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01. ICICI Bank launches contactless credit and debit cards: ICICI Bank, the countrys largest private sector one, on 11th May 2016, announced the launch of the countrys first contactless debit and credit cards. These enable customers to make electronic payments by waving the cards near a merchant terminal instead of dipping or swiping these. These cards are based on the near-field communication technology, which provides customers improved speed to complete a transaction, and enhanced security as they remain under the control of the customer. The Banks Coral Contactless Credit Card and Expressions Wave Debit Card are powered by MasterCard contactless and Visa payWave technologies, respectively. 02. Eight-month-old Bandhan Bank garners deposits of Rs 13,000 crore: The eight-month-old Bandhan Bank has garnered deposits of over Rs 13,000 ($2 billion) crore and now cater to about 8.5 million customers, managing director Chandra Shekhar Ghosh said on 13th May 2016. The bank roped in seven lakh new customers after its transformation from a microfinance entity to a universal bank, Ghosh said at the launch of its 670th branch in the Park Street area. “The (new) branch will cater to high net worth customers for which we have arrangements within the branch. “We will open another branch like this in the city after taking performance feedback,” he said. The branch was inaugurated by cricketing legend Sourav Ganguly, who maintains an account with the bank. 03. RBI taking steps to firewall economy: Raghuram Rajan: Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan said extending the countrys external debt maturities, implementing sound policies, and building up foreign exchange reserves were the best "firewall" to defend the countrys economy. "I think the real way we are trying to firewall the economy is, on the first hand, with good policies, including as I said, the moves on reforms that have been enacted recently," Rajan told TV channel CNBC in an interview. "The second is by trying to increase the maturity of our debt," he added. "We have substantially increased the maturity of debt, external debt that we owe. The third is we built-up reserves." 04. RBI plans to get cos to borrow from bond mkt: To prevent a repeat of the current situation where banks fret about tens of thousands of crores lent to a few large businesses, the RBI has proposed that large borrowers raise money by selling bonds to diverse investors. The move to raise money outside banks might be led by public sector oil companies, which could breach the limits proposed by the RBI for banks lending to a single entity. The proposal to move corporates away from bank loans to the corporate bond market has come in a discussion paper released by the RBI . In the paper, the central bank said that alternate sources of funding are needed for the corporate sector, both to finance growth, and to de-risk the balance sheets of banks as also to strengthen balance sheets of investors as well as issuers. 05. Sebi to tighten KYC, transfer norms for P-Notes: Acting upon recommendations of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money, market watchdog Sebi plans to tighten due diligence requirements for issuance and transfer of controversy-ridden P-Notes and put the onus on investors to ensure compliance with anti-money laundering law. While Sebi (Securities and Exchange Board of India) has been of the view that the regulations have already been strengthened to check any misuse of this route for money laundering like activities, it has decided to put in place additional safeguards as suggested by the SIT. The regulator plans to put in place six specific changes to the KYC (Know Your Client) norms and transferability of Offshore Derivative Instruments (ODIs) – commonly known as Participatory Notes or P-Notes – in this regard. 06. Air chief in Pune inaugurates IAFs e-maintenance system:An Electronic Maintenance Management System (e-MMS), hailed by the Indian Air Force as one of the biggest automated military maintenance systems in the world and an important milestone in IAF history, would be inaugurated by the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha at the Air Force Station in Pune. Though the project has several layers of operation, the IAF would opt for online management of its maintenance systems through a web-based application. The project would comprise configuration management systems, fleet planning and management, maintenance repair and an overhaul. “The project would be an important asset in conflict situations for quick fleet mobilisation. All maintenance works on our aircrafts would be electronically monitored. The system has a central console, thus helping us get rid of paper works and heavy logbooks,” an IAF officer said. 07. Cabinet approves Intellectual Property Rights policy: The Cabinet has approved the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) policy with a view to promoting creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. The