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Current Affairs Today – September 21 2016

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INDIAN AFFAIRS

Union Cabinet Approvals – 21 September 2016
Prime Minister Narendra Modi lead Union Government approved various agreement and projects in different fields.
i. The Union Cabinet decided to merge the Railway budget with the General budget and agreed in-principle to advance the date of its presentation in Parliament from the usual February end.
ii. The Cabinet gave approval for signing and ratification of an agreement between India and Samoa for exchange of information to curb tax evasion.
iii. The Union Cabinet has given its approval for provision of a direct communication link through a dedicated submarine Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) between Mainland (Chennai) and Port Blair & five other islands.
iv. The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval to enhancement of Pension for Freedom Fighters and for the spouses, eligible daughters and dependent parents of deceased Freedom Fighters, under the Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme (SSSPS), 1980.
v. The Union Cabinet has given its approval to the proposal of Ministry of Shipping to enact Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill 2016 and to repeal five archaic admiralty statutes.
vi. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved shutting down of Hindustan Diamond Company Pvt Ltd (HDCPL).

Government approves highway projects worth Rs 2,600 crore in 5 states  
i. The central government  approved nine highway projects at a cost of Rs 2,600.31 crore
ii. Rehabilitation and Up-gradation of Allahabad-Mirzapur section of NH-76 in Uttar Pradesh to two-lane – Rs 241.37 crores.
iii. Construction of two-lane with paved shoulder of Pilibhit-Puranpur section (excluding Tiger reserve area) of NH-730 in Uttar Pradesh –  Rs 176.94 crore.
iv. The construction of capital road (Dimapur to Kohima) under Inter State Connectivity Scheme in Nagaland during 2016-17 –  Rs 325.81 crore.
v. The other highways approved are in the states of Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh

Amma 2-wheeler service training centres to come up in TN
i.Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa announced the ‘Amma Two-Wheeler Service Training Centre’ across the state.
ii.The government will also set up a Centre of Excellence and 5 skill development institutes under Public Private Partnership mode with Siemens and Designtech at an estimated cost of Rs 546.84 crore.
Outlay : Rs 1.65 crore
35 centres will be opened in different locations.
♦ Each centres will provide training to 30 persons for three months with a monthly assistance of Rs 3,000
Tamil Nadu:
♦ Madras state was renamed Tamil Nadu in 1968
Temples : Brihadeeswarar Temple, Meenakshi Amman Temple, Darasuram Airavatheswar Temple and Thillai Nataraja Temple

3,000 Jan Aushadhi Kendras to be opened by March 2017
i. The Department of Pharmaceuticals in association under the project title Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Yojana (PMJAY) ensured the availability of generic medicines at affordable prices for all by with Central Pharma Public Sector Undertakings.
ii. It envisaged key initiative of opening of dedicated outlets Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Kendras (PMJAK) where high quality generic medicines were sold at low prices. Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI) was implementing the scheme
iii. The government declared that the 437 Jan Aushadhi Kendras had become operational across the country and it planned to open 3,000 such centres by March 2017 to provide quality medicines at affordable rates
iv. The maximum number of Jan Aushadhi Kendras are in Chhattisgarh at 122, followed by Uttar Pradesh 53,Maharashtra 35 and Kerala 33Odisha and Punjab have 25 and 23 such centre.
v. To achieve the aforesaid objective, the Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers has been taking several regulatory and fiscal measures.
vi. The 437 Pradhan Mantri Jan AushadhiKendras spread over 26 States/UTs   were operational across the country

