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Current Affairs Today – August 10 2016

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INDIAN AFFAIRS

Parliament clear the way for the Enforcement of Security Interest and Recovery of Debts Laws Amendment Bill, 2016
The Parliament passed a bill to amend debt recovery laws and make them more time-bound and effective in yet another step to address the problem of rising bad loans on August 9.
i. The bill approved by Lok Sabha and cleared by Rajya Sabha amends four laws — Sarfaesi Act, DRT Act, Indian Stamp Act and Depositories Act.
ii. The bill will pave the way for the sponsor of an ARC to hold up to 100% stake. It will also enable non-institutional investors to invest in security receipts issued by ARCs and mandate a timeline for possession of secured assets.
iii. To be sure, RBI already regulates these entities, but the bill expands the regulator’s powers. It also increases the penalty amount that can be levied by RBI toRs.1 crore fromRs.5 lakh.
iv. The bill proposes to widen the scope of the registry that will house the central database of all loans against properties given by all lenders.
v. It also proposes to bring hire purchase and financial lease under the ambit of the Sarfaesi Act, and enable secured creditors to take over a company and restore its business on acquisition of controlling interest in the borrower company.

Lok Shaba passed the Employee’s Compensation (Amendment) Bill, 2016
In Lok Sabha Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya proposed and passed the Employee’s Compensation (Amendment) Bill, 2016. The Bill amends the Employee’s Compensation Act, 1923.
i. This amendment provides for higher compensation in case an employee is injured in industrial accident and has a provision for hefty penalty in case any violation by the employers.
ii. A large number of organised workforces will be benefited by it. Because, Labour is a big component in the nation-building activity as their participation is very high. India has got a huge human resource. That is why labourers or workers play a significant role in building the nation.
iii. Section 30 of the Employees’ Compensation Act 1923 provides for appeal in high courts whenever the disputed amount of compensation is more than Rs 300. The bill seeks to raise this to Rs 10,000later.
iv. It is noted that the new legislation provides for payment of compensation up to Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh to employees and their dependants in the event of injury by industrial accidents, including occupational diseases.
v. The Employees’ Compensation Act, 1923, provides for payment of compensation to workmen and their dependants in the case of injury by industrial accidents, including certain occupational diseases arising out of and in the course of employment resulting in death or disablement.

Lok shaba passes bill to include Nagaland under Central Agricultural University of Imphal
The Central Agricultural University (Amendment) Bill, 2016 that provides for bringing the northeastern state of Nagaland under the jurisdiction of Imphal-based Central Agriculture University in neighboring Manipur was passed by the Lok Sabha.
i. The bill in effect seeks to amend the Central Agricultural University Act, 1992, that was enacted for the establishment and incorporation of a university for the northeastern region in order to promote development and research in agriculture and allied sectors.
ii. It is noted that the 1992 Act defines the north eastern region as comprising the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura. The new bill now amends this definition to include the state of Nagaland.
iii. After inclusion of Nagaland under jurisdiction of the Central Agricultural University, the College of Veterinary Sciences in Nagaland would produce the much-needed professional manpower in the fields of animal husbandry.
iv. The new college would help familiarise the farmers with new techniques, thereby contributing to the production and productivity of domestic animals in the State of Nagaland.
About Nagaland,
♦ Capital – Kohima, Guwahati
♦  CM – T. R. Zeliang
♦  Governor – Padnamabha Acharya

Lok Shaba passes Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill and Introduced the Factories (Amendment) Bill
i. The Lok Sabha on passed the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill on August 10. This bill will help unlock value of VSNL land, boost textile and marble sector.
ii. Tata Communication shares surged more than 6 per cent to day’s high of Rs 485 from day’s low of Rs 446 crore. Tata has had acquired majority stake in VSNL during the previous NDA regime.
iii. The Bill was passed in a voice vote after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley explained how the Taxation Laws Bill to amend the Income Tax Act and the Customs Tariff Act will help the government unlock value from VSNL land bank.
iv. The amendments in the Customs Tariff Act will give a boost to marble and granite producers as it will pave the way for hiking customs duty to 40 per cent from 10 per cent on marble and granite blocks, and impose quantitative restrictions and import duty to check dumping from China.
v. Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya introduced the Factories (Amendment) Bill in Lok Sabha. This bill aims at a number of issues, particularly setting up of Occupational Safety and Health Board of India and its role in bringing about changes in the safety and health provisions to make the Factories Act more contemporary.
vi. The Bill will seek to balance the requirements of increasing safety health and welfare of workers and at the same time facilitating the ease of doing business.
vii. The Factories Act 1948 also needs to change in view of new technology and new method of production gaining importance in today’s world.