aim is to create awareness about economic, social and cultural benefits of IPRs among all sections of society, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said while briefing reporters about Cabinet decisions. The Minister also let out that by 2017, the window for trademark registration will be brought down to one month. “The policy aims to create and exploit synergies between all forms of intellectual property (IP), statutes concerned and agencies,” he said. 08. Worlds oldest person dies in New York at age 116: Susannah Mushatt Jones, the worlds oldest person, has died in New York at age 116. Robert Young, a senior consultant for the Gerontology Research Group, says Ms. Jones died at a senior home in Brooklyn on 12th May 2016 night. He said she had been ill for the past 10 days. Born in 1899, she had 10 siblings . Ms. Jones was born in a small farm town near Montgomery, Alabama, in 1899, the daughter of sharecroppers and the granddaughter of slaves. She was one of 11 siblings and attended a special school for young black girls. Family members have credited her long life to love of family and generosity to others. 09. SC upholds penal laws on defamation, says free speech isnt an absolute right: The Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the penal provisions of criminal defamation law, underlining the right to free speech cannot undermine right to live with dignity and reputation. A bench led by Justice Dipak Misra said there were sufficient safeguards in the law to wars off abuse of Sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code that stipulated punishment for defamation. While ratifying the validity of criminal defamation law, the bench said that magistrates should however be extra careful in issuing summons in such cases and prosecution for defamation can not be a routine exercise. 10. Railways to start trial runs of solar train in sunny Jodhpur: In line with the Indian Railways Solar Mission, to reduce dependency on fossil fuels, its north western division will soon commence trials of coaches fitted with solar panels which will power all the electrical appliances inside a train. The first trial run will be conducted in the next three to four days in Jodhpur, NWR Public Relations Officer Gopal Sharma told The work on one rake of Diesel Electric Multiple Unit (DEMU), which has six coaches, has already been completed by Noida-based firm Jakson Engineers Limited (JEL). The firm was awarded a Rs 1.57-crore contract last October by the Indian Railways Organisation for Alternate Fuels for fitting solar panels on 50 DEMU coaches.
01. Reliance Jio Money Wallet silently launched on Google Play Store: Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltds (R-Jio) digital wallet app JioMoney has made a quiet debut on Google Play Store. JioMoney is a semi-closed prepaid wallet that aims to enable mobile-based transactions, where customers can store money and use it for purchasing goods and services. With its Jio Money digital wallet, the company aims to enable mom-and-pop shops to accept cashless payments through smart phones. An industry insider said that the company has tied up with over 50,000 online merchants for the service. With JioMoney, users can do mobile and DTH recharges, send/receive money, make bill payments, pay insurance and other premiums et al. JioMoney is powered by 4G small cell technology and is said to be platform-independent. 02. Railways to invest Rs 80,000 crore in laying track in next 3 years: Focusing on rail network expansion, Railways will increase the pace of laying new track to 19 km per day from the current 7.8 km which will likely generate Rs 80,000 crore business in the procurement of cement, steel and cable among others in the next three years. Besides, the Railways will use drones to monitor the progress of the track laying work. "Currently, we are laying 7.8 km track per day and it will go up to 13 km per day next year. Our target is to reach 19 km per day in the fiscal 2018-19," Railway Board Member (Engineering) VK Gupta said. Expansion of rail network is a major thrust for Railways as the public transporter is facing an acute congestion due to the limited line capacity, he said. 03. RBI plans to tighten rules for large corporate borrowers: Indian banks would have to make higher provisions for lending to large corporate borrowers above a certain level from next financial year, according to proposals published by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 12th May 2016. The proposals were set out by the central bank in a discussion paper and aimed at "mitigating the risk posed to the banking system on account of large aggregate lending to a single corporate", according to the document. "Absence of an overarching ceiling on total bank borrowing by a corporate entity from the banking system has resulted in banks collectively having very high exposures to some of the large corporates," it said. The framework would come into effect in the financial year beginning April 2017, and apply to all banks in India as well as branches of Indian banks abroad, the RBI said. 04. No takers for revamping Sri Lankan Airlines, says Minister: The Sri Lankan government has made it clear that no airline company has “formally expressed” interest in the proposed revamping of SriLankan Airlines. The restructuring of the airlines had become inevitable as the organisation had been in the red for the past eight years and its liabilities stood at $ 3.2 billion as on December 31, 2015. Explaining how the revamp plan would be carried out, the Minister said the balance sheet of SriLankan Airlines had to be restructured first as it was “not saleable.” For this, valuation had to be carried out by engaging one or more parties. 