Centre to set up a committee to deal with complaints regarding Waqf properties
i. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) approved NITI Aayog’s proposal for shutting down 17 sick or loss-making governmentcompanies.
ii. It had also approved proposals for strategic sales to reduce government ownership to below 51 percent in about 22 public sector companies.
iii. Centre would soon prepare a one-man Board of Adjudication to deal with complaints regarding Waqf properties. The Committee to be set up at Central level will be headed by a retired Supreme Court Judge or retired High Court Chief Justice.
iv. The list of loss-making companies included Indian Oil-CREDA Biofuels Ltd and CREDA HPCL Biofuel Ltd, both Jatropha oil-focussed subsidiaries of state-owned petroleum giants.The list included   are National Jute Manufactures Corporation Limited and its subsidiary, Birds Jute & Export. Bharat Wagon and Engineering is another public sector unit (PSU) that is all set to be shut down.
v. Indian mandarins has learnt that the second list included the Miniratna helicopter services operator Pawan Hans Limited, Scooters India Limited, Cement Corporation of India Limited and three plants of the Maharatna Steel Authority of India (SAIL) located at Salem, Durgapur, and Bhadravati. Government companies in the hospital services business and the construction consultancy industry are also on the list of PSUs for strategic disinvestment.

Centre Renames Restructred Indira Awaas Yojana As PMAY
i. The rural housing scheme Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY), started by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, has been restructured and renamed as Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (PMAY), which would be launched next month.
ii. The IAY would be included by the PMAY.Under the new scheme, the government was aiming to construct one crore houses by 2019.
iii.Under IAY, the government had set a target of constructing 38 lakh houses by end of the current financial year (2015-16), out of which 10 lakh had been completed.
Indira Awaas Yojana:
♦ Launched by Rajiv Gandhi
♦ Launched in 1985.
♦ IAY was a centrally sponsored scheme funded on a cost sharing basis between the centre and states in the 60:40 ratio, except in case of North-Eastern states and Union Territories (UTs).
♦ For North-Eastern states, the central government funds 90% of the cost and 100%for the UTs
♦ Under the new modified PMAY scheme, the sharing pattern between the Centre and states is same, but the grant would be transferred directly into the bank account of beneficiaries, who had been selected on the basis of socio-economic caste census of 2011.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

India’s Digital Classifieds Industry to grow by three times – ‘Digital Classifieds in India 2020’ report
i. According to a new report by Google and KPMG , the Indian digital classifieds  industry is projected to grow three times to $1.2 billion by 2020.  Google and KPMG  the ‘Digital Classifieds in India 2020’ report, which says the next phase of growth of such ads will be driven by the rapid growth of e-services, real estate and automobiles.
ii. The ecosystem is ripe for the emergence of digital classifieds. This is spurred by the smartphone penetration, online users are expected to grow to a whopping 650 million by 2020; and with every second consumer willing to pay for value added services, the digital classified segment is expected to touch $1.2 billion by 2020.
iii. Horizontal classifieds will still continue to lead with about 30% market share of total digital classifieds in 2020.

193 countries sign declaration to stamp out drug-resistant infections
i. The 193 countries of the United Nations (UN) had signed a landmark declaration to rid the world of drug-resistant infections or Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) or superbugs.
ii. The international commitment could prevent 700,000 deaths a year was reported by experts.It was the fourth time a UN declaration had been reached on a health issue, following HIV in 2001, non-communicable diseases in 2011 and Ebola in 2013.
iii. The signatory countries had two years to submit action plan. These submitted plans were expected to address the seriousness and scope of the situation. It would also agree on sustainable, multisectoral approaches to addressing antimicrobial resistance
iv. Antimicrobial resistance happened when microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites changed when they were exposed to antimicrobial drugs.
v. These microorganisms are also termed as “superbugs”. As a result, the medicines or drugs became ineffective and infections persist in the body futher increasing the risk of spread to others.

BANKING & FINANCE

World Bank to invest Rs 1,000 cr. for improvement of inland waterways in Assam
i. World Bank will invest nearly 1,000 crore rupees in Assam for the betterment of the inland waterways.
ii. It was conveyed to State Transport Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary by Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari.
iii. The amount will be utilised to develop inland waterways including ghats.

