Current Affairs 30th September 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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In a major boost to artificial intelligence (AI) research, five top-notch tech companies  Facebook, Amazon, Google, IBM and Microsoft  have joined hands to announce a historic partnership on AI and machine learning. It means that these companies will discuss advancements and conduct research in AI and how to develop best products and services powered by machine learning, Tech Crunch reported on Thursday. Initial financial help will come from these companies and as other stakeholders join the group, the finances are expected to increase. According to the report, the organisational structure has been designed to allow non-corporate groups to have equal leadership side-by-side with large tech companies.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has cleared proposals worth 1,900 crore rupees (close to $3 billion). All these approved proposals will be executed under ‘Buy India’ by Indian contractors. Decision in this regard was taken by DAC meeting chaired by Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in New Delhi. Weapons repair facility at Port Blair at a cost of Rs 450 crore. Anti-tank guided missiles for training purpose of the army. It is worth of 405 crore rupees.  Electronic warfare system for low intensity conflict in Jammu and Kashmir. It is worth of 330 crore rupees. Mumbai based Defence shipyard Mazagon Dock will get a repair facility for Scorpene submarines at cost of Rs 725 crore. The dock is constructing six Scorpene submarines for Indian Navy. It is an apex body of Union Defence Ministry for clearing defence procurement proposals forwarded by the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force.

Patna High Court has quashed Bihar government notification completely banning liquor in the state on 30 September 2016. The court said that the notification is ultra vires to the Constitution . A division bench of the court comprising Chief Justice Iqbal Ahmed Ansari and Justice Navaniti Prasad Singh quashed the 5 April 2016 notification of the state government to stop consumption and sale of alcohol in the state. The court in its verdict said that the notification is ultra vires to the Constitution, hence not enforceable. The same bench had on 20 May 2016 reserved its order on a batch of writ petitions filed by Liquor Trade Association and many individuals challenging the liquor law which has stringent penal provisions. Ultra vires means beyond one's legal power or authority. If an act requires legal authority and it is done with such authority, it is characterised in law as intra vires. The Nitish Kumar-led Grand Secular Alliance government had first banned the manufacture, trade, sale, consumption of country-made liquor since 1 April 2016, but later imposed a blanket ban on all types of liquor including foreign liquor in the state. In August 2016, the liquor law was made more stringent after the Assembly passed the Bihar Excise and Prohibition Bill with voice vote. Under this law, all adult members of the family could be arrested if liquor was found stored in any household. It also called for collective fines on villages and localities which are found repeatedly breaking prohibition law.

Railways Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu has launched various Railways Services and dedicated them to the nation on 29 September 2016. These Railways services are: Liberalised station to station special freight rates policy. Policy providing sub quota of 33% to women within reserved categories for the allotment in catering units. Policy giving preference to local domicile holders for commercial licenses at stations. New system of allocating vacant berths after final charting to wayside stations.  Launch of the new tag Train at a Glance 2016 and new Time Table effective from 1 October 2016. Liberalised station to station special freight rates policy :  Existing as well as new traffic shall be eligible.Concession shall be granted up to a maximum of 30 percent on the incremental traffic over and above the benchmark NTKM. Policy providing sub quota of 33% to women for the allotment in catering units : A Sub Quota of 33 percent for women in allotment of the reserved catering units was introduced in order to extend economic empowerment for women. Policy giving preference to local domicile holders for commercial licenses at stations :  In compliance of Budget Announcement 2016-17, a process of giving weightage to district Domicile Holders for commercial licenses at stations is being proliferated at all stations over Indian Railways. Transfer of vacant berths for optimal utilisation of berths : This facility of transfer of berths remaining vacant after second charting at the train originating station to the next and subsequent stations will clear the way for the waitlisted passengers at such stations.

The Union Government has launched Progress Panchayat on 29 September 2016. This Panchayat is aimed at reach out the minority community and publicize the various welfare measures taken by the NDA government for their betterment. The programme was kick started by Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs (independent charge) Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi from Mewat region of Haryana. The programme will be organized in 100 places across the country in the coming days where Union Ministers will interact with people about the several schemes. During the programme, the government will also seek feedback and suggestions from the people for better implementation of the welfare schemes.

