Current Affairs 1st September 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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The Union External Affairs Ministry has officially confirmed that 13 Indians have been tested positive for the Zika virus in Singapore .These cases of outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease have been reported among the three dozen workers on a construction site in Singapore.  Meanwhile, Singapore also has confirmed its first case of a pregnant woman testing positive for the Zika virus infection. The number of cases of the Zika virus in the city-state has rose to 115.  It should be noted that Asia’s first  Zika virus was reported in Singapore. Zika virus is vector borne disease transmitted primarily by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. The virus is capable of causing serious birth defects i.e. neurological disorders and foetal deformation known as Microcephaly in which infants are born with abnormally smaller heads.  Besides a possible link between the virus and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS: a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the nervous system) is also suspected.

The Union Cabinet has approved the scheme for granting of Permanent Residency Status (PRS) to foreign investors. However, this status will be subject to the relevant conditions in the FDI Policy notified by the Central Government from time to time.  The scheme is expected to encourage foreign investment in India and facilitate Make in India Programme.Under the scheme, suitable provisions will be incorporated in the Visa Manual to provide for the grant of PRS to foreign investors. The PRS will be granted for a period of 10 years with multiple entry. If the PRS holder has not come to adverse notice, it can be reviewed for another 10 years.  The scheme will be applicable only to foreign investors fulfilling the prescribed eligibility conditions and also his spouse and dependents. In order to avail this scheme, the foreign investor will have to invest a minimum of 10 crores rupees within 18 months or 25 crores rupees within 36 months.  Further, the foreign investment should result in generating employment to at least 20 resident Indians every financial year. Benefits of Permanent Residency Status :  Initially, PRS will be granted for a period of 10 years with multiple entry facility, which can be renewed for another 10 years. It will serve as a multiple entry visa without any stay stipulation and the PRS holders will be exempted from the registration requirements. For dwelling purpose, PRS holders will be allowed to purchase one residential property.  Their spouse and dependents will be also allowed to undertake studies in India and take up employment in private sector (in relaxation to salary stipulations for Employment Visa).

The 2016 BRICS Convention on Tourism has begun at UNESCO World heritage site Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh to promote intra-regional tourism. The two day convention was inaugurated by Union Minister of State (MoS) for Tourism and Culture.  The convention has been organised as a precursor to the BRICS Summit to be held in Goa in October 2016. In this two day convention, delegates from the BRICS countries viz. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are participating. It will consists of inter- Governmental exchange of views and ideas, panel discussions on technology, innovation in Tourism.  Besides, it will primarily focus on cooperation between the BRICS countries for promoting intra-regional tourism. Besides, Business to Business (B2B) meetings between the India Travel Trade and their counterparts from the BRICS countries will also be organised. During the convention, elements of culture, handicrafts and cuisine from different regions of India will be showcased.

Michel Temer, Brazil's former Vice President, was on 31 August 2016 sworn in as the President of Brazil. Temer is expected to stay in power until the next scheduled election in late 2018. His appointment came following the removal of Dilma Rousseff from the office through the Senators' voting. Senators voted 61-20 to convict Rousseff for illegally using money from state banks to boost public spending, an act seen as a leading factor behind the massive 60 billion US dollars deficit, the worst recession being faced by Brazil, leaving millions of people out of work. Michel Temer's appointment as President of Brazil : Michel Temer, who served as Vice-President of Brazil, was appointed as the Interim President of the country following the suspension of Dilma Rousseff from the office in May 2016. Under Brazil's constitution, the Vice-President takes over as the President on an interim basis if the president is suspended from office. Michel Temer : Temer is a discreet politician who seems always to be hovering around the centre of everything important, but never in the spotlight. But recently he has come out of the shadows by ending the Rousseff presidency and beginning a new era in Brazil. His most notable achievement as a politician has been to help the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) in forming coalitions with every president in past two decades. He is currently the party president. He presided over Brazil's lower house of Congress during the years of the Fernando Henrique Cardoso government (1995-2002), when Brazil underwent a liberal programme of privatisations.  

