Current Affairs 24th September 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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The UN Security Council has approved a resolution urging quick global implementation of Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban treaty that would ban tests of nuclear weapons on 23 September 2016. With 14 votes in favour and one abstention (Egypt), the resolution welcomed progress made towards universalization of the Treaty, noting that 183 States have signed the Treaty and 166 States have deposited their instruments of ratification. US Secretary of State John Kerry invoked North Korea's latest nuclear explosion in urging ratification of the treaty for a safer, more secure, and more peaceful planet. But the US has not yet done so. The UN's Comprehensive Test Ban Organization already has a network of monitoring stations. But it still cannot go on site to inspect for tests until the treaty enters into force. For that, the holdouts among the 44 countries that are designated nuclear capable, the United States, China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea and Pakistan must ratify. The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty bans all nuclear explosions for both civilian and military purposes. Adopted by the UN General Assembly under resolution 50 (1996), the Treaty will enter into force 180 days after the date of deposit of the instruments of ratification by all.  

Andhra Bank has entered into corporate agency agreements with Cigna TTK Company Ltd, and Reliance General Insurance Company Ltd for providing health and general insurance respectively, to its customers.  The tie-up with both the insurance companies will immensely benefit the customers by providing alternatives in choosing products. These partnerships will provide mutual benefit to the bank and insurance companies in tapping the potential in the market and also help in increasing the insurance coverage . The two separate agreements were signed in presence of Andhra Bank Executive Director S K Kalra, MD and CEO of Cigna TTK Health Insurance Sandeep Patel and CEO of Reliance General Insurance Rakesh Jain, among others. 

Sanjiv Singh will be the new Chairman of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, the nation’s largest company. Singh, 56, who is currently Director of Refineries at IOC, was selected for the top job after government head hunters Public Enterprise Selection Board (PESB) interviewed eight candidates. Besides Singh, PESB interviewed Oil India Director HR and Business Development Biswajit Roy and four executive directors of IOC. Singh, who has been Director of Refineries at IOC since July 1, 2014, will replace B Ashok on his superannuation at end of May 2017. He will have three-year tenure at the helms of India’s largest oil refining and marketing company. IOC is also the nation’s biggest company by revenue. Singh served as an Executive Director of Paradip Refinery Project as well as head of IOC’s Panipat Refinery before becoming a director. A Chemical Engineer from IIT-Roorkee, Singh joined IOC in December 1981 as Trainee Engineer and has worked in various positions at Mathura, Barauni and Panipat refineries of the company. PESB recommendation will now go to the administrative ministry, i.e. the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas which will after receiving vigilance clearance send the proposal to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for approval.

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is going to launch Mission Parivar Vikas for improved family planning services in 145 High Focus districts in seven states.  The objective of mission is to accelerate access to high quality family planning choices based on information, reliable services and supplies within a rights-based framework. hese districts are located in the seven high focus states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Assam. They are having the highest total fertility rates and constitute 44% of the country’s population.  They also have a substantial impact on maternal and child health indicators. As about 25 to 30% of maternal deaths and 50% of infant deaths occur in these districts.  The key strategic focus of this initiative will be on improving access to contraceptives through delivering assured services, dovetailing with new promotional schemes. It will also ensure building capacity (service providers), commodity security, creating an enabling environment along with close monitoring and implementation.  

The eighth edition of joint military exercise ‘Indra-2016’ between India and Russia has begun in Russian city of Vladivostok.  The main focus of this edition of bilateral military exercise is on Counter-Terrorism Operations in semi mountainous and jungle terrain under United Nations Mandate. The eleven days bilateral military exercise seeks to achieve interoperability in joint operations. Troops from both sides would acquaint themselves with the respective approach to such counter-Terrorism operations. Indian army contingent is represented by 250 soldiers from the Kumaon Regiment . It is led by Brigadier Sukrit Chadah. Russian army is being represented by 250 soldiers from the 59th Motorised Infantry Brigade. The ‘Indra’ series of annual bilateral exercises and is one of the major bilateral defence cooperation initiatives between India and Russia since 2003.  The seventh edition of this military exercise or ‘Indra-2015’ was held in Bikaner district of Rajasthan, India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the constitution of two committees for the commemoration of the birth centenary of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay on 23 September 2016. Modi will head the 149 member National Committee while Home Minister Rajnath Singh will chair the 23 member Executive Committee. Former Prime Ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee and H.D. Deve Gowda, Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Manohar Parrikar, former Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani and BJP President Amit Shah are the members of National Committee. Besides, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev, Film Director Chandraprakash Dwivedi, former Hockey player Dhanraj Pillai, former Chief Justice R C Lahoti and Constitutional expert Subhash Kashyap will have also been included in the National Committee among others. The committee includes several Governors, Chief Ministers, Scientists, Journalists, Academicians, Social Workers and Spiritual Leaders. Union Minister Dr. Mahesh Sharma will be the Convenor of the committee. Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay, who was born on 25 September 1916 in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, was the ideologue of Jan Sangh, the parent organisation of BJP. BJP is planning year-long celebrations which will be inaugurated by the party chief at its National Council at Kozhikode.  

