Current Affairs 13th September 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy has been honoured with the 'Tamil Ratna' award by a body of Tamil diaspora here for fighting corruption and working for more transparency in the functioning of the government. The America Tamil Sangam awarded the Tamil Ratna to the senior BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP, who is currently on a visit to the US. The Sangam's president Prakash Swamy highlighted theBJP leader's contribution to fighting corruption and working for more transparency and accountability in the functioning of the government. Previous Tamil Ratna awardees include Oscar-winning composer AR Rahman and movie director Bharathi Raja.

The Union Government has apprised of the MoU between India and South Africa for promoting bilateral cooperation in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).  The MoU was signed between both countries in July 2016 during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to 5 African nations in July 2016. The MoU will help to establish inter-institutional cooperation and relations between India and South Africa in order to promote cooperation in the field of ICT.  It will also result in active cooperation and exchanges between the capacity building institutions, private entities, Governments and other public organizations of the two countries in the field of ICT.

The Union Cabinet has given its approval for signing of the Bilateral Technical Arrangement (BTA) between India and Switzerland on the identification and return of Indian and Swiss Nationals and its implementation.  The conclusion of the BTA has been linked to the Visa Free Agreement for holders of Diplomatic passports as a package deal. The BTA aims to formalise existing procedure for cooperation on return of irregular migrants between two countries without introducing any additional obligations or exacting timeframes. It would help to leverage the Readmission Agreement (RA) to liberalise work permit and visa regimes for legitimate Indian travellers.  It would also offer an opportunity to use the same as a model template for negotiations on the subject with other EU countries, which have been raising the issue regularly with us. This has been envisaged as a key goal in the recently concluded India-EU Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility (CAMM).

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved the proposal for initiation of the Third Phase of Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQIP). The project will be implemented as a Central Sector Scheme with total project outlay of 3600 crore rupees. 3 Hill States : Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand.  6 Low Income States : Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh  8 North-Eastern States : It includes seven sisters plus Sikkim. Besides, Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands is also focused UT under the 3rd Phase of the Programme. Better academic standards, through filling up faculty positions, training faculty in better teaching methods, accreditation, improved research outputs in institution in Focus States/UTs. Better administration of the institutions with improved financial and academic autonomy. Better systems for assessment of higher transition rates and student learning. Expeditious and transparent release of funds to institutes by way of Direct Funds Transfer (DFT) System.

South Korean electronics major Samsung Electronics announced on 12 September 2016 that Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong will be appointed as a registered executive director on the board. The decision was made keeping in mind the urgent need for strategic decision-making on aggressive investments and new growth engines from a long-term perspective. Lee Jae-yong : Lee Jae-yong is a South Korean business magnate.He is the eldest child and only son of Lee Kun-hee, Chairman of Samsung.He received a degree in East Asian history at Seoul National University. He obtained his master's in business administration from Keio University. He has also attended Harvard Business School to pursue a Doctor of Business Administration degree, focusing on e-commerce. However, he did not obtain the degree.He is referred to as the Crown Prince of Samsung by the South Korean media. His wealth is estimated to be worth 7.9 billion US dollar, making him the third wealthiest person in South Korea.In 2014, he was named the world's 35th most powerful person and the most powerful Korean by Forbes Magazine's List of The World's Most Powerful People along with his father Lee Kun-hee.

The Union Cabinet has approved the creation of the Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) on 12 September 2016 . The HEFA will be established to give a major push for creation of high quality infrastructure in premier educational institutions. Highlights of the HEFA : The HEFA will be jointly promoted by the identified Promoter and the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) with an authorised capital of 2000 crore rupees. The Government equity will be 1000 crore rupees.The HEFA will be formed as a SPV within a PSU Bank/ Government-owned-NBFC.  It will leverage the equity to rise up to 20000 crore rupees for funding projects for infrastructure and development of world class Labs in IITs/IIMs/NITs and such other institutions. It will also mobilise CSR funds from PSUs/Corporates, which will in turn be released for promoting research and innovation in these institutions on grant basis.The HEFA will finance the civil and lab infrastructure projects through a 10-year loan. All the Centrally Funded Higher Educational Institutions will be eligible for joining as members of the HEFA.For joining as members, the Institution should agree to escrow a specific amount from their internal accruals to HEFA for a period of 10 years. This secured future flows will be securitised by the HEFA for mobilising the funds from the market. Each member institution will be eligible for a credit limit as decided by HEFA based on the amount agreed to be escrowed from the internal accruals.

