Daily Current Affairs – 18th June 2016, Saturday

1. NASA spots single methane leak from space using Hyperion spectrometer

a) First time ever, a methane leak has been measured on Earth’s surface with an instrument onboard an orbiting spacecraft called Earth Observing -1 (EO-1).

b) EO-1’s Hyperion spectrometer has proved its ability to measure and monitor emissions of this potent greenhouse gas from space. The current leak is over Aliso Canyon near Porter Ranch in California.

2. Former Indian football coach Syed Nayeemuddin to be awarded Mohun Bagan Ratna

a) Syed Nayeemuddin will be honoured with the Mohun Bagan Ratna for his overall contribution both as a football player and a coach.

b) He is the only sportsperson to win both the Arjuna and Dronacharya Awards for football.

c) The Mohun Bagan Ratna is awarded annually to football players. It is presented to the winners on 29 July, which is celebrated as Mohun Bagan Day.

d) In 2015, Karuna Sankar Bhattacharya was honoured posthumously with the Mohun Bagan Ratna.

3. LIGO team announced second detection of gravitational waves

a) Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) team has announced its second detection of gravitational waves while witnessing the merging of a second black hole pair.

b) These detections were made from their twin wave detectors located at Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington in US on 26th December, 2015. The entire signal coming from 1.4 billion light years away, lasted just one second.

c) These two black holes are of approximately 14 & 8 times the mass of the Sun. During their cataclysmic merging, they have released around one solar mass within short interval.

d) Two black holes spiraled toward each other in deep space with their tremendous mass warping space time and propagating gravitational waves across the fabric of the universe at light-speed.

4. Karnataka Bank gets CFBP Jamnalal Bajaj award

a) CFBP (Council for Fair Business Practices) Jamnalal Bajaj award was recently conferred upon Karnataka Bank.

b) Karnataka Bank bagged this award  for fair business practices under the category ‘service enterprises – large’.

5. National Civil Aviation Policy 2016 released

a) The Union government recently replaced the decade old rule of allowing new domestic airlines set up in India to fly on international routes.

b)  National Civil Aviation Policy 2016 aims to  provide safe, secure, affordable  and sustainable air travel for passengers and air transportation of cargo with  access to various parts of India and the world.

c) Highlights of the NCAP 2016:

. Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS): Charges for one hour flight between two cities will not exceed Rs. 2,500/-

. Code-share agreements: Indian carriers will be free to enter into code-share agreements with foreign carriers for any destination within India on a reciprocal basis.

. Encourage Private Security: Use of private security agencies at airports for non-core security functions will be encouraged.

. No-Frills Airports: They will be built at an indicative cost of 50 crore to 100 crore rupees.

. Viability Gap Funding (VGF): It will be shared between MoCA and the State Government in the ratio of 80:20 while it is 90:10 for the North Eastern States.

. 5/20 Rule: The requirement for 5/20 is modified and all airlines are allowed to carry international operations if they deploy 20 aircraft or 20 percent of total capacity.

. Bilateral Traffic Rights: Under this, government will enter into an ‘Open sky’ ASA on a reciprocal basis with SAARC countries and countries with territory located entirely beyond a 5000 kilometers radius from New Delhi.

. India has Air Service Agreements (ASA) with 109 countries covering aspects relating to the number of flights, seats, landing points and code-share.  

. Upgradation of Airports: Airport Authority of India (AAI) will modernise the existing airports and upgrade the quality of its services. It will also maintain an ASQ  rating  of  4.5  or  more  across all airports  which  have  a throughput above 1.5  mppa and ASQ rating  of 4.0 or more for the rest.

. Ground Handling Agencies (GHA): The airport operator will ensure that there will be three Ground Handling Agencies (GHA) including Air India’s subsidiary/JV at all major airports as defined in AERA Act 2008 to ensure fair competition.

. Advanced Cargo Information system: It will be implemented in a phased manner after a universally accepted international template has emerged.

. Growth of helicopters: number of helicopters will be increased for remote area connectivity and separate regulations for helicopters will be notified by DGCA.

