Today Current Affairs 28th September 2016

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The government has removed Sushil Muhnot as chairman and managing director (MD) of Bank of Maharashtra,Muhnot was to retire on September 30. Ravindra Marathe, has been executive director of Bank of India, has taken charge as CEO and MD of the bank on Monday. He was earlier expected to join the bank on October 1. Prior to joining Bank of India, Marathe was general manager at Bank of Baroda.  This is one of the rare instance where government has removed CMD of a bank. Sources say that charges against him were that he occupied two accommodations one in Pune and other in Mumbai even as a CMD is entitled for only one accommodation. Later, the Pune accommodation was converted into a guest house. Both the accommodations belonged to the bank.  The second charge against him was that the cost of refurbishing the houses were way too higher than what he was entitled to spend. Sources said that the cost rose to Rs 1.66 crore on refurbishing both the houses. 

The Colombian Government and left-wing FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) rebels have signed a historic agreement that formally brings an end to 52 years of civil war. The agreement was signed by President Juan Manuel Santos and rebel leader Timoleon Jimenez, known as Timochenko at the ceremony in Cartagena.  Under the deal, the FARC will be relaunched as a political party and will be able to contest elections scheduled to be held in October 2016. The agreement comes after four years of talks between President Santos and Timochenko in Havana, Cuba. The agreement brings end Latin America’s longest-running conflict (civil war) which has killed 260,000 people and left six million internally displaced. Now as part of the deal FARC rebels must hand over weapons to the United Nations within 180 days. Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) :  FARC is Colombia’s largest rebel group and Latin America’s oldest left-wing insurgency. It was established in 1964 as a communist-inspired peasant army fighting to reduce the gulf dividing rich and poor and land reform for equality in the Andean country.  Since its formation it was also active other Latin American countries in Venezuela, Panama and Ecuador besides Colombia. In recent times, the FARC had shifted from its original ideology and was active in illegal drug trade, kidnapping and extortion activities.

India and China have hold the first High Level Dialogue on Counter-terrorism and Security held in Beijing, capital city of China.  The meeting was co-chaired by R N Ravi, Chairman of Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) and Wang Yongqing, Secretary General of Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission of China. In the high level dialogue both countries discussed on ways to enhance security and cooperation to combat terror. They exchanged information on respective policies to deal with terrorism, and further enhance their understanding on issues of major concern.  They also exchanged views on the international and regional security situation. It also deliberated on measures to jointly deal with security threats and reached important consensus in this regard.

India will not take part in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Islamabad (Pakistan) to be held in November 2016.  This decision was taken in view of the continuous cross border terrorism by Pakistan which has created environment which is not conducive to successful holding of Summit.  In this regard, the Union Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has conveyed to current SAARC Chair Nepal. Besides, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan also have conveyed their reservation about attending the Summit. Increasing cross-border terrorist attacks in the region and Growing interference in internal affairs of member states by one country (not naming Pakistan).  However, India has clearly mentioned that it remains steadfast in commitment to regional cooperation, connectivity and contacts but believes that these can only go forward in an atmosphere free of terror.  India’s decision came in the wake of recent Uri terror attack in which 18 jawans were martyred. It was reported as the deadliest attack on security forces in Kashmir in two decades. Pakistan based terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) has been blamed for the cowardly attack.

The latest finding has given scientists fresh hope that a robotic spacecraft could one day fly past these potential plumes and learn about their contents without having to drill miles deep into the moon's icy shell. Using ultraviolet images taken by Hubble, a space telescope that was launched in 1990, the potential plumes were seen around the southern edge of Europa and appear as dark fingers or patches of possible absorption. They were spotted over the course of 15 months in 2014 when scientists observed Europa passing in front of Jupiter. This was observed by a team of astronomers led by William Sparks of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore. They observed these finger-like projections while viewing Europa's limb as the moon passed in front of Jupiter. If confirmed, Europa would be the second moon in the solar system known to have water vapor plumes. In 2005, NASA's Cassini orbiter detected jets of water vapor and dust spewing off the surface of Saturn's moon Enceladus. Plumes on Europa : The plumes are estimated to rise about 125 miles (200 kilometers) before, presumably, raining material back down onto Europa's surface. Europa has a huge global ocean that contains twice water than Earth’s oceans, which is protected by a layer of extremely cold and hard ice of unknown thickness. The plumes provide a tantalizing opportunity to gather samples originating from under the surface without having to land or drill through the ice.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres passed away on 28 September 2016 at Ramat Gan, Israel. He was 93. Peres served twice as Israel's Prime Minister and once as President. Shimon Peres : Shimon Peres was born on 2 August 1923 at Wiszniew, Poland. He served as the ninth President of Israel from 2007 to 2014.He served twice as the Prime Minister of Israel and twice as Interim Prime Minister.His first high-level government position was as Deputy Director-General of Defence in 1952, and Director-General from 1953 until 1959. He was the first former Prime Minister to be elected President of Israel.At the time of his retirement in 2014, he was the world's oldest head of state.In 1994, he won Nobel Peace Prize together with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat for the peace talks that he participated in as Israeli Foreign Minister, producing the Oslo Accords.

