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Current Affairs Today – August 20 2016

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National Convention of Pradhans of Ganga bank villages organized in Allahabad
i. The Drinking Water and Sanitation Ministry jointly with the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation and Department of Youth Affairs, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports as well as Government of Uttar Pradesh, organized a National Convention of Gram Pradhans in Alaahabad.
ii. The Convention aims to rally Gram Pradhans of 1651 villages in 52 districts and 5 States situated along the banks of the river Ganga.
iii. The rally focuses on working together and make all these villages Open Defecation Free (ODF) to meet the goals of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) as well as the Namami Gange programme.

Cities on the Bank of Ganga
KanpurUttar Pradesh
MirzapurUttar Pradesh
VaranasiUttar Pradesh
FarrukhabadUttar Pradesh
FatehgarhUttar Pradesh
KannaujUttar Pradesh
Kanpur CantonmentUttar Pradesh
ShuklaganjUttar Pradesh
ChakeriUttar Pradesh


Kerala Govt offers debt relief for poor and low income population
i. The Kerala government approved a new debt relief scheme for low income and poor people who face the threat of revenue recovery proceedings after they fail to repay loans taken from various financial institutions under the government.
ii. As a one-time relief, interest and penal interest pending would be written off or relaxed for loans up to Rs 5 lakh subject to the amount repaid.
iii. The scheme, expected to cause an additional burden of Rs 40 crore to the exchequer, would benefit more than 10,000 persons.
iv. This debt relief is for those who availed loans from the State Housing Board, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Backward Welfare Corporation, State Women’s Development Corporation, The Kerala State Handicapped Persons Welfare Corporation and Revenue Departments.
v. Once the debt relief application is submitted before the loan office, settlement would be made within two months. Surety documents, along with the encumbrance certificate, would be given back on a pre-determined date. Other than the application, the customer need not submit any other certificate.
vi. IT is noted that Loans taken on gold pledged, loans by government employees, loans given to those other than individuals, loans above Rs 5 lakh and loans without arrears on the date of order issued will not come under the purview of the new scheme.
About Kerala :
♦ Capital – Thiruvananthapuram
♦ CM – Pinarayi Vijayan
♦ Governor – P. Sathasivam

KVIC approved wage hike and MDA hike for the weavers and spinners
i. Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) have approved a wage hike along with a hike in Market Development Assistance. The KVIC has informed that spinners will now earn 5.50 rupees instead of 4 rupees per hank with an additional 10 percent Market Development Assistance.Khadi & Village Industries Commission
ii. The wages of Khadi artisans are set to rise up to 100% and more with the Khadi & village Industries Commission (KVIC) approving the wage hike as well as market Development Assistance. The wages raised from Rs. 90 to Rs 190 per day.
iii. Earlier the spinners were getting Rs 100 per day considering they spin 25 hanks per day. Now earnings will be Rs 138 plus 10% MDA on it ie Rs.152 per day. The rates had been stagnant from April 1, 2014.
iv. Besides an increase in wages per hank, the commission has also decided to levy amount Rs. 50/- on certain high value products to augment the earnings of artisans which will be remitted by the DSOs straight to an artisan’s bank account on a monthly basis.
v. The Khadi and Village Industries Commission(KVIC) is a statutory body formed by the Government of India, under the Act of Parliament, ‘Khadi and Village Industries Commission Act of 1956’. It is an apex organization under the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, with regard to khadi and village industries within India, which seeks to – “plan, promote, facilitate, organise and assist in the establishment and development of khadi and village industries in the rural areas in coordination with other agencies engaged in rural development wherever necessary.”.
vi. In April 1957, it took over the work of former All India Khadi and Village Industries Board. Its head office is based in Mumbai, with its six zonal offices in Delhi, Bhopal, Bangalore, Kolkata, Mumbai and Guwahati.

Maneka Gandhi inaugurates first dog birth control centre of Uttarakhand for sterilization of dog
i. The Union Woman and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi inaugurated The Animal Birth Control Centre at Kedarpuram Uttarakhand. The centre was developed at a cost about 1.5 crore.
ii. The centre provided with 72 Dog kennels for housing dogs as well as their treatment & vaccination post-surgery and also has 4 staff quarters within the premises.
iii. The centre will be jointly funded by Nagar Nigam, state and the central governments which also comes with scheme of adopting the stray dogs post-surgery.
iv. The project as good news for the residents also will ensure that there is less scattering and after neutralization the dogs.