Brazil’s Senate has  removed President Dilma Rousseff from office for breaking budgetary laws, thus, putting an end to the impeachment process that has paralyzed the politics of the nation for nine months. A total of 61 senators voted in favour of her dismissal and 20 against, meeting the two-thirds majority needed to remove Rousseff from the presidency for illegally using money from state banks to boost public spending. With this, the 13 years of rule of leftist Workers Party came to an end. Rousseff was already suspended from the office in May 2016. She was accused of breaking fiscal laws in her management of the federal budget, which is illegal under Brazilian law. Rousseff was also accused of taking illegal state loans to hide budget holes in 2014, covering up the country’s problems as it slipped into its deepest recession in decades. Rousseff came to political prominence as the heir-apparent to former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who governed Brazil from 2003 to 2011. She was first Sworn in as the Brazil's first female president in 2011. She was also re-elected to a second term in 2014. The leftist Workers Party came to power in 2003. And since then, there has been a series of corruption outrages involving politicians from the governing party and also opposition parties. The two biggest corruption cases were: Mensalao : The Mensalao scandal was a vote-buying case of corruption that threatened to bring down the government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in 2005. The public funds were illegally used to pay a number of Congressional deputies in exchange for backing the government in crucial votes. However, the Supreme Court, in its trial in 2012, convicted 25 politicians, bankers and businessmen, some of whom were top members of the Workers' Party. Operation Car Wash : It is an investigation being carried out by the Federal Police of Brazil since March 2014. It has uncovered evidence that Brazil's biggest construction firms overcharged Petrobras for building contracts. Prosecutors allege that the Workers' Party partly financed its campaigns and expenses through these kickbacks.

Sony Pictures Networks India has announced the acquisition of sports broadcasting business of Zee Entertainment for 385 million US dollar in an all-cash deal on 31 August 2016. Zee's TEN Sports channels being acquired include TEN 1, TEN 1 HD, TEN 2, TEN 3, TEN Golf HD, TEN Cricket, TEN Sports. These channels operate in several countries including the Indian sub-continent, Maldives, Singapore, Hong Kong, Middle East, Caribbean. TEN Sports holds cricket rights in South Africa, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe. It also holds the rights for world wrestling, some football leagues, WTA and ATP tennis events, golf tours, Asian and Commonwealth Games athletics, motor Sports and cycling events, including Tour de France. Sony Pictures Networks : Sony Pictures Networks India Pvt. Ltd. (SPNI) is an Indian company, which handles Sony Pictures' diversified interests in India. It was previously known as SET India Pvt. Ltd and then Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd. The group now includes a motion pictures corporation (MSM Motion Pictures), television distribution business (MSM Media Distribution) and digital entertainment business.Sony Entertainment Television and SAB TV are the main brands of SPNI although it owns many other brands and companies under the umbrella Sony brand. On 3 November 2015, MSM was renamed Sony Pictures Networks India Private Limited after 21 years.  

Justice SN Dhingra Commission set up by the Haryana government submitted its report to the Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal on 31 August 2016. It hinted at irregularities. The commission was set up in May 2015 to probe the circumstances of grant or rejection of licences for development of colonies, group housing societies and commercial complexes in Gurgaon.   Highlights  : The 182-page report has two parts of which the first part contains the findings and the second contains evidence. The report elaborates the manner adopted to commit irregularities and the people behind it. The Commission has reportedly examined more than 200 cases of grant of Change of Land Use (CLU) licences. The scope of the Dhingra commission was expanded in August 2015 and it was asked to probe grant of all licenses to colonisers and individuals in four villages of Gurgaon, namely Shikohpur, Sikanderpur, Badah and Kherki Dhaula, by the previous Congress government in Haryana.

Carnatic singer Thodur Madabusi Krishna and Bezwada Wilson, campaigner for eradication of manual scavenging, on 31 August 2016 received the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award 2016.They were among six persons who received the award. Four others who received the award are : Conchita Carpio-Morales of the Philippines, Dompet Dhuafa of Indonesia, Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers and Vientiane Rescue of Laos. Bezwada Wilson : Wilson, the national convenor of the Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA), got the award for asserting the inalienable right to a life of human dignity. He has been leading a grassroot movement to eradicate the degrading servitude of manual scavenging in India, reclaiming for the Dalits the human dignity that is their natural birthright. He has spent 32 years on his crusade, leading not only with a sense of moral outrage but also with remarkable skills in mass organising, and working within India’s complex legal system. Thodur Madabusi Krishna : Krishna won the award under the Emergent Leadership category for bringing social inclusiveness in culture. He is a Carnatic music vocalist. His forceful commitment as artist in breaking barriers of caste and class to unleash what music has to offer not just for some but for all led to his selection for the award.