Veteran music director and violinist Uttam Singh was named for the 2016 Lata Mangeshkar Award for Lifetime Achievement of the Maharashtra Government on 27 September 2016. The award carries a citation, a trophy and 500000 rupees in cash. Uttam Singh : Born on 25 May 1948, Uttam Singh has worked as a violinist, music arranger and music director for many Bollywood films.He worked as a music arranger for Ilaiyaraaja in numerous Tamil films before establishing himself as an independent composer. His big break came in 1963, when he worked as a violinist for a documentary being made by Mohammad Safi. After this, Uttam Singh played violin for major composers including Naushad, Roshan, Madan Mohan, C. Ramchandra, Sachin Dev Burman. Later, he became the main violinist for Rahul Dev Burman.His songs and score for the movie Pinjar won him much critical acclaim. It is considered to be his finest work as composer.  Lata Mangeshkar Award : The Lata Mangeshkar Award is a national-level award instituted to honour works in the field of music.Various state governments of India present awards with this name.The state Government of Madhya Pradesh started this award in 1984. The Lata Mangeshkar Award issued by the Maharashtra Government started from 1992. This is also officially known as Lata Mangeshkar Award for Lifetime Achievement.Krishna Kalle was the winner of the 2014 Lata Mangeshkar Award for Lifetime Achievement.  

The United States has appointed its first Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis to Cuba in 55 on 27 September 2016. The two countries broke off relations in 1961 after the communist revolution. He was appointed to the post by President Barack Obama, who said that it was a step towards a more normal and productive relationship. He said that there was no better qualified public servant. But this appointment will need an approval from the Republican-led Senate, which has opposed to his dealings with the communist island. The new ambassador DeLaurentis had been working at the new US embassy in Havana, which opened since 2014. He served in Havana during the transition period between the two nations which includes re-opening of embassies in Washington and Havana. This was followed by resuming travel and trade relations on a limited basis.

The Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) has announced that the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) has become the first airport in the Asia-Pacific region to achieve carbon neutral status  on 27 September 2016. DIAL is a GMR Group-led consortium which manages and operates IGI airport. The announcement on the carbon neutral status was made by Airports Council International (ACI) during the Airport Carbon Accreditation certificate presentation ceremony held in Montreal, Canada. The Airport Carbon Accreditation has upgraded Delhi Airport to ‘Level 3+, Neutrality’, which is the highest level of achievement available to airports across the world. Carbon neutrality : Carbon neutrality, or a net zero carbon footprint, occurs when the net carbon emissions over an entire year is zero. This means the airport absorbs or offsets the same amount of emission that was generated.  It is used in the context of carbon dioxide releasing processes associated with transportation, energy production, and industrial processes such as production of carbon neutral fuel.  

The Union Government has given its approval to change the name of Gurgaon to ‘Gurugram’. With this both the city as well as the district of Gurgaon would be known as Gurugram. It was announced by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar after presiding over the first meeting of the State-level ‘Swarna Jayanti Celebrations Committee’ at Panchkula. Gurugram is the mythological name derived from Guru Dronacharya, the master of archery in Mahabharata who groomed the Pandavas and Kauravas in war tactics.  It is said the village was given as ‘gurudakshina’ to Guru Dronacharya by the Pandavas and hence it came to be known as Guru-gram. However in course of time got distorted to Gurgaon.  Presently, Gurugram is the corporate hub of Haryana on outskirts of Delhi. It is known both nationally and globally as industrial, software, information technology and corporate hub.  The offices of several leading Indian companies and multinational corporations (MNCs) are located here.