Larsen & Toubro (L&T) has landed a $99.7-million contract from Vietnam Border Guard to design, construct and supply high-speed patrol vessels. The contract also provides for L&T to transfer design and technology along with supply of equipment and material kits for construction of follow-on vessels at a Vietnam shipyard. The high-speed patrol vessels are purpose-built for controlling and protecting sea security and sovereignty, detecting illegal activities such as smuggling, and undertaking search and rescue missions. A combination of factors - ranging from its track record to design capability and execution skills.  

A first-of-its-kind exhibition on childhood cancer awareness will be held at the iconic Taj Mahal here from September 25 to 27.  The exhibition 'CanKids-Kidscan' is being organised by National Society for Change for Childhood Cancer in India, a non-profit organisation providing holistic care and healing touch to thousands of cancer-affected children. The exhibition will also include 'Chalo Chalein Taj programme' under which around 1,500 cancer-affected children and their families will visit the Taj Mahal.  Other programmes include a 'nukkad natak' (street play) by childhood cancer survivors, a song performance and various messages by dignitaries from across the world to support the campaign will be shown at the function.

A global study on a range of health indicators released today has ranked India 143rd among 188 countries, citing various challenges, including mortality rates, malaria hygiene and air pollution.  India was ranked 143rd, below Comoros and Ghana," the first annual assessment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) health performance published in the Lancet and launched at a special event at the UN General Assembly in New York . India was placed just ahead of Pakistan and Bangladesh which were ranked 149th and 151st respectively.  India's poor performance on hygiene, air pollution mortality are among factors that place it lower than countries like Bhutan, Botswana, Syria and Sri Lanka.  For malaria, which was one of the health indicators assessed, India merely scored 10 points and remained in the red. Similarly for hygiene, the study gave India just eight points while for PM2.5, it scored just 18 points. For under-five mortality India scored 39 points while for Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) it scored 28 points.  India, however, scored above 80 points for performing well in areas like Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) which are a diverse group of communicable diseases, overweight and harmful alcohol consumption.  In 2015, the health-related SDG index was highest in Iceland, Singapore, and Sweden, with the UK ranking fifth just ahead of Finland.  The Central African Republic, Somalia, and South Sudan had the lowest values of the health-related SDG index.  The SDGs are 17 universal goals, 169 targets and 230 indicators set by the United Nations in 2015 to guide a range of pressing problems including food and water security, poverty, and climate change up to 2030. The SDGs follow and expand on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which expired at the end of 2015. 

Former petroleum secretary Vijay Kelkar has been elected president of the prestigious Indian Statistical Institute (ISI).  Kelkar succeeded former RBI governor C Rangarajan. He was elected at the general body meeting of the institute, which functions under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.  

Tamil film director Vetrimaran's 'Visaranai' will be India's official entry in the Foreign Language film category at the Academy Awards 2017.  The film, which highlights atrocities committed by the police, had earlier won three National Film awards - best feature film in Tamil, best supporting actor for Samuthirakani and best editing for Kishore Te - in India.  Visaranai' was selected out of the 29 films that were in the race .The crime-thriller, produced by Dhanush's Wunderbar Productions, and based on M. Chandrakumar's novel Lock Up, also got a standing ovation at the 72nd Venice Film Festival. 

India's largest online marketplace Flipkart becomes 1st ecommerce in India to cross 100 million customers,coming close on the heels of crossing 75 million users in March 2016. These users are registered across desktop website, mobile application and mobile websites.  Flipkart becomes the first company to reach this milestone in a single country outside the United States and China. This landmark was crossed just six months after hitting the 75 million registered users mark in March 2016 . Flipkart is the most valued Indian internet company and the statement comes just as it prepares to launch its flagship sale event, Big Billion Days (BBDs). The sale will be held between October 2-6 this year, and Delhi-based rival Snapdeal has also announced its sale on the same days.  Flipkart is currently competing with Amazon India for leadership of the online retail market in India, and the latter is closing in backed by heavy investments from its US parent. The gap between two players in terms of gross merchandise value (GMV) is closing, with investors and analysts estimating it to be 15-20%. Over the last year Snapdeal has slipped to the third position in the sweepstakes.  This is a small step in our efforts to build a platform that provides quality products accessible and affordable to millions of Indians shopping online. Since the time we sold the first book to our first customer in 2007 till today, our journey has always been about providing a superior shopping experience to our customers while continuously raising the quality of service and selection .  

