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Current Affairs Today – August 11 2016

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INDIAN AFFAIRS

Union Cabinet approved the introduction of pension and post-retirement medical schemes
The Union Cabinet led by Shri. Narendra Modi approved the introduction of pension and post-retirement medical schemes for the 22,000 existing employees of Food Corporation of India (FCI) as per the guidelines of Department of Public Enterprise
Pension Scheme:-
i. In order to qualify for this pension scheme one should have a Minimum service period of 15 years before superannuation except in case of death.
ii. The Employer’s Contribution is 10% of Basic pay and DA per month in respect of all existing employees as on 01.12.2008 or appointed thereafter.
iii. The Employees’ Mandatory Contribution is about 2% of basic pay + DA per month. Employees’ Voluntary Contribution and up to 25% of basic pay + DA per month.
Post Medical Scheme:-
i. A Minimum service period of 15 years before superannuation except in case of death qualifies one to this scheme.
ii. The Employer contribution is 3.83% of Basic + DA w.e.f. 01.04.2016.
iii. The Employee Contribution is Last drawn Basic pay and DA at the time of retirement / death during service, subject to minimum of Rs.10, 000.

Lok Sabha passes the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2016
parliament-305-x-182_120415014615The Lok Sabha passed the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2016. It creates the way for employers in the textile sector to avail of the income tax benefit on additional employment provided the employee. This applies for the employee who has worked for 150 days and not 240 days as mandated earlier.
i. The bill, which will amend the Income Tax Act, 1961, and The Customs Tariffs Act, 1975, seeks to exempt land banks of erstwhile public sector undertakings from levy of capital gains tax when transferred to the government.
ii. This bill provide tax incentives to the garment sector and enable the government to raise customs duty on marble and granite from 10 to 40%.
iii. The changes in the Income Tax Act will give effect to the conditions attached to the transfer of shares by the government.
iv. Section 80JJAA of the Income-tax Act, 1961, was substituted by the Finance Act, 2016, so as to provide that in the case of certain assessees, in computing profits and gains derived from business, deduction shall be allowed of an amount equal to 30% of additional employee cost incurred in the course of such business in the previous year for the specified period, subject to the fulfillment of certain specified conditions.
v. It is noted that Union Cabinet had on June 22 approved a special package for employment generation and promotion of exports in textile and apparel sector, in line with its commitment to generate one crore jobs in the textile and apparel industry over next three years.

Union Cabinet approves Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 to provide six months maternity leave
The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has given its ex-post facto approval for amendments to the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 by introducing the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in Parliament
i. The maternity benefit Act 1961 protects the employment of women during the time of her maternity and entitles her of a ‘maternity benefit’ – i.e. full paid absence from work – to take care for her child. The act is applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more persons. The amendments will help 1.8 million women workforce in organized sector.
ii. The amendments include increasing maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for two surviving children and 12 weeks for more than two children, 12 weeks maternity leave to a ‘Commissioning mother’ and ‘Adopting mother’.
iii. A commissioning mother is one who gets a baby via surrogate mothers. This is a completely new provision that forms part of the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
iv. Once approved by the Parliament, the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 will mandate opening crèches in all companies having 50 employees or 30 women employees whichever is lower and also offers to facilitate ‘Work from home’.

Union Cabinet approves amendments to Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act
The cabinet gave ex-post facto approval to a proposal to amend the Lokpal Act to exempt Central government employees sand NGOs executives from filing details of assets of their spouses and children.
i. Union cabinet gave its approval for amendments to section 44 and consequential amendments to the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 by introducing the Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in Parliament.
ii. As per old Lokpal rules, every public servant will file declaration, information and annual returns pertaining to his assets and liabilities, along with those of spouse and dependent children, as on March 31 every year on or before 31 July of that year.
iii. This was changed through the amendment bill to exempt spouse and children of public servants and the declarations under the Lokpal law are in addition to those filed by the employees under various service rules and the last date for filing such declarations has been extended till 31 December, 2016.

