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Current Affairs Today – September 15 2016

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India offers additional developmental assistance of one billion dollars to Afghanistan
i. Afghanistan faces threats from the Taliban and as foreign secretary S Jaishankar put it, those “on the east” of the country, there were expectations that India would providemore helicopters and other military hardware.
ii. Stressing that elimination of all forms of terrorism, without any discrimination, was essential, they called upon the concerned to put an end to all sponsorship, support, safe havens and sanctuaries to terrorists, including for those who targeted Afghanistan and India.
iii. India’s developmental assistance to Afghanistan, amounting to over $2 billion in the past, was warmly appreciated by the people of Afghanistan
iv. India had promised to provide 1.7 lakh tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan to ease the shortage the country was facing. However Pakistan has so far not allowed the wheat to transit through.
v. Delhi, which also provides substantial amounts of medicine and other pharmaceutical products to Afghanistan, hoped to increase the number of flights from India. These would help to transport medicine.
Afghanistan :
♦Capital: Kabul
♦ Currency:Afghan afghani
♦ President: Ashraf Ghani

Nitish launches website on 350th Prakash Utsav
i. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar launched a website to provide information on the celebration of 350th Prakash Utsav of the Sikh guru in 2017. The website has been developed by tourism department Prakash Utsav
ii. A three-day international Sikh convention would be held in Patna early next year.
iii. He also flagged off a tourism department vehicle for publicity of Prakash utsav.
Prakash Utsav :
♦ Guru Nanak Gurpurab, also known as Guru Nanak’s Prakash Utsav and Guru Nanak Jayanti, celebrates the birth of the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak.


US And Israel Sign MoU For Largest-Ever Military Aid
i. Israel National Security Council head Yaakov Nagel and US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon signed the agreement at a ceremony in the US State Department Treaty held in Washington attended by US National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer.
ii. This  package was the largest ever granted by the US government to a foreign country – $38 billion over 10 years or $3.8 billion a year. $33 billion of the package can be used only for military procurement in the US, and $5 billion is for development of anti-missile defense systems.
iii. In the new package, the parties had agreed on a clause stating that Israel and the US would not deviate from the amounts mentioned for foreign military sales (FMS) in the memorandum of understanding.
iv. Over the past eight years, the United States had provided Israel with almost $24 billion in military aid.The memorandum of understanding gave Israel the security, certainty, and stability of a signed written document, without negotiating with the US executive and legislative branches.


SBI, PNB, Paytm to issue e-toll tags for vehicles 
i. The National Highways Authority (NHAI)  reported that the government had expanded the number of lenders and wallets, who could issue the electronic tags for vehicle
e-Toll Plazaii. The motive behind such move was to increase the number of automatic pass-throughs at toll plazas to 50 per cent in two years.
iii. NHAI chairman Raghav Chandra informed that the State Bank of India,Punjab National Bank, IDFC Bank and the digital wallet PayTM would also start issuing the tags, which were required for electronic toll collection.
iv. The aim was to have a seamless commutation at all the toll plazas. It had initially tied up with ICICI Bank and they had so far issued 60,000 pass tags. A few more banks were now coming forward to assist us in this project.
v. The authority was also urging the Reserve Bank to liberalise the KYC norms for such tags, which will help increase the usage.


Indian Oil inks MoU with Praj Industries for development of 2G ethanol 
i. Praj Industries, a Pune-based global process solutions leader, was partnered withIndian Oil Corporation, India’s flagship National Oil Company, for setting up multiple second Generations (2G) bio-ethanol plants based on indigenously developed technology.
ii. Indian Oil Corporation would   be setting up three 2G bio-ethanol plants. IOC was developing 2G ethanol production infrastructure using lignocellulosic biomasses as feedstock in order to enhance ethanol availability in the country for blending with petrol.
iii. Praj Industries was a Process Engineering and Technology Company offering innovative end-to-end solutions for biofuels, brewery, industrial processes and water and wastewater treatment systems.
iv. Praj was offering end-to-end 2G ‘Smart Bio-refinery’ solutions globally.’Smart Bio-refinery‘ is capable of producing bio-ethanol and other co-products such as bio-CNG, power and a variety of bio chemicals.”
v. At the World Bio-fuels Day conference held at New Delhi recently, the Government of India announced that a ‘biomass-based bio-fuels policy‘ was in the offing to boost the agro-economy and promote clean, renewable energy. This endeavor would be a socio-economic and environmental enabler, as the farming community would generate additional revenues from agri-waste, which will be utilized to produce bio-ethanol.