West Bengal government has decided to install monorail from Budge Budge in South 24-Parganas to Ruby Connector in Kolkata. This was informed by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on 29 September 2016. The 14-kilometre-long monorail route will connect Budge Budge to Ruby via Taratala, New Alipore and Prince Anwar Shah Road and will come up at a cost of 4216 crore rupees. This new service will also connect commuters to the proposed metro rail network between New Garia to Kolkata airport. For execution of the monorail project, the state transport department will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Burn Standard Company Limited. Burn Standard Company Limited will be funding the project and the state government will provide land for the purpose. The Chief Minister said that there would not be any problem over land acquisition as minimum land would be required to construct pillars and elevated tracks would be laid connecting them.

Airports Authority of India’s Tirupati Airport was awarded the Best Tourist Friendly Airport under the category for State Annual Excellence Awards for the year 2015-16 by Andhra Pradesh Tourism. The award was presented on the eve of World Tourism Day by the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Nara Chandra Babu Naidu at Bhawani Islands, Vijayawada. State Annual Tourism Excellence Awards : The State Annual Tourism Excellence Awards under various segments of Travel and Tourism Industry are awarded by Department of Tourism, Government of Andhra Pradesh. They are awarded for maintaining excellent Customer friendly relations with tourists and passengers, coinciding with World Tourism Day Celebrations.     Tirupati Airport : Tirupati Airport was established in the year 1976.It is a public airport located at Renigunta, a suburb of Tirupati in the state of Andhra Pradesh.The airport is located 14 km away from Tirupati and 39 km from Venkateswara Temple, Tirumala.

The 2016 BRICS Labour & Employment Ministerial Meet was held in New Delhi from September 27- 28, 2016 to deliberate on issues including job creation and social security for workers.  The two day meeting saw the participation of the five major emerging BRICS economies viz. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The meeting had dedicated sessions on employment generation, social security, inclusive development and formalization. Fruitful discussions on areas of common labour and employment issues among the BRICS countries were held.  The BRICS Labour and Employment Ministerial Declaration was also adopted at the end of these discussions. Member countries proposed strong interventions and actions in areas concerning social security, employment generation and formalization of labour markets leading to inclusive and sustainable development.  They also agreed to pursue bi-lateral social security agreements amongst the BRICS member states. They also acknowledged the need to develop a network of lead labour research and training institutions in BRICS member states.

The International Translation Day is being observed today on 30 September across The world with the theme"Translation and Interpreting: Connecting Worlds".  This is the annual event for the translation community and event is marked with a series of dedicated events, seminars and symposiums across the world. Established by the International Federation of Translators (FIT), the annual celebration of the International Translation Day is an opportunity to pay tribute to the work of translators who endeavor to make the world a slightly smaller place by breaking down language barriers.

The Union Government has notified the constitution of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) on 29 September 2016. The Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 (RBI Act) has been amended by the Finance Act, 2016,  to provide for a statutory and institutionalised framework for a Monetary Policy Committee, for maintaining price stability. As per the provisions of the RBI Act, out of the six Members of Monetary Policy Committee, three Members will be from the RBI. The other three Members of MPC will be appointed by the Central Government. n exercise of the powers conferred by section 45ZB of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934, the Union Government has accordingly constituted the Monetary Policy Committee of RBI, with the following composition: The Governor of the Bank: Chairperson, ex officio  Deputy Governor of the Bank, in charge of Monetary Policy: Member, ex officio One officer of the Bank to be nominated by the Central Board: Member, ex officio Chetan Ghate, Professor, Indian Statistical Institute (ISI): Member Pami Dua, Director, Delhi School of Economics (DSE): Member  Ravindra H. Dholakia, Professor, Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad: Member The Members of the Monetary Policy Committee appointed by the Union Government will hold office for a period of four years, with immediate effect or until further orders, whichever is earlier.  

