Today Current Affairs 17th September 2016

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China has successfully launched Tiangong-2 space lab to develop expertise for a future space station and conduct science experiments. The space lab was launched on board of Long March-2F T2 rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China’s Gobi desert. Tiangong-2 ( in English means Heavenly Palace 2) space lab is part of China’s ambitious Project 921-2 space station program aimed at creating a third generation space station. The 8-tonne module replaces China’s now-defunct Tiangong 1 space lab mission which had ended its operational life in March 2016.  Tiangong-2 features improved living quarters and life-support infrastructure for longer stays by visiting crewmembers. It will be used for testing systems and processes for mid-term space stays and refueling. It will be placed at slightly higher orbit around 393 kilometres above the earth.

Indian-born researcher Dinesh Bharadia (28) has won the prestigious 2016 Marconi Society Paul Baran Young Scholar Award for his contribution to radio waves. He was chosen for the award for his contribution to send and receive radio (wireless) signals, including mobile telephony and data on the same channel (wave). His duplex radio technology has disproved a long-held assumption that it is not possible for a radio to transmit and receive on the same frequency band because of the interference. Dinesh Bharadia  : He hails from Ichalkarnji in Kolhapur district of Maharashtra. Presently, he is a researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). A doctorate from Stanford University and is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) at Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh. Marconi Society Paul Baran Young Scholar Award  : The award is named after Nobel laureate Guglielmo Marconi who had invented radio. It was instituted by his daughter Gioia Marconi Braga through an endowment in 1974. The award is equivalent of the Nobel Prize in science and technology domain. The award is bestowed annually outstanding individuals whose scope of work and influence emulate the principle of ‘creativity in service to humanity’ that inspired Marconi.

The Union Ministry of Tourism has approved projects worth 500 crore rupees for integrated development of tourism in Jammu and Kashmir under Swadesh Darshan scheme. The projects were approved by Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee for the scheme as part of Development Package of Prime Minister Reconstruction Plan. The new projects are envisaged at tourist infrastructural development in Jammu and Kashmir. They include Baramulla-Kupwara-Leh, Mantalai – Sudhmahadev – Patnitop Circuit, Rajouri – Bafliyaz – Shopian – Pulwama Circuit and Anantnag-Kishtwar- Pahalgam – Daksum – Ranjit Sagar Dam Circuit.  The projects also involve developing a Convention Centre in Gulmarg and Patnitop, development of Ethnic Villages, Development of Water Sports Centre at Baghliyar Dam – Pool Doda. Nearly 100 crore rupees have been approved for integrated development of tourist facilities in lieu of damaged assets in the September 2014 floods.  Other major interventions proposed in the circuits include last mile connectivity, tourist facilitation and interpretation centre, base camps for trekking. Besides it will also facilitation centre for pilgrims for Amarnath Yatra, Sound and Light Show at Shalimar Bag, illumination of heritage structures, provision of eco friendly vehicles.

The 2016 Track Asia Cup concluded at the Cycling Velodrome in IG Stadium in New Delhi on 16 September 2016. Hong Kong topped the chart with 18 medals which comprise 11 Gold, four Silvers and three bronze. On the other hand, India the hosts of the tournament ended their campaign at second position with 16 medals, including five gold, four Silver and seven bronze. India's Deborah Herold, in her Final Sprint event, clinched the top position with a time of 12.576 minutes and 12.493 minutes in the first and second rounds, respectively. She beat Zhaojuan of Hong Kong, who clocked 12.820 minutes and 12.734 minutes in both the rounds to settle for silver. The third position was taken by Farina Shawati of Malaysia with a time of 12.552 and 12.342. Another Indian -- Kezia Vargheese -- missed the bronze medal by a whisker, finishing fourth in this event. Deborah, however, lost the gold medal in her favourite event -- Keirin -- and managed to win silver ahead of her teammate Kezia Varghesse, who bagged the bronze. The 21-year-old Deborah turned out to be the star performer for the country, having clinched three golds and one silver. In the Men's Elite Keirin event, Indian cyclist Amarjeet Singh finished 8th, but in the Junior Keirin competition, Emerson won the bronze medal for India. Track Asia Cup : The Track Asia Cup cycling completition is being held from 14 September to 16 September 2016 at the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex velodrome. This is the third year in succession that India is hosting the event. The event is recognised by the International Cycling Federation and is part of the World Championship qualifier. The event is being held in four categories namely elite and juniors in men and women.  