Priyanka Chopra bagged 8th position in Forbes List of Highest paid TV Actresses
i. Priyanka Chopra has become the first Indian star to enter the Forbes list of highest paid television actresses in the world.
ii. Colombian-American actress Sofia Vergara topped Forbes magazine’s annual list of best paid television actresses for the fifth year in a row, earning $43 million.
The top 10 highly paid actress as follows

1 Sofia Vergara
2 Kaley cuoco
3 Mindly Kaling
4 Ellen Pompeo
5 Mariska Harigitay

Indo-American Abraham Verghese to be honored by Barack Obama with 2015 National Humanities Medal
♦ Indian-American physician-author Abraham Verghese, whose work has emphasised empathy in medicine, has been selected for the 2015 National Humanities Medal. President Barack Obama would confer the honour upon Verghese, along with 11 others, on September 21.
Abraham Verghese :
i. Abraham Verghese(born 1955) is a physician-author, Professor for the Theory and Practice of Medicine at Stanford University Medical School and Senior Associate Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine.
ii. He is also the author of three best-selling books, two memoirs and a novel. In 2011, he was elected to be a member of the Institute of Medicine.
iii. He was born in Ethiopia to parents from KeralaIndia, who worked as teachers. In 2009, Knopf published his new book and first novel, Cutting for Stone.


Hiroshi Nakagawa takes over as Chairman of Isuzu Motors India
i. Hiroshi Nakagawa was appointed as the Chairman of Japanese automobile maker Isuzu Motors India (IMI) and Hiroyasu Miura appointed as the Chairman & Managing Director of Isuzu Engineering Business Centre India Pvt Ltd (IEBCI)
ii .Nakagawa has 35 years experience with Mitsubishi Corporation, Japan.
iii. He has been actively involved in ISUZU business division for over 20 years

Jim Yong Kim wins second term of World Bank President
i. World Bank President Jim Yong Kim effectively won a second five-year term after nominations to lead the global development bank no other candidates proposed.
ii. Kim, who was Korean-American medical doctor had focused the World Bank on programs to reduce extreme poverty, earned solid backing for a second term from the United States, France, Germany, China, and other major shareholders of the bank.The US is the World Bank’s largest shareholder.World Bank President
iii. Kim had also capable of responses to major crises, including battling the Ebola pandemic and addressing the refugee crisis.
iv. Kim who became the 12th president of the World Bank Group on 1 July 2012, was a physician and anthropologist, who dedicated himself to international development for more than two decades, helping improve the lives of underserved populations worldwide.
v. He served as president of Dartmouth College, a pre-eminent centre of higher education that consistently ranks among the top academic institutions in the US. He was a co-founder of Partners in Health and a former director of the HIV/AIDS Department at WHO.
World Bank :
♦ Headquarters: Washington, D.C., United States
♦ Founded: December 27, 1945

Nawazuddin Siddiqui roped as brand ambassador of UP farmers’ scheme
♦ Bollywood actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui appointed as the brand ambassador of ‘Samajwadi Kisan Beema Yojana’ announced by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav
Samajwadi Kisan Beema Yojana :
i. It is the insurance policy scheme for farmers
ii. Four government insurance companies has signed with UP government with regard to the Samajwadi Farmers Insurance Scheme.
iii. A plastic card was being issued to the beneficiaries, which will have details of all family members who are covered in the scheme.


Aircel to be Merged with Reliance Communications to create the country’s 4th-biggest mobile phone operator
i. Reliance Communications to be merged with unlisted telecom operator Aircel, thereby marking the first move toward consolidation in the space and creating the country’s fourth-largest phone company in terms of customers and revenue.
ii. The merged entity will also rope in a third partner by diluting about 25% equity to raise around Rs 6,000 crore. Talks have already been initiated with Russia’s Sistema, which already holds 10% in RCom, to also invest in the merged company. Once a third partner enters, Reliance and Aircel will dilute stakes on a proportional basis.
iii. In the largest consolidation in the country’s telecom sector, RCom and Aircel’s majority owner, Malaysia’s Maxis Communications Berhad (MCB), announced signing of definitive documents for the merger of their Indian wireless businesses.
iv. Both the companies will transfer Rs 14,000 crore of debt each to the joint venture, taking the total debt of the new company to Rs 28,000 crore, excluding Rs 6,000 crore of spectrum payment liability.

