Today Current Affairs 3rd September 2016

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Former pacer Zaheer Khan has been made an honorary life member of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), becoming the 24th Indian cricketer to be bestowed the honour. Zaheer is the second former India international to be elected in recent weeks following Virender Sehwag, who became an Honorary Life Member last month. The list also includes the likes of Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar, who were inducted in previous years. Zaheer played 92 Test matches for his country during a successful career, taking 311 wickets at 32.94 runs apiece. The 37-year-old was also a mainstay in the One-Day International side. Making his debut in 2000, Zaheer took 282 wickets in 200 ODIs at an average of 29.34. He played three Tests at Lord’s, and narrowly missed out on a place on the Lord’s Honours Board when he took 4/79 in the drawn Test match between England and India in 2007. He also played three ODIs at the Home of Cricket, including the famous NatWest Series Final in 2002, in which he took 3/62. Honorary Life Membership is awarded by the MCC Committee to individuals in recognition of the service they have given to the cricket and projects surrounding the game, often over a very long period.

State-run BHEL has commissioned the fourth and last unit of the 4x40 MW Teesta Low Dam Hydro Electric Project (HEP) Stage-IV in West Bengal. A run-of-the-river greenfield project located in Darjeeling district of West Bengal, Teesta HEP has been set up by NHPC Ltd, on the River Teesta. According to the statement, power generation from the Teesta project will result in reduction of green-house gas emissions and will help in achieving a low carbon development path for the state as well as the nation. BHEL was entrusted with the Electrical & Mechanical (E&M) works for four units of 40 MW each by NHPC Limited. BHEL's scope of work in the project comprised design, manufacture, supply, installation and commissioning of complete E&M equipment including vertical shaft Kaplan Turbines and matching generators. BHEL is presently executing Hydro Electric Projects of around 3,300 MW in the country which are under various stage of implementation. Other projects of NHPC currently under execution byBHEL are the 4x200 MW Parbati HEP Stage-II and 3x110 MW Kishanganga HEP. In West Bengal, BHEL is also executing the 3x40 MW Rammam Stage-III hydro-electric project of NTPC.

With a view to engage youth of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) in constructive sporting activities, a special package of Rs. 200 crore has been announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  The package provides for construction of indoor sporting halls in all districts of the State with a view to provide playing facilities to youth during long winter in the state. Two stadiums in the State capitals of Srinagar and Jammu will be upgraded to the international standards under the package while existing stadia at Poonch and Rajouri and Udhampur will be upgraded.  In addition, water sport facilities will be provided at an estimated cost of Rs. 6 crore.

Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov passed away on 2 September 2016 at Tashkent, Uzbekistan. He was 78. Karimov had dominated Uzbekistan, Central Asia's most populous nation, for more than 25 years. Islam Karimov :  Islam Karimov was the first President of Uzbekistan, in office from 1990 to 2016.He was born in Samarkand and was in and out of an orphanage from 1941 to 1945. He became an official in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He became the party's First Secretary in Uzbekistan in 1989. On 24 March 1990, he became President of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic.His election to the Uzbek Communist Party resulted after his predecessor Rafiq Nishonov failed to quell inter-ethnic clashes and instability in the Fergana Region.He declared Uzbekistan an independent nation on 31 August 1991.He subsequently won its first presidential election on 29 December 1991.

Chennamaneni Vidyasagar Rao, Governor of Maharashtra, was sworn in as the acting Governor of Tamil Nadu on 2 September 2016 as the tenure of K. Rosaiah ended on 31 August 2016. Rao was administered oath of office by the Madras High Court's Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul at the Raj Bhavan, Chennai. Chennamaneni Vidyasagar Rao : Chennamaneni Vidyasagar Rao is the present Governor of Maharashtra. He took oath as the Governor on 30 August 2014. Previously, he served as the Union Minister of State for internal affairs in the Vajpayee-led BJP Government from 1999.He was elected to 12th and 13th Lok Sabha from Karimnagar in Telangana as a Bharatiya Janata Party candidate.