CCEA approves R&D project for development of Advanced Ultra Super Critical (AUSC) Technology with 1,554 crore
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave its nod for a proposal of R&D project for development of Advanced Ultra Super Critical (AUSC) Technology for thermal power projects with an estimated cost of Rs 1,554 crore.
The CCEA “approved a proposal of R&D project for development of Advanced Ultra Super Critical (AUSC) technology for thermal power plant with an estimated cost of Rs 1,554 crore and providing one time budgetary support of Rs 900 crore spread over a period of three years, commencing from 2017-18, to be provided as plan Gross Budgetary Support to Bhel for implementation of the R&D project.
i. A consortium of three government entities for thermal power plants of future, envisaging reduced coal consumption as well as Carbon Di-Oxide (CO2) emission. They are as follows,
1.Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL),
2.Indira Gandhi Centre of Atomic Research (IGCAR) and
3.NTPC — have proposed a R&D project for development of AUSC technology.
ii. The project is formulated with a timecycle of two and a half years, with an estimated cost of Rs 1,554 crore, with a contribution of Rs 270 crore from Bhel, Rs 50 crore from NTPC, Rs 234 crore from IGCAR, Rs 100 crore from Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the remaining amount of Rs 900 crore will be contributed by Department of Heavy Industry (DHI).
iii. It is noted that Power generation from coal contributes to about 38 per cent of CO2 pollution in the atmosphere. Twenty per cent reduction in CO2 emission at source combined with 20 per cent saving in coal.

Bihar government to implement Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana
PMFBYi. Nitish Kumar-led Bihar Government is agreed to implement the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana on an experimental basis in Kharif season with immediate effect.
ii. The move by the Bihar is to test whether the Scheme is actually helps Farmers or the Insurance players who involved in the Scheme.
Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana:
♦ Union government has announced this New Crop Insurance scheme on 13thJanuary, 2016, being rolled out from the Kharif season this year. This scheme replaces the existing two schemes National Agricultural Insurance Scheme and the Modified NAIS.
♦ Under the provisions farmers’ premium has been kept at a maximum of 2 % for foodgrains and oilseeds, and up to
5 % for horticulture and cotton crops (annual Yielding).

Bihar cabinet nod for tax hike on petrol, diesel
i. Bihar Cabinet led by the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar gave its nod to increase VAT on petrol and diesel by 1.5 per cent and 1 per cent respectively.
ii. Upon this VAT on diesel will go up 19 per cent from 18 per cent and on petrol it will be 26 per cent from 24.5 per cent.
iii. The cabinet also approved to waive the entertainment tax on a Hindi documentary Guturgu-guturgu.

Union Cabinet approved MoU between India and South Africa in the field of Tourism
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval for a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and South Africa for cooperation in the field of Tourism.
The MoU emphasizes on several factors includes,
i. To expand bilateral cooperation in the tourism sector and to exchange information and data related to tourism .
ii. To encourage cooperation between tourism stakeholders, including hotels and tour operators and to establish exchange programmes for cooperation in Human Resource Development;
iii. To Invest in the tourism and hospitality sector and to encourage visits of Tour Operators/Media/ Opinion Makers and tourists from both countries for promotion of two way tourism;
iv. To exchange experiences in the areas of promotion, education, marketing, destination development and management;
v. To participate in travel fairs and exhibitions in each other’s country and to promote safe, honorable and sustainable tourism.

Union Cabinet approves ratification of an agreement between India and Croatia on Economic Cooperation.
The cabinet has given its approval to sign an agreement for economic cooperation between Indian and Croatia. The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval for signing and ratification of an agreement between India and Croatia on Economic Cooperation.
i. In September, 1994 India and Croatia had signed an Agreement on trade and economic cooperation with an aim to promote and develop bilateral trade and economic relations.
ii. Signing of the new Agreement between India and Croatia would be a step in continuity as the existing Agreement expired in November, 2009. 
iii. It is noted that bilateral trade between India and Croatia during 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 were US$ 152.01 million, US$ 148.86 million and US$ 205.04 million respectively. The average bilateral trade growth was 17.44% during the last three years.
About Croatia :
♦ Capital – Zagreb
♦ Currency – Croatian kuna.
♦ President: Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović
♦ Prime minister: Tihomir Orešković