The Union Government has issued model guidelines for states to regulate direct selling and multi-level marketing businesses while prohibiting pyramid structures as well as money circulation schemes. The guidelines were issued to protect consumers from Ponzi frauds. The Direct Selling Guidelines 2016 framework was released by the Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan. They have been sent to the states and Union Territories for adoption. Highlights  :  In the guidelines, the Union Government has clearly defined legitimate direct selling and differentiates it from pyramid and money circulation schemes to help investigating agencies identify fraudulent players.Direct selling means marketing, distribution and sale of goods or providing of services as a part of network of direct selling other than under a pyramid scheme. Pyramid Scheme has also be defined in the framework. Money Circulation Scheme has the same meaning as defined under Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act, 1978. To conduct direct selling business, the guidelines have prescribed many conditions that need to be complied within 90 days.The guidelines bar direct selling companies from charging any entry fee from agents or compelling them to buy back unsold stocks. These entities will have to enter into an agreement with direct sellers or agents, and give full refund or buy-back guarantee for goods and services sold to them. The guidelines also mandate direct sellers to constitute a grievance redressal committee to protect consumers’ right.The guidelines have also made provision for appointment of monitoring authority at both Central and state level to deal with the issues related to direct selling. They also prohibit direct selling entities from using misleading and deceptive or unfair recruitment practices.The guidelines have also put conditions for contract between direct sellers and direct selling entity, saying that all such agreements should be in writing describing the material impact of the participation. The agreement should not compel or induce the direct seller to purchase goods or services in an amount that exceeds an amount that can be expected to be sold to consumers within a reasonable period of time.The contract should provide direct sellers a reasonable cooling-off period in which they can cancel it and receive a refund for goods and services purchased. The guidelines have also specified certain obligations of direct sellers such as carrying identity card, and full disclosure of the good and services offered by the entity represented by them. The new guidelines mandate a seller to provide information about the name of the purchaser and seller, delivery date of goods, procedure of its return and its warranty.

The Union Cabinet has approved the extension of contract between Ministry of Earth Sciences and the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for exploration of Polymetallic Nodules on 12 September 2016. The contract has been extended for a further period of 5 years (2017-2022). The earlier contract is expiring on 24 March 2017. By extending the contract, India's exclusive rights for exploration of Polymetallic Nodules in the allotted Area in the Central Indian Ocean Basin will continue. It will open up new opportunities for resources of commercial and strategic value in area beyond national jurisdiction. Besides, it will provide strategic importance for India in terms of enhanced presence in Indian Ocean where other international players are also active. At present, India has an area of 75000 sq.km. located about 2000 km away from her southern tip for exploration of Polymetallic nodules. Polymetallic Nodules : Polymetallic nodules are also known as manganese nodules.They are potato-shaped, largely porous nodules found in abundance carpeting the sea floor of world oceans in deep sea. Besides manganese and iron, they contain nickel, copper, cobalt, lead, molybdenum, cadmium, vanadium, titanium.Out of the minerals found in it, nickel, cobalt and copper are considered to be of economic and strategic importance.

