Current Affairs 7th October 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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All Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) protected historical monuments and archaeological sites have declared polythene-free zones.  Union Ministry of Culture has issued an advisory to all State Governments/UTs to support ASI in keeping monuments polythene free up to 300 meters from protected boundaries. Rani ki Vav (Gujarat), a 900-year-old World Heritage Site was declared as the cleanest iconic place (among top 25 Adarsh Monuments) in the country by the Union Ministry of Culture.It was presented with the “Cleanest Iconic Place” Award at the Indian Sanitation Conference (INDOSAN) 2016.  ASI had ranked these 25 Adarsh Monuments on the basis of Cleanliness parameters such as amenities like toilets, Polythene Free Zone, green lawns, disabilities access, signage for awareness, drinking water and provision for garbage bins etc. Rani ki Vav (the Queen’s Stepwell): It was built in the 11th century AD as a memorial to a king by Queen Udaymat. It is located in Patan district of Gujarat.  It was added as part of the UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2014.  

Maharashtra Government has allocated 40.68 hectare land to Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) to build LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory) India Project at Dudhala village in Hingoli district.  With this, India will join elite league of countries consisting of US, UK, Italy, Germany and Japan that support on-going research on gravitational waves. Besides, it will be third such laboratory in the world and first outside US. The existing two LIGO laboratories in US are located in Livingston, Louisiana and Hanford, Washington. The LIGO-India Project will be piloted and overseen by Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Department of Science and Technology (DST). It will be international collaboration between the LIGO Laboratory of US and consortium of three leading Indian institutions. They are (i) Indore’s Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT): It will provide its expertise in lasers and laser technology; (ii) Pune’s Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA): It will provide the scientific teams, scientific data computation and data acquisition; (iii) Gandhinagar’s Institute for Plasma Research (IPR): It will contribute in cryogenic and high vacuum systems for the prestigious project.

India is seeking greater market access for the domestic pharmaceuticals sector in the Japanese market as India’s share in the Japanese drug market continued to be below par.  It was announced by Union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in seminar on promoting India’s exports to Japan under India-Japan CEPA (Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement) in New Delhi. India’s strength in pharma sector is well established. Share of India in the Japanese drug market continued to be low. It is limited mostly to active pharmaceutical ingredients (API). Japanese pharmaceutical market offers a huge untapped potential for Indian pharma industry.  This is coupled with the decision of Japanese Government towards attaining an 80% share of generic medicines by 2018. This will provide an opportunity for the generic drug industry of India. Thus, it will be win-win situation for both countries as there is demand for generic medicines in Japan and India has capability to meet this demand. Japan is one of the closest and most reliable trading partners of India. Both countries bilateral ties were elevated to status of special strategic and global partnership during Prime Minister Narendra Modi visit to Japan in 2014.  The CEPA between both countries is one of the most comprehensive agreements concluded by India and it had come into force in August, 2011. The bilateral trade between India and Japan pre-CEPA in 2010 was $10.4 billion and currently in 2016 stands at $14.5 billion. However, India’s trade deficit with Japan increasing from $3.1 billion before the CEPA was inked in 2011 to $5.2 billion thereafter.

India is hosting the 2016 Asian Ministerial Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) from November 3 to 5, 2016 in New Delhi. This will be second time India hosting AMCDRR.  The conference will be hosted by Union Government in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR). It will be first AMCDRR after advent of Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRRR) which was adopted at 3rd UN World Conference in Sendai, Japan in March, 2015. India by hosting AMCDRR re-affirms its commitment to the cause of Disaster Risk Reduction.  It will also set the direction of Sendai Framework implementation in the region. The aim of the conference is to transform the commitments of governments and stakeholders during the Sendai Conference into national and local action.  AMCDRR 2016 will focus on consultation, collaboration and partnership with governments and stakeholders to mainstream Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in the region. It will adopt the ‘Asian Regional Plan for Implementation of the Sendai Framework’ endorsed by the Asian countries. In this conference, senior-level delegations from Asian countries, representatives of UN bodies and Disaster Management experts will participate.  