Vijaya Bank rolls out 3 new apps
i. Public sector lender Vijaya Bank had launched e-deposit facility to facilitate term deposits by customers in its bid to ramp up deposit base of the bank. E-deposit would facilitate the existing Vijaya Bank customers to open term deposit accounts through e-banking facility.
ii. The three innovative information technology products had launched VPAYQWIK, Vijaya *99# and V-eConnect+.
iii. Vijaya Bank  aggressively focuses on increasing its CASA ratio through new client acquisition and coming up with technology driven products to facilitate the same.
iv. The bank reported a 58.5 per cent drop in its net profit at Rs 54.23 crore for the fourth quarter of last financial year compared to the year-ago period on account of provisions for wage revision.
v. The operating profit of the bank stood at Rs.109.9 crore, a drop of 65 per cent. The total income of the bank during the quarter rose 15.8 per cent to Rs.1,751.6 crore, compared with Rs.1,511.6 crore in the year-ago period.
vi. The public lender also aimed to recover around Rs.1, 000 crore from non-performing assets (NPA) to increase its asset quality.

Kotak Mahindra Bank Launches App To Open Accounts
i. Kotak Mahindra Bank (KMB) has launched an application, “Kotak Now”  that would allow new customers to open an account.
ii. It is an end-to-end application wherein a customer will be able to open a bank account within 10 minutes.
iii. The customer will have to enter their mobile number and then key in a one-time password (OTP) to establish identity.
iv. After this they need to upload scan copy of either their passport or the Aadhaar card. Customers will then have to get connect through a video chat with one of the KMB executives and the account gets opened.
v. KMB tied-up with a German based start-up ‘WebID’ which has a patented technology to establish identities through specially built algorithms. ‘WebID’ already implemented it in 30 banks worldwide.

BUSINESS

Adani Group dedicates 648 MW solar plant in Tamil Nadu to the country
i. Adani Green Energy Ltd is connected the 648 mega watt (MW) solar power plant to 400 KW substation of Tantransco at Kamuthi in Ramanathapuram district, Tamil Nadu
ii. The plant is part of the Tamilnadu government’s target of generating 3,000 MW energy, according to its new solar energy policy which was unveiled in 2012.
Outlay: Rs 4,550 crore.
♦ It was the world’s largest solar power plant at single location.
♦ The plant was setup in a record time of 8 months
♦ Chairman of Adani Group – Gautam Adani

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

ISKCON’s Govardhan Eco Village Receives Award In UK
i. Govardhan Eco Village (GEV) of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) had received the Green Apple Awards for Built Environment and Architectural Heritage Award 2016 in UK.
ii. Green Organisation, UK instituted the award and the award was received by Radha Mohan Prabhu on behalf of GEV for its green building initiatives at a function held at London in UK.
iii. Spread across 100 acres, GEV is a sustainable farming community and retreat centre located near Mumbai. ISKCON Spiritual Leader Radhanath Swami Maharajannounced that the ISKCON’s GEV was one such initiative where 100 per cent recycling was demonstrated.
iv. The Green Organisation was   set up in 1994, and   was an independent, non-profit, non-political, environment group, dedicated to recognising, rewarding and promoting best environmental practice around the world.
.A community is a successful fusion between ancient Vedic wisdom and modern science. The focus of GEV was learning how to live in harmony with the environment, developing a ‘spiritual ecology’ that could bring about tangible, positive changes within ourselves – and how we interact with the planet.

