Current Affairs 7th September 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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India has officially received certificates from World Health Organisation (WHO), recognizing the elimination of Yaws and Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus (MNT) from the country.  The certificates were presented to Union Health Minister J P Nadda at the 69th Session of the WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia Region held in Colombo, capital of Sri Lanka. WHO had officially declared India yaws-free in May 2016 after a team of experts verified interruption of disease transmission in the country. India was the first country in the world to eliminate yaws under the 2012 WHO neglected tropical diseases (NTD) roadmap.  Besides, India also was declared maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT) free in August 2015 after it was reduced to less than one case per 1 000 live births in all 675 districts. Yaws : Yaws is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the skin, cartilages and bones. It is caused by the spirochete bacterium Treponema pallidum pertenue. It spreads by direct contact with the fluid from a lesion of an infected person. It mainly affects children below 15 years of age. It mainly occurs in overcrowded communities with limited access to basic amenities such as water, sanitation and health care services.

The Union Government has approved 450 crore rupees for Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Sikkim under the Swadesh Darshan scheme. It was approved by the Union Tourism Ministry for the development of Heritage circuit in Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand, Ramayana Circuit in Uttar Pradesh, North East Circuit in Sikkim and Coastal Circuit of Tamil Nadu. Swadesh Darshan Scheme :  The Union Ministry of Tourism had launched the Swadesh Darshan Scheme with an aim to develop theme based tourist circuits in the country. These tourist circuits will be developed on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner.  They will be developed by synergizing efforts to focus on concerns and needs of all stakeholders to enrich tourist experience and enhance employment opportunities. Under this scheme, 13 thematic circuits have been identified for development.  They are Buddhist Circuit, North-East India Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Himalayan Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Desert Circuit, Eco Circuit, Wildlife Circuit, Tribal Circuit, Rural Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Ramayana Circuit and Heritage Circuit.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has successfully completed test flight of indigenous Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) Bengaluru on 6 September 2016. During the test, the helicopter remained in the air for 15 minutes inside the HAL complex. The LUH will replace the military’s obsolescent fleet of Chetak and Cheetah helicopters that have flown for over three decades. Highlights of Light Utility Helicopter : The HAL LUH is a 3-tonne helicopter exclusively built for the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force to replace the aging fleet of Cheetah and Chetak helicopters. It is a light, single-engine helicopter that is powered by the Safran HE Ardiden-1U engine. In addition to two pilots, the helicopter can fly six passengers at sea level, with load capacity reducing with altitude.The LUH’s engine delivers 750 kilowatts of power, permits flight operations at as high as 6500 metres.  Limited series production will be done in Bengaluru, and the 610-acre Tumakuru unit is slated to commence production in 2018-19.  The Tumakuru plant will ship about 30 LUHs annually, starting in 2019-20.In phase II, the production will be ramped up to 60 helicopters per year. HAL intends to speed up flight-testing of the LUH by distributing it over three prototypes.HAL hopes to obtain initial operational certification by end-2017.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has released the report titled Uprooted: The growing crisis for refugee and migrant children on 7 September 2016.  According to the report, nearly 50 million children have been uprooted across the globe and millions more migrating in the hope of finding a better, safer life. Traumatized by the conflicts and violence they are fleeing, they face further dangers including the risk of drowning on sea crossings, malnourishment, trafficking, rape and even murder. In countries they travel through and at their destinations, they often face xenophobia and discrimination. Highlights of the Report : Children represent a disproportionate and growing proportion of those who have sought refuge outside their countries of birth: they make up about half of all refugees.  In 2015, around 45 percent of all child refugees under UNHCR’s protection came from Syria and Afghanistan.28 million children have left their homes due to conflict across borders including 10 million child refugees and an estimated 17 million children displaced within their own countries.  More and more children are crossing borders on their own. In 2015, over 100000 unaccompanied minors applied for asylum in 78 countries; triple the number in 2014.  About 20 million other international child migrants have left their homes for a variety of reasons including extreme poverty or gang violence. Turkey hosts the largest total number of recent refugees and very likely the largest number of child refugees in the world.   Relative to its population, Lebanon hosts the largest number of refugees by an overwhelming margin: Roughly 1 in 5 people in Lebanon is a refugee.  By comparison, there is roughly 1 refugee for every 530 people in the United Kingdom and 1 for every 1200 in the United States.  When considering refugee-host countries by income level, however, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, and Pakistan host the highest concentration of refugees. A refugee child is five times more likely to be out of school than a non-refugee child. Outside the classroom, legal barriers prevent migrant children from receiving services on an equal basis with children who are native to a country.  In the worst cases, xenophobia can escalate to direct attacks. In Germany alone, authorities tracked 850 attacks against refugee shelters in 2015.

Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Petroleum and Natural Gas, on 6 September 2016 launched #Gas4India campaign. The campaign is aimed at promoting the use of gas in the country. Public and private sector companies working in the sector have joined hands to promote the natural gas sector. Pradhan also launched the website, Twitter handle, Facebook page and theme song of the campaign. Highlights of the campaign : Gas4India is a unified cross-country, multimedia, multi-event campaign.It promotes the national, social, economic and ecological benefits of using natural gas as the fuel of choice. The campaign includes social engagement via social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, LinkedIn, and its official blogsites.

