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Current Affairs Today – September 20 2016

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cat-sep-20-2016INDIAN AFFAIRS

Central Government announced 27 new cities under Smart City Mission
i. Central Government has announced 27 new Smart Cities from the 63 cities. The announcement was made by Union Minister Shri Venkaiah Naidu in New Delhi.
ii. The 27 cities selected in the ‘Smart City Challenge’ competition in order of the marks scored by them are:

3UjjainMadhya Pradesh
4TirupatiAndhra Pradesh
7VelloreTamil Nadu
10AgraUttar Pradesh
14MaduraiTamil Nadu
17ThanjavurTamil Nadu
21SalemTamil Nadu

Odisha government organized two-day national conference on labor 
i. The Odisha government in association with International Labor Organization(ILO) organised a two-day national conference on laborin Bhubaneswar.
ii. Union minister of state for labour and employment Bandaru Dattatreya and ministers and chairpersons of labour welfare boards of 29 states attended the conference.
iii. Major issues referring to social security of organized and unorganized sector labourers, child and bonded labourers, various welfare measures, skill development as well as wage issues was discussed at the conference.
iv. The conference was discussed about how to manage the labour welfare boards and regulate child labour laws in a better and effective ways.
v. The conference had a lot of significance for the labourers and trade unions, who had recently staged strike on September 2 on various issues including minimum wage fixation and proper implementation of labour laws.
International Labour Organization (ILO):
♦ Headquarters: Geneva, Swizterland
♦ Founded: 1919.
♦ Head: Guy Rider.

Supreme Court moves away from death penalty
i. This judicial innovation, formalised by a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in the Rajiv Gandhi killers’ case in December 2015, helped get rid of death penalty and addressed the genuine concerns of the society.
ii. A three-judge Bench led by Justice J. Chelameswar observed the judgment. The innovation involved substituting death penalty with a special category of life imprisonment without the benefit of release on remission for prolonged periods ranging from 25 to 30 years, if not more.
iii. The innovation, according to Justice S.K. Singh, who authored the Lodhi judgment for Justice Chelameswar’s Bench, was an endeavour by the apex court to make “no party (convict or the society) a loser”.
iv. Law Commission of India Chairperson, Justice B.S. Chauhan, seconded the judgment’s optimism reported that  the Supreme Court might have indeed found an alternative to capital punishment in this special category of sentence.

Railways to introduce Yatri Mitra Sewa to book wheelchair cum porter services
i. To provide support to old and differently abled passengers requiring assistance at the stations, Ministry of Railways had decided to introduce Yatri Mitras Sewa for enabling passengers to book wheelchair services cum porter services.yatri-mitra-sewa
ii. This service could be booked on IRCTC e-ticketing website and 139 or through a mobile. The responsibility of providing the Yatri Mitra Sewa has been entrusted with IRCTC.
iii. The Railways declared that passengers would be able to access the service through a mobile application that is being developed by the Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS).
iv. However, if this service could not be provided ‘free of cost’ due to lack of response from NGOs, charitable trust, PSUs etc., IRCTC might arrange this service on payment basis through a service provider or on its own.

Shri Radha Mohan Singh Concluded 3 Days Israel Visit
i. Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Shri Radha Mohan Singh concluded his three day Israel Visit. The Union Minister led a four member official delegation to Israel to deepen bilateral engagement in agriculture.
ii. In his interaction with on Agriculture Minister of Israel, Shri Uri Ariel, Shri Singh expressed satisfaction at the level of cooperation in agriculture between the two countries.
iii .Shri Singh also mentioned that there was potential for further collaboration in areas such as collaborative research, dairyand aquaculture. Israeli Agriculture Minister, Shri Ariel concurred that the potential between the two countries in agriculture was untapped.
iv. Shri Radha Mohan Singh visited the Agricultural Research OrganizationIsrael’s premium institute in agricultural research. Union Minister was briefed about post-harvesting technologies and food processing, areas which offer bright prospects to Indian farmers. .
v. Agriculture has been a main area of cooperation between the two countries ever since diplomatic ties were established in 1992. Under a bilateral agreement, various Israeli centers of excellence had been established in various states, covering a wide span of fields such as fruits, vegetables, horticulture etc.
vi. A number of Indian officials received training in Israel and minister, during the visit, interacted with almost 20 officials who are currently undergoing a training programme in Israel. Both sides are also discussing a bilateral scheme to promote bilateral collaborative research.
♦ Capital: Jerusalem
♦ Currency: Israeli new shekel
♦ Prime minister: Benjamin Netanyahu