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

Mallikarjuna Rao assumes charge as Syndicate Bank ED
S S Mallikarjuna Rao has assumed charge as Executive Director of  Manipal based Syndicate Bank. Prior to this he was General Manager and CFO of Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC).
About Mallikarjuna Rao :
i. He has been a professional banker for over 31 years of varied experience since 1985.
ii. He was the head of operational excellence team of 70 members at Secunderabad handling electronic delivery channels and cash management services of the bank.
iii. He was also a member of the core integration committee involved in technology integration of GTB operations with OBC involving core banking and delivery channels.
Syndicate Bank:
♦ Syndicate Bank is one of the oldest and major commercial banks of India.
♦ Headquarters: Manipal
♦ CEO: Arun Shrivastava

Alibaba’s Chairman Jack Ma appointed adviser to UN trade body
i. Founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group Jack Ma was appointed as adviser to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) announced by UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi.
ii. He will be a Special Adviser on Youth Entrepreneurship and Small Business.
iii. He will make initiatives for developing countries to participate in global trade, as well as raise awareness about the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
UNCTAD:
♦ The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) was established in 1964 as a permanent intergovernmental body.
♦ UNCTAD has 194 member states
♦ UNCTAD conference only takes place every four years
♦ Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland

Jubilant FoodWorks CEO Ajay Kaul resigns
i. Jubilant FoodWorks chief executive Ajay Kaul has resigned from his position.
ii. Kaul, who is also a wholetime director at the firm, will continue in his current role till March 2017.
iii. Under the leadership of Mr. Kaul, Domino’s Pizza became the country’s largest fast-food chain beating burger chain McDonald’s.

Facebook appoints former Snapdeal CPO Anand Chandrasekaran for its Messenger platform
i. Facebook has appointed former chief product officer at Snapdeal and Bharti Airtel, Anand Chandrasekaran for its Messenger platform.
ii. Chandrasekaran, who served as the senior director of mobile and search products at Yahoo between 2011 and 2014, worked with Airtel and Snapdeal in India in the past two and a half years.
iii. FB is also working on making its Messenger platfotm easier for users and has been trying to position Messenger as the de-facto text messaging app on Android phones.
About Facebook:
♦ Headquarters: Menlo Park, California, US
♦ Chairman & CEO : Mark Zuckerberg
♦ COO: Sheryl Sandberg
♦ Subsidiaries: Messenger, Instagram, Whatsapp, Oculus VR

Bangladesh’s Junaid Ahmad Is The New World Bank Head In India
i. Junaid Ahmad from Bangladesh was appointed as World Bank Country Director for India. He will replace Onno Ruhl.
ii. Prior to this he was working as the Chief of Staff  to World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim.
iii. Junaid Ahmad joined the World Bank in 1991 as a young professional, he worked on infrastructure development in Africa and Eastern Europe
World Bank:
♦ Headquarters: Washington, D.C,
♦ Motto: Working for a World Free of Poverty
World Bank Group is the family of five international organizations:
1.International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD)
2.International Development Association (IDA)
3.International Finance Corporation (IFC)
4.Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA)
5.International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID)

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Amsterdam to pilot world’s first ‘self-drive’ boats
i. Amsterdam’s iconic canals might soon see the world’s first driverless boats, doing everything from moving people and goods to providing “pop-up” bridges and cleaning up thousands of dumped bicycles.
ii
. The first prototypes of the so-called “Roboat” would launch next year, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS).
iii. With some 165 canals, totaling a length of 50 kilometres (31 miles) consistent with the Dutch capital’s advertising place of work, Amsterdam is the superb situation for developing Roboat researchers stated.The boats would additionally stack together to type bridges throughout the canals,
iv. Amsterdam was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2010, the four hundred-year-historical canal ring round Amsterdam had always been a transport and leisure mainstay within the city, called the “Venice of the North“.
v. Canal cruises type the most important visitor enchantment in the city that sees some 17 million visitors flocking there each year, while some 2,500 houseboats are additionally moored alongside Amsterdam’s canals and rivers.