KKNPP is dedicated to the people of India by NArendra Modi and Vladimir Putin 
KKNPP is dedicated to the people of India by NArendra Modi and Vladimir Putini. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian PresidentVladimir Putin  dedicated Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project’s (KKNPP) first unit to the country today. Both the leaders, along with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa spoke through video conferencing and jointly inaugurated the Unit-I of the plant.
ii. This nuclear plant collaborationis a highlight of friendship between India and Russia and both countries plan to build a series of nuclear power plants.
iii. The power plant is updated with most modern Russian technologies. It is not just construction and commissioning of the power plant. It is well known that Russia is one of the world leaders in nuclear technology and we are glad to share with our Indian colleagues our technology.
iv. For Unit I and II, the initial cost was estimated to be around Rs 13,171 crore, but it has gone up to Rs 17,270 crore due to the delay, rupee depreciation and certain other factors. Meanwhile, Unit-III and Unit-IV is expected to cost around Rs 39,000 crore and would be ready by 2022.
v. The capacity of KKNPP Unit-II on full power operation would be 1,000 MW. Electricity generated by central sector generating stations is allocated to the beneficiary states and union territories in the electricity region by the Ministry of Power.

Madhya Pradesh & Puducherry joins “UDAY” scheme
i. Madhya Pradesh and Union territory Puducherry joined Centre’s Power deft revitalizing power discoms UDAY scheme that will save the state Rs 17,515 crore  and for the UT it is expected to be around Rs.72 crore.
ii. With this Puducherry is the first union territory to formally join the scheme. Also this marks the number of states/UT that have joined UDAY goes up to 16.
iii. The move by the MP to participate in the scheme meant for fund help that will make savings during the period of turnaround in interest cost, reduction in AT&C losses, interventions in energy efficiency, coal reforms etc.
iv. It would also make the progress of speedy availability of cheaper power to around 131 villages and 52.86 lakh households to be electrified in Madhya Pradesh. While Puducherry also gets speedy availability of power to around 7,948 households that are still without electricity
v. Upon this UDAY scheme of these (16) states the combined discom debt that would be restructured is around Rs 2.51 lakh crore as on September 30, 2015.

NITI Aayog Ties Up With US EIA To Set Up Portal On Energy Data
i. Moving a step closer to set up a portal to host all the data related to energy sector in the country, NITI Aayog inked a pact with US Energy Information Administration (EIA).
ii. On the occasion, Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Anil Madhav Dave made a case for having a global energy data grid which clearly specified the use of clean and unclean energy across the world to deal with the larger issue of climate change.
iii. The Minister was of the view that the whole world is one family and universal problems like climate change would need a universal solution to it.
iv. The world needs an energy data grid to get a real time estimate of clean energy production and consumption as this will help India move towards clean energy
v. The NEP, which will replace the Integrated Energy Policy of the UPA government, is based on four objectives, namely accessible energy at affordable prices, energy security and independence, sustainability and economic growth.
vi. It is noted that NITI Aayog also inked an SOP with US Agency for International Development (USAID) and UK’s Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) for collaboration in the area of energy research.

CBDT constitutes a committee to review the Media Policy
i. Central Board of Direct Taxes – CBDT has constituted a new committee to “review” the existing media policy for communicating the activities of the board and the income tax department to the public.
ii. The nine-member committee has been created under Central Board of Direct Taxes member Gopal Mukherjee and mandated to draft new set of guidelines for “regulating” the interaction of the department with journalists and media organizations.
iii. The recommendations had sought an overhaul of the existing mechanism of information dissemination by the CBDT in the new emerging scenario when the tax department was increasingly moving towards rendering the role of facilitator to the taxpayers.
iv. The CBDT has six members apart from the chairperson and is responsible for framing policy and administrative issues related to direct taxes and the income tax department.
v. Under the current scheme of things, a commissioner rank officer of the department officiates as the spokesperson of the CBDT who is tasked to interact with media persons.
About CBDT :
♦ Name – Central Board of Direct Taxes
♦ HQ – New Delhi
♦ Establishment – 1944

Govt to set up committee to review e-commerce rules
i. Union government is mulling to constitute a committee to review e-commerce rules on foreign direct investment norms.
ii. The committee will study issues pertaining with the E commerce Sector also would suggest ways to further promote the growth of the sector.
iii. The committee will be headed by the NITI Aayog CEO, Amitabh Kant, it will have representatives from four states including Maharashtra and Karnataka.
iv. Besides the committee will have members from commerce and industry ministry and department of electronics and IT.
v. Currently some issues such as ecommerce players selling pharmaceuticals online and FDI has not been permitted in the inventory-based model in the sector