UN organized first-ever summit on movement of 65.3 million refugees and migrants
i. UN organized first-ever summit on movement of 65.3 million refugees and migrants. Global leaders gathered for the first of two high-profile days of meetings on the issues of migration and refugees at the U.N. headquarters in New York. This meeting attempted to forge a global response to the plight of the 65.3 million people forcibly displaced worldwide
ii. The meet seeks to standardize responses to refugee situations and provide better education and jobs to refugees. It also encourages resettlement and includes plans for a campaign to combat xenophobia.
iii. Leaders from 193 countries adopted a “breakthrough” declaration to save lives of over 65 million refugees and migrants and share responsibility as the world grapples with the unprecedented refugee crisis.
iv. A new campaign called ‘Together – Respect, Safety and Dignity for All’ to ‘respond to rising xenophobia and turn fear into hope’ launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon


India’s rating upgrade in 2 years if reforms tangible: Moody’s
iMoody’s reported that the reform process was slow and gradual with muted private investment and NPAs posing a challenge and announced that it could upgrade India’s rating in 1-2 years if it was convinced that reforms were tangible.
ii. Moody’s, which has a ‘Baa3’ rating with a positive outlook, reported evidence of policymakers working towards a faster fiscal consolidation, reducing the debt-GDP ratio and addressing infrastructure and monsoon volatility challenges would determine an upgrade.
iii. Moody’s Sovereign Group Senior V-P Marie Diron reported that it had a  positive outlook on India. On balance, the risk was on the upside.
iv. Monitoring the rating. the pressure building up in 1-2 years and any tangible change could bring about a change in rating. Moody’s listed six agenda on the list of pending reforms — land acquisition Bill, labour law reforms, significant infrastructure investment, tangible benefit from Make in India initiative, tax administration and PSU bank reforms.
v. Moody’s estimated that fiscal costs of equity injection in public sector banks were manageable although they were larger than currently budgeted and would add to the government’s challenge in meeting its fiscal target
vi. The implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) — which Moody’s assumes would become effective 2017 — would enhance revenue collection for the government over time through better tax compliance and higher profits as businesses save on tax administration costs.

ICICI Prudential Life Insurance IPO opens
i. Incorporated in 2001 as a joint venture between ICICI Bank Limited and Prudential Corporation Holdings Limited, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company Ltd is a Mumbai based largest private sector life insurer in India.
iciciii. ICICI Bank owns 68 percent of the company and decided to sell 12.65% stake though this IPO.At the upper end of the price band, IPO would raise over Rs 6000 Cr. Britain’s Prudential PLC, which owns nearly 26% of the company, was not selling any of its stake in the IPO.
iii. Company had 121,016 individual agents and over 4,500 branches with Bank partners.Gross premium income was Rs 191.64 billion.
iv.Company had 1.04 trillion of assets under management, making them one of the largest fund managers in India Company has a market share of 11.3% on a retail weighted received premium basis in India.
v. Among the 23 private sector life insurance companies in India, Company has a market share of 21.9% on a retail weighted received premium basis.
vi. The Objectives were to achieve the benefits of listing the Equity Shares of the Company on the Stock Exchanges and  to carry out the sale of up to 181,341,058 Equity Shares by the Selling Shareholder.

ADB approves $631 million loan for Vizag-Chennai industrial corridor
i. Multilateral funding agency Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a loan of $631 million or Rs.4228.9 crore (at Tuesday’s exchange rate) for building India’s first coastal industrial corridor between Visakhapatnam and Chennai.
ii. The fund would help develop the first key 800-km section of the planned 2,500-km East Coast Economic Corridor expected to spur development on India’s eastern coast and enable seamless trade links with other parts of South and Southeast Asia.
iii. Part of the larger East Coast Economic Corridor (ECEC) that would extend 2,500 km from Kolkata in West Bengal and Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu, the government expects the project to bring manufacturing and export industries to India’s east coast.
iv. The total cost of the project is $846 million and work on it is expected to be over by 2031. The remaining $215 million would be funded by the Andhra Pradesh government.
v. ADB’s loans and grants comprise a $500 million two-tranche facility to build key infrastructure and a $125 million two-tranche loan to help in industrial policies and business promotion.
♦ Head Quarters in Manila.
♦ Established in 1966.


