Daily Current Affairs – 16th June, 2016, Thursday

1. President Mukherjee receives the highest civilian award of Ivory coast

a) President Pranab Mukherjee was honoured with the National Order of the Republic of Ivory Coast, the highest civilian award of the West African country at the Presidential Palace by Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara in Republic of Cote D’ivoire, Abidjan.

b) It is the first such honour accorded to him by a country. The President was honoured during his two days visit to the Country from 14 June to 15 June 2016.

c) Highlights of President’s Visit:

. Agreement for re-establishment of Exim bank regional headquarters in the Ivory Coast was signed by both countries.

. The Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces highlighted the common concerns of both the countries to combat international terrorism and other key issues including disarmament, climate change and sustainable development.

. The Head of the State assured the commitment of India towards the South-South Cooperation through developmental assistance and sharing resources for the development in Africa.

. He appreciated the naming of an IT park after Mahatma Gandhi in Abidjan naming him the true son of India and Africa.

. The President also promised India’s partnership in assisting Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) for its economic development and growth and trade between the two nations to reach 1 billion US dollars in few years.

2. Union Ministry of Railways signs JV Agreement with Odisha Government

a) Ministry of Railways signed a joint venture agreement with government of Odisha for development of state railway infrastructure.

b) Highlights of the JV Agreement:

. The MoU envisages formation of a Joint Venture company having 51 percent stake of the State Government and 49 percent stake of Ministry of Railways.

. The company will primarily identify projects and possible financing avenues for the same.

. After finances for a project are tied up, project specific special purpose vehicles shall be formed.

. These SPVs can have other stakeholders from Industries, Central PSUs, State PSUs etc. However, the JV companies shall be mandatory stake holders with a minimum 26 percent share.

. A concession agreement of 30 years with the project SPV for safe and sound operation, revenue sharing and providing technical & marketing logistics to the SPV will be signed by Railways Ministry.

. At the end of concession period, the railways will have option to take over the assets at a nominal price.

. The most important aspect of this MoU is that the ownership of the land shall vest with the SPVs which is a departure from previous practice. This will give financial leverage to the company to exploit commercial potential of the land.

3. Florida’s Stonegate Bank to issue first US credit card for use in Cuba

a) First US credit card intended to be used in Cuba has been launched by Florida’s Stonegate bank, which will make travelling and work easier for Americans.

b) The US travelers will be able to use its Mastercard to charge purchases at Cuban state-run businesses and some private businesses after 15th June 2016. Initially, the bank will issue only 1000 cards with an artwork by celebrated Cuban painter Michael Mirabal.

c) The card will help the US visitors to avoid the Cuban 10-percent penalty on the dollar. Pompano-beach based Stonegate is also the first US bank to introduce a debit card for use in Cuba.

4. India to provide Rs. 48 mn aid for college building in Nepal

a) India vowed a financial aid of Rs. 48 mn to Kathmandu for building and development of colleges.

b) Ambassador of India to Nepal Ranjit Rae laid the foundation stone of the building for Koteshwor Multiple Campus in Kathmandu district. The campus building is constructed through aid from India and the project is being executed through District Development Committee of Kathmandu.

c) The India-Nepal Economic Cooperation Programme has an outlay of over Rs 76 billion with more than 529 large and small development projects completed or being implemented in almost all the districts of Nepal mainly in the sectors of education, health and infrastructure development.

d) Previously, India had provided a sum of Rs 501 million to Nepal in the financial year 2015-2016 to help the quake-struck country restore and upgrade its various religious, cultural and educational institutions.

5. Union Government approves Measures for Conservation & Preservation of Lakes in Bengaluru

a) The Government recently approved a series of measures for the abatement of pollution and for the conservation and preservation of lakes in Bengaluru.

b) The decision was taken at a meeting jointly chaired by Union Minister of Chemicals & Fertilizers, Shri Ananth Kumar and Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Shri Prakash Javadekar.

c) The initiative will involve 24×7 online monitoring of all sewage water plants and the lake water quality. Lakes will be restored in a bio-diverse manner in Public-Private Partnership mode.

d) Some of the other actions that have been agreed upon include: 

. All residential group housing projects/apartments with >20 units and total build-up area of 2000 sq.mtr. to install STP.

. Re-use of treated sewage for various purposes and dual piping system to be prescribed in apartments/commercial establishments for re-use of treated sewage.

. Regular monitoring of STPs to be carried out by State Pollution Control Board.

. Retrofitting of existing STPs to meet the revised effluent norms.

. Proper management of plastic waste to ensure that it is not dumped in the lakes.

. Madivala lake to be developed as a biodiversity park on the lines of Yamuna Biodiversity Park under the guidance of Karnataka Knowledge Commission.

. Lake Wardens to be appointed for involvement of public in lake conservation.

. CSR funds to be tapped for conserving and developing lakes.

e) The progress will be monitored every six months.