05. India ready to import gas for idle power plants, says Goyal: The government is ready to import at least 70 to 80 million metric standard cubic metres (mmscm) of natural gas for Indias idle gas-based power plants if it can secure long-term affordable rates, Piyush Goyal, Minister of Power, said.“This will enable India to operate its idle gas-based power capacity,” Mr. Goyal said addressing a conference on The Future of Electricity. Obtaining the required gas will lead to the re-starting of 20,000 MW of idle power capacity in India. The minister recently visited Australia and secured assurances for gas supply at $5 per mmbtu but suppliers were not willing to sign long-term contracts. “If the government gets gas at $5 per mmbtu, gives custom duty waiver, reduces marketing margins and gas transportation charges by half and reduces inter state transmission charges to zero, the industry will be able to absorb the price” Sushil Maroo, MD & CEO, Essar Power Limited, told The Hindu. 06. Relief for telcos, SC strikes down Trais penalty on call drops: Telecom service providers heaved a sigh of relief after the Supreme Court struck down a compensation policy for call drops levied by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai). In October, Trai ordered operators to pay Re 1 for every call drop to the user, with a maximum of three per day. The regulation was to come into effect from January 1. The SC passed the judgment on appeals filed by the Cellular Operators Association of India, Unified Telecom Service Providers of India and 21 telecom operators. Telcos told SC last week that the sector was under huge debt and they would have to pay a big price for spectrum. Therefore, zero tolerance on call drops should not be imposed. 07. Government fixes ceiling price of 54 drug formulations: Pharma prices regulator National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority ( NPPA ) has fixed ceiling price of 54 drug formulations used for treatment of cancer, diabetes rheumatoid arthritis, bacterial infections and hypertension. It has also fixed the retail price of 11 drugs. "NPPA has fixed/revised ceiling prices of 54 scheduled formulations of Schedule-I under Drugs (Price Control) Amendment Order, 2016 and Retail Price of 11 formulations under DPCO, 2013," the regulator said in a statement. Last month also it had fixed prices of some drug formulation packs. 08. To improve battle readiness, Army holds military training exercise in Rajasthan: Indian Army is holding a major military training exercise Chakravyuh-II to validate battle readiness and operational effectiveness of the Pivot Formation and Rapid Division, in Suratgarh. The exercise also involves rapid mobilisation and execution of battle plans in conjunction with the Air Force. “The exercise aims to validate the battle readiness and operational effectiveness of the Pivot Formation and Rapid Division of the Army along with all its affiliated components” Defence spokesperson Lt Col Manish Ojha said. 09. 4 out of 5 worlds most polluted cities in India; Delhi ranks 9th in the survey: India is home to four of the five cities in the world with the worst air pollution, the World Health Organization said on 12th May 2016. But while WHO experts acknowledge India faces a “huge challenge”, many countries are so bad that they have no monitoring system and cannot be included in its ranking. The dirtiest air was recorded at Zabol in Iran, which suffers from months of dust storms in the summer, and which clocked a so-called PM2.5 measure of 217. The next four were all Indian: Gwalior, Allahabad, Patna and Raipur. Indias capital New Delhi was the surveys ninth worst city, measured by the amount of particulate matter under 2.5 micrograms found in every cubic metre of air, with an annual average PM2.5 measurement of 122. 10. Now an app for Cricket laws: Crickets oldest institution is all set to go high tech. The Marylebone Cricket Club ( MCC ) has released the first ever Laws of Cricket app. Available for free on Androidand iOS , MCC Laws of Cricket includes easily digestible explanations of each Law, new imagery and animations and a special Laws quiz. The MCC has long been looked at and regarded as the custodian and guardian of the Laws and Spirit of Cricket, and all 42 Laws of the game are explained within the app. The Laws are categorised into eight sections explaining everything from how to set up a game to appeals and modes of dismissals.