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Azim Premji and Shiv Nadar bags their spots in the prestigious Forbes list of 100 richest people in the technology field
Forbes has released its first ever list of the 100 richest people in the technology field. This list is as usually dominated by Americans with Microsoft founder Bill Gates at the top.
i. Two Indian tech tycoons, Wipro chairman Azim Premji and HCL co-founder Shiv Nadar bagged their spots in this prestigious list.
ii. The ‘100 Richest Tech Billionaires In The World 2016’ list has been topped by Microsoft founder Bill Gates with an estimated fortune of USD 78 billion.
iii. Azim Premji ranks 13th on the list with a networth of USD 16 billion and Shiv Nadar comes in on the 17th spot with USD 11.6 billion of net worth.
The Top 5 list as follows

Position Name of the Person
1  Bill Gates
2 Jeff Bezos
3 Marl Zuckerburg
4 Larry Ellison
5 Larry page

BANKING & FINANCE

NABARD sanctions Rs 26.06 crore to Punjab
i. The National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has sanctioned Rural Infrastructure Development fund of Rs 26.06 crore to the state of Punjab also upon this the total grand stood at Rs 7,826.17 crore so far.
ii. The financial grand will be used for tackling waterlogging by building lift schemes in low-lying areas, village ponds and other allied works in the state.
iii. The project will benefit 5,913 hectares of land in 87 villages of Muktsar and Fazilka districts. The project will pave the way for farmers to cultivate crops in the previously waterlogged areas after a long gap.
NABARD:
♦ Inception: 12 July 1982
♦ HQ: Mumbai
♦ Chairman: Harsh Kumar Bhanwala
♦ The Bank was set up on the recommendations from B. Sivaraman committee which was formed by RBI. Government of India holds 99% stake in NABARD.

Union finance Minister Arun Jaitley launches MSME Data Bank Portal and Online Finance Facilitation Web Portal.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley launched an online finance facilitation portal for the micro, small and medium enterpris (MSMEs) to facilitate ease of doing business at New Delhi on August 11.
i. He launched two important initiatives of the Ministry of MSME – MSME Data Bank Portal and Online Finance Facilitation Web Portal.
ii. The online finance facilitation centre will allow the MSMEs to apply for loans from the various banks on the NSIC – National Small Industries Corporation portal.
iii. The online finance facilitation centre will allow the MSMEs to apply for loans from the various banks on the NSIC (National Small Industries Corporation) portal and NSIC has also signed a MoUs (memorandum of understanding) with 33 banks, 14 of whom have agreed to associate with the online finance facilitation portal.
iv. The databank will eventually will be used for public procurement purposes and the PSUs may make use of the data for procurement purposes from MSMEs.
v. The initiatives were launched on the side-lines of 14th Meeting of the National Board of MSME in the presence of Union MSME Minister Kalraj Mishra, MoS MSME Ministry Giriraj Singh, Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary and MSME Secretary K K Jalan.

BUSINESS

Hindustan Copper Limited inaugurates India’s first facility to produce nickel
As the first facility in India to produce Nickel metal of LME grade from primary resource, Shri. Balvinder Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of Mines, inaugurated the Nickel, Copper and Acid Recovery Plant of Hindustan Copper Limited in Indian Copper Complex, Ghatsila, Jharkhand.
i. It is the only unit in India to produce nickel metal of (London Metal Exchange) LME grade.
ii. The Singhbhum Copper Belt has unique ore characteristics which contains appreciable quantity of Nickel. HCL has installed and commissioned the technology to recover the Nickel metal.
iii. The project will utilize eco-friendly technology and help check pollution, eliminate use of lead, reduce liquid effluents and cut down solid waste by 75%. It will also utilize less energy, provide a safe working environment and conserve natural resources.
iv.
The capacity of the plant is initially poised to be 50 tonnes per annum, given the current production rate from the Surda mines. However, the nickel output is expected to increase nearly eight times after the completion of mine expansion projects located at Ghatsila.

Ola launches intra-city rental service ‘Ola Rental’
i. Cab aggregator Ola has launched Ola Rentals which will simplify intra city travel with affordable hourly packages on Ola Lux, Ola Prime Sedan & SUV vehicles as well as OLA mini.
ii. The OLA rentals currently being available in 35 cities and will be rolled out in 100 cities across India soon. This Rentals platform is the only platform that provides luxury A/C cabs at hourly packages.
iii. The move also integrates Ola Rentals to the Ola Corporate, which ultimately puts the platform in booking, travelling, billing etc. becomes extremely efficient and streamlined manner.
iv. This launch also offers luxury vehicles, sedans and SUVs as well as high rated drivers along with all in-app safety features like SOS button and live tracking.