Tamil Nadu government has allotted Rs 204 crore towards the implementation of enhanced gold scheme under a marriage assistance programme.  Rs 204 crore has been allotted for 'Thaaliku Thangam' (Gold for Mangalsutra) scheme for the year 2016-17 to benefit 12,500 women. The scheme involves providing marriage assistance and gold for daughters of poor parents and widows among others to make 'thaali.'  Assistance of Rs 25,000 for beneficiaries who have passed Class X and Rs 50,000 to those with an undergraduate degree or diploma is also given as part of the scheme.  While 12,500 women who had applied for the scheme after May 23, 2016 will be provided with 8 gm of gold this year, about 1.4 lakh others who had applied earlier will be provided with 4 gm.

Former Indian women’s hockey captain Ritu Rani has retired from international hockey after being deeply hurt following her axing from the Rio Olympics-bound squad. The 24-year-old midfielder, it seems, hasn’t been able to come to terms with her axing from the Olympics squad and hence decided to call time on her international career.  under her captaincy the team qualified for the Olympics after 36 years after finishing fifth in the 2014–15 Women's FIH Hockey World League Semifinals.

Banks and auto brands dominate the list of top 10 of the 50 most valuable brands in India. HDFC Bank held on to the top spot, three years in a row and improved its value by 15 per cent to become the most valued brand at around Rs 84,000 crore. It is also among the top 10 risers for 2016.  Airtel and State Bank of India too kept their second and third spots although valuations dropped by 10 and 32 per cent respectively.  The third annual BrandZ Top 50 Most Valuable Indian Brands report released today by WPP and Kantar Millward Brown puts the overall value of the top 50 brands at $90.5 billion .  

President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister NarendraModi has launched Vice President Mohd Hamid Ansari's book titled "Citizen and Society" at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi. The volume being released here is a collection of memorial or anniversary lectures, convocation addresses and speeches on specific themes and occasions. My endeavour in each was to ascertain and dilate upon a theme pertaining to the citizen body. These of necessity cover polity, identity, empowerment, security and some aspects of global affairs. In each, the effort is to probe the diversity of challenges that confront us.

Delhi government has increased the retirement age of doctors working in its hospitals to 65 years. Earlier, the retirement age of doctors was 62 on 23 September 2016.  Health Department had recently sent a proposal to the Lt Governor to seek his approval. The LG has given his approval to government's proposal to increase the retirement age of doctors. The decision will help the state government to retain experienced doctors for a longer period of time and provide better services in government-run public health facilities. There are nearly 36 hospitals run by Delhi government in the national capital. However, the doctors above the age of 62 will not be allowed to hold administrative posts like dean of a medical college, superintendent or head of the department. At present, Delhi government hospitals have three cadres of doctors’ namely teaching, non-teaching specialists and general duty medical officers. Earlier, the retirement age for only the doctors of teaching cadre was 65 but with this decision, all doctors will retire at the age of 65. Earlier in May 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the proposal to increase the age of retirement of government doctors to 65 years.  

Reoti Saran Sharma, the renowned Hindi and Urdu writer, playwright and television personality, died in New Delhi on 23 September 2016. He was 92 years. He was a Pioneer in radio plays in All India Radio and was conferred with Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for 2007 for his contribution to theatre (dramatic literature and performance). Reoti Saran Sharma : He penned memorable television serials like Phir Wahi Talaash, Adhikaar, Aur Bhi Gam Hain Zamane Mein, Lena-Dena and The Great Maratha. He wrote more than 150 radio plays at the All India Radio, some of which were translated into regional languages. Some plays written by him included Na Dharam Na Iman, Deepshika and Andehere ka Beta.He was awarded Sahitya Kala Parishad and Ghalib Award.

Indian Air Force has successfully fired the recently acquired long range air-to-air MICA missile on a manoeuvring target from Mirage-2000 Upgrade combat aircraft on 23 September 2016. A Defence Ministry release said in New Delhi that the missile achieved a direct hit on a target which was much smaller than an actual aircraft and flying at a low altitude. The release said, with the success of this mission by 'Tigers', the first squadron of the force, IAF has become one of the few air forces in the world with the capability of such beyond visual range air-to-air missile. Mirage-2000 : The Mirage 2000 is a single-engine fourth-generation jet fighter manufactured by France's Dassault Aviation. It was designed in the late 1970s as a lightweight fighter based on the Mirage III for the French Air Force (Armée de l'Air). The upgraded Mirage 2000 fighter jets are fitted with the Thales RDY 2 radar, a helmet-mounted display, new avionics, and the ability to fire new weapons including the MICA missile.  

India, United States and Afghanistan have reaffirmed their shared interests in combating terrorism and advancing peace and security in the region. In this regard, a trilateral statement was issued after meeting of their delegates in New York on the sidelines of the 71st session of UN General Assembly. Features : Three countries reaffirm their shared interests in advancing peace and security in the region, as well as countering terrorism. They have exchanged views on the situation in Afghanistan and on regional issues of mutual interest.  The meeting provided a forum for the governments of India and the US to explore ways to coordinate and align their assistance with the priorities of the Afghanistan government.  They welcomed the discussions focused on political, economic, and development goals in Afghanistan including the regional dimension.

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