Russia and Cuba have signed an agreement on cooperation in the field of peaceful atomic energy use. The agreement was signed between Russian state nuclear agency Rosatom and Cuba’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment in Vienna. The agreement was signed on the sidelines of International 60th Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General Conference held in Vienna, capital city of Austria.  The deal lays down the basis for further cooperation in different fields from agriculture to training nuclear specialists. To facilitate the implementation of the agreement special coordinating committees and bilateral working groups will be created.

India is observing the 109th birth anniversary of revolutionary socialist Shaheed Bhagat Singh. Born on 28 September 1907, Bhagat Singh was an influential figure in the Indian independence movement. Bhagat Singh : The revolutionary freedom fighter, Bhagat Singh, was born in Banga village of Faisalabad district (previously called Lyallpur) in the Punjab province (now in Pakistan) in 1907. He was born into a Jat Sikh family which had earlier been involved in revolutionary activities against the British Raj.He studied European revolutionary movements as a teenager and was attracted to anarchist and Marxist ideologies. He worked with several revolutionary organisations and became prominent in the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA), which changed its name to the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) in 1928To revenge the death of Lala Lajpat Rai,he assassinated John Saunders, a British police officer.Soon after the event, he along with Batukeshwar Dutt threw two bombs and leaflets inside the Central Legislative Assembly, and offered them for arrest. While being held in a jail, he gained widespread national support after undertaking an 116-day hunger strike demanding equal rights for Indian prisoners as of the European prisoners, who were imprisoned for what he believed were political reasons.He along with Shivaram Hari Rajguru and Sukhdev Thapar was convicted and hanged in Lahore jail for his participation in the assassination, at the age of 23. They were hanged on 23 March 1931. His legacy prompted youth in India to continue fighting for independence and he remains an influence on some young people in modern India. He has been an inspiration for several films. He is commemorated with a range of memorials including a large bronze statue in the Parliament of India.

The Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 unveiled the Official Emblem for the event on 27 September 2016. The FIFA U-17 World Cup will be India’s first international football event. The FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 will be held in six venues across the country during October 2017. The emblem of the first-ever FIFA tournament in India was designed as a celebration of the country’s richness and diversity of cultures. The logo includes elements of the Indian Ocean, the banyan tree, the kite and the starburst, which is an interpretation of the Ashoka Chakra, an integral part of the national identity. Each of the elements has been selected for its deep significance in the culture of the country. Highlights of the emblem :  The Indian Ocean that serves as the base of the emblem is an integral part of the subcontinent. The banyan tree is the national tree of India, deeply rooted in the culture and ethos of India. The kite is the symbol of freedom and fun. Popular across the country, it represents the soaring aspirations of India’s young and vibrant democracy. The starburst that sits on the top of the emblem evokes festivity and celebration. Shaped like the FIFA U-17 World Cup trophy, the emblem combines the global look of the beautiful game with a quintessentially Indian feel.

World Economic Forum (WEF) has released the Global Competitiveness Report (GCR) 2016-2017. The report assesses the competitiveness landscape of 138 economies. The 2016-17 report comes out in the context of persistent slow growth and a near-term outlook that is fraught with renewed uncertainty fueled by continued geopolitical turmoil, financial market fragility, and sustained high debt levels in emerging markets. Despite unorthodox monetary policy, global GDP growth has fallen from levels of 4.4 percent in 2010 to 2.5 percent in 2015. This fall in growth reflects not only the productivity slowdown documented in 2015-16 Report, which has continued during 2016, but also what now seems like a long-term downward trend in investment rates. Highlights of the report : Switzerland, Singapore and the US remain as the world's most competitive economies. China ranks 28 in the index.Among the other BRICS nations, Russia is ranked 43rd, South Africa is at 47 and Brazil at 81. There were no newcomers to its 2016-2017 top 10, though the order of some of the leading countries shifted in its Global Competitiveness Report. Top 10 countries in ranking are Switzerland, Singapore, United States, Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, United Kingdom, Japan, Hong Kong (SAR), and Finland. India Report : The report highlights that for second consecutive year, India has jumped 16 places in the GCI report to occupy the 39th spot. In 2015-16 GCI report, India was placed at 55th position as compared to 71st rank in 2014-15 report. In the report, India showed biggest improvement in rankings as its competitiveness improved on several fronts including efficiency in goods market, business sophistication and innovation. The report said, due to improved monetary and fiscal policies, as well as lower oil prices, the Indian economy has stabilised and now boasts the highest growth among G20 countries. It said, recent reform efforts have concentrated on improving public institutions, opening the economy to foreign investors and international trade and increasing transparency in the financial system. The report also said that India still needs to cover a lot of ground in the areas like labour, financial market, tax regulations, manufacturing, infrastructure and technological readiness.