NTPC, EESL sign pact for energy efficient lighting solutions
i. NTPC has signed a pact with Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) to implement energy efficient LED lighting solutions for all its projects, stations and offices across the country. MoU was signed by S K Roy, ED (OS) of NTPC and A K Gupta, Director (Finance)  of EESL.
ii. Objective: To enable EESL to provide end-to-end state-of-the-art energy efficient LED lighting and solutions in accordance with the requirement of NTPC.
Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) :
♦ It is the implementing agency for both the programmes – Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme (DELP) and Street Lights.

Rays Power Infra launches 100 MW solar project in Uttarakhand
i. Rays Power Infra will set up a 100 mw solar power plant in Uttarakhand under Uttarakhand Renewable Energy Development Agency’s (UREDA) competitive bidding for 2015-16.
ii. The Project’s execution started in August 2016 and is expected to be commissioned by February, 2017.
iii. The 100 MW project is spread over a sprawling land area at Tehsil – Bhagwanpur in Roorkee District of Uttarakhand.
iv. It was be the biggest project of Rays Power Infra


Nano-scale Canadian flag sets Guinness world record
i. The Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo set a world record for creating a Canadian flag measuring about one one-hundredth the width of a human hair.
Nano-scale Canadian flag sets Guinness world recordii. Guinness World Records granted the inaugural award for smallest national flag to the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo in Canada for the flag measuring 1.178 micrometers in length. It is invisible without the aid of an electron microscope.
iii. Nathan Nelson-Fitzpatrick, nanofabrication process engineer at IQC, led the creation of the flag with assistance from NataliePrislinger Pinchin, a Waterloo co-op student from the Faculty of Engineering.
iv. They created it on a silicon wafer bearing the official logo of the Canada 150 celebrations using an electron beam lithography system in the Quantum NanoFab facility at Waterloo.
v. The first of its kind, the exhibition would open at THEMUSEUM in downtown Kitchener on October 14, and then travel to science centers across the country throughout 2017.

Himachal Pradesh wins Better Performing Project Award 2015
i. 2015-Better Performing Project Award won by Virbhadra Singh lead Himachal Pradesh government for development of infrastructure by tourism department under the ADB Funded Project.
ii. The award was conferred during the Tripartite Portfolio Review meeting and it was received by Commissioner of Tourism Mohan Chauhan and Project Director Manoj Sharma. 
iii. 580 crore tourism infrastructure project in Himachal Pradesh. Tutikandi Parking, Mall Road Beautification Project, Town Hall Project are some of the projects running in the state
Mountains located in Himachal Pradesh:
Deo Tibba, Ramabang, Manirang, Manimahesh Kailash Peak and Kinnaur Kailash


Two Indians and an Indian- American selected for the UN Young Leaders for Sustainable Development Goals
Two Indians and an Indian- American are among 17 people selected for the inaugural class of UN Young Leaders for Sustainable Development Goals for their leadership and contribution to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030.
Three Indians @ UN Young Leaders List:-
Trisha Shetty:-
♦ Trisha Shetty, 25, is the founder and CEO of ‘SheSays’, a platform she launched last year to educate, rehabilitate and empower women to take direct action against sexual assault in India.
Karan Jerath :-
♦ Indian-American Karan Jerath, 19, invented a ground- breaking, subsea wellhead capping device. Mr Jerath, a scientist and innovator, was born in India, raised in Malaysia and moved to the US at the age of 13.
Ankit Kawatra :-
♦ Ankit Kawatra, 24 founded ‘Feeding India’ in 2014 to address the issues of hunger and food waste, particularly by distributing excess food from weddings and parties to the needy. Kawatra’s organisation has a network of over 2,000 volunteers in 28 cities in India for rescuing and redistributing excess food to help feed people in need.

Anandi Ramalingam, first woman director of Bharat Electronics Limited(BEL)
Anandi Ramalingam, first woman director of Bharat Electronics Limited(BEL)i. Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) has appointed Anandi Ramalingam, its head of marketing as its first woman director.
ii. Before this appointment, she was the general manager heading the Military Communication Strategic Business Unit (SBU) at BEL’s Bengaluru Complex
iii. She has experience in equipment testing working across various domains of military communication including heading testing for Shakti.
iv.”Shakti”, flagship Artillery Combat Command and Control System, developed by BEL and DRDO for the AREN (Army Radio Engineered Network) and Indian Army and AREN (Army Radio Engineered Network) winning theRaksha Mantri’s Award.