Google Launches ‘Allo’ Messaging App
i. Google has launched its messaging app ‘Allo’, which likes WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.Google also launched a new mobile application called ‘Google Trips’ that serves as a trip planner and travel guide for anyone.
ii.This app will be Available for both Android and iOS platforms. You can download Duo from Google Play and Apple’s App Store.
iii.All chats in Allo are encrypted using industry standard technologies like Transport Layer Security (TLS).
iv.Last month Google has  launched video calling app Google Duo for Android and iOS

ENVIRONMENT

National Board for Wildlife approves first phase of Ken-Betwa project
India’s first inter State river interlinking project Ken-Betwa project was approved by the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) .
Outlay : Rs.10,000 crore
♦ This project will irrigate not only Bundelkhand region but also submerge about 10% of the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh.
Feature of the project:
i. This would be the first time that a river project will be located within a tiger reserve.
ii. It  is a 230-km long canal and a series of barrages and dams connecting the Ken and Betwa rivers that will irrigate 3.5 lakh hectares in Madhya Pradesh and 14,000 hectares of Uttar Pradesh, in Bundelkhand.
iii. The key projects are the Makodia and Dhaudhan dams, the latter expected to be 77 m high and responsible for submerging 5,803 hectares of tiger habitat in the Panna tiger reserve.
iv. Chhatarpur, Panna, Tikamgarh, Raisen, and Vidisha districts of Madhya Pradesh and Mahoba, Jhansi and Banda districts of Uttar Pradesh will benefited from assured irrigation supply, domestic and industrial water supply and power

India, China may escape worst of global environment: UNCTAD
i. UN Trade reported that the India and China might shielded them from the worst of the adverse external environment was by Expanding domestic markets and enough forex reserves.
ii. India was growing faster than China as it had managed the downside risks of the post crisis period better than other emerging economies .Size could provide somewhat of a buffer against strong headwinds from the global economy.
iii. In large Asian countries investment shares had remained at relatively high levels over the past 40 years.On Foreign Direct Investment, investment towards Greenfield projects was very little.
iv. On devaluation of rupee it would not help exports as it is demand dependent. India should instead focus on forging regional relations to boost trade prospects than to look at the west.
v. By a report the economic slowdown in the advanced economies was the biggest drag on global growth, but developing countries were now caught in the downdraft.

SPORTS

Pakistan awarded ICC Test Championship mace
i. Pakistan Test captain MisbahulHaq had received Test mace by International Cricket Council (ICC) at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.
ii. CEO of ICC Mr Richardson congratulated the Pakistan cricket team that the ICC Test Championship mace was a symbol of excellence and a recognition of a side’s outstanding performance in the purest format of the game. Pakistan was a deserving recipient of the mace.
iii. It was all the more impressive that it has reached the number-one Test ranking despite not being able to play a series in front of its home crowd since March 2009.
iv .Pakistan achieved number-one Test ranking for the first time since the current rankings system was introduced in 2003 after it played a two-all draw against England
International Cricket Council (ICC):
♦ Founded: 1909.
♦ Headquarters: Dubai, UAE
♦ President: Zaheer Abbas.

BOOKS & AUTHORS

Dr Jitendra Singh released the NEC Coffee Table Book “North Eastern Council: A Story of Sagacity and Success”
i. Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Dr Jitendra Singh released the NEC Coffee Table Book, 2016 “North Eastern Council: A Story of Sagacity and Success”
ii. This book describes the achievements of the NEC engaged in all round development of the North-Eastern Region (NER).
About NEC:
♦ It was set up in 1971 as a Regional Advisory Body under the North Eastern Council Act, 1971, has been transformed into a Regional Planning Body in 2002.

IMPORTANT DAYS

Important Days – September 21, 2016
World Peace Day
i. The International Day of Peace, sometimes unofficially known as World Peace Day, is observed annually on 21 September.
ii. It is dedicated to world peace, and specifically the absence of war and violence, such as might be occasioned by a temporary ceasefire in a combat zone for humanitarian aid
iii. 2016 Theme :  “The Sustainable Development Goals: Building Blocks for Peace”.
World Alzheimer’s Day
i. World Alzheimer’s Day, September 21st of each year, is a day on which Alzheimer’s organizations around the world concentrate their efforts on raising awareness about Alzheimer’s and dementia.
ii. 2016 Theme: “Remember Me”





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