The first BRICS Under-17 football tournament, a Government of India initiative, is being held in Goa in October 2016 and its logo will be unveiled by the Union Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs, Vijay Goel, at the Bambolim Stadium on September 26. This tournament will be played among the five BRICS member nations- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The dates of the tournament have been fixed in coordination with the major event, the Eighth Annual BRICS Summit, which is scheduled take place in Goa on September 15 and 16. An apex committee has been constituted for managing and organising the BRICS Football Tournament 2016. The tournament is set to begin from October 5 and there will be two matches being played at the Bambolim Stadium on alternate days. The final match will be played at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi on October 15.

The United Planters' Association of Southern India's (UPASI's) members have elected D Vinod Sivappa as the new president of the association for 2016-17. Sivappa’s family has been in the coffee growing business for more than 160 years. He was on the Committees of Codagu Planters’ Association and was also the chairman of the Karnataka Planters’ Association. Further, T Jayaram was elected as vice-president of UPASI for the year 2016-17. Jayaram, an agricultural graduate, runs a family business of cultivation and manufacturing of tea with an experience of 37 years.  He is the third generation of the family to be involved in tea plantations. He has occupied various positions, such as chairman of the Nilgiri Planters’ Association and Planters’ Association of Tamilnadu. He has served on the UPASI Executive Committee for the past 20 years. UPASI is an apex body of planters of tea, coffee, rubber, pepper and cardamom in the Southern states of India : Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka – and has been in existence since 1893. There are three state planters' associations and 13 district planters' associations affiliated to UPASI. It is the premier representative body of buyers, sellers, processors, exporters, co-operatives and all other market intermediaries of tea, coffee, rubber and spices. The association's operations cover economic research, market intelligence, industrial relations, liaison, public relations, scientific research and publication. 

Private sector lender DCB Bank on has announced the launch of Unified Payment Interface (UPI) application. DCB UPI app provides a convenient payment method for customers to send and receive funds anytime, anywhere, from their smart phones. A DCB UPI user only needs the beneficiary's phone number registered with the bank and the beneficiary bank's name to get or send funds.  UPI is likely to create a significant change in the way transactions are done, especially peer-to-peer transactions, known as P2P. A very important and powerful feature of UPI is the ability to send a 'collect' request.UPI provides a secure, hassle-free user friendly instant payment and collection digital facility. It uses customer details that are easy to remember and importantly known to everyone - the beneficiaries' mobile phone number and the bank name. 

China for the first time has deployed a robot to maintain security at one of its busiest airports in Guangdong Province.  The Anbot, a security robot has been hired for its first job at the Shenzhen airport where it can be seen making round-the-clock patrols through the departure hall in Terminal 3, state-run People's Daily reported. The robot's face has a digital display and a high-definition camera to take pictures of travellers at one of the country's busiest airports for analysis. The primary function will be facial recognition.  The robot can take pictures of travellers faces, and then send them immediately to human coworkers for further analysis. It can also also accelerate to a max speed of 18 km per hour to chase any wanted person.

Uttar Pradesh and Bihar's populations have the lowest median ages-or youngest populations-in India while Kerala and Tamil Nadu have the highest median ages, according to Census 2011 data, compiled by Bengaluru-based think tank Takshashila Institution. The median age in India rose from 22.51 years in 2001 to 24 years in 2011, according to Census data. The median age of India's population will be 37 years in 2050 - lower than that of China, which will have a median age of 46 years, but higher than Pakistan, which will have a median age of 30.9 - according to data from the United Nations. There is wide variation within India: Kerala's median age of 31 years is close to Argentina's median age (30.8), and Uttar Pradesh's median age of 20 is similar to Kenya's (18.9). The median age is broadly correlated with the level of development within the state in India. Southern states with a higher per capita income such as Andhra Pradesh (27), Tamil Nadu (29), Karnataka (26) and Kerala (31) and the western states of Maharashtra (26) and Gujarat (25) have higher median ages. Less developed states in the north, including Uttar Pradesh (20), Bihar (20), Jharkhand (22), Madhya Pradesh (23) and Rajasthan (22), have lower median ages. In 2026, Uttar Pradesh (26.85), Madhya Pradesh (28.83), Bihar (29.05) and Rajasthan (29.51) will continue to have low median ages, while Kerala (37.67) and Tamil Nadu (37.29) will likely have the highest median ages in the country. Over the next century, 60 per cent of the population increase in India would come from the four states of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, while only 22 per cent would come from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