Union Government has constituted an expert committee to study slit in river Ganga in Bihar on 1 September 2016. The four-member committee will be headed by Member of Ganga Flood Control commission AK Sinha. The committee has been asked to submit its report within 10 days. Other members of the committee are Chief Engineer of Central Water Commission SK Sahu, Prof. of IIT, AK Gosain and members of National Disaster Management Authority Dr. Rajnish Ranjan. The committee was formed on request of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Kumar during his meet to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requested him to send an expert team to study silt in Ganga which caused devastating prevailing flood in the state. He also said the centre should frame National Silt Policy to sort out various problems related to rivers throughout the state.

The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) has officially appointed former Finance Secretary Ashok Chawla as the new Chancellor of TERI University on 31 August 2016. The decision to appoint Chawla was taken in its meeting held on 19 August 2016 by the governing council of TERI. With this, the University ended its last association with former Chancellor and Head R.K. Pachauri, who was accused of sexually harassing a female colleague in 2015. Chawla has also been serving as the Chairman of Teri since February 2016. The Energy and Resources Institute : The Energy and Resources Institute was established in 1974. It was formerly known as Tata Energy Research Institute. It is a research institute based in New Delhi that conducts research work in the fields of energy, environment and sustainable development.In 2013, the institute was ranked as the topmost global think-tank by the International Centre for Climate Governance (ICCG).

Small industry day is celebrated on 30 Aug every year in support and promotion of small Industries. Industry day is celebrated as a part of its effort to provide balanced growth to existing small, medium and large scale enterprises and render assistance for setting up new industries to boost the state’s financial health.  An industry day is an event held by a military to present requirements to industry representatives for weapons or vehicles. Common presentation methods include outlines by powerpoint. Industry days are usually held in succession with each event holding fewer people as contractors drop their bids.

Jamica based Digicel Caribbean Ltd named the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, as its Chief Speed Officer (CSO) following this appointment he as Digicel CSO will interact with customers in a number of ways from both a commercial and community point of view in the years to come. Usain Bolt : Arguably the most naturally gifted athlete the world has ever seen, Usain St Leo Bolt, created history at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio when he achieved the ‘Triple Triple’, three gold medals at three consecutive Olympic Games. Usain’s journey to worldwide stardom started at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing where he won the 100m, 200m and 4x100m, all in world record times. He followed this up with three gold medals in the same events at the 2012 Olympic Games in London to write his name in the history books as the world’s fastest man. Then one day before his 30th birthday, he completed the same triple at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio to cement his legacy as a legend in world sport. Digicel Group : Digicel Group is a total communications and entertainment provider with operations in 33 markets in the Caribbean, Central America and Asia Pacific. After 15 years of operation, total investment to date stands at over US$5 billion worldwide. The company is renowned for delivering best value, best service and best network.

The Haryana Assembly  has unanimously passed the Haryana Sports Council Bill, 2016 to constitute statutory sports councils at state, district, block and municipal levels. The Bill was tabled by the state Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Anil Vij. The bill was passed after a long debate that also seen adjournment of house. The Council upon would be constituted under the Haryana Sports and Physical Fitness Policy, 2015  will neither select sports persons nor send teams for competitions. The Council is meant for promotion of sports, games, yoga, physical fitness, the ‘Sports for All concept and to augment athletic efficiency, adding that they would also be responsible for coaching, competitions and other sports-related activities. Besides a sports injury centre would be set up in Haryana. The Sports Council would be headed by the Chief Minister and would have the Sports and Youth Affairs Minister as its Vice President and it will also have some other members in the body.

PTC India Financial Services , that the company has entered into arrangements with scheduled commercial banks whereby the banks will issue letter of credit to project companies in the renewable energy space. Currently, such project companies are required to approach various banks and negotiate various associated costs for issuance of letter of credit, which generally takes 3-5 months.  Under the new arrangement, letter of credit can be opened in a much shorter time on case-to-case basis and project companies shall not be required to separately pursue with each bank.  

India's largest digital payment company, MobiKwik has announced coalition with 12 state electricity boards. The MobiKwik took this initiative ahead of its expansion plan to set up a national base for utility payments. Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Tripura, Meghalaya, Calcutta, Rajasthan and union territories of Daman and Diu are the states inclusive in the coalition agreement. Apart from the coalition with the new electricity boards of the states, it already has bonds signed with companies like IRCTC, Uber, Meru Cabs, Big Bazaar, OYO Rooms, Zomato, PVR, Archies, WHSmith India, BookMyShow for the powering the payments. MobiKwik : MobiKwik is a mobile wallet and online payment system where a user can store money to make mobile and DTH recharge, pay utility bills and shop using wallet with over 50,000 merchants.The MobiKwik wallet has to be loaded with money once before it can be used across functions. MobiKwik provides users the option to add money using their debit or credit card, net banking, and ‘cash pay’, a doorstep cash collection service. MobiKwik wallet is a semi closed wallet authorized by Reserve Bank of India.