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that Indo-Pak border will be completely sealed by December 2018. The action was taken amid the rising tensions between the two nations mainly after the army strike on militant bases in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Singh informed about the decision after holding a meeting of states sharing border with Pakistan in Jaisalmer. This sealing will be monitored at MHA level, BSF level and chief secretary level. Chief Minister of Rajasthan Vasundhara Raje, Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab Sukhbir Singh Badal, Gujarat's Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary Brij Raj Sharma were the participants of the meeting to review security arrangements at the border. The meeting is being held in the presence of senior BSF officials. Besides, the Home Minister also asked the countrymen to trust the security forces and stand by them.  Earlier on 7 October, Singh kicked off his two-day visit to the border districts of Jaisalmer and Bermer in Rajasthan. On 8 October, he will visit Munabao BOP in Barmer district and also interact with Army personnel there. Indo-Pakistan Border : The India and Pakistan Border is an international border running between India and Pakistan that demarcates the Indian states and the four provinces of Pakistan. The border's total length is 2900 km. It is known as Line of Control (LoC).

Manipur-based theatre legend Heisnam Kanhailal passed away on 6 October 2016 following a brief illness in Imphal. He was 75.Kanhailal had contributed to the field of experimental theatre for more than 40 years. Heisnam Kanhailal : Born in Imphal, initially he worked with the noted theatre director and playwright Badal Sirkar, but continued to experiment with alternative art-theatre.  Later, he founded the Kalakshetra, the theatre laboratory in Manipur. Kanhailal was most famous for his production Tamnalai (The Hunting Spirit), Kabui-Keioiba (Half Man, Half Tiger) and Draupadi.He had also undertaken a research project on actor-training methodology with assistance from the Ford Foundation Grant, Nehru Memorial Fellowship and an Emeritus Fellowship.  He had bagged several awards including Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1985, Natya Ratna in 1997 from the Manipuri Sahitya Parishad and the Sangeet Natak Akademi fellowship in 2011. He was also awarded the Padma Shri civilian award in 2004 and the Padma Bhushan civilian award in 2016 by the Union Government.

Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) announced that the Terminal 3 of Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) achieved Platinum rating from Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) on 6 October 2016. The plaque and certificate for the achievement was handed over by IGBC to Douglas Webster, COO-DIAL and Roy Sebastian, VP- Project and Engineering, during the 14th Green Building Congress, 2016 organized by IGBC in Mumbai. With this, the state-of-the-art Terminal 3 of IGIA has become the first Platinum rated green terminal building under Green Existing Building O&M Rating System by IGBC. This is another significant environmental achievement by IGIA, after being accredited as the first Carbon Neutral airport in Asia Pacific recently by Airports Council International (ACI).  Indian Green Building Council : The Indian Green Building Council, part of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), was formed in 2001.The vision of the council is to enable a sustainable built environment for all and facilitate India to be one of the global leaders in the sustainable built environment by 2025. The council offers a wide array of services, which include developing new green building rating programmes, certification services and green building training programmes. The council also organises Green Building Congress, its annual flagship event on green buildings.The council is committee-based, member-driven and consensus-focused.  

The International Monetary Fund has released World Economic Outlook (WEO) October 2016. The report projects global growth at 3.1 per cent in 2016, with slight increase to 3.4 percent in 2017.  It says that the persistent stagnation, particularly in advanced economies, could further fuel anti-trade sentiment, stifling growth. Growth in emerging Asia, and especially India, continues to be resilient. India’s gross domestic product is projected to expand 7.6 percent in 2016 and 2017, the fastest pace among the world’s major economies. The IMF urged India to continue reform of its tax system and eliminate subsidies to provide more resources for investments in infrastructure, education, and health care.