Quikr acquires Stayglad, its 8th buy in a year
i. Quikr has acquired the largest and highest quality players in beauty services Staygand for an undisclosed sum announced on September 13,2016. It was the Quikr’s 8th acquisition in 2016.
ii. Stayglad is the third firm that Quikr has bought in the beauty segment, after Salosa and Zapluk early this year.
iii. Quikr Founder & CEO :  Pranay Chulet


Uber launches first driverless car service & Uber partners NSDC, Maruti to skill 1 million by 2018
First driverless cari. World’s first self-driving cars launched by Ubers on the road in the Steel City, Pittsburgh, USA.
ii. Self-driving Ubers will be on the road 24 hours a day and this new service need not necessarily cut jobs drastically.
iii. It is expected to reduce the number of traffic accidents, free up to 20 per cent of space in cities
UBER to skill 1 million by 2018
i. Uber ned and Maruti Suzuki signed Memorandum of understanding (MoU) to assess and train 30,000 commercial drivers for Uber
ii. The initiative, named UberSHAAN will be rolled out first in Hyderabad, Chennai and Delhi
Uber also signed a MoU with the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) that will allow eligible drivers to gain access to NSDC’s 158 training centres across 28 cities to get training, apart from receiving soft skills.
♦ Uber Technologies Inc. is an American multinational online transportation network company headquartered in San Francisco, California
♦ CEO : Travis Kalanick

Indian scientists recycle fish scales into green energy
i. A team of researchers at Jadavpur University developed a green energy  from raw fish scales that possess a piezoelectric property. The study was published in the journal Applied Physics Letters
ii. It could be a sustainable green energy source for next generation self-powered implantable medical devices.
iii. The researchers have synthesised flexible bio-piezoelectric nanogenerator (BPNG) from this bio-waste.
Piezoelectric property :
♦ Piezoelectric Effect is the ability of certain materials to generate an electric charge in response to applied mechanical stress.


Typhoon Meranti Hits Chinese Coast, Wreaks Havoc
i. Typhoon Meranti was the world’s strongest typhoon  made landfall in east China’s Fujian Province , causing widespread destruction.
ii. The typhoon that hit Xiang’an district of Xiamen city, had been monitored as the strongest one hitting southern Fujian Province since 1949.
iii. The typhoon had caused severe damages to the power grid in Xiamen, leading to mass blackout. The electricity supply was also disrupted in Xiamen’s outlying islands and with the typhoon further moving inland, more power outages occurred.  The typhoon hit during a three-day public holiday for Mid-Autumn Festival.
iv. Schools and kindergartens in coastal cities of Fuzhou, Xiamen, Zhangzhou, Quanzhou and Putian in Fujian were closed yesterday as a precaution.
v. The railway authorities in Nanchang, east China’s Jiangxi province, had yesterday announced cancellation of 144 trains till Saturday to southern and eastern cities in an emergent response to the typhoon.


2016 Kabaddi World Cup’s logo unveiled in New Delhi
i. The logo of the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup unveiled by Indian Sports Minister Vijay Goel and International Kabaddi Federation President Janardan Singh Gehlot in New Delhi on September 14 , 2016
ii. The logo is derived from the natural heritage of Gujarat, the Asiatic Lion, symbolizing 2016 Kabaddi World Cupthe ferocity of a Kabaddi defender and the agility of a raider.
iii. The hosts are placed in Group A alongside Bangladesh, South Korea, Australia, England and Argentina while Group B comprises the United States, Iran, Poland, Thailand, Japan and Kenya.
iv. India will take on South Korea in the opener on October 7 while the U.S. will lock horns with Iran in the other group.
v. 2016 Kabaddi World Cup Venue : Trans Stadia in Ahmedabad from Oct. 7-22.