China's high-speed railway which is making a big pitch to compete in India and global markets has completed over 20,000 kms of track network in the country, becoming world's longest bullet train network.  A high-speed railway linking Zhengzhou in China's central Henan Province with Xuzhou in eastern Jiangsu Province opened . With the operation of the new line, China's high-speed railway lines have exceeded 20,000 kmS in total length, the world's longest.  The 360-km line connects high-speed railway in the west with two major north-south lines, helping cut travel time between the west and east.  The travel time between Xi'an and Shanghai is cut to six hours from nearly 11 hours. The line has nine stations and trains run at a speed of up to 300 kph in the initial period.  Construction of the line started in December 2012 and test operation started in April 2016.  China is competing with Japan to market the bullet train network in India and various other countries.  While Japan bagged the contract to build Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed train, China is conducting feasibility study to build the bullet train track between Chennai and New Delhi   

Delhi Police has launched five all-women Police Control Room (PCR) vans to handle all kinds of distress calls.  Three women personnel will be deputed at every PCRs which will ply in five areas of central and Lutyen's Delhi, including Vigyan Bhawan, Jesus and Mary College, Khan Market Metro Station, the American Center at Kasturba Gandhi Marg, and Motilal Nehru Marg.  Among the three women personnel, one will be the driver of the PCR van while another will carry an MP-5 gun. They have undergone a three-month training where they were taught driving, firing and unarmed combat skills.  Special Commissioner of Police (Operations) Sanjay Beniwal said the women personnel deployed in these PCR vans have also been given behavioural training to tackle complaints from women.  After they are more confident in handling calls, they will be posted in areas that are frequented by women and children. They will be posted around girls schools, malls and markets and around girls colleges on North and South Campus .  

Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma declared that  there would  be a complete banon use of polythene in all national monuments and tourist destinations from 2nd October. In an initiative to carry forward the Swachh Bharat Mission(SBM), the government chose the birth anniversary ofMahatma Gandhi to impose the ban. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the Swachh Bharat Mission on October 2, 2014. n March, the Centre had also banned the manufacturing of plastic bags of below 50 microns as thinner bags are difficult to dispose leading to major threat to the environment. The mission aims at elimination of open defecation, eradication of manual scavenging, modern and scientific municipal solid waste management, among others.

Former Pakistan Test captain Wasim Bari has been appointed as the new manager of the national team for the coming‘home’ series against the West Indies in the UAE. 68-year-old Bari, who played 81 Tests and 51 ODIs, has also served as chief selector and chief operating officer in the board.   Bari was a wicket-keeper and right-handed batsman. At the end of his 17-year career he was the most capped player in Pakistani Test history.

As part of the ongoing Indo-US defence cooperation, a joint military training exercise, ‘Yudh Abhyas 2016’ is set to be conducted in Uttarakhand from September 14 to 27.  The exercise in Chaubattia was being conducted by the headquarter Central Command. The exercise is aimed at simulating a scenario where both nations were working together to counter insurgency and terrorism in mountainous terrain under UN charter.  The two week exercise will witness participation of about 225 personnel of the US Army and similar strength of Congo Brigade of the Indian Army.

Union Cabinet has approved for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Kenya on cooperation in the field of National Housing Policy Development and Management (NHPDM). The MoU was signed on July 11, 2016 in Nairobi during Prime Minister Modi's visit to that country. nder the MoU, both the sides will collaborate on all matters relating to housing and human settlements through various strategies including training of personnel, exchange visits, expos/exhibitions, conferences and workshops. The cooperation between the two countries will focus on upscaling slum upgradation and prevention initiatives based on the experience and implementation process of each country. They will collaborate on development and sharing of information on housing and real estate data base including market trends, best practices and investment opportunities. It will encourage technical cooperation in facilitating access to affordable housing from locally available building materials. It will also encourage technical cooperation in development of Government/Public employee facilitated housing. This would be useful to explore ways of a delivery model towards Government employees housing scheme, including creating an enabling environment for participation in the delivery of such intended scheme by private sector players.  