India sweeps down to 39th rank in the fixed broadband adoption ranking among the Asia Pacific Region
i. India ranks a low 39th in terms of fixed broadband adoption among Asia Pacific countries, with just 1.3% of its citizens subscribing to such a service in 2015.
ii. ‘State of ICT in Asia and the Pacific 2016: Uncovering the Widening Broadband Divide’ by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) confirms that the gap between advanced and developing countries in fixed broadband access is indeed widening, and unless targeted policy interventions are put in place, the trend will continue to the detriment of future development opportunities.
iii. India ranks lower than countries such as Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in fixed broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in ESCAP countries in 2015, according to the report ‘State of ICT in Asia and the Pacific 2016: Uncovering the Widening Broadband Divide’.
iv. Hong Kong, New Zealand, Japan, Macao, Australia and Singapore topped the list of 53 countries covered in the report. According to the latest ITU data for 2015, more than half of the global fixed broadband subscriptions are from Asia and the Pacific (52.3 per cent).
v. However, Bangladesh (33rd) ranks ahead of India (39th), Indonesia (41st), Nepal (42nd), Pakistan (43rd) and Cambodia (44th) in fixed broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants.


Andhra Bank teams up with Geojit for 3-in-1 online platform
i. Andhra Bank government jointly with Geojit BNP Paribas Financial Services has
launched a three-in-one online investment and trading platform christened AB eTrade which integrates savings and demat accounts with online trading.
ii. With this secure customer-friendly product, customers can invest in equity, mutual fund and other capital market products that paves way for easy tradingon the basis of net obligation.
iii. This AB eTrade also comes with real-time online access to all the three accounts viz, bank account, demat account and trading account in the website and mobile applications as well as through call and trade.
Andhra Pradesh:
♦ Capitals: Amaravati, Hyderabad
♦ Governor: E. S. L. Narasimhan
♦ Chief Minister: Nara Chandrababu Naidu

Central Govt chooses four banks for the sale of share in HUDCO
i. The government has selected four investment banks namely Nomura, SBI Caps, ICICI Securities and IDBI Capital for the proposed share sale in HUDCO – Housing & Urban Development Corporation Limited.
ii. Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), the nodal agency under the finance ministry that co-ordinates government disinvestment programme has selected these four investment banks for the proposed share sale in HUDCO.
iii. The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management, the nodal agency under the finance ministry that coordinates the government’s disinvestment programme has selected Japanese investment bank Nomura, which quoted the lowest financial bids . 5 core, and asked of a little over the others to match the fee, according to a senior official of a leading investment bank that participated in the process.
iv. It is noted that the government is planning to sell 10% stake in HUDCO, which is under administrative control of the urban development ministry, through an initial public offering. The proposed move is aimed at raising about 1,500 crore on a total valuation of 15,000 croreHUDCO
v. HUDCO has a paid up capital of Rs 2,000 crore, comprising of 200 crore equity shares of Rs 10 each. Under the proposed share sale programme, the government will sell about 20 crore share.
About HUDCO :
♦ Establishment  – 1970,
♦ HQ – New Delhi,
♦ MD & Chairman – Dr. Medithi Ravi kanth.


Alibaba Group launches ‘million books’ donation drive
i. Chinese E-commerce giant Alibaba Group launched a book donation drive named Mission Million Books in India, inviting people to donate textbooks and educational material to empower those who are underprivileged. The initiative will last till September 16.
ii. The drive is carried out in association with Crossword and Ratna Nidhi Charitable Trust, Alibaba Group will also donate over 50,000 books to the campaign, and and mobile browser UC Web will be online marketing support platform.
iii. This campaign meant to provide the underprivileged with the access to quality educational materials for their growth and advancement.
iv. Once the Campaign runs the material collected will be distributed to more than 2,500 educational institutions across India


Modi’s monogrammed suit auction creates Guinness record – sold for 4.31 crores
i. The monogrammed suit worn by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his meeting with American President Barack Obama in 2015, which resulted in huge controversy, entered Guinness Book of World Records as ‘the most expensive suit sold.
ii. This monogrammed suit was sold to the highest bidder, Laljibhai Patel, a diamond baron and private airline owner based in Surat, Gujarat for whooping Rs 4.31 crores.
iii. The proceeds from this auction have gone to the Namami Gange Fund, a project to clean the Ganga River.

