Current Affairs 8th September 2016

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German consumer giant Henkel  has elevated Shilip Kumar as president of its India business.  He will succeed Jeremy Hunter, who led the Indian market for over five years, and has now moved to Shanghai as president - Henkel China. Hunter relocated to India after the company decided to divest their Indian FMCG division to Jyothy Labs and focus on the adhesives and cosmetics businesses.  Kumar who joined Henkel in 2011 will continue as business director of the transportation and metal SBU (strategic business unit) in India, Middle East and Africa (IMEA) region.  India offers considerable growth potential for Henkel and it will be our endeavor to ensure that we utilize effectively the resources and investments made by our parent company to capitalize on this potential . Within Henkel, he spearheaded the India Innovation centre  Pune project for which was commissioned three years ago.   

Famous Author Stuart Blackburn's "Into the Hidden Valley", a book based on Apatani tribe of Arunachal Pradesh,won the MM Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction 2016 in the UK.  He completed his doctorate in Tamil language and international folklore from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1980 He is the author or editor of 16 books on Indian culture and folklore, mainly in south India (where his first novel, Murder in Melur, is set) and northeast India. The book, published by Speaking Tiger, looks into a little-known episode in the colonial history of British India.  Blackburn vividly brings alive the world of the Apatanis.

Himachal Pradesh (HP) cabinet has decided to amend the Hydropower Policy 2006 in respect to transfer of shares by Himachal is to non-Himachalis.  So that now Himachalis can sell or transfer 49% equity shares to non-Himachalis at any stage after allotment of projects upto 2 MW capacity and full disinvestment after two years of commissioning of the projects. It is noted in  case of bonafide Himachalis to whom projects up to 2 MW to 5 MW capacity had been allotted, could sell or transfer 51% share to non-Himachali people at any stage after allotment of projects and full disinvestment after two years of commissioning of the project.  

Union Government has launched a new program called National Initiative for Developing and Harnessing Innovations (NIDHI) on 6 September 2016. The initiative aims at nurturing ideas and innovation into successful start ups. NIDHI, an umbrella programme of the Department of Science & Technology (DST), will focus on helping startups to meet their funding, infrastructure and other mentorship needs. NIDHI will allow youths of the country to give a concrete shape to their ideas. National Initiative for Developing and Harnessing Innovations : The programme focuses on building a seamless and innovation driven entrepreneurial ecosystem especially by channelizing youth towards it and thereby bringing in the positive impact on the socio-economic development of the country It aims at providing technological solutions not only to the pressing needs of the society but also targets to create new avenues for wealth and job creation. By design it connects and strengthens all the links of the innovation chain from scouting to sustaining to securing to scaling to showcasing, because a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. There are eight component of NIDHI that support each stage of a budding startup from idea to market. The first component is PRAYAS (Promoting and accelerating young and aspiring innovators and startups) which aims to support innovators to grant up to 10 lakh rupees.The final component is the Seed Support System which provides up to One Crore rupees per start-up and is implemented through Technology Business Incubators. During the financial year 2016-17, Department of Science has allocated 180 crore rupees, with a view to drive the innovation and startup centric new initiative.

CK Asnani has assumed charge as the Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) on 7 September 2016 , an undertaking of the Department of Atomic Energy. Asnani is a Chemical Engineer from Osmania University. He was the Director (Technical) of Indian Rare Earths Limited, Mumbai before the present assignment. Asnani was earlier associated with Nuclear Fuel Complex, Hyderabad. Uranium Corporation of India Limited : UCIL is a Public Sector Enterprise under the Department of Atomic Energy with a special standing at the forefront of Nuclear Power cycle.  The company operates six underground mines- Bagjata, Jaduguda, Bhatin, Narwapahar, Turamdih and Mohuldih and one open pit mine at Banduhurang, Jharkhand.   Ore produced from these mines is processed in two plants located at Jaduguda and Turamdih.