Sevala Naik concurrently accredited as the High Commissioner of India to the Cayman Islands
Current  High Commissioner of India to Jamaica,M. Sevala Naik was concurrently accredited as the High Commissioner of India to the Cayman Islands.
Cayman Islands :
♦ Capital: George Town
♦ Currency: Cayman Islands dollar
♦ Continent: North America

Maha Govt Appoints Shivaji’s Heir As Tourism Brand Ambassador
♦ Heir of Warrior King Chattrapati Shivaji, Sambhajiraje Bhosale is appointed as Tourism Brand Ambassador of Maharashtra by the State Tourism minister Jaykumar Rawal
Other announcement from Maharashtra Gov:
i. Heritage committee was formed to make recommendations on conservation of heritage forts and promoting luxury tourism in the state.
ii. Chattrapati Sambhajiraje Bhosale will be a member of the committee which will submit its report to the government in four months time.
iii. Upcoming year 2017 as year of “Visit Maharashtra”
Heritage sites in Maharashtra:
♦ Ajanta Caves, Ellora Caves, Elephanta Caves, Shaniwar Wada. Kelkar Museum and Lal Mahal


Adani Ports inks pact to acquire Australia’s APB
i. Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) arm APO acquire the  Australian firm APB from Glencore Coal Queensland Pty Limited for AUD 19.25 million
ii. This terminal was acquired by the Adani Group by way of a 99 year lease from the Queensland Government on June 1, 2011.
iii. The acquisition of APB gives APSEZ an access to operate 50 MTPA capacity in a developed economy on a cost plus basis with no capital investment.


India successfully test-fires surface-to-air missile ‘Barak-8’ off Odisha coast
i. India successfully test fired a new surface-to-air missile – ‘Barak-8’, from a defense base in its eastern sate of Odisha, was reported by state-run broadcaster All India Radio (AIR).
ii. The missile was successfully launched. from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) launch pad at Chandipur in Balasore district.
iii. The long-range nuclear capable ballistic missile, developed jointly with Israel, was launched from a mobile launcher in the Integrated Test Range (ITR) off Odisha coast at Chandipur.India successfully test-fires surface-to-air missile 'Barak-8' off Odisha coast
iv. The 4.5-meter missile weighs around 3 tons and can carry a payload of 70 kilograms. The system also includes a Multi-Functional Surveillance and Threat Alert Radar (MF STAR) for detection, tracking and guidance of the missile.
v. Balasore district, about 207 km northeast of Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha, temporarily shifted 3,700 people residing within the 2.5 km radius of the test spot as a precautionary measure.

MIT scientists develop new technique to help zero in on Martian life
i.Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)scientists have developed a novel spectroscopic technique that may help NASA’s new Mars rover, to be launched in 2020.
ii.NASA plans to launch a new Mars rover that will be tasked with probing a region of the planet scientists believe could hold remnants of ancient microbial life.
iii. This technique will help the rover quickly and non-invasively identify sediments that are relatively unaltered, and that maintain much of their original composition.


Invasive Giant African Land Snail sighted at Goa University
invasive-giant-african-land-snail-sighted-at-goa-universityi.Invasive Giant African Land Snail(GALS)(Scientific name – Achatina fulica) was sighted at Goa University campus.
ii.GALS is listed as one of the world’s 100 most invasive species by the
international union of conservation of nature and natural resources(IUCN).
iii. The size of GALS is ranged from 7cm to 20cm. These are known to be dangerous, as they can reproduce faster and take over the entire ecosystem.


First Football Referee Of Odisha Narottam Mohanty Passes Away 
i. First ever football referee of Odisha Narottam Mohanty passed away at Baripada in Mayurbhanj. He was 100
ii. He  was considered as the oldest citizen of Baripada town.
iii. Mohanty was the first person qualified as football referee from Odisha in pre-independence era.
Some Notable Persons from Odisha :
♦ Former Odisha chief secretary – Sudhanshu Bhusan
♦ Former Indian cricketer – Debashish Mohanty
♦ Indian professional sprinter – Dutee Chand