Former England player Graeme Hick named Australia’s batting coach
i. Former England batsman Graeme Hick has been appointed as Australia’s batting coach
until March 2020.
ii. He will take up his post before Australia host South Africa for three tests this year.
Graeme Hick :
♦ He is a Zimbabwean-born right handed cricketer who played 65 Test matches and 120 One Day Internationals matches for England.
♦ He scored 136 first-class centuries at an average of 52.2 but only six centuries at test level, averaging just 31.32 runs.
♦ Australia cricket team captain: Steve Smith

SAI-AIFF launch online portal for Global Scouting Programme
i. The Sports Authority of India (SAI) and All India Football Federation (AIFF) had jointly launched an online portal for its Global Scouting Programme (GSP). The portal was launched by Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel in New Delhi.
ii. Boys of Indians living abroad would be able to play in India’s team in FIFA under-17 world cup next year scheduled in different cities of the country.
iii. The applicant had to upload a two minute playing video on the site. The project would provide them a chance to present his playing talent to the scouts of India’s U-17 team through its online portal.
iv. Launching the portal, Sports Minister Vijay Goel, it would allow Indian players who hold valid Indian passport but were residing overseas to provide their profile electronically and directly to the scouts of India FIFA under-17 world cup team.
v. The U-17 World Cup was scheduled to be held in India during September-October 2017.It would provide Indian players who hold valid Indian passport a chance to present his playing talent to the scouts of India’s U-17 team

India Blue wins 2016-2017 Duleep Trophy Tournament
i. Ravindra Jadeja interested   an otherwise uneventful final day with another lethal spell of left-arm spin as India Blue notched up a crushing 355-run win over Reds to clinch the inaugural day/night Duleep Trophy tournament in Greater Noida.
ii. After a gigantic 337-run first innings lead, the fifth day was only of academic interest but Jadeja (5/76 in 18.1 overs) bundled out Reds, set an unbelievable victory target of 517 runs, for 161 in 44.1 overs.
iii. India Blue captain Gautam Gambhir batted for 10 overs as his team added another 40 runs before declaring the second innings at 179 for five with a lead of 516 runs. Rohit Sharma (32 no) got 75 balls as part of his match practice before the Test series.
iv. The right-left combination raised 212 runs to leave India Green position at stumps on the opening day of their final Duleep Trophy league encountered, improving on the 151 they had put on against India Red. Blue, which had elected to bat, ended the day at 336 for three in 90 overs.
v. Yuvraj had a terrible tournament as he scored only 52 runs in four completed innings with an average of 13. An India comeback seemed a distant reality as the two-time World Cup winner looked a pale shadow of his old self.


Tony-Winning Director Jack Hofsiss Dies At 65
i.  American theatre-film director Jack Hofsiss passed away in Los Angeles. He was 65.
ii. Hofsiss directed several TV films including a 1982 adaptation of “The Elephant Man,” a version of “Cat of a Hot Tin Roof” starring Jessica Lange, and “The Oldest Living Graduate” with Henry Fonda.
iii. He was best known for shepherding “The Elephant Man” to Broadway from off-Broadway and in 1979, at 28, became the youngest man at the time to win the Tony for best direction.
iv. He made his movie-directing debut in 1982 with “I’m Dancing As Fast As I Can,” which starred Jill Clayburgh. After the accident he would direct on Broadway with “The Shadow Box” in 1994 starring Estelle Parsons and Mercedes Ruehl, and such off-Broadway shows as “Surviving Grace” in 2002, “James Joyce’s The Dead” in 1999 and “Confessions of a Mormon Boy” in 2006.
v. Hofsiss also served as a Tony nominator and on the board of directors of the Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts


International Day of Democracy – September 15 2016
i. International Day of Democracy is observed every year on September 15 to raise public awareness about democracy.
ii. In 2007 the United Nations General Assembly resolved to observe 15 September as the International Day of Democracy with the purpose of promoting and upholding the principles of democracy
iii. 2016 Theme: Democracy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
Organization: UN

Engineer’s Day 2016 celebrated in India
Engineers Day 2016i. India produces close to 20 lakh engineers every year, with disciplines ranging from computer science and electronics to civil and mechanical engineering.
ii. The Engineering Community across India celeberated Engineers Day on 15
as a tribute to the greatest Indian Engineer Bharat Ratna Visvesvaraya. He was held in high regard as a pre-eminent engineer of India.
iii. Engineer’s Day in India was observed on September 15, 2016 the anniversary of Bharat Ratna Visvesvaraya’s birthday in 1861.
iv. He was known as India’s greatest engineer of all times. His talent and interest in engineering was linked with a very patriotic spirit for India.
v. And they all celebrated a special day of the year as their own in honour of the man who is considered one of the best engineers if not outright the best engineer that India has produced.