A government panel has cleared for bidding 16 highway projects worth Rs 7,456 crore in 11 states.The states are Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Haryana, Gujarat, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, and Odisha. These projects, totalling a length of 622 km, are fit for bidding now but the award of these contracts can only take place after 90 per cent of the land acquisition process is made available, Secretary, road transport and highways, Sanjay Mitra. EPC (engineering, procurement, and construction) projects would require government investment of Rs 3,876 crore. Of the total number of projects, 13 would be executed in EPC mode, two in hybrid annuity mode, and one in BOT (build, operate, and transfer) mode. These highway contracts include construction of new roads, widening and expansion of existing highways, and rehabilitation and upgrade of some projects. Mitra said detailed project reports of the projects are complete and the contracts can be put up for bidding. According to National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) data, in the list of 62 EPC projects, L&T bagged seven EPC highway contracts in 2015-16 and two projects between April and June, this year (2016-17). In 2015-16, 87 per cent of the projects were awarded on EPC basis. In 2014-15, the figure was as high as 91 per cent.

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), the umbrella organization for all retail payments system in India launched the pilot project for Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS) with 26 Bharat Bill Payment Operating Units (BBPOUs) . BBPS will cover repetitive payments for everyday utility services such as electricity, water, gas, telephone and Direct-to-Home (DTH).  BBPS, in due course of time would link all major billers in the country with all their consumers which will simplify bill presentment and bill payments electronically. Currently the volume of bills being paid by cash is so large that even if 25 per cent of the bills get paid electronically, impact would be visibly enormous . BBPS is the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) mandated system which will provide interoperable bill payment services to customers.  It is an integrated platform connecting banks and non-bank entities in bill aggregation business like billers, payment service providers, retail bill outlets etc.  As on date 62 entities have received in-principle approval from RBI to function as Operating Units (OU), out of which 52 are Banking entities and 10 are Non-Banking entities.  The RBI authorised BBPOUs will on-board billers, aggregators and payment gateways. They would also set up agent network and customer touch points to handle bill payments through different delivery channels including self-service, assisted, electronic and manual modes.  In the pilot phase NPCI will include AP Mahesh Co-operative Urban Bank, Axis Bank, Gopinath Patil Parsik Janata Sahakari Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, IDBI Bank, Indian Bank, IndusInd Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Punjab & Maharashtra Co-operative Bank, Punjab National Bank, RBL Bank, State Bank of India,The Saraswat Co-Op Bank, TJSB Sahakari Bank and YES Bank from the banking entities and Avenues India , Communications Ltd (Paytm), Oxigen Services , PayU Payments , Spice Digital Ltd and TechProcess Payment Services. 

President Pranab Mukherjee gave Maharashtra Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao additional charge of Tamil Nadu, and Gujarat Governor Om Prakash Kohli of Madhya Pradesh. The tenure of Tamil Nadu Governor K. Rosaiah ended on September 6 while that of Madhya Pradesh Governor Ram Naresh Yadav will come to an end on September 7. The governors and lieutenant-governors of the states and union territories of India have similar powers and functions at the state level as that of the President of India at Union level. Governors exist in the states while lieutenant-governors exist in union territories and in the National Capital Territory of Delhi. Governor acts as the nominal head whereas the real power lies in the hand of the chief ministers of the states and the chief minister's Council of Minister.

Actor Irrfan Khan was honoured with the Entertainer of the Year award by CNBC. He was felicitated by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.  The actor has been praised for his performance in movies like Piku, Jurassic World and Talvar which released last year. The role of a common man portrayed by the actor in his much talked about movie Madaari was also lauded. Irrfan Ali Khan : Sahabzade Irrfan Ali Khan credited as Irrfan Khan or simply Irrfan, is an Indian film actor known for his works predominantly in Hindi cinema.  He is also known for his works in British films, and Hollywood. Film critics, contemporaries, and other experts consider him to be one of the finest actors in Indian cinema for his versatile and natural acting. In 2011, Khan received the Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian honour for his contribution to the field of arts.

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