Pawan Chamling, the Chief Minister of Sikkim, on 6 October 2016 was conferred the prestigious 2016 Sustainable Development Leadership Award. President Pranab Mukherjee presented the award to Chamling during the World Sustainable Development Summit organized by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi. The award was presented to Chamling in recognition of his vision and leadership in environment and sustainable development leading to the establishment of Sikkim as the first and only organic state in the country.Sikkim is known as the Land of Flower and holds a population of around six lakhs. Around 75000 hectares of land has been converted into certified organic farms over the years following the guidelines as prescribed by National Programme for Organic Production. Sikkim contributes around 80000 million tonnes organic production out of total 1.24 million tonnes of organic production recorded in India. On the initiative of Chamling, a historic declaration was made through a Resolution in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly on 24 February 2003 for transforming Sikkim into a Total Organic State. The Sikkim State Organic Board was constituted on 16 September 2003 for outlining policy issues and strategic plans, as well as developing standards and regulations.  The state government stopped procuring chemical fertilizers and chemical pesticides from 2004 onwards and also eliminated the existing subsidy to farmers for procurement of chemical pesticides.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has inaugurated 100 urban piped drinking water supply projects. Mr. Patnaik also launched two systems - Online Smart Water Information Management (OSWIM) and e-Building Pass. While the OSWIM will ensure safety of the water being supplied to the families, the second system will smoothen the permission process for construction of buildings. The State government is working with a commitment towards improving urban governance in the state. While 100 urban drinking water projects. Besides, the two services were launched to bring more accountability and efficiency in urban water management. The Online Smart Water Information Management system would provide information on various aspects like the quality of water and collection of water tax. 

Jammu and Kashmir Bank has appointed Parvez Ahmed as Chairman and CEO of the bank.  He has been appointed chairman for a period of three years, Jammu and Kashmir Bank said in a statement. He replaces Mustaq Ahmad who completed his term on October 5.  Ahmad, who joined the bank in 1998, was instrumental in successful management of the bank's IPO.

Germany has appointed former Nasscom Chairman B V R Mohan Reddy as an Honourary Consul of that country in Hyderabad. Mohan Reddy will be the Consul for Germany in Telangana and Hyderabad. Mohan Reddy, who is also the Executive Chairman of Cyient Ltd, said that there was a need for collaboration between the two countries in science and technology and in vocational training.

India's Aakanksha Hagawane has won the girls' U-16 title at the World Youth Chess Championship in Russia.  Aakanksha sealed the title by defeating Alicja Sliwicka of Poland with white pieces in the 11th and final round.  The World Youth Chess Championship is a chess competition for girls and boys under the age of 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18. Twelve world champions are crowned every year. The first predecessor of the youth championship was the Cadet Championship. It started off unofficially in 1974 in France for players under 18.  

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has released the Report of the Internal Working Group (IWG) on Rationalisation of Branch Authorisation Policy on 6 October 2016. The Group is chaired by Lily Vadera, Chief General Manager, Department of Banking Regulation. The thrust of the recommendations is to facilitate financial inclusion by ensuring availability of banking services in all centers through low cost delivery channels and mapping the footprints of various banking channels. Recommendations of the IWG : In the first phase, the recommendations focus on broadening of the current framework to include all banking outlets which are fixed point locations and bring them on par with branches. A banking outlet is defined as a fixed point service delivery unit manned by bank’s staff or its Business Correspondent where services of acceptance of deposits, encashment of cheques/cash withdrawal or lending of money are provided for minimum 4 hours per day for at least five days a week.  Banks need to open banking outlets to meet the 25 percent norms of opening banking outlets in unbanked rural centres that does not have a CBS-enabled banking outlet of a Scheduled Commercial Bank. A part-time banking outlet opened in any Centre will be added to the denominator as well as numerator on pro rata basis for computing the compliance with the norm of opening 25% banking outlets. A banking outlet opened in North-Eastern States, Sikkim and in Left-Wing Extremism Affected Districts will be treated as a banking outlet/part-time banking outlet in an unbanked rural centre. Grandfathering of MFI/NBFC structures of Small Finance Banks to be provided to facilitate an orderly transformation and to minimize the risk of transition. As regards their existing NBFC/MFI branches, banks will be given a time period of 3 years to close or convert these into banking outlets. The Boards of the banks should set internal financial inclusion targets and compile the data to monitor the transactions to ensure that target customers for financial inclusion are getting the banking facilities in unbanked rural centres. In the second phase, a new data system will be devised which is capable of capturing the locations and transactions carried out by all banking outlets. 