6. Railway Ministry launches Liberalised Policies on Parcel Leasing and Parcel Cargo Train Express

a) Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu launched two policies related to Parcel Leasing and Parcel Cargo Train Express.

b) These policies were launched as part of Rail Budget announcement of the fiscal year 2016-17. It aims to make the policy related to Parcel more liberalised and customer-friendly.

c) Liberalised Comprehensive Parcel Leasing Policy (CPLP): Duration of parcel leasing scheme has been increased from 3 years to 5 years to insulate parcel from budgetary hike. It provides for (a) assured leased rates with fixed escalation @10% from 4th year; and (b) realistic assessment of bids,  powers have been delegated to zonal railways to fix the reserve price downwardly.

d) Liberalised policy on Parcel Cargo Express Trains (PCET): Duration of contract is being increased from 3 years to 6 years, to insulate parcel from budgetary hike. It provides for (a) assured leased rates with fixed escalation @10% from 4th year; and (b) realistic assessment of bids, minimum composition of PCET reduced to 15 vans for first 6 months of the contract period to give  time to the leaseholder in the initial stage to develop business.

7. Union Cabinet approves Bill to fast track recovery of bad loans

a) Union Cabinet recently approved a bill to amend debt recovery laws with an overall objective of improving ease of doing business, facilitate investment leading to higher economic growth and development.

b) The bill seeks to amend four existing legislations namely Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act, 2002, Recovery of Debts due to Banks and Financial Institutions (RDDBFI) Act, 1993,  Indian Stamp Act, 1899 and Depositories Act, 1996.

c) Highlights of the Bill:

. Amendments to the SARFAESI Act, 2002: The SARFAESI Act permits secured creditors to take possession over a collateral, against which a loan had been provided, upon a default in repayment. This can be done with the assistance of the District Magistrate

. The Bill provides a timeline of 30 days for the completion of process by the District Magistrate.

. In addition, the Bill empowers the District Magistrate to assist banks in taking over the management of a company, in case the company is unable to repay loans.

. This will be done in case banks convert their outstanding debt into equity shares, and consequently hold a stake of 51% or more in the company.

. It empowers the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to examine the statements and any information of Asset Reconstruction Companies related to their business.

. The Bill further empowers the RBI to carry out audit and inspection of these companies.

8. Scientists announces Human Genome Project-Write to synthesize entire genome

a) In a project called Human Genome Project Write (HGP-Read), a team of 25 scientists published their proposal to synthesize entire human genome from scratch.

b) The core objective of this project is to reduce the engineering the DNA segments in library. This project will be implemented through a new non profit organization called the Center of Excellence for Engineering Biology.

c) This project will facilitate growing new human organs for transplant and development of new vaccines. It will also make possible the engineered immunity against viruses via genome wide recording.

d) This might also make possible to engineer cancer resistance into new therapeutic cell lines and accelerating high-productivity, cost-efficient vaccine and pharmaceutical development using human cells and organoids.

9. Government approves Rs 2,070-crore highway project in Punjab

a) A 2,070 crore highways project in punjab in hybrid annuity mode was recently approved by Union Cabinet. This highway project is aimed to faster movement of traffic between Chandigarh & Ludhiana.

b)  The current highway is only two lane. With this a 76 km highway stretch will be created. out of the total, 54 km will be widened to six lane and the remaining 22 km will broadened to four lanes.

c) The project was later reconstructed in two parts — Chandigarh-Kharar and Kharar-Ludhiana — due to non-viability.  The Chandigarh-Kharar section has already been awarded on engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) mode.

10. Andhra Pradesh to start Internet-based phone service

a) Andhra Pradesh will soon become the first state in India to launch an internet based phone service. The state government has acquired a telecom licence and soon they are planning to issue phone numbers starting with the 797 series this year.

b) The state has obtained permission from the Telecom Ministry for starting its own IPTV – Internet Protocol based Television network – as part of its Fibre Grid project.

11. Sunil Mittal elected chief of International Chamber of Commerce

a) The founder chairman of Bharti Airtel Sunil Bharti Mittal has been recently elected as the head of International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), based in Paris, France. He is the 3rd Indian Business leader to head ICC.

b) He will replace Terry McGraw Chairman Emeritus of S&P Global, who will now become ICC’s honorary chairman.

c) Mittal is currently serving as the Chair of the World Economic Forums (WEF) Telecommunications Steering Committee. He is also a member of the India-US, India-UK and India-Japan CEO Forums.

12. Suresh Chandra appointed as Union Law Secretary

a) Suresh Chandra, senior legal service officer was appointed as the Union Law Secretary.

b) Suresh Chandra is currently serving as the additional secretary in the department. G Narayana Raju, Legislative Secretary, was holding additional charge of the post of Secretary, Legal Affairs.