Western Odisha on 6 September 2016 celebrated the festival of Nuakhai, the agrarian festival of the region, with religious fervour.The celebrations began with the Nabanna in which the newly harvested rice was offered to Goddess Samaleswari as per the stipulated Lagna, the auspicious moment. The deity was adorned with new saree and ornaments on the occasion. Later, people offered Nabanna to their presiding deities. Nuakhai Festival : Nuakhai is an agricultural festival mainly observed by people of Western Odisha in India to welcome the new rice of the season. The festival was dedicated to Goddess Samaleswari in Sambalpur while Patneswari in Balangir, Sureshwari in Subarnapur and Sekharbasini in Sundargarh are worshipped.  According to the Hindu calendar, it is observed on panchamitithi (the fifth day) of the lunar fortnight of the month of August–September, the day after the Ganesh Chaturthi festival. Families offer the Nabanna to their respective presiding deity and Goddess Laxmi (Goddess of Wealth) as a mark of gratitude for bumper harvest, good rain and favourable farming weather. Being an agrarian festival, the eldest in the family of each household in rural pockets worship their paddy fields and cattle.

Acclaimed Kannada movie Thithi won the Best Film Award at the first BRICS Film Festival, which concluded in New Delhi on 6 September 2016. The BRICS Film Festival was organized as a part of the special events planned in run-up to the BRICS summit to be held in India. The five-day-long festival screened movies from India, Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa. China's Chengdu city will host the next edition of the BRICS Film Festival. Thithi : Thithi is a 2016 Kannada-language drama film co-written and directed by Raam Reddy.The movie consists of a cast of non-professional actors from villages in the Mandya district of Karnataka. The film is a light-hearted story about three generations of men reacting to the death of their 101-year old patriarch.The film premiered at the 68th Locarno International Film Festival on 8 August 2015, where it won the Golden Leopard in the Filmmakers of the Present category for Reddy as well as theSwatch First Feature award. At the 63rd National Film Awards, the film won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Kannada.  

Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal has inaugurated Asia’s biggest digital library dedicated to the memory of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, former President of India, in NIT Silchar On the occasion of the 55th Teachers’ Day Assam, . The world class library is established with the help of University of Illinois, USA. It was the wish of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam during his last visit to the Institute to have a world class library stacked with 1 lakh books and research papers.  He also promised he would again visit the Institute if it was accomplished. Unfortunately, his sudden demise could not make it possible.  It was the initiative and hard work put up by Prof. N V Deshpande, Director, along with his staff that could make the dream of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam come true.

Leading fin-tech player in India MobiKwik, is trusted by over 32 million users has launched one-step offline payments with 'Bubble Pin'. This pin can be generated on the MobiKwik app by clicking on 'Pay at store' and is valid for 60 seconds. To make a payment, all a user needs to do is share this pin with the merchant. The pin is a combination of numbers and alphabets. Bubble pin also makes the transaction more secure as no phone number is required to be shared. Soon, users can use this functionality in over 25000 offline stores, pan India. With an aim to make payments with MobiKwik ubiquitous, we are focusing on the expansion of our offline payments network and such initiatives shall help us convert cash users into e-cash users. With India gradually moving towards a cashless economy, MobiKwik aims to eliminate all possible glitches that may arise in the process of making a digital payment. Bubble Pin is the first step towards enabling users to go completely cashless even at places with sporadic data reception.

Haryana Government led by CM Manohar Lal Khattar has decided to develop 340 villages as Horticulture Villagesat a cost of 93 crore rupees during the Golden Jubilee year of the State.  It has also decided to establish 140 clusters in these villages. This was stated by Haryana Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister OP Dhankar. A MoU was also signed with the Apio Inc. for processing and packaging of horticultural products in New Delhi.  The MoC was signed by Director General, Horticulture Department, Dr. Arjun Singh Saini, on behalf of the Horticulture Department and Dr. Steven P. Bitler, Vice-President of Apio Inc, on behalf of the company at New Delhi.

Rajasthan’s education department has partnered with US-based technology firm Cisco to promote digital learning across the state using virtual digital room solutions. This initiative aims to enhance the quality of education through digital learning for academia to connect, collaborate, create and share content across 12 centres of State Institute for Education Management and Training (SIEMAT) in the state. Under this association, Cisco and SIEMAT have committed to 50,000 manhours of training annually through the virtual digital classrooms. Cisco has partnered with the Rajasthan government to establish Digital Learning Solution Rooms (DLSRs) which will deploy virtual digital classrooms across 12 institutes as part of the government’s ongoing social initiatives programme locations in Rajasthan. The partnership covers various initiatives of digitising the state, which include projects on urban development and accelerating local innovation.

Young Indian racer Shahan Ali Mohsin created history by becoming the first Indian racer to win the Asian Karting Champion Championship.  The 12-year-old displayed a valiant performance during the final weekend after missing two days of track time due to a bout of food poisoning and staved off a strong challenge from his main Hayden Haikal to clinch the title.  The Agra lad will be now hoping for a repeat closer home in the JK Tyre National Rotax Max Karting Championship as well, with the final round scheduled on September 25. 