The country's economy grew at 7.1% in the April to June quarter of the current fiscal.  This is the slowest growth in the last six quarters and was mainly due to the subdued performance of the mining, construction and farm sectors. GDP had expanded 7.5 % growth in the year-ago quarter, and 7.9% in the January to March 2016 quarter. According to data released by the Central Statistics Office, growth in the farm sector was 1.8 % , and in construction it was 1.5 % during the quarter under review. But manufacturing sector growth accelerated to 9.1 % .

Cardiologist K K Aggarwal has been unanimously elected as the National President of the Indian Medical Association for the year 2016-17. Aggarwal is currently the Secretary General of the doctors association. Dr Ravi Wankhedkar from Maharashtra will be the National President for the year 2017-18 and Dr R N Tandon will take over as Honorary Secretary General. The new team will take over on December 28. Indian Medical Association is the only representative, national voluntary organisation of doctors of modern scientific system of medicine, which looks after the interest of doctors as well as the well-being of the community at large.  Headquartered in Delhi, it has 29 state/UT branches. IMA has over 2,53,000 doctors as its members through more than 1,650 active local branches spread across the country.  

Vice President of India M. Hamid Ansari inaugurated the 4th phase of the Vidyadhanam project at Kochi, Ernakulam in Kerala on August 31, 2016. The project provides financial incentive and scholarship to bright students from government and aided schools, in addition to encouraging cultivation of life skills, such as thrift and financial inclusion.  While inaugurating the project Vice President Ansari said that, there is a need to ensuring not only increase in government investments in education, but also to maintaining the funding levels of other social welfare schemes to make sure that falling incomes of parents do not impact the educational prospects of in-school children.  By giving the example of success in Kerala towards the expansion of education, Vice President Ansari said that education in Kerala has led to enhancement of individual freedom, creation of a better climate for gender equity and much faster reduction in income poverty than in many other states of India. 

The Uttar Pradesh government landed in trouble as the Allahabad High Court penalised it with a fine of Rs 1 Crore. The fine was imposed following the land acquisition matter of Loni, Ghaziabad. The Allahabad High Court ordered the Uttar Pradesh government to deposit the fine in the Court before September 15, 2016. Also, the next date of hearing is the same as the deadline. Justice Tarun Agarwala and Justice Vipin Sinha headed the bench which passed the order of penalty while hearing a petition filed some residents of Loni, Ghaziabad.  About 105 acres of land of Noor Nagar and Loni, Ghaziabad was acquired for UPSIDC in the year 1973. However, there was no award made for the acquisition to the land owners and any physical possession was not done as well. Earlier, the land owners had filed petitions before the High Court which gave decision in 2014 with a direction to the state government to exempt the land from acquisition. However by the impugned order instead of exemption of the land the state authority directed to the land acquisition officer to take recourse to acquire the land under the new land acquisition act of 2013.

Union Bank of India has launched USSD (unstructured supplementary service data) based ‘*99#’ mobile application on Play Store on Android platform. This ‘*99#’ mobile app does not require internet connectivity to perform banking and other value-added services. The app provides basic banking transactions such as checking account balance, money transfer, and MPIN (mobile personal identification number) management. It also provides value-added services like checking Aadhaar-linked overdraft status and PMJDY account overdraft status.

Martial arts expert and actor Jackie Chan will receive a lifetime achievement Oscar. The announcement was made by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  Chan made his movie debut at the age of 8. Jackie Chan was born Chan Kong-sang on April 7, 1954, in Hong Kong, China. He began studying martial arts, drama, acrobatics and singing at age 7.  Once considered a likely successor to Bruce Lee in Hong Kong cinema, Chan instead developed his own style of martial arts blended with screwball physical comedy.