A revenge drama Ang Babaeng Humayo (The Woman Who Left) won the Golden Lion for Best Film Award at the 73 Venice Film Festival on 10 September 2016 . Ang Babaeng Humayo is nearly four-hour black and white revenge drama film about a woman’s thirst for revenge and her feelings of forgiveness after 30 years in jail for a crime she did not commit.  On the other hand, Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky and Mexican film director Amat Escalante shared Silver Lion for Best Direction for their respective films Paradise and The Untamed. Tom Ford's noir thriller Nocturnal Animals from the U.S. won the Grand Jury Prize. List of winners: Golden Lion: Lav Diaz for Ang Babaeng Humayo  Silver Lion Director (tie): Andre Konchalovsky for Paradise and Amat Escalante for The Untamed Jury Grand Prize: Nocturnal Animals  Special Jury Prize: The Bad Batch Actor: Oscar Martinez for The Distinguished Citizen Actress: Emma Stone for La La Land Screenplay: Noah Oppenheim for Jackie Marcello Mastroianni Price for Young Performer: Paula Beer for Frantz Luigi De Laurentiis Lion of the Future: The Last of Us Venice Film Festival : The Venice Film Festival or Venice International Film Festival was founded in 1932.It is the oldest film festival in the world and one of the "Big Three" film festivals alongside the Cannes Film Festival and Berlin International Film Festival. The film festival takes place in late August or early September on the island of the Lido, Venice, Italy.  Screenings take place in the historic Palazzo del Cinema on the Lungomare Marconi and in other venues nearby. Since its inception, the Film Festival has become the most prestigious international film festival in the world.

In the latest issue of Nature Communications, a group of researchers described a prototype of the system, which they tested on a stack of papers, each with one letter printed on it. The system was able to correctly identify the letters on the top nine sheets. It is done with the help of terahertz radiation, the band of electromagnetic radiation between microwaves and infrared light, and the tiny gaps of air between the pages of any closed book. This new system developed by researchers from MIT and Georgia Tech uses a standard terahertz camera to emit ultra short bursts of radiation and then measure how long it takes for that radiation to be reflected back. An algorithm then gauges the distance to each of the book's individual pages. Terahertz radiation can also be emitted in such short bursts that the distance it has travelled can be gauged from the difference between its emission time and the time at which reflected radiation returns to a sensor. That gives it much better depth resolution than ultrasound. The system exploits the fact that trapped between the pages of a book are tiny air pockets only about 20 micrometers deep. The difference in refractive index and the degree to which they bend light between the air and the paper means that the boundary between the two will reflect terahertz radiation back to a detector.

Indian athlete Deepa Malik became the first Indian woman to bag a medal at the Paralympics on 12 September 2016. Malik clinched a silver medal in the shotput F-53 event. Her throw of 4.61m was the best in her six attempts. With the win, she confirmed India’s third medal from the Rio Paralympics. Fatema Nedham of Bahrain won the gold medal with the best throw of 4.76m. Greece’s Dimitra Korokida bagged the bronze medal with a throw of 4.28m. Deepa Malik : Deepa Malik is an Indian athlete born in Sonipat. She is associated with Himalayan Motorsports Association (H.M.A.) and Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (F.M.S.C.I.). She has done an 8 day, 1700-km drive in sub-zero temperatures which included a climb to 18000 feet.She is currently being supported by the GoSports Foundation through their Para Champions Programme. She is a member of the working group in the formulation 12th five- year plan (2012-2017) on Sports and Physical Education as nominated by the Planning Commission HRD Division on behalf of the Sports Ministry.

The first BRICS Wellness Workshop  2016 has begun in Bengaluru, Karnataka from September 10, 2016. Besides, National Fair on comprehensive Indian Medicine system (AROGYA) was also inaugurated. The four day event has been organized by Union Ministry of AYUSH, in collaboration with Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS). The Workshop is designed to have sessions related to Traditional Systems of Medicine, Trade and Economy. It includes a session on WHO strategy for Traditional Medicine.  It also has Wellness and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Wellness indicators for BRICS and Wellness and Tourism among others. The AROGYA Fair is a comprehensive Health and Wellness Fair that aims to showcase strengths of traditional systems and wellness sector in India and BRICS partner countries.  The Arogya fair will provide a good exposure for manufacturers and importers of Traditional Medicines and Raw Materials of the BRICS Countries.

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