut of 25 basis points. This move may lead to banks in lowering EMIs for housing, car loan and corporate borrowers. This policy decision was not only RBI Governor Urjit Patel’s maiden policy announcement but was also the first to be announced by the newly constituted Monetary Policy Committee (MPC). All the six members of MPC unanimously decided to cut repo rate by 0.25 per cent; bring in to a nearly six-year low of 6.25 per cent. This was also the first interest rate cut in last six months. According to the monetary policy statement, the decision to cut interest rates is consistent with the aim of achieving a midterm inflation target of 4 percent within a band of plus or minus 2 percent. Based on the assessment of the current and evolving macroeconomic situation, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided to: Repo Rate: The policy repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) was reduced by 25 basis points from 6.5 per cent to 6.25 per cent with immediate effect. Reverse Repo Rate: The reverse repo rate under the LAF stands adjusted to 5.75 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate to 6.75 per cent. Marginal standing facility (MSF) Rate: The MSF rate was fixed at 6.75 per cent. Bank Rate: The Bank Rate also stands at 6.75 per cent. The decision of the MPC is consistent with an accommodative stance of monetary policy in consonance with the objective of achieving consumer price index (CPI) inflation at 5 per cent by Q4 of 2016-17 and the medium-term target of 4 per cent within a band of +/- 2 per cent, while supporting growth. The main considerations underlying the decision are set out in the statement below. Assessment on the domestic front Agriculture : The outlook for agricultural activity has brightened as the South West monsoon ended the season with a cumulative deficit of only 3 per cent below the long period average, with 85 per cent of the country’s geographical area having received normal to excess precipitation. Kharif : Kharif sowing has surpassed last year’s acreage, barring cotton, sugarcane and jute and mesta. Accordingly, the first advance 2 estimates of kharif food grains production for 2016-17 by the Ministry of Agriculture have been placed at a record level, and higher than the target set for the year. Industrial sector : The industrial sector, by contrast, suffered a manufacturing-driven contraction in early fiscal year Q2, after a sequential deceleration in gross value added in Q1. Even after trimming the statistical effects of the lumpy and order-driven contraction of insulated rubber cables, industrial production as measured by the index of industrial production (IIP) turned out to be slower than a year ago. Steel : In August, steel production rose to a 37-month high and cement production maintained momentum - auguring well for construction activity - even though the output of core industries as a whole was weighed down by a decline in the production of coal, crude oil and natural gas and deceleration in refinery products and electricity generation. Nonetheless, business expectations polled in the Reserve Bank’s industrial outlook survey and by other agencies remain expansionary in Q2 and Q3. Roads, Railways And Inland Waterways : The strong public investment in roads, railways and inland waterways, the recent efforts to unclog cash flows in large projects under arbitration, and the boost to spending from the 7th Pay Commission’s award, should improve the industrial outlook. Services Sector : The acceleration in the pace of activity in Q1 appears to have been sustained. An increasing number of high frequency indicators are moving into positive territory, construction is boosted by policy initiatives, and public administration, defence and other services will be supported by the pay commission award. Retail inflation : Measured by the headline CPI had been elevated by a sharp pick-up in the momentum of food inflation overwhelming favourable base effects during April-July. In August, however, the momentum of food inflation turned negative and surprised expectations; consequently, base effects in that month came into full play and pulled down headline inflation to an intra-year low. Fuel inflation has moderated steadily through the year so far. Inflation excluding food and fuel (including petrol and diesel embedded in transportation) has been sticky around 5 per cent, mainly in respect to education, medical and personal care services. Liquidity conditions : It remained comfortable in Q3, with the Reserve Bank absorbing liquidity on a net basis through variable rate reverse repo auctions of varying tenors. Liquidity was injected through open market purchases of 200 billion rupees in line with the system’s requirements. As a result, the Weighted Average Call Money Rate (WACR) remained tightly aligned with the policy repo rate and, in fact, traded with a soft bias. Interest rates on commercial paper (CPs) and certificates of deposit (CD) also eased. External Sector : Merchandise exports contracted in the first two months of Q2. Subdued domestic demand was, however, reflected in a faster contraction in imports. Moreover, the still soft crude prices pared off a fifth of the oil import bill and gold import volume slumped to a fifth of its volume a year ago. As a result of the same, the merchandise trade deficit narrowed by 10 billion US dollars in April-August on a year-on-year basis. Foreign Direct Investment : The pace of foreign direct investment slowed compared to a year ago, portfolio flows were stronger after the BREXIT vote, galvanised by a search for returns in an expanding universe of negative yields. The level of foreign exchange reserves rose to 372 billion US dollars by 30 September 2016 – an all-time high. Outlook : The food inflation outlook will improved due to strong improvement in sowing, along with supply management measures. Sharp drop in inflation reflects a downward shift in the momentum of food inflation, which holds the key to future inflation outcomes, rather than merely the statistical effects of a favourable base effect.Government’s measures to curb the food inflation would help in moderating the momentum of food inflation in months ahead.

Noted contemporary artist Yusuf Arakkal passed away on 4 October 2016 in Bengaluru, Karnataka. He was 71. Arakkal had recently released a book called Faces of Creativity, which is a comprehensive collection of portraits of fellow artists. It was the first time that an Indian artist had done portraits of other artists. Yusuf Arakkal : Yusuf Arakkal was a Malayali painter based in Bengaluru. He took a diploma in painting from Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat (KCP), Bangalore. Later, he specialized in graphic print making from National Academy community studios, Garhi, Delhi. Recently, he received the prestigious Lorenzo De Medici Gold Medal, at Florence Internazionale Biennale, in Florence, Italy for his work Bacon’s Man with the Child and Priest.He had produced a large collection of miscellaneous works consisting of drawings, paintings, sculptures, murals, paper works, prints and writing.He had won several other awards including Karnataka Lalithkala Academy award in 1979 and 1981, a national award in 1983, a special award at the third Asian Art Biennale Dhaka, Bangladesh in 1986 and the Karnataka Lalithkala Academy honour in 1989.

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