Private sector DCB Bank has announced the launch of a mobile based payment solution, mVisa, for easier retail payment.The private sector bank said customers can now pay through their smartphones by scanning the unique Quick Response (QR) code at the retail outlet. mVisa, a mobile-based payment solution will make payments at retail outlets much easier. Customers can pay now through their smart phones by scanning the unique Quick Response (QR) code at the retail outlet. DCB Bank Ltd : DCB Bank Ltd. is a private sector scheduled commercial bank in India. It has a network of 205 branches[5] and 442 ATMs in the country. It offers products to individuals, small and medium businesses, rural banking and mid corporates across its branch network. The Bank is present in 18 states and 2 Union Territories. 

Odisha has become the 16th state to ratify the constitutional amendment bill passed by Parliament to introduce the goods and services tax (GST), helping cross the important threshold of more than half the number of states needed for the proposed law to be sent for presidential assent.  Once the Constitution (122nd Amendment) (GST) Bill gets the President's assent, the government will be able to set up the GST Council, a body of central and state representatives that will work out the details of India's biggest tax reform.  GST is a tax levied when a consumer buys a good or service. It is meant to be a single, comprehensive tax that will subsume all the other smaller indirect taxes on consumption like service tax, excise duty etc. This is how it is done in most developed countries. It will be a comprehensive nationwide indirect tax on the manufacture, sale, and consumption of goods and services. The aim is to have one indirect tax for the whole nation, which will make India a unified common market.

Biocon chairperson and managing director Kiran Mazumdar Shaw has been appointed 'Chevalier de l'Ordre National de la Legion d'Honneur' (Knight of the National Order of the French Legion of Honour) for her outstanding contribution and dedication to Biosciences and Research field globally. The award will be conferred on behalf of the President of the French Republic at a special ceremony later this year . Chevalier l'Ordre National de la Legion d'Honneur, created in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte, is the highest civilian award of the French Republic for outstanding contribution in diverse fields bestowed on citizens of the world.  Other Indians to have received this honour in the past include Yashwant Sinha, Narayana Murthy, Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Nandita Das, Shah Rukh Khan, veteran musician Balamuralikrishna and the late actor Sivaji Ganesan, among others. 

The first BRICS film festival has begun at the Sirifort Auditorium Complex in New Delhi. The film festival is the run up to the BRICS summit which is to be held in Goa in October 2016.  It was inaugurated by Minister of State (MoS) for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore and Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs V.K Singh The film festival has been started with an objective to build bridges and bring harmony amongst the BRICS countries viz. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.  The 5 day festival (September 2 to 6, 2016) will act as a platform for people of film industry of member countries to explore areas of cooperation in the domain of cinema, culture and cuisine.  It will also celebrate the excellence of cinema by rewarding film makers, actors, producers and directors. The festival will ensure more people to people contact, especially youth among member countries.

Deep Kumar Upadhyay was re-appointed as Nepal's ambassador to India.The meeting held at Prime Minister's office in Singha Durbar, Kathmandu, proposed Upadhyay for Nepali ambassador to India and Chief Secretary Lila Mani Poudel for China, reports Kathmandu Post. Upadhyay, who was serving as Nepal's ambassador to India since April 2015, was suddenly recalled by the erstwhile K.P. Sharma Oli-led government in May. He was elected from the Kapilvastu-1 constituency in the 2008 Constituent Assembly election, but lost the polls from the same constituency in 2014.

India’s first international conference on cooking gas has started in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. The 2-day conference was inaugurated by Jharkhand Governor Droupadi Murmu. It was also attended by Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. The conference has been organised by state-owned petroleum companies. It will deliberate on the need for an LPG-enabled household and use of traditional cooking fuels. It will focus on the need for an LPG enabled household, problems arising due to absence of cooking gas, the usage of traditional bio mass cooking fuels and their impact on both health and environment. The delegates from developing countries, such as Brazil, Ghana, Nigeria, Nepal and Sri Lanka are participating in this event.