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

Bill Maris, Founder of Google Ventures leaves the company
Bill Maris Google CEOOne of the influential tech financiers in Silicon Valley Bill Maris, the investor who started Google Ventures is leaving Google Inc.
i. Maris will be leaving both the firm and its parent company Alphabet making him the third executive to quit the megacorp of late.
ii. Maris, a neuroscientist by training, built Google Ventures into one of the more idiosyncratic venture firms — relying on data science for its investment decisions and a seemingly endless stream of capital from its parent, Google.
iii. The shake-up comes exactly one year after the creation of Alphabet, a holding company designed to better distinguish the core Google business from other projects like GV. Sources suggest that the reorganization has been accompanied by new cost controls for Alphabet companies, some of which do not currently generate revenue.
iv. It is noted that Google Ventures had $2.4 billion in assets under management as of the beginning of 2016, and last year backed 39 different companies.

Birender Singh Yadav appointed as the next High Commissioner of India to the Republic of Ghana
i. IFS officer of 1997 batch Birender Singh Yadav currently working as Joint Secretary in the Ministry, has been appointed as the next High Commissioner of India to the West Africa’s Republic of Ghana. Yadav will succeed K. Jeeva Sagar in Ghana.
ii. IFS officer’s serves as Ambassadors, High Commissioners, Consul General, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations and Foreign Secretary are some of the offices. Also IFS appointment renders a person ineligible to reappear in Civil Services Exam.
Republic of Ghana
♦ Capital: Accra
♦ Currency: Ghanaian cedi
♦ President: John Dramani Mahama

Savlon Health care gets it New Brand Ambassador – Saina Nehwal
saITC’s health and hygiene brand, Savlon has roped in ace shuttler Saina Nehwal as its brand ambassador. In its new campaign with Nehwal, Savlon seeks to inspire parents to let go of their fears and encourage children to push their limits and maximise their potential to succeed in life.
i. Savlon is happy to engage ace shuttler Saina Nehwal as the Brand Ambassador. Her journey truly exemplifies determination, dedication and hard work.  Saina personifies Savlon’s core brand thought of performance power in more ways than one.
ii. Saina Nehwal is a professional badminton singles player from India. Active since 2004 at the international circuit, Nehwal, the former world no. 1, has maintained her world ranking in the top ten since 2009. She has won over twenty international titles, which include ten Superseries titles.
iii. Nehwal has achieved many milestones in badminton for India. She is the only Indian to have won medals in all of theBWF major individual events, namelyOlympics, BWF World Championships, and the BWF World Junior Championships.
iv. Considered as one of the most successful Indian female sportsperson,she is credited for increasing the popularity of badminton in India.In 2016, the Government of India conferred the Padma Bhushan – India’s third highest civilian award – on her.
v.
It is noted that she previously, the nation’s top two sporting honors, namelyRajiv Gandhi Khel Ratnaand Arjuna Award were also conferred on her by the Indian Government.

ACQUISITIONS & MERGERS

Intel acquires AI start-up run by Indian-origin entrepreneur
i. American technology major Intel Corporation has announced that it has acquired California-based deep learning start-up Nervana Systems.
ii. Nervana systems run by an Indian-origin entrepreneur, it provides a full-stack software-as-a-service platform called Nervana Cloud to create their own custom deep learning solutions.
iii.  However Intel was tight-lipped about the deal size but according to a Re/Code report, the software giant is paying more than $400 million.
iv. Start-up Nervana Systems was founded by CEO Naveen Rao, CTO Amir Khosrowshahi, and VP Algorithms Arjun Bansal in 2014.
Intel Corporation:
CEO: Brian Krzanich
Headquarters: California