India and Nepal signed three MoUs and agreements to enhance the bilateral agreement between the two nations on 16 September 2016 . The agreements were inked during the four-day-visit (from 15 September to 18 September 2016) of Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda to India. MOUs and agreements are : MoU for project management consultancy services for upgradation/improvement of road infrastructure in Terai area of Nepal – The services will be provided by NHIDCL in pursuance of the MoU signed on 20 February 2016. First Amendatory Dollar credit line agreement between Nepal and EXIM Bank: Amendatory agreement to 1 billion US dollar Line of Credit agreement signed on 25 November 2014, enabling reapportioning of unutilised funds for post-earthquake reconstruction projects in Nepal. Dollar Credit line agreement between Nepal and EXIM Bank: New Line of Credit agreement for 750 million US dollar for post-earthquake reconstruction projects in Nepal.  

The environment ministers of BRICS countries meeting held in Panaji on 16 September to strengthen mutual cooperation in areas of air and water pollution and climate change. The Brics ministers are expected to discuss thematic areas of mutual interest and prioritise actions for cooperation in critical areas like air and water pollution, liquid and solid waste management, climate change and conservation of biodiversity. It is one in a series of meetings being organised by various Central government ministries, in the run-up to the Brics Heads of States Summit in Goa next month. The meeting of Brics environment ministers is being organised by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India. The meet assumes significance following adoption of landmark global environmental agreements like Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development, Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement last year.  

India has slipped by 10 positions to 112th, out of 159 countries and territories, as it "fared badly" across categories including legal system and regulation, according to the Economic Freedom of the World: 2016 Annual Report.  Although China, Bangladesh and Pakistan lagged behind India at 113th, 121st and 133th ranks respectively, Bhutan (78), Nepal (108) and Sri Lanka (111) were better placed on the World Economic Freedom Index.  India has fared badly in all categories i.e. legal system and property rights (86), sound money (130), freedom to trade internationally (144) and regulation (132) except the size of the government (8) . According to the report, Hong Kong has the highest level of economic freedom worldwide, followed by Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, Georgia, Ireland, Mauritius, the UAE, Australia, and the UK.  The 10 lowest-ranked countries are: Iran, Algeria, Chad, Guinea, Angola, Central African Republic, Argentina, Republic of Congo, Libya and lastly Venezuela.  India's leading public policy think tank, Centre for Civil Society, has published the report in collaboration with Canada's Fraser Institute.  The report is based on data from 2014 and measures the economic freedom by analysing the policies and institutions of all 159 countries and territories. 

India will be hosting the next annual meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group at Mahatma Gandhi Convention Centre, Ahmedabad from May 22 to May 26, 2017. This will be a mega international event to be attended by more than 5000 delegates from 80 member countries of the African Development Bank, including the governors, alternate governors, executive directors, policy makers and businesses. A MoU was signed between the Government of India and the AfDB regarding the holding of the annual meetings. The MoU outlines the roles of Government of India and the AfDB. The signatories to the MoU were Ms. Bandana Preyashi, Deputy Secretary (ADB-II/AfDB), Department of Economic Affairs(DEA), and Vincent O. Nmehielle, Secretary General of AfDB on behalf of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB). The African Development Bank (AfDB) was established in 1963 with a view to promote the Economic Development and social progress of its regional members. India became member of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in 1983. The Union Finance Minister and Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Ministry of Finance are the Governor and Alternate Governor of the Bank respectively.

The Odisha government today appointed T K Pande as the new chief secretary of finance department, as per a notice issued by the general administration office. Tuhin Kanta Pande, a 1987 bunch IAS officer, was delegated in the finance department after he came back from central deputation. Similarly, 1993 batch officer Surendra Kumar has been giving additional charge of Information and Public relations, besides his posting as secretary of ScheduleD Tribe and Scheduled Caste and OBC Development department.