Scientists have discovered a new Ghost Snake Species of elusive, pale grey reptiles dwelling at the Ankarana National Park in Madagascar. The findings were published in the journal Copeia on 1 September 2016. The researchers from the Louisiana State University (LSU) Museum of Natural Science, the American Museum of Natural History in the US and the Universite de Mahajunga in Madagascar studied the snake’s physical characteristics and genetics, which verified that it is a new species. This new Ghost Snake species was named Madagascarophis lolo, which means ghost in Malagasy. Ghost Snakes : The ghost snake is part of a common group of snakes called Madagascarophis or cat-eyed snakes.They are named for their vertical pupils, which is often found among snakes that are active in the evening or night. Many of the cat-eyed snakes are found in developed areas or degraded forests. However, the researchers found the ghost snake on pale grey limestone rocks.The ghost snake’s next closest relative is a snake called Madagascarophis fuchsi, which was discovered at a site about 100 kilometres north of Ankarana years ago.

Veteran award-winning film director K.G. George won the prestigious J.C. Daniel Award for his overall contribution to the Malayalam film industry on 6 September 2016. The award will be given away along with the State Film Awards at a function to be held at Palakkad in October 2016. K.G. George : Kulakkatil Geevarghese George is an Indian film director and screenwriter. He is considered to be among one of the directors who revolutionized Malayalam cinema in the 1970s.He is noted for his deep psychological analysis and character study of the human mind in his films. He made his debut with 1975 movie Swapnadanam, which won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Malayalam.His well known films include Ulkadal, Mela, Yavanika among others.He is also the founder and chairman of the Malayalam Cine Technicians Association (MACTA). J.C. Daniel Award : The J. C. Daniel Award is Kerala's highest award in Malayalam cinema.The Government of Kerala created the award to commemorate the contribution of Indian filmmaker J. C. Daniel, who is often regarded as the father of Malayalam cinema.It is presented annually by the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy, a non-profit institution under the Department of Cultural Affairs of the Government of Kerala, India. It was instituted in 1992. The award is given to honour the recipients for their outstanding contributions to Malayalam cinema.Recipients are selected by an independent jury established by the Academy and the Department of Cultural Affairs.Actor Madhu was the first recipient of the award. Actress Aranmula Ponnamma is the only woman who has received the honour in 2005. In 2014, the award was presented to director and screenwriter I.V. Sasi.

The Water Jet Fast Attack Craft (WJFAC), 'Tihayu' built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Limited (GRSE), Kolkata was handed over to the Indian Navy on 30 August 2016. The warship was handed over by Rear Admiral (Retd) A.K. Verma, Chairman and Managing Director, GRSE to the Commanding Officer of the ship Cdr. Ajay Kashov, at a ceremony held in GRSE. Rear Admiral S.R. Sarma, Chief Staff Officer (Technical) of Eastern Naval Command carried out final inspection of the ship prior to acceptance by the Navy.  GRSE had earlier built and delivered ten WJFACs to the Indian Navy during 2009 to 2011, which are proving well in service.

India and Chile have expanded their Preferential Trade Agreement with both offering to lower or eliminate tariffs on a number of items traded with each other. Chile has offered concessions to India on 1798 tariff lines with margin of preference (extent to which duties are lower than those offered to other countries) ranging from 30 per cent to100 per cent. India’s offer to Chile is on 1,031 products with a margin of preference between 10 per cent and 100 per cent. The agreement on the expansion of India–Chile Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) was signed in a meeting between Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia and Chilean Ambassador to India Andrés Barbé González. India and Chile first signed a PTA in March 2006 but it was limited in scope. India’s offer list to Chile in the initial PTA consisted of 178 tariff lines with a margin of preference ranging from 10 per cent to 50 per cent. Chile’s offer list to India comprised 296 tariff lines with margin of preference ranging from 10 per cent to 100 per cent.  

Intel has acquired computer vision firm Movidius, which partnered with Google to develop 3D space mapping technology for Project Tango devices.  The terms of the deal were not disclosed. With its latest purchase, Intel is set to build on its RealSense technology, which allows for measuring depth in physical spaces and is used in drones to help them avoid obstacles, as well as in webcams for applications like motion capture and 3D object scanning.  

John Abraham has been roped in as a brand ambassador for Arunachal Pradesh Tourism. BE Viacom18 in a first of its kind initiative, has partnered with the government of Arunachal Pradesh to provide strategic consultation services to promote the tourism in the state. John Abraham, who loves football, adventure sports, biking is the perfect fit for the state. Representing the state as a brand ambassador, he is of the opinion that the state has lot to offer to its tourist be it culture, heritage, adventure sports and music. John Abraham  is an Indian film actor, producer and a former model who appears in Hindi films. After modelling for numerous advertisements and companies, Abraham made his film debut with Jism (2003), which earned him a Filmfare Best Debut Award nomination. This was followed by his first commercial success, Dhoom (2004). He received two Filmfare Award nominations.

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