India has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Greece to allow unlimited number of flights into each other’s countries and also has initiated the air service agreement for open skies.  With this, Greece becomes first country with which India has inked an open sky arrangement under its new civil aviation policy. At present, there are no direct flights between India and Greece. Passengers have to travel one stop via Turkey or Gulf States to Greece. Till now there was no air services agreement between India and Greece and thus preventing the start of air services between two countries.  Under the open skies agreement, airlines from India will be allowed to operate unlimited number of flights to Greece. Similarly airlines carriers from Greek will be granted unlimited traffic rights to six Indian metro cities. Under the new civil aviation policy, India plans to enter into ‘open sky’ air service agreements (ASA) with SAARC countries and with countries beyond 5,000 km radius from Delhi.  It has facilitated India to sign ASAs with other countries through bilateral negotiations to decide on the number of flights that airlines can fly into each other’s countries.  Under the open sky pact, there is no restriction on flights or seats. At present, India has an open sky agreement with the US and a near open sky agreement with the UK. For SAARC and ASEAN countries, India has an open sky agreement with more than a dozen countries.

The first edition of ‘IoT (Internet of Things) India Congress, 2016’ began in Bengaluru, Karnataka. The three-day event was inaugurated by Union Information Technology (IT) and Electronics Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and JS Deepak, Secretary, Ministry of Telecommunications. The congress aims to bring together key stakeholders across the value chain and verticals to collaborate, ideate and share a common roadmap for IoT implementation. It will bring the IoT practitioners (hardware-devices, portables, sensors, software, business) and IoT enablers (regulatory, training, investors in IoT, end users) to work together.  It seeks to create an IoT platform that is industry efficient as well as robust. For this purpose it has brought top executives from multinational companies and tech start-ups on one platform. The event will also host the “IoT Start-Up Awards 2016” and “IoT Thought Leadership Awards 2016”. Internet of Things (IoT) :  IoT is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, or people that are provided with unique identifiers. Thus it can be said that it is an internetworking of physical devices, vehicles, buildings and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors and network connectivity.  The internetworking has ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. IoT is also dubbed as the infrastructure of the information society. It allows objects to be sensed and controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure.  Thus it creates opportunities for more direct integration of physical world into computer-based systems, and resulting in improved accuracy, efficiency and economic benefits.

The International Literacy Day is being observed 08 September every year to emphasize the importance of literacy to individuals, society and communities  This year, the world is celebrating 50th International Literacy Day. The day was established in 1966 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). 2016 Theme is  ‘Reading the Past, Writing the Future‘. In India to observe this day, several functions have been planned by the National Literacy Mission Authority. The National Literacy Mission (NLM) was initiated by the government in 1988 with the objective of eradicating illiteracy. In 1951, when first Census was conducted after Independence, the literacy rate of country was merely 18%.   However, in the last Census held in 2011 India has achieved a literacy rate of around 73%. The present national goal is to achieve literacy rate of 80 per cent by end of 12th Plan Period. The UNESCO had announced September 8 as International Literacy Day on November 17, 1965 and it was first celebrated in 1966. The objective of celebrating this day is to emphasize the significance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies.  On International Literacy Day every year, UNESCO retells the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning worldwide.

The 2016 Summer Paralympic Games began on 7 September 2016 at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The fifteenth Summer Paralympic Games will conclude on 18 September 2016. The games started after the symbolic cauldron was lit by Brazilian swimmer and wheelchair user Clodoaldo Silvax. The flame travelled across all five regions of Brazil over seven days, with 500 torchbearers taking part. The quadrangular torch reflects the four Paralympic values – courage, determination, inspiration and equality. After this, the athletes’ parade was led by Ibrahim Al Hussein, a Syrian refugee who will compete as part of the Independent Paralympic Athletes (IPA) Team at the Games. Each national team will have their own flag-bearer. Around 4350 athletes from more than 160 countries will compete in 22 different sports. Of the total number of athletes set to take part, approximately 1650 will be women. Canoeing and Paratriathlon is being included in the Games for the first time in Rio. The opening ceremony saw participation of about five hundred professional staff, including choreographers and artists, and 2000 volunteers. The Ceremony was created by three directors – designer Fred Gelli, writer Marcelo Rubens Paiva and artist Vik Muniz. The theme of the Ceremony “Every Body Has A Heart”, reflected its focus on the human condition, feelings, difficulties, solidarity and love. The main attraction of the opening ceremony was performance of Samba dance by US snowboarder and Paralympic medallist Amy Purdy. This is the first time that the Summer Paralympics is being held during the host city's wintertime. This will mark the first time a Latin American and South American city hosts the event. Rio also becomes the second city in the Southern Hemisphere city to host the event. In 2000, Sydney, Australia became the first city in southern hemisphere to host Summer Paralympics. It is also the first time a Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking) country hosts the event. The event saw launch of structure of the Paralympic Mural with messages written in various languages. The mural was signed by Para athletes and their nation’s Chef de Missions. The 10 categories of impairment recognised by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) are impaired muscle power, impaired passive range of movement, limb deficiency, leg length difference, short stature, hypertonia, ataxia, athetosis, vision impairment and intellectual impairment.