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Union Minister Harsh Vardhan Launched I Feel Safe for Women Safety
Union Minister of Science and Technology and Ministry of Earth Sciences, Harsh Vardhan Launched “I Feel Safe”- A mobile application aimed at helping women ensure their safety in the national capital was launched at Delhi University on August 10.
i. “I Feel Safe” is a personal safety application that works across mobile networks. The app is powered by Nirbhaya Jyoti Trust and developed in association with Mobile Standards Alliance of India.
ii. The app instantly adds a virtual panic button. Mobile phone owners can simply press the “Safety Ka Power Button” five times to activate an alarm.
iii. The app works across India on all mobile networks and sends near real-time updates about the location of the mobile user.
iv. It places an automatic call to the national emergency number 100 and the location of the potential victim is tracked every 30 seconds and made available to their emergency contacts and emergency call centre team.
v. It is noted that the idea of the app came after the 2012 Delhi gang rape. The government has since then made it mandatory to put a panic button in every phone starting January 2017.

First Indian channel on skill development launched in Pune
i. Educational Service provider Millionlights in partnership with DEN Manoranjan Satellite has rolled out a first and only Indian TV Channel focused on higher education and skill development in Pune.
ii. The launch intended to create a landscape of content, delivery platforms and certifications leading to higher employability.
iii. The company has Microsoft as a partner for the TV channel initiative which provides course segments from its present library, which the team at Millionlights customises for the Indian audiences.
iv. In the maiden phase the channel to come up in Pune with Den Manoranjan as the cable partner which would likely reach 200,000 households in the city.

ENVIRONMENT 

16 rare frog species and 3 snake species found in the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala
During the first phase of a first of its kind reptile-amphibian survey carried there from August 5 to 8, Sixteen frog species and three snake species, which have not been spotted in the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary earlier, have been spotted.
i. About 50 volunteers from the nature groups Koodu conducted the survey in the 90.44 square kilometre sanctuary in Idukki district with the help of Travancore Natural History Society, Malabar Natural History Society, Cochin Adventure Foundation, Wings of Nature representatives.
ii. The survey was different from the previous ones since it was carried out during day and night along 11 different habitats of the sanctuary, comprising rain shadow areas, high altitude grasslands, thorny shrubberies, river banks and shola forests.
iii. 31 species of amphibians and 29 reptile species were spotted during the first phase survey. Among the frog discoveries are the IUCN red listed
♦ Griet bush frog,
♦ The star eyed tree frog, and
♦ The large ghat tree frog.
iv. The reptile discoveries during the survey include the Gunther’s vine snake, the Anamalai gecko, the blue tailed skink, Malabar pit viper, and the flying snake.
v. It is noted that the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary reportedly has one of the richest biodiversity wealth in the State because of its varying climatic conditions.

SPORTS

Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis end partnership
aniai. World No. 1 Mixed Doubles pair Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis have mutually agreed to end their partnership after the pair showed poor performances in recent times.
ii. In the US Open- women’s doubles they advanced up to draw, but with different partners – Sania with former partner Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic, and Hingis with USA’s Coco Vandeweghe.
iii. This Sania-Martina (Indo-Swiss) pair became one of the most successful women’s tennis pairings in recent years, winning titles at Wimbledon and the US Open last year and Aussie Open this year.
iv. The pair has 3 grand Slams and 11 WTA doubles titles together under their belt, However in Rio Olympics Sania will partner Rohan Bopanna in the mixed doubles.

OBITUARY

Yesteryear Tamil actress Jyothilakshmi passes away
i. Veteran Tamil and Telugu actress Jyothi Lakshmi passed away after had long battle with blood cancer at a hospital in Chennai. She was 63 year old.
ii. Jothi had started her acting career starring in T.R. Ramanna’s Tamil film ‘Periya Idathu Penn’ with Saroja Devi and M.G. Ramachandran in the lead.
iii. She was famous for playing the bad girl who appeared in 300 movies to her credit, in all the four South Indian languages.

IMPORTANT DAYS

Maneka Gandhi kicks off campaign to mark 11 August as Daughters’ Day
campigni. Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi has launched a week long campaign on social media to celebrate daughters, daughters-in-law and granddaughters this week to mark the Daughter’s Day on 11th August 2016.
ii. As part of the celebration the minister herself tweeted with the photo with her daughter-in-law and granddaughter using the hashtag #BBBPDaughtersWeek.
iii. The Women and Child Development Ministry celebrates this week as Daughters’ Week on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms, as part of the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao programme also urges citizens to take part in the Campaign by tweeting.