Kerala tourism and UNESCO's cooking competition, a contest of chefs as unique as that at the Spice Route Culinary Festival required judging parameters just as creative, the competition's jury said.  With such a novel festival and a very specific theme, the standard rules had to be tweaked to help create a relatively level playing field for the cuisines of the 15 different countries that took part,said Chef Vijay Nagpal, who chaired the jury. Kerala tourism and UNESCO must be commended for organising such a unique event. One hopes it will be a regular fixture on the tourist calendar," Chef Bhaumik said.  If the crowds and questions raised during the four-day festival are anything to go by, the benefits to the tourism sector and hospitality industry of follow-up editions are undeniable.

The Tripura Legislative Assembly has unanimously ratified the Constitutional Amendment Bill on Goods and Services Tax (GST). With this, Tripura becomes the 22nd state after Assam and Arunachal Pradesh to pass the crucial legislation.  Tripura Finance Minister Bhanulal Saha moved a resolution to ratify the Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill. The 122nd Constitutional Amendment Bill was passed by the Parliament on August 8, marking a historic step towards tax reforms in India. As many as 20 states in the country have already ratified the Bill and more state assemblies are in the process of taking up the Bill.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has inaugurated six major Railway projects in Kerala including the dedication of the newly-built 9.6-km long Tiruvalla-Chengannur double line which would ease the heavy rail traffic congestion in the Ernakulam-Kottayam-Kayamkulam section. Prabhu said that the Ministry of Railways has chalked out comprehensive plan for the development of Railway through PPP and joint venture with state governments. Prabhu also inaugurated infrastructure facilities at Kozhikode, Palakkad, Thrissur and Thiruvananthapuram railways stations through video conferencing from Kozhikode. While a new platform was launched at Palakkad station, high-speed public WiFi service was made available at Thrissur station. The minister also launched an escalator each in Thrissur and Thiruvananthapuram stations besides laying foundation stone for the extension of Foot Overbridge at Kozhikode railway station. Now the number of free wi-Fi enabled railway stations in the state has increased to five. The service was launched earlier in Ernakulam, Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Kozhikode stations.

Executive Directors of the World Bank has agreed unanimously to reappoint Jim Yong Kim to a second five-year term as President of the World Bank Group on 27 September 2016, beginning 1 July 2017.   The Board noted that in the first year of Kim’s leadership, which began in July 2012, shareholders endorsed two ambitious new goals for the institution. They were: Elimination of extreme poverty by 2030, and Promotion of shared prosperity. These new initiatives boosted the income growth of the bottom 40 percent of the population in every developing country. Jim Yong Kim : Jim Yong Kim is a South Korean-American physician and anthropologist.He has been serving as the 12th President of the World Bank since 1 July 2012. He was formerly the Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School.He also holds the honour to become the first Asian American president of an Ivy League institution. He was named the world's 50th most powerful person by Forbes Magazine's List of The World's Most Powerful People in 2013.

World Rabies Day was observed on 28 September 2016. The theme for World Rabies Day is Rabies: Educate. Vaccinate. Eliminate. The day is annually celebrated to raise awareness about rabies prevention and to highlight progress in defeating the disease. The theme of the day emphasises on the two crucial actions that communities can do to prevent rabies. It also reflects the global target to eliminate all human deaths from dog-mediated rabies by 2030. In addition, 28 September also marks the anniversary of Louis Pasteur's death, the French chemist and microbiologist, who developed the first rabies vaccine. Today, safe and efficacious animal and human vaccines are among the important tools that exist to eliminate human deaths from rabies while awareness is the key driver for success of communities to engage in effective rabies prevention. Human rabies is present in 150 countries and territories and on all continents, except for Antarctica. Globally, estimates indicate that human mortality (due to endemic canine-mediated rabies) is highest in Asia, with the highest incidence and deaths reported in India. This is closely followed by Africa. However estimates of burden have always been uncertain due to the absence of reliable data.