Retired IAS officer Shakti Sinha was appointed as the Director of Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) on 29 September 2016. His appointment was approved by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC). Sinha, who served in the Prime Minister's Office during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s tenure, was also Director in India Foundation, a think tank aligned to the RSS. The post of Director of NMML was vacant since the resignation of its previous Director Mahesh Rangarajan in the year 2015.

Online fashion portal Myntra has announced the appointment of Dipanjan Basu as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) on 29 September 2016. Basu’s appointment will be effective from 17 October 2016.  Dipanjan Basu : Previously, Dipanjan Basu served as the Chief Finance & Operating Officer for Wipro’s Digital & Consulting Business where he was responsible in building and setting up new businesses, M&A and investments in startups.He also oversaw the finance function for the Manufacturing & Healthcare business at Wipro. He has been instrumental in driving billion dollar deals and leading business process re-engineering at Wipro. He started his career at Wipro as a young professional and built his way up to being one of the youngest Vice Presidents at Wipro. He also had a two year stint with Quatrro Risk Management Services where he was the CFO of the company.He is a Chartered Accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and was ranked 7th in India in the CA final exams.

World Heart Day is being observed annually on 29 September across the world.  World Heart Day was founded in 2000 to inform people around the globe that heart disease and stroke are the world’s leading causes of death.  Theme for the World Heart Day 2016 is 'Light Your Heart, Empower Your Life'. This World Heart Day we’ve joined forces with Bupa and Philips to make World Heart Day more powerful than ever. With their support, we are raising awareness and encouraging individuals, families, communities and governments to take action and help us to achieve our goal of a 25% reduction in premature deaths from CVD by 2025.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has inaugurated the 35th Coast Guard Commanders Conference at Coast Guard Headquarters. Parrikar appreciated the efforts of the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) in augmenting maritime and coastal security not only by deployment of assets but also by efficient exploitation of Coastal Security Network Phase I and expressed hope that CSN Phase II would also be implemented on time. He also congratulated the ICG on their protracted efforts with Pakistan and Sri Lankan security agencies which resulted in reduced apprehension of Indian fishing boats. He was also glad to know that no Indian fishermen is under detention at Sri Lanka and requested ICG to also negotiate release of detained Indian fishing boats. The conference was attended by senior officers of the Ministry of Defence and Indian Coast Guard (ICG) which included the Director General Rajendra Singh, Additional Director Generals and Coast Guard Regional Commanders. The conference is held annually, where all regional commanders put forth the roadmap for future; discuss various policy and strategic issues. The three-day conference aims to carve out a futuristic vision for the service and to determine the modalities to overcome the challenges efficiently.

The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval for the Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana (VPBY) 2003 and Varistha Pension Bima Yojana (VPBY) 2014. The Cabinet also granted approval for expenditure incurred on subsidy amount released to LIC for the both schemes. VPBY was launched on 14th July, 2003 and was open till 14th August, 2015 and VPBY was launched on 14th August, 2014.  Both the schemes are closed for future subscriptions. These schemes were implemented through Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC).  Both are pension schemes intended to give an assured minimum pension to Senior Citizens based on an assured minimum return on the subscription amount.  The pension is envisaged until death from the date of subscription, with payback of the subscription amount on death of the subscriber to the nominee. The difference between the actual yield earned by LIC on the funds invested under the schemes and the assured return committed by Union Government is paid as subsidy to LIC.  The policies sold during currency of policy are being serviced as per the guaranteed 9% return assured by the Government. As of March 2016, a total number of 3,17,991 annuitants are being benefited under VPBY 2014. Similarly, 2,84,699 annuitants are being benefited under VPBY- 2003.