BEL head bags top award
i. New Delhi based Indo Global Business Council (IGBC), a policy think-tank based has awarded SK Sharma Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Electronics Limited as the Most Enterprising CEO in Electronics Sector.
ii. The Award was presented to M M Joshi, Executive Director (National Marketing), BEL, on behalf of CMD.
Bharat Electronics Limited:
The BEL was established by the Government of India under the Ministry of Defence in 1954 to meet the specialized electronic needs of the Indian defence services. The Company has accorded Navratna status by the union government in April this year.
♦ Founded:1954
♦ Headquarters Bengaluru, Karanataka,
♦ Chairman and MD: S K Sharma


Urjit R. Patel – Reserve Bank of India’s New Governor
i. Union Finance Ministry notified that Urjit R. Patel, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) deputy governor, has been appointed as the new governor of Reserve Bank of India as Raghuram Rajan’s successor.
ii. Urjit R. Patel  is an Indian economist, consultant and banker, currently serving as Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). As Deputy Governor of RBI, he looks after monetary policy, economic policy research, statistics and information management,  deposit insurance, communication and Right to Information. On 20 August 2016, he was named as the governor of RBI to succeed Raghuram Rajan when the latter’s term expires in September 2016.
iii. On 11 January 2013, Urjit Patel was appointed as Deputy Governor of RBI for a period of three years. He took over charge of the vital Monetary Policy Department, succeeding Subir Gokarn to the post.

Shri  Yogeshwar Sangwan – India’s new Ambassador to Georgia
i. Shri Yogeshwar Sangwan Indian Foreign Service – 1994 batch, presently Ambassador of India to the Republic of Armenia, has been concurrently accredited as the Ambassador of India to Georgia, with residence in Yerevan (Armenia).
ii. He is expected to take up his assignment shortly.
Georgia :
Georgia is a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the south by Turkey and Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan.
♦ The capital and largest city is Tbilisi. Georgia covers a territory of 69,700 square kilometres (26,911 sq mi), and its 2015 population is about 3.75 million. Georgia is a unitary, semi-presidential republic, with the government elected through a representative democracy.
♦ During the classical era, several independent kingdoms became established in what is now Georgia. The kingdoms of Colchis and Iberia adopted Christianity in the early 4th century. A unified Kingdom of Georgia reached the peak of its political and economic strength during the reign of King David IV and Queen Tamar in the 11th–12th centuries.
♦ The latter’s rule over Georgia was confirmed in 1813 through the Treaty of Gulistan with Qajar Iran. Following the Russian Revolution in 1917, Georgia obtained independence, though only briefly, and established its first-ever republic underGerman and British protection, only to be invaded by Soviet Russia in 1921 and subsequently absorbed into the Soviet Union as the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic.

Sunil Bharti Mittal re-appointed as the Chairman of Bharti Airtel
Sunil Bharti Mittal Chairman of Bharti Airteli. Sunil Bharti Mittal has been re-appointed as the Chairman of telecom giant Bharti Airtel for another five year, with effect from October 1, 2016.
ii. Sunil Bharti Mittal is an Indian entrepreneur, philanthropist and the Founder & Chairman  of Bharti Enterprises, which has diversified interests in telecom, insurance, real estate, hospitality, agri and food besides other ventures.
iii. Bharti Airtel, the group’s flagship company is the world’s third largest and India’s largest telecom company with operations in 20 countries across Asia and Africa with a customer base of over 300 million.
iv. Bharti Airtel clocked revenues of over USD 14.75 billion in FY2016. He is listed as the 8th richest person in India by Forbes with a Net worth of $7 Billion.
v. In 2007, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian honor.On June 15, 2016, he was elected as Chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce.
vi. Bharti Airtel, the Group’s flagship company, offers mobile, fixed broadband and digital TV solutions to over 350 million customers across India, South Asia and Africa and also has joint ventures with global leaders like Singtel, SoftBank, AXA, Del Monte amongst others. 