The annual socio-religious Solung festival of Adi tribe has started in Arunachal Pradesh. Solung is 5-day long agro-based festival is celebrated every year by the Adi tribe in the first week of September. The Solung festival reflects the socio-religious features of the Adi tribe of Arunachal Pradesh. Adi or ‘Bangni-Boker lhoba ’people are the major collective tribes living in the himalayan hills of ‘Nyingchi’ prefecture in Arunachal Pradesh.  To mark the celebrations, people perform various rituals and make offerings to gods and goddesses during the celebration and pray for a bumper harvest. During the celebration, Mithun (Great Indian Bison) which is considered as holy animal and occupies an important religious significance among the Adis is sacrificed.  People present gifts of meat and Apong (rice beer) to neighbours and relatives on the occasion thus cementing family and social relationships. The festival also reflects care and protection of animals which are vital components of their family and social life of Adi tribe.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for the first time has successfully sequenced DNA in space aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The genome sequencing was undertaken for the first time in microgravity as part of the Biomolecule Sequencer experiment performed by NASA astronaut Kate Rubins. The experiments were undertaken by using commercially available DNA sequencing device called MinION on samples of mouse, virus and bacteria DNA.  The tests were set up for selected organisms whose DNA has already been completely sequenced in an attempt to make spaceflight conditions, primarily microgravity, the only variables that could account for differences in results.  The technology demonstration experiments validated that the device is durable enough to withstand vibration during launch and can operate reliably in a microgravity environment. Significance: This experiment provides a way to sequence DNA in space which can help astronauts to diagnose an illness.  Besides, it will also help them identify microbes growing in the ISS to determine whether or not they represent a health threat. The future explorers can potentially use the technology to identify DNA-based life forms beyond Earth.

A team of scientists have discovered the world’s oldest stromatolite fossils about 3.7 billion years old in the world’s oldest sedimentary rocks in the Isua Greenstone Belt along the edge of Greenland’s icecap. The findings were published in journal Nature on 31 August 2016. Led by the Australian University of Wollongong’s (UOW) Professor Allen Nutman, the team's discovery pushes back the previous record by 220 million years and captures the earliest history of the planet. The discovery of the Isua stromatolite fossils provides a greater understanding of early diversity of life on Earth which could have implications for the understanding of life on Mars. The Study :  A team of Australian geologists made the discovery in July 2012 while carrying out field research in Isua, a remote place in Greenland.One day while working at the field, they came across some outcroppings never seen before.   Upon further assessment, the researchers were able to know they were conical structures, one to four centimeters high. The outcroppings looked like microbial mats known as stromatolites. The researchers carried out laboratory analysis and found its formations to be 3.7 billion years old.  Using radiometric dating, the scientists were able to find out the age of the rocks.

A group of scientists has discovered a new species of pterosaur from the early Jurassic period in the Patagonia region of South America. The discovery was disclosed in a study that was published in the last week of August 2016 in the journal PeerJ. The study also provides new information on the origin, tempo and mode of evolution in pterosaurs. Highlights of the discovery : The new species has been named Allkauren koi from the native Tehuelche word ‘all’ for ‘brain’, and ‘karuen’ for ‘ancient’. The fossil of Allkaruen koi was found in northern central Chubut Province in Argentina. The remains included a well preserved and uncrushed braincase.The cranial remains were in an excellent state of preservation. Allkaruen, from the middle lower Jurassic limit, shows an intermediate state in the brain evolution of pterosaurs and their adaptations to the aerial environment.In order to study the neurocranial anatomy, the researchers used computed tomography to observe, in three dimensions, the cranial endocast and the inner ear. Subsequently, a comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of the group was performed, including these cranial data and other anatomical features.

Veteran trade union leader Sharad Rao passed away on 1 September 2016 in Mumbai. He was 78. Rao is acknowledged for his role in mobilising the work force in both the organised and unorganised sectors. Sharad Rao : Rao was associated with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).He headed several unions including the Hind Mazdoor Sabha, the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply Trust (BEST) Workers’ Union and the Municipal Mazdoor Union. He also served as the leader of Mumbai Autorickshawsmen’s union, the largest rickshaw union in the city.Rao was once a trusted lieutenant of veteran socialist leader George Fernandes. Rao took over control of trade unions run by Fernandes after the latter moved to national politics.