The Union Cabinet gave its approval for closure of Hindustan Cables Limited (HCL), Kolkata on 28 September 2016. The approval was given as per the provisions of the Companies Act, 1956/2013, Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 and other relevant Acts. The employees of the company will be offered attractive VRS/ VSS Package at notional 2007 pay scales and other employees’ related liabilities including payment of salary and wages from April 2015 till they are separated from the Company on VRS/VSS will be settled as well. The disposal of assets of company will be in terms of the guidelines of Department of Public Enterprises on time bound closure of sick/loss making Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) and disposal of movable and immovable assets. Total cash infusion for closure of company will be 1309.90 crore rupees and non-cash infusion of 3467.15 crore rupees in the form of conversion into equity of Government of India's loan (including interest) outstanding as on 30 September 2016. Hindustan Cables Limited :  Hindustan Cables Limited (HCL) is a government-owned company that makes telecom cables in India. It is under the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises.It was founded at Rupnarainpur in Asansol, West Bengal in 1952. The company’s objective was to make India self-reliant in manufacturing communications cables.It had four manufacturing units at Rupnarainpur (West Bengal), Hyderabad (Telengana), Naini (U.P.) and Narendrapur (West Bengal).HCL was profitable until 1994, but began incurring losses in 1995.The company was referred to the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction, which was unable to revive it.

Indian women’s Kabbadi team has bagged gold medal at the 5th Asian Beach Games on 28 September 2016. In the summit clash played at Bien Dong Park in Danang, Vietnam, the team defeated Thailand 41-31.This was fifth gold in succession for the Indian team. The Indian women's kabaddi team had been winning the gold since the inception of the biennial Games in 2008. For Thailand, it was the fifth time in a row they had lost to India in a final. Besides, the Indian men's beach kabaddi team settled for the Silver medal. The Indian team lost the game to arch-rivals Pakistan 28-30. India had won gold in men's beach kabaddi the 2008 and 2010 editions. In Kurash, a form of wrestling originated in Uzbekistan, Amisha Tokas won silver in women’s 70kg category after losing to Nguyen Thi Lan of Vietnam in the final. In beach bodybuilding, Manoj Kumar Majumdar won a bronze in up to 158cm category. India has so far won six medals including one gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze, in the Games. India is now at 15th spot in the medal table headed by hosts Vietnam (25 gold, 22 silver, 27 bronze).

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the Region of the Americas as Measles free on 27 September 2016. The declaration came during the 55th Directing Council of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO). With this, the Americas became the first in the world to have eliminated measles, a viral disease that can cause severe health problems, including pneumonia, blindness, brain swelling and even death.This achievement marked culmination of a 22-year effort involving mass vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella throughout the Americas.  Measles is the fifth vaccine-preventable disease to be eliminated from the Americas, after eradication of smallpox in 1971, poliomyelitis in 1994, and rubella and congenital rubella syndrome in 2015.  Before mass vaccination was initiated in 1980, measles caused nearly 2.6 million annual deaths worldwide.In the Americas, 101800 deaths were attributable to measles between 1971 and 1979.  However, a cost-effectiveness study on measles elimination estimated that with vaccination 3.2 million measles cases and 16000 deaths can prevented between 2000 and 2020.In the 1990s, a decline in measles cases was recorded, but the most notable decrease was observed after the Americas launched its initiative to eliminate measles in 1994.  The countries of the Americas established the goal to eliminate indigenous transmission of measles by the year 2000, through the implementation of surveillance and vaccination strategies.The last indigenous measles outbreak was registered in Venezuela in 2002. However, some countries in the Region still notified imported cases. Between 2003 and 2014, 5077 imported measles cases were registered in the Americas.  Brazil also witnessed the measles outbreak  in 2013. However, after a year of targeted actions, the last case of measles in Brazil was registered in July 2015.Considering that the Region has sustained elimination for more than 12 years, the International Expert Committee accepted the evidence presented by the countries and declared the elimination of measles in the Americas.