13. Piyush Goyal launches Vidyut Pravah and Urja Mobile App in Goa to enhance consumer connectivity

a) A new mobile called Urja – Urban Jyoti abhiyan was recently launched by Union Minister of State for Power, Coal and New and Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal.

b) The app is developed by Power Finance Corporation on behalf of Ministry of Power for Urban Power Distribution Sector. The app is aimed at enhancing the consumer connect with the Urban Power Distribution sector by providing information of IT enabled towns on important parameters which concern the consumers like outage information, timely release of connections, addressing complaints, power reliability, etc.

c) Piyush Goyal has also launched the Pradhan Mantri UJALA (Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LED for all) Yojana in Goa with a target of replacing approximately 15 lakh LED, bulbs impacting nearly five lakh households. Under the scheme, consumers are entitled to three LED bulbs of 9 w each at a subsidised rate of Rs. 25/- as against the market price of Rs. 300-350.

d) An app called Vidyut pravah was also launched during this event. By covering banking mechanism and and the medium term procurement of Power it is possible to expand the scope of “DEEP” (Discovery of Efficient Electricity Price) e-Bidding and e-Reverse Auction Portal.  

14. Kolkata-Ashuganj-Tripura transit facility becomes operational between India and Bangladesh

a) India Bangladesh Transit facility has recently became operation between Kolkata-Ashuganj-Tripura. This transit facility is under the revised Inland Water Transit & Trade Protocol.

b) Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has signed the transit facility when he was on the Bangladesh’s tour in June, 2015 to facilitate trade and movement of goods through Bangladesh.

c) The trans-shipment operations were launched at the Ashuganj port with a cargo vessel unloading the maiden consignment to be transported to Tripura through Bangladeshi territory. The first ship carrying 1000 tons of steel and iron sheets reached Ashuganj river port from Kolkata.

15. China prepares to launch Mars probe in 2020

a) As per the recent announcement of Xu Dazhe, the director of the China National Space Administration, China’s Mars exploration program has been formally approved by the central Chinese authorities.

b) The core module for the space station would be called the Tianhe-1 which is the Chinese word for galaxy or Milky way. This core module will be launched in 2018 and China will have it’s permanent manned space station in service by 2022.  

c) China plans to send a rover to Mars around 2020, and land by 2021, to explore the Red Planet and launch 150 long range carrier rockets in the next five years for its ambitious space missions. The Mars probe will orbit the red planet, land and deploy a rover all in one mission.

16. SBI floats Rs.200 crore fund to assist fintech firms

a) To provide assistance to the startups in the fintech space, State Bank of india has floated Rs. 200 crore.

b) The fund named ‘IT Innovation Start-up Fund’ will consider assistance of up to Rs. 3 crore to a firm registered in India for promoting their business innovations using technology in financial services.

c) SBI has also formed a mentoring team to assist start-ups, which will support, monitor and make a report on the progress and the utilisation of the funds by the venture.

17. Review meeting of Indo-EU ‘Water4crops’ project held

a) A review and planning meet on the Indo-EU ‘Water4crops’ project was recently held in New Delhi. Water4crops Project is a 9 million euro Indo-EU project on water-scarce agricultural sector.

b) This review meeting was held on the occasion of completion of 4 years of the project.

c) Water4Crops stands for “integrating bio-treated wastewater reuse and valorization with enhanced water use efficiency to support the Green Economy in Europe and India”. Through the department of Biotechnology under the ministry of science and technology, the government of India has co funded this project.

d) The project was framed in 2012 under KBBE.2012.3.5-03: Biotechnological wastewater treatments and reuse in agronomical systems. Through the 7th framework programme funded 6 million euro and Indian government funded 3 millions. The project facilitates the development of new techniques for wastewater treatment at the local scale and it’s possible use in agriculture.

18. RAPID, five-point charter for tax administrators, outlined by Narendra Modi

a)  A new five point mantra called RAPID was recently given by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi while inaugurating a two day annual conference of senior tax administrators in New Delhi called Rajasva Gyan Sangam.

b) The mantra, RAPID means R for Revenue, A for Accountability, P for Probity, I for Information and D for Digitization.

c) It will help people to respect the rule of law as well as fear of the long arm of the law for those who evade taxes.

19. India signs two MoUs with Namibia on capacity building for civil servants, centre of excellence in ICT

a) India has recently signed two important MoUs with Namibia. Out of which one MoU is for the capacity building for the civil servants of Namibia and another one for the setting up of Centre for excellence in information & communication technology (ICT).

b) Namibian govt. have expressed their commitment to the pact signed with India in 2009 to supply Uranium to India.

c) India and Namibia have also discussed further path of mutual co-operation in mining and and exploration of other minerals including zinc and marble.