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

World’s longest hunger strike by Irom Shramila comes to an end!
World’s longest hunger strike ended on August 9 when Irom Chanu Sharmila ended her 16-year-long fast.
World's longest hunger strike by Irom Shramila comes to an end!i. Manipur’s ‘Iron Lady’ Irom Chanu Sharmila was on ahunger strike for 5757 days and was being force-fed through a nasal tube to keep her alive at a prison-turned-hospital in Imphal.
ii. Irom Chanu Sharmila also known as the “Iron Lady of Manipur
or “Mengoubi” is a civil rights activist, political activist, and poet from the Indian state of Manipur.
iii. On 2 November 2000,she began a hunger strike which she ended on 9 August 2016, after 16 years of fasting. Having refused food and water for more than 500 weeks, she has been called “the world’s longest hunger striker“.
iv. It is noted that on International Women’s Day, 2014 she was voted the top woman icon of India by MSN Poll and theAmnesty Internationalhas declared her as a prisoner of conscience.
v. On July 26, 2016, Irom Sharmila, who had been on a hunger strike since 2000, announced that she would end her fast on August 9, 2016. She also announced that she would contest state elections in Manipur.
vii. The decision to end her fast comes as a surprise considering her earlier statement that she would eat rice from her mother’s hand the day AFSPA is repealed as the Act is still enforced in Manipur. However, the objective of her fast and entering politics is to fight for the removal of AFSPA.

Vladimir agreed to work toward restoring full relations with Turkey
Russian President Vladimir after meeting with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Saint Petersburg has agreed to work toward restoring full relations with Turkey and also added that rebuilding trade ties will be time consuming.
i. Putin was one of the first foreign leaders to phone Erdogan offering support after the coup attempt and shares none of the scruples of European Union leaders about the ensuing crackdown.
ii. It’s the first time the two leaders have met since Turkish interceptors blasted a Russian warplane out of the skies over Syria in November.
iii. The incident, in which one of the air crew was killed as he parachuted from the aircraft, provoked a diplomatic firestorm with a furious Kremlin vowing retribution.
iv. The two countries will restore their yearly bilateral trade target of 100 billion dollars and will speed up the resumption of charter flights from Russia to Turkey.

BANKING & FINANCE

Non-Performing Assets (NPA) of commercial banks increased around 4%
The Union Government has declared that the Non-Performing Assets (NPA) of commercial banks have increased by around 4% in the from March 2015 to March 2016.
i.Non-performing asset(NPA) is defined as a credit facilityin respect of which the interest and/or installment of principal has remained ‘past due’ for a specified period of time. In simple terms, an asset is tagged as non performing when it ceases to generate income for the lender.
ii. This as a credit facility in respect of which the interest and/or installment of Bond finance principal has remained ‘past due’ for a specified period of time. NPA is used by financial institutions that refer to loans that are in jeopardy of default. Once the borrower has failed to make interest or principle payments for 90 days the loan is considered to be a non-performing asset.
iii. Non-performing assets are problematic for financial institutions since they depend on interest payments for income. Troublesome pressure from the economy can lead to a sharp increase in non-performing loansand often results in massive write-downs.
iv. It is noted that the NPA of banks was 5.43 percent in March 2015 which has risen to 9.32 percent in March this year.
v. NPA amounts are related to 417 stalled infrastructure projects where public sector banks have invested is over 66478 crore rupees. Union Government has taken several steps to revive these stalled projects and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has also issued guidelines for restructuring of loans.

BUSINESS

TCS bags 58th rank among the Top 100 Most Valuable Brand in the US
Brand Finance rating agency has ranked TCS as the 58th most valuable brand in the US and as one of only four global IT services companies recognised as a top 100 brand in the US, with 78.3 points, earning an AA+ rating.
♦ Tata Consultancy Services, India’s top exporter of IT software and a global provider of IT services, consulting and business solutions, has been ranked as the 58th most valuable brand in the US.
The Top 5  List:-
As per the Brand Finance report, Major IT giants bagged the top spots. They are as follows,