Pakistan Parliament in a joint sitting on 6 October 2016 unanimously passed two bills, one seeking to curb murders in the name of honour and the other to punish rapists by use of modern technology of DNA testing in probes involving rape cases. The two bills are titled as, Criminal law amendment (offences in the name or on the pretext of honour) bill, 2016 and Anti-rape (criminal laws amendment) bill, 2016. Anti-Honour Killing Bill : The anti-honour killing bill states, relatives of the victim will be able to pardon the killer if he/she is awarded capital punishment; however, the culprit will have to face mandatory life sentence (25 years). Under the existing laws, a close relative murdered a woman in the name of honour and was promptly pardoned by another close family member. Thus the murderer would walk away literally without any punishment. About the Anti Rape Bill, The legislation passed makes DNA test mandatory in investigations as part of the procedure. Through another amendment enhanced punishment has been provided for rape in police stations and rape of minors and mentally handicapped. Thus sex workers also get protection of the law against rape. A recent study had shown that conviction in rape cases was a mere 2 per cent which means that 98 per cent rapists potentially got scot-free. This is largely because DNA test is not compulsory in rape case under the existing law. Both the bills, initially moved by former Senator Sughra Imam, were passed unanimously by the Senate sometime back and subsequently moved in the Joint Sitting of the Parliament by Senator Farhatullah Babar on the expiry of Imam's term in the Senate. According to the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, nearly 1100 women were killed by relatives in Pakistan in 2015, while many more cases go unreported.

President Pranab Mukherjee has inaugurated the first edition of the World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS) in New Delhi. The theme for the summit is Beyond 2015 : People, Planet and Progress. The summit is being organized by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). World Sustainable Development Summit : The World Sustainable Development Summit has evolved from the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, the annual event of TERI. The WSDS brings together Nobel laureates, political leaders, decision-makers from bilateral and multilateral institutions, among others, to deliberate on issues related to sustainable development. It aims to provide long-term solutions for the benefit of the global community by assembling the various stakeholders on a single platform.

Indian shooter Jitu Rai has clinched a silver medal in the 50 meter pistol event of the ISSF World Cup Final at Bologna, Italy on 6 October 2016. Jitu, 29, shot a score of 188.8 to finish behind China's Wei Pang at 190.6. Italy's Giuseppe Giordano settled for the bronze. In the process, Jitu also equaled his own national record score in the qualification round, which was shot in 2014 at Maribor World Cup. Jitu, who was counted as India's best shooting medal hope in Rio but had failed to deliver, had earlier won a Silver medal at the ISSF World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan in the 10m Air Pistol event. In 2016 Rio Olympics he finished at the eighth position in the men’s 10 meter pistol final. The ISSF World Cup finals competition is the season-ending competition of the annual calendar.

A new frog species named Cape York graceful tree frog, scientifically known as Litoria Bella, was discovered recently in Australia’s largest virgin forest in Queensland. The study was published in the journal Zootaxa on 27 September 2016. The newly discovered species closely resembles the Graceful tree frog (Litoria Gracilenta). The research and discovery was done by Dr Jodi Rowley, a curator of amphibian and reptile conservation biology at the Australian Museum, along with scientists Keith McDonald, Stephen Richards and Greta Frankham. The Cape York Graceful Treefrog is known from between Moa Island in the Torres Strait in the north, to about 20 km south of Coen on the Cape York Peninsula in the south. The southern-most location of the new species is separated by 220 km from the most northern record of the Graceful Treefrog in the Endeavour Valley near Cooktown. The Cape York Graceful frogs have a near-immaculate green dorsum, bright orange digits, bluish purple thighs and white bones. They also measure about four centimetres long, which is considered big for the species. They spend most of their time in the tree canopy and come down to ponds when it rains or during breeding season. The species was thought to occur all the way from north-eastern New South Wales to northern Cape York Peninsula in Queensland.

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