US Researchers found that Zika virus may cause long-term memory damage, similar to Alzheimer’s disease 
i. According to a study published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, U.S. researchers have found evidence that a certain kind of brain cell present in newborns that remains in some amounts in adulthood can be susceptible to Zika infection.
ii. The Zika virus may cause long-term damage to the memory which mirrors the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
iii. Research has focuses on what’s known as neural progenitor cells. These cells grow and divide in fetuses to create neurons, which are what carry information throughout our brains. It’s believed the Zika virus attacks progenitor cells, causing microcephaly and other brain abnormalities in newborns.
iv. Researchers from The Rockefeller University in New York and the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology in California mimicked the spread of Zika infection in the brains of mice.
v.  a healthy brain could fight off potential effects of Zika that are yet to be fully understood, but people with weakened immune systems may be vulnerable.
vi. It is noted that there is currently no vaccine for Zika, which sickens 1 in 5 people who become infected from the bite of the Aedes mosquito, the virus’s prime carrier. The virus has been shown to cause microcephaly, a condition in newborns that causes them to be born with abnormally small heads and neurological defects. 

Intel launched Virtual Reality Headset called Project Alloy
i. Intel has unveiled a Virtual Reality headset to take on Oculus, HTC and Microsoft. This headset, called Project Alloy, will offer ‘mixed reality’ – bridging the gap between VR headsets such as the Oculus Rift and AR headsets such as the Microsoft Holo Lens, which projects holographic data onto the wearer’s field of vision.
ii. Alloy delivers a set of new and immersive experiences which adds to Intel’s Real Sense technologies that are optimized for VR usages.
iii. These experiences include,
Go untethered Operate without pesky cords dangling from your VR headset connecting to the computer. The computing power is located in the Alloy Head-Mounted Device (HMD), which allows the user to experience VR untethered.
Immersive experience: Through merged reality, see your hands, see your friends … see the wall you are about to run into. Using Intel Real Sense technology, not only can you see these elements from the real world, but you can use your hands to interact with elements of your virtual world, merging realities.Intel VR headset
No external sensors: Alloy’s merged reality is made possible by Intel Real Sense cameras attached to the headset and is not dependent on setting up any external sensors or cameras around the room.
♦ Available to make your own: The Alloy HMD is an example of how Intel’s suite of sensing and computing technologies, such as Intel Real Sense technology, are being made available to developers, makers and inventors to deliver the future of immersive experiences.
iv. Intel will open the Alloy hardware and provide open APIs for the ecosystem, allowing developers and partners to create their own branded products from the Alloy design, in 2017.


Guwahati to Host ISL 2016 Opening Ceremony
i. Hero Indian Super League promoter Football Sports Development Ltd have awarded Guwahati to host the opening ceremony and the season opener match of Hero ISL 2016.
ii. The Ceremony to be hosted on Indira Gandhi Stadium, Sarusajai, with a capacity of 30,000 on 1st October 2016 as the ISL teams will join owners, celebrities and artistes to deliver North East a memorable visual extravaganza at the Opening Ceremony.
iii. The host club North East United FC – aptly representing the eight states of North East will commence the season-opening match against Steve Coppell’s Kerala Blasters FC in the ISL 2016 opener.
iv. In the last season Chennian FC were the crowned Champions for the first time defeating Goa by 3-2 in the final


Subrata Banerjee – Bengal’s leading Cricket Umpire passed away
i. Bengal’s leading international cricket umpire Subrata Banerjee died at the age of 71 at a South Kolkata hospital after battling cancer.
ii. Till his last breath, Banerjee remained passionate about cricket. He had officiated the maximum number of one day international matches from Bengal.
iii. Banerjee was one of the youngest umpires in the country who officiated a Ranji Trophy match when he was only 22 years old.
iv. Banerjee officiated altogether 64 first class matches and one Test Match (Women’s) in 1995.
v. He also served as BCCImatch referee, BCCI Umpire Coach and BCCI Umpires’ Educator.


Sadbhavana Diwas – August 20
i. Sadbhavana Diwas 2016 is celebrated on August 20 each year all over the India to commemorate the birth anniversary of the former Prime Minister of India named Rajiv Gandhi. This year the day marks the 72nd birth anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi.
Rajiv Gandhi Birth Anniversaryii. The Sadbhavana (means having good feelings for others) Diwas or Harmony Day is celebrated to bestow the good feelings for others was the only the mission of the government of Rajiv Gandhi.
iii. On this day the Congress party, political leaders, friends, pay respect and honor to the memorial Veer Bhumi(the place of cremation)of the Rajiv Gandhi.
Rajiv Ratna Gandhi:
♦ Rajiv Gandhi was the sixth Prime Minister of India, serving from 1984 to 1989. He took office as the youngest Indian Prime Minister. The Indian government posthumously awarded Gandhi the Bharat Ratna in 1991.