It is a dream come true for bird watchers and naturalists. The State Wildlife Board, headed by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, has decided to declare Ankasamudra tank in Hagari Bommanahalli taluk as a bird conservation reserve. The Ankasamudra tank was gaining popularity as a natural birds sanctuary. Over 140 species of birds, both local and migratory, including Rosy Starlings, painted storks, open billed storks, Northern Shovelors, Northern Pintails, Sand pipers, cormorants, parakeets, egrets, ibis and herons among others, chose it as not only a roosting place but also as a breeding spot. This is the first bird conservation reserve declared in the entire Hyderabad-Karnataka region.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui won the Best Actor award for his role in 'Manjhi-The Mountain Man'. Tannishtha Chatterjee won the award for her role in 'Rough Book'.  Anant Mahadevan won the Best Director honour at the debut edition of the Lonavla International Film Festival India (LIFFI). Lonavla International Film Festival India “LIFFI” and LIFFI Awards has been established in 2016 by it’s founder members Mr.Riju Bajaj, Mr. Madhav Todi and Dr. Anamika Sharma to celebrate Lonavla’s monsoon waterfalls with films coming from across the globe bringing the rainbow of colours & stories in various forms of feature films and short films. LIFFI is an award based competition & film  festival.

United Nations, has included into it the most ancient and traditional language of India, Sanskrit into its charter. A charter binds the assembly of nations.  The charter being translated into the Sanskrit language is the first of its kind attempt to make it to such an important international document. National Mission for Manuscripts in India promoted the translation work. The pioneer of this promotion was primarily Dr.Jitendra Kumar Tripathi.  The development which is of great importance for india as a whole, was appreciated by the United Nations Associates. 

India, Kazakhstan joint bilateral military exercise PRABAL DOSTYK-16 began in Karaganda region of Kazakhstan. The fourteen day (till 17 September 2016) will be a significant step towards fostering military as well as diplomatic ties between both countries. ‘Prabal Dostyk’ means ‘Robust Friendship’. In this edition of exercise, Indian Army is being represented by a platoon strength and the Kazakhstan Army is represented by platoon from Special Operating Force’s Unit.  The primary aim of exercise will be to enhance interoperability while undertaking Counter Terrorism & Counter Insurgency Operations in rural & semi-urban environment under the umbrella of United Nations.  The exercise will be conducted in two stages. The first stage will be to familiarize with each other’s tactics, drills, weapons & equipment.  Whereas in the second stage, troops of both the armies will graduate to jointly execute a helicopter borne operation in a simulated environment. Combat battle drills and physical fitness will also be the focal point of the bilateral military exercise.

South African Lindsay Tuckett, who was the oldest surviving former Test cricketer, passed away on 5 September 2016 in Bloemfontein. He was 97. With the death of Tuckett, the distinction of the oldest surviving cricketer in the world now passes to all-rounder Johnny Watkins, who is 93. Lindsay Tuckett :  Tuckett represented South Africa in nine Test matches against England between 1947 and 1949. Tuckett was the backbone of the South African pace attack in the years immediately following World War II. He made his debut in the first Test at Trent Bridge, Nottingham in 1947.  In his full international career, he took 19 wickets, including two five-wicket hauls.He will best be remembered for bowling the final over of the first Test at Kingsmead in the 1948-49 with England winning by two wickets off the final ball of the game.