Noted Telugu writer Prof. Kalakaluri Enoch was conferred with Moortidevi Award of Bharatiya Jnanpith for the year 2015 at function in New Delh on 29 September 2016. The award was given for his novel Ananta Jeevanam. The novel was thought-provoking and contemplative as it depicted the struggle of the weak, the downtrodden and the common man of Rayalaseema. This is the first time a Telugu writer was selected for the award. Veteran art historian Dr Kapila Vatsyayana presented the award to Prof. Kalakaluri Enoch. Prof. Kalakaluri Enoch : Born on 1 July 1939, Prof. Enoch is a former vice-chancellor of SV University. He has been awarded the Padma Shri. The noted Dalit voice, poet and academician was awarded the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award, in 2014 for his contributions to the field of literature. He has credited over 180 poems, 180 stories, 9 novels and 30 plays. Moorti Devi Award : Moorti Devi award was founded by Bharatiya Jnanpith and is given away to the authors who have contributed in the field of contemporary creative writing in modern Indian languages.It is presented annually for a contemplative and perceptive work which expresses, underlines and illumines human values rooted in the broad vision of Indian philosophy and cultural heritage.Books written in English and all Indian languages are considered for the Prize, which comprises a cash award of four lakhs rupees, a Saraswati statue and a citation plaque.  

The Union Government has decided to raise the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) investment in Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) from existing 5 per cent to 10 per cent on 30 September 2016. The decision has been taken considering the good returns in ETF investment. An official release said, in the last one year, the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has invested 6577 crore rupees. The investment has yielded a good return of 13.24 per cent. The past performance of the last six months from April, 2016 to August, 2016 also showed gradual appreciation in the returns from 0.37 per cent in March 2016 to 13.24 per cent in August 2016. Five per cent EPF has been invested in NIFTY 50 and SENSEX. The pattern of investment prescribed by the Ministry of Finance has given guidelines for investment in equity from 5 per cent to 15 per cent.

The Union Government has appointed R Subramania Kumar as Executive Director (ED) of state-owned Indian Overseas Bank on 29 September 2016. Kumar is currently serving as the Executive Director of Indian Bank. Indian Overseas Bank :  Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) is a major public sector bank based in Chennai. It has about 3700 domestic branches, including 1150 branches in Tamil Nadu, 3 extension counters, and eight branches and offices overseas as of 30 September 2014. Indian Overseas Bank has an ISO certified in-house Information Technology department, which has developed the software that its branches use to provide online banking to customers.The bank has achieved 100% networking status as well as 100% CBS status for its branches. IOB also has a network of about 3300 ATMs all over India.  IOB has branches in Singapore, Hong Kong, Colombo, Seoul, and Bangkok. It has representative offices in Guangzhou, Vietnam, and Dubai. IOB also is part-owner of a joint-venture bank in Malaysia.

India is going to invest 2 billion dollars in Sri Lanka in the next three-four years. It was announced by Union Minister for State (MoS) Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman during her visit to Sri Lanka.  She had visited Sri Lanka for talks on the Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) to discuss the terms of the agreement. Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) :  ETCA agreement seeks to boost cooperation in scientific expertise, technical areas and research amongst institutions between India and Sri Lanka.  It also seeks to boost standards of goods and services to compete on global market and improve opportunities for manpower training and human resource development.  The ETCA initiative follows unfruitful negotiations on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between two countries. Objectives of ETCA: (i) Strengthen and advance the economic, trade, investment and technology cooperation. (ii) Promote further liberalization of trade in goods, trade in services and gradually establish transparent, fair and facilitative trading, investment and investment protection mechanisms (iii) Establish a cooperation mechanism and expand areas of economic cooperation.

Indian Army has successfully conducted surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) i.e. along India’s de-facto border with Pakistan.  The surgical strikes were India’s first direct military response to attack on Uri army base by Pakistan-based militants that had killed 18 Indian soldiers.  The motive of the operation was to hit out at the terrorists who were planning to infiltrate into the Indian territory. During the operation, significant casualty was caused to terrorists .  The cross-border action comes India reviewed Indus Waters Treaty with Pakistan and pulled out of the regional SAARC Summit that was scheduled to be held in Islamabad, Pakistan as part of a wider diplomatic offensive to isolate Pakistan. Surgical strike is a military attack which is intended to only damage to the intended legitimate military target and no or minimal collateral damage to surrounding structures, general public infrastructure, vehicles, buildings and utilities.  

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