6. Popcorn-like fossils give evidence of environmental influence on species richness

a) According to a new study, fossils resembling miniaturised popcorn that date back millions of years, provide the first statistical evidence that number of species on Earth depends on how the environment changes.

b) Researchers from University of Southampton in UK have observed that the environmental changes put a cap on species richness.To get this observation, they analysed analysing the fossil record of microscopic aquatic creatures called planktonic foraminifera.

c) Evolutionary ecologist of University of Southampton Dr. Thomas Ezard was the lead author of this study. This observations are published in a journal called ‘Ecology Letters’.

d) The study denotes the environment is responsible to the upper limit to the biodiversity. For example, the tropical environment is capable of altering the spatial gradient of more number of species than the arctic environment. This research examines the co-dependence of these factors on how species interact.

e) As per the observations, the idea of fixed rules for competition is not valid, instead the limit to the number of species that can co-exist on Earth is much more dynamic. Also, the number of species was almost certainly controlled by competition among themselves and probably kept within a finite upper limit.

7. Central Port Authorities Act, 2016 drafted to replace the Major Port Trust Act, 1963

a) the Union Ministry of Shipping has recently prepared a draft bill of ‘The Central Port Authorities Act’ 2016 ‘. This bill will replace the current ‘Major Port Trust Act, 1963’.

b) The new bill is aimed at giving more autonomy and flexibility to the major ports and to bring in a professional approach in their governance.

c) Highlights of the bill :

  • The board will consist of nine members including 3 to 4 independent members instead of 17-19 under the Port Trust Model.
  • As per the section 3 (2), 3 new functional heads Major Port as Members in the Board apart from a Government Nominee Member and a Labour Nominee Member.
  • The new bill also adds provisions like, the disqualification of the appointment of the Members of the Board, duties of the Members and provision of the meetings of the Board through video conferencing and other visual means.
  • It defines the port related and non port related use of land in terms of approval of leases.
  • The Port Authorities are empowered to lease land for Port related use for up to 40 years and for non-port related use upto 20 years.

8. Cabinet approves SBI takeover of units

a) Union Cabinet approved the merger of five associate banks of SBI & Bhartiya Mahila Bank into the State Bank of India.

b) This move will benefit the SBI and its customers with further possible rationalisation of branches, common treasury pooling and proper deployment of a large skilled resource base.

c) With this merger the SBI’s assets will be worth $550 billion which will give it a seat in the world’s top 50 banks.

d) SBI’s five associate banks are: State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur (SBB&J), State Bank of Hyderabad (SBH), State Bank of Mysore (SBM), State Bank of Patiala and State Bank of Travancore (SBT). SBI already fully owns SBH and State Bank of Patiala, and has majority stakes in the other three.

9. Union Government Launches Scheme for setting up 1000 MW CTU- connected Wind Power Project

a) A new scheme for setting up of 1000 MW Wind Power Project connected to transmission network of Central Transmission Utility (CTU) was recently launched by Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).

b) This scheme is aimed at supply of wind power to the non-windy states at a price discovered through transparent bidding process. Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) will act as a nodal agency for implementation of this scheme.

c) This scheme will encourage the competition through scaling up of project size and introduction of efficient and transparent e-bidding and e-auctioning processes.

d) It will also facilitate fulfilment of Non-Solar Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO) requirement of non-windy states.

10. Maharashtra Government decides to use plastic waste in building roads

a) Maharashtra state government has decided to use plastic waste in building new roads. The plastic waste will be used with tar to improve the durability and longevity of asphalt roads to improve the quality.

b) For every 100 kg of tar, around 3-6 kg of plastic will be used. As this plastic will be from garbage, it will also reduce the soil pollution.

c) Plastics waste have great potential for use in bituminous construction as its addition in small doses, about 5-10 per cent by weight of bitumen, helps in substantially improving the Marshall stability, strength, fatigue life and other desirable properties of bituminous mix, leading to improved longevity and pavement performance

11. Haryana government approves Rs. 25 Cr agriculture project

a) Haryana state government has approved a agriculture project worth 25 crores to make agriculture production system more flexible to climate change.

b) Chairman of state level steering committee, chief secretary D S Dhesi approved the detailed project report. This project will be implemented in Northern Haryana and it will benefit to around 75,000 in the state.

c) This project will help farmers to adopt climate resilient technologies to enhance the production of the crops without deteriorating soil health. The project will be beneficial to the farming community of haryana mostly the women farmers.

12. DCB Bank launches Aadhaar enabled ATM in Bengaluru

a) The Development Bank of Singapore Limited (DCB Bank) has recently launched an Aadhar based ATM machine in Bengaluru. The ATM accepts Aadhaar number and Aadhaar fingerprint (biometric) instead of ATM / debit card and PIN for cash transactions.

b) The bank had, in April launched a pilot Aadhaar-based ATM in Mumbai. This was followed by launch of Aadhaar-based ATMs in Odisha and Punjab.