Transportation app Uber has launched a new initiative in partnership with Maruti and NSDC, for creating livelihood opportunities for one million people by 2018. Under Uber SHAAN, the company will provide access to skill development and driver training to the unskilled. The initiative will also help trained drivers receive commercial licenses, vehicle financing and leasing solutions. Uber has about 4 lakh drivers on its platform in India, which is its second largest market in terms of trips taken after the US. Uber and Maruti will conduct a 4-month pilot in Delhi/NCR, Hyderabad and Chennai and organise driver training and on-boarding programmes, which is required to join the Uber platform. On completion of training and receipt of a commercial license, Uber will also offer vehicle financing and leasing solutions. Uber will also support driver training, delivered through NSDC's training centres nationwide that promote skill building in the automobile sector. Besides, Uber Partner Support Centres will provide soft skills training to existing and new driver partners in collaboration with NSDC.

Dharwad-headquartered Karnataka Vikas Grameena Bank has bagged four awards for inclusive insurance for 2016 from Skoch Group.  The bank, which operates in nine districts of Karnataka covering 57 taluks, has brought 28 lakh people under Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojna, PM Suraksha Bima Yojna and PM Jan Dhan Yojna. The Karnataka Vikas Grameena Bank , a Regional Rural Bank, was constituted on 12 September 2005 after amalgamation of four Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) namely Malaprabha Grameena Bank, Bijapur Grameena Bank, Varada Grameena Bank and Netravathi Grameena Banks as per recommendations of the Narasimhan Committee under Government of India Notification dated 12 September 2005.   

Vijaya Bank has bagged the second prize under Rajbhasha Kirti Puraskar (Region C) for the year 2015-16. The prize was accepted by Kishore Sansi, Managing Director & CEO Vijaya Bank, from President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan Auditorium, New Delhi. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, MoS for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju and others also took part in the function.  Vijaya Bank is a fastest growing Public Sector Bank with its Corporate Office in Bangalore, Karnataka, India.It is one of the nationalised banks in India. The Bank offers a wide range of financial products and services to the customers through its various delivery channels.

Jim Yong Kim is heading for another five-year term as president of the World Bank. Kim, 56, has focused the World bank on programs to reduce extreme poverty. Kim's first term ends on June 30, 2017. He is a Korean-American medical doctor who has focused the World bank on programs to reduce extreme poverty, earned solid backing for a second term from the United States, France, Germany, China, and other major shareholders of the bank. But as with his first nomination in 2012, the bank was criticized from inside and outside for not truly opening the selection process to all comers and not managing it in a fully transparent mode. Following an unwritten rule, since the World Bank was created in the wake of World War II to help rebuild the global economy, its leader has always been an American chosen by Washington. In 2012, Kim was the first American candidate to face competition when Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala also contended for the presidency.  

Nadia Murad Basee Taha was appointed the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking. She survived trafficking at the hands of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).The appointment marks the first time a survivor of atrocities is bestowed with this distinction. The induction ceremony took place in the United Nations Trusteeship Council Chamber in the New York United Nations Headquarters. During her Ambassadorship, Murad will focus on advocacy initiatives and raise awareness around the plight of the countless victims of trafficking in persons, especially refugees, women and girls. Nadia Murad Basee Taha : Murad is a 23-year-old Yazidi woman who was kidnapped and held by the Islamic State in August 2014. She briefed the Security Council in the first-ever session on human trafficking, which was held during the presidency of the United States on 16 December 2015.She described being rounded up with fellow Yazidis in Iraq in 2014 and witnessing as ISIL fighters shot men and boys in cold blood.She was subject to grave abuses at the hands of ISIL fighters and was bought and sold various times.She was recently named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2016. On 5 January 2016, the Iraqi government nominated her for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for her activism.On 15 September 2016, she was nominated for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.  

Sports Minister Vijay Goel conferred Arjuna Awards on cricketers Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane at a function in New Delhi. Sharma was given the award for 2015 and Rahane for 2016. Earlier, the two cricketers could not receive the awards from the President Pranab Mukherjee as they were participating in international tournaments. The Arjuna Awards, instituted in 1961, are given to sportspersons for consistently outstanding performance for four years preceding the year of award and who have also shown qualities of leadership, sportsmanship and a sense of discipline. The awardees are given a statuette, a certificate, ceremonial dress and award money of 5 lakh rupees.