RANK COMPANY NAME
1 Apple
2 Google
3 Amazon
4 Microsoft
5 Verizon

First Solar commissions 130 MW of solar power plants in AP, Telangana
firsti. American photovoltaic (PV) manufacturer’s Indian subsidiary First Solar Power India announced the commercial operation of 80 MW and 50 MW as part of the 260 MW project portfolio solar power plants in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
ii. The proposed Solar plants will produce as much as energy to power that will illuminate 2,27,500 average homes in India and will displace 204 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.
iii. Upon commissioning of these plants the yielded Electricity will be purchased by the Andhra Pradesh and the Telangana Southern Power Distribution Company by 25-year power purchase agreements.
First Solar
CEO: James A. Hughes
Headquarters: Tempe, Arizona, United States

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

K M Hanumantharayappa took charge as the new Chairman of Central Silk Board
i. Leading sericulturist and a weaverK M Hanumantharayappa has assumed charge as the new Chairman of Central Silk Board for a period of three years. As the 25th Chairman of the board, he succeeds N S Bissegowda.
ii. He is a senior political leader from Bharatiya Janata Party and hails from Doddaballapura, a traditional silk weaving cluster in Karnataka.
iii. He served as the Member to the Central Silk Board during 2000-2002, he is also the President of Karnataka State Nekarara Horata Samithi – weaver’s association and has also served as Chairman of Karnataka Silk Marketing Board (KSMB) of Karnataka government during 2010-2013.
iv. He was awarded the Best Agriculturist Award by the Government of Karnataka. He has been involved in various political and social activities.
About CSB,
♦ Name – Central Silk Board,
♦ HQ – Bangalore
♦ Establishment – 1948.

Shri Akhil Joshi appointed as the Director (power), BHEL
i. Shri Akhil Joshi presently posted as Executive Director, Bharat Heavy Electricals limited (BHEL) has been appointed as the Director (Power), BHEL
ii. He holds the position for a period of five years from the date of his assumption of charge of the post, or till the date of his superannuation, or until further orders, whichever is the earliest.
iii. Prior to this Joshi, 57, was executive director-human resource at BHEL
iv. Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited(BHEL) owned by the Government of India, is a power plant equipment manufacturer and operates as an engineering and manufacturing company based in New Delhi, India.
v. Established in 1964, BHEL is India’s largest engineering and manufacturing company of its kind. The company has been earning profits continuously since 1971-72 and paying dividends uninterruptedly since 1976-77.
vi. It has been granted the prestigious Maharatna status in 2013 by Govt of India for its outstanding performance. The elite list of maharatna contains another 6 behemoth PSU companies of India.

Dinesh Kumar Khara appointed SBI’s MD
Dinesh Kumar Khara appointed SBI's MDDinesh Kumar Khara was appointed Managing Director of State Bank of India (SBI) for a period of three years. He is currently working as MD and CEO of SBI Funds Management Pvt Ltd.
SBI :
♦ HQ: Mumbai
♦ Tagline : With you all the way ,Pure banking nothing else,The nation’s bank on us
♦ Governor : Raguram Rajan

New Execurive Directors appointed in Various Banks
The cabinet also gave it’s for appointment of General Managers as Executive Directors in various banks.
Ashok Kumar Garg has been appointed as ED of Bank of Baroda
Ashok Kumar Garg and Raj Kamal Verma have been appointed as ED of Bank of Baroda and Union Bank of India respectively.
Gopal Murli Bhagat as ED of Corporation Bank
The Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) has given its nod for four appointments in the Public sector lenders. Upon this Gopal Murli Bhagat has been named as Executive Director of Mangalore based Corporation Bank.
Himanshu Joshi appointed ED on board of OBC
The Centre also appointed Himanshu Joshi as Executive Director on the board of Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC). His appointment is valid October 31, 2018 or superannuation period whichever is earlier. Prior to this appointment he was a General Manager with Punjab National Bank.

ACQUISTIONS & MERGERS

Randstad to acquire job portal Monster.com for $429 mn
i. Dutch based human resources services provider Randstad has acquired US-based job portal Monster Worldwide Inc for $429 million in all cash deal which is likely to close in Q4 2016.
ii. However, Monster will function as an independent entity and a separate brand under the dutch arm. Upon this deal Randstad will pay $3.40 per share to the Monster.
iii. This acquisition will enable Randstad to increase its services to offer both clients and candidates tools. In addition the company also mulling to leverage Monster’s multiple distribution channels to build a comprehensive HR services.
iv. In fact Monster has acquired San Francisco-based startup Jobr, a job-finding app the company described as a Tinder (app) for jobs in June this year.