13. Pan-India Ramayana & Krishna Circuit under Swadesh Darshan Scheme approved

a) Under the chairmanship of Union minister of tourism and Culture Dr. Mahesh Sharma, the 1st meeting of National Committee on Ramayana Circuit & Krishna Circuit under Swadesh Darshan Scheme was held.

b) The national committee has approved 11 Ramayan circuits which are, Ayodhya, Nandigram, Shringverpur & Chitrakoot in Uttar Pradesh, Sitamarhi, Buxar & Darbhanga in Bihar, Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh, Bhadrachalam in Telangana, Hampi in Karnataka, Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu.

c) The national committee has approved 12 Krishna circuits which are, Dwarka in Gujarat, Nathdwara, Jaipur & Sikar in Rajasthan, Kurukshetra in Haryana, Mathura, Vrindavan, Gokul, Barsana, Nandgaon & Govardhan in Uttar Pradesh, Puri in Odisha.

d) To develop the theme based tourist circuits in India, Ministry of Tourism has launched Swadesh Darshan Scheme in 2014-15 on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner.

e) Till now, under Swadesh Darshan Scheme total thirteen circuits are identified. They are, North-East India Circuit, Buddhist Circuit, Himalayan Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Desert Circuit, Tribal Circuit, Eco Circuit, Wildlife Circuit, Rural Circuit, Spiritual Circuit, Ramayana Circuit and Heritage Circuit.

14. DBS Bank appoints Neeraj Mittal as institutional banking head

a) Neeraj Mittal is appointed as the managing director and Head of Institutional banking for DBS (The Development Bank of Singapore Limited).

b) Neeraj Mittal has previously worked at The Royal Bank of Scotland NV (RBS), where he served as its Managing Director and Head of institutional banking business (North India).

15. RBS India chief Brijesh Mehra to head RBL corporate banking

a) Indian Chief of Royal Bank of Scotland Brijesh Mehra is appointed as the head of RBL bank, formerly known as the Ratnakar Bank Ltd.

b) The appointment comes within a month of RBS announcing its withdrawal from customer facing activities in India. Mehra has around 3 decades of experience in Banking sector.

16. India set for the maiden show at U17 Futsal World Cup

a) India is invited by the sport’s governing body, the Association Mundial de Futsal (AMF), by a wild card entry to take part in U17 Futsal World Cup.

b) The event will be held in month of July from 11 July to 20th July. Total 12 competing countries will take part in this tournament.

17. India won three-match ODI Series against Zimbabwe, 3-0

a) India on 16 June 2016 won the three-match One Day International (ODI) series against Zimbabwe 3-0. In the third and final match played at Harare, India defeated Zimbabwe by 10 wickets.

b) The title for Man of the series was given to Lokesh Rahul.

c) Including this match, India got it’s a third successive series clean-sweep in Zimbabwe after the triumphs in 2013 and 2015. The ODI series will be followed by 3 Twenty-20 matches that will begin on 18 June 201

18. Underwater Robots to be used to Study Indian monsoon: Scientists

a) With an intent to give better forecasting of monsoons, scientists from India and Britain will release underwater robots into the Bay of Bengal, critical to the millions of farmers reeling from two consecutive droughts.

b) Scientists from the University of East Anglia (UEA) will release seven underwater robots from an Indian ship next week to study how ocean processes influence monsoon rainfall.

c) Also, colleagues from the University of Reading and climate experts in India will use instruments on board the plane flying from the southern city of Bangalore to measure heat and moisture in the air.

d) Better forecasting will improve the livelihoods of India’s more than 200 million farmers and agricultural labourers, who are reeling from devastating drought.

19. American Literary Translator Gregory Rabassa dies

a) Gregory Rabassa, prominent translator of spanish and portuguese, died at the age of 94 following prolonged illness.

b) Rabassa is known for his translations of several well-known Latin American writers, including Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, Julio Cortazar, Octavio Paz, Clarice Lispector and Jorge Amado.

c) Rabassa received a lifetime achievement award from the PEN American Centre for contributions to Hispanic literature in 2001 and a National Medal of Arts in 2006 for translations.

20. Margaret Atwood awarded 2016 PEN Pinter Prize

a) Canadian Novelist and Poet, Margaret Atwood was recently awarded with PEN Pinter Prize 2016. She will receive her award at a public event at the British Library on 13 October 2016.

b) The prize was founded by Nobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter in 2009.

c) Previous winners include Tom Stoppard, Salman Rushdie and the poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. Atwood is the first non-British writer to win the award, which from this year is also open to writers from the Commonwealth and the Republic of Ireland, as well as the UK.

d) Shortlisted for the Booker Prize five times, winning once for her novel The Blind Assassin, her finest of works include The Handmaid’s Tale, The Robber Bride, The Year of the Flood among others.

21. BHEL commissions 195 megawatt unit at Muzaffarpur Thermal Power Plant

a) A 195 megawatt (MW) unit thermal power plant station was recently commissioned by public sector power equipment manufacture company BHEL.
b) This power plant is located in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. This is the 2nd 195 MW thermal power plant commissioned by BHEL at the 2×195 MW Muzaffarpur Thermal Power Station Stage-II of Kanti Bijlee Utpadan Nigam Limited (KBUNL). The first 195 MW plant was commissioned by BHEL in 2015.

c) KBUNL is the joint venture of National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and Bihar State Power Holding Company Limited (BSPHCL).