Apple buys US machine learning startup Turi
i. The US tech major Apple has announced the purchase of US based machine-learning startup Turi for a reported $200m to boost artificial intelligence.
ii. The new purchase will help Apple to strengthen its platform that facilitates data scientists and application developers to create intelligent applications.
iii. The Apple’s move will help to compete against rival services from Amazon, Google and Microsoft in the area of Artificial intelligence.
iv. Apple is the world’s largest IT Company by revenue, the world’s largest technology company by total assets, and it also the world’s second-largest mobile phone maker.
Apple:
♦ Founded: 1976
♦ Headquarters: California
♦ CEO: Tim cook

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

China launched a new high-resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar imaging satellite
i. China launched a new high-resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar imaging satellite which provides accurate pictures of earth with ability to photograph detailed scenarios of its specific areas.
ii. The synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite, called Gaofen-3, was launched from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in northern Shanxi Province.
iii. It was the 233rd flight mission by a Long March carrier rocket. Sources have also further conveyed that, as China’s primary SAR imaging satellite that is exact to one metre in detachment.
iv. It covers the globe with an all-weather, 24-hour observation service and will be used for disaster warning, weather forecasting, water resource assessments, and the protection of maritime rights.
v.
It is able to provide high-definition remote sensing data for its users over long periods of time. Since the inception of the Gaofen project in 2013, China has had an increasingly clear view of the planet.
vi.
The Gaofen (the word means high resolution) project was started by China in 2013, and five satellites have already been launched under the program. Gaofen-4, launched late in 2015, was the first geosynchronous satellite launched by the Asian powerhouse.
vii. The satellite and the Long March 4C rocket were developed by the China Academy of Space Technology and the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology.

ENVIRONMENT

Steps to protect and preserve the Protected Species in India
i. Legal protection has been provided to wild animals against hunting and commercial exploitation under the provisions of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.
ii. Endangered species of animals including Tiger, Elephants, Lion, Rhino, etc are listed under Schedule –I of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 thereby according them highest degree of protection.
iii. The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, provides for stringent. punishments for wildlife offences. The Act also provides for forfeiture of any equipment, vehicle or weapon that is used for committing wildlife offence(s).
iv. The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau has been set up to strengthen the enforcement of law for control of poaching and illegal trade in wildlife and its products, by coordinating with the States and also with border and trans border authorities.
v. Protected Areas, viz., National Parks, Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves and Community Reserves covering important wildlife habitats have been created all over the country under the provisions of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 to conserve wild animals and their habitats.
vi. Financial and technical assistance is provided to the State/ Union Territory Governments under the Centrally Sponsored Schemes of ‘Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats’, ‘Project Tiger’ and ‘Project Elephant’ for providing better protection to wildlife and improvement of its habitat.
vii. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been empowered under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 to apprehend and prosecute wildlife offenders. 

OBITUARY

Veteran writer-producer Panchu Arunachalam passes away
panchui. Veteran Tamil writer and filmmaker Panchu Arunachalam has passed away due to age-related ailments at his residence in Chennai. He was 75 years old.
ii. Arunachalam who started producing films by his production firm named P. A. Arts, He is the man who introduced Ilayaraja as music director in 1976 Tamil film Annakilli and made more films starring Kamal Hassan and Rajinikanth.
iii. He is popular for writing over 100 Tamil films that includes blockbuster movies like Murattu Kaalai, Sakalakala Vallavan and Apoorva Sagodhargal also written song lyrics for more than 200 films.

BOOKS & AUTHORS

Paul releases book on U’khand’s development journey
i. Uttarakhand Governor K K Paul released a book titled Uttarakhand: Fifteen Years of Development which is narrating the state’s journey since its inception in 2000.
ii. The book was edited by former state chief secretary R S Tolia, takes stock of the achievements made and shortcomings in the area of development of the state since its inception.
iii. The book will be an important reference source for policy makers, administrators, academics.

IMPORTANT DAYS

World Bio-Fuel Day August 10
World Bio-Fuel Day is observed across the world on 10 August annually intended to create awareness about non fossil-fuels (Green Fuels).
♦ To mark German’s Rudolf Christian Karl Diesel’s invention of the diesel engine, achievement, World Bio-fuel Day is observed every year.
Celebrations:
Bio Fuel Dayi. The National Conference on  Energy security for India – Creating a Biofuel economy was inagurated by Dharmendra Pradhan.It is organised by Ministry of petroleum & Natural Gas in New Delhi.
ii. The biofuel business in India is expected to touch Rs. 50,000 crore by 2022,  said Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Petroleum and Natural Gas.
iii. Currently, the bio-diesel and ethanol industry in India is worth Rs.6,000 crore.
Bio Fuel:
Biofuel, is a type of fuel refined from plants and animal materials, These type of fuels are more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels that power most of the world.