01. Govt unearths Rs.71,000 cr of undisclosed income in 2 years: Tax authorities have unearthed over Rs. 71,000 crore of undisclosed income and evaded taxes in the last two years. “Enhanced enforcement measures have resulted in unearthing of tax evasion of approximately Rs. 50,000 crore of indirect taxes and undisclosed income of Rs. 21,000 crore,” said the Finance Ministry on 10th May 2016. Another Rs. 3,963 crore worth of smuggled goods was seized, marking a jump of 32 per cent over the last two years. The tax departments have also launched prosecution in 1,466 cases as against 1,169 cases in the previous two years. 02. RBI to issue Rs 1,000 banknotes with inset letter R: The Reserve Bank will shortly issue banknotes of Rs 1,000 denominations with inset letter R in both the number panels. The banknotes will also have on the obverse, all the other security features, including ascending size of numerals, bleed lines and enlarged identification mark, RBI said in a release. The banknotes bearing signature of RBI Governor Raghuram G Rajan, will also have the year of printing 2016 printed on the reverse, it added. 03. Govt allows 100% automatic FDI in ARCs: The Centre has allowed 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in asset reconstruction companies (ARCs) under the automatic route. So far, foreign investment was automatic only up to 49 per cent; beyond that government approval was needed. Now, DIPP has said 100 per cent FDI is allowed in ARCs under the automatic route. However, some conditions have been set, including the stipulation that the total shareholding of individual foreign institutional investors/foreign portfolio investors must be below 10 per cent of the total paid-up capital. Also, FII/FPIs have been permitted to invest up to 100 per cent of each tranche in security receipts issued by ARCs, subject to RBI directions/guidelines. The DIPP has now said that the investment limit of a sponsor in the shareholding of an ARC will be governed by the provision of the Sarfaesi law, as amended from time to time. 04. Income Tax departments PAN-Aadhaar linkage crosses 50-lakh mark: The Income Tax departments ambitious plan to link its PAN number database with Aadhaar has crossed the 50-lakh mark. The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the policy-making body for the IT department, had launched the initiative of linking the two databases — Permanent Account Number and Aadhaar — late last year to start a safe and quick electronic regime for taxpayers when it comes to filing income tax returns and subsequent ensuring of a host of tax-related services. The number as of today stands at 50,57,016. The department wants these numbers to grow so that the full e-regime in the delivery of taxpayer services can be ushered in as soon as possible,” a senior official said. Also, the one-time password-based ITR filing system for taxpayers has crossed over 80 lakh e-verification mark. 05. Curbing black money: Government plans to promote cashless economy: In a bid to curb the flow of black money, the government is looking at a slew of measures to promote cashless economy, including creating an ecosystem to incentivise cashless transactions. A task force set up under Neeraj Kumar Gupta, secretary of department of investment and public asset management (DIPAM), has suggested measures for promoting cashless transactions and asked both banks and National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) to look at creating an ecosystem for promoting and incentivising cashless transactions. The measures suggested include encouraging installation of point of sale (POS) machines by rationalising merchant discount rate (MDR) and allowing first five interbank transactions free of cost to promote online money transfer, said the finance ministry official. The taskforce has also suggested setting up of more ATMs so that more people start using plastic money . 06. Financial inclusion gets a boost with Jan Dhan Yojana: One of the successful initiatives of the NDA government is its financial inclusion initiative through its Prime Ministers Jan Dhan Yojana, or PMJDY. Almost 22 crore bank accounts have been opened within 20 months of its launch in August 2014, accounting for a cumulative balance of almost Rs 37,000 crore in these accounts, providing access to banking services to more than 15% of the unbanked population. A notable highlight of these accounts is that after keeping the account operative for six months, one member of the household is allowed an overdraft of up to Rs 5,000. So far, about 19 lakh account holders have availed an overdraft amounting to Rs 256 crore. Punjab National Bank, Canara Bank and State Bank of India are among the top banks in providing such overdrafts under the scheme. 07. National Technology Day: Every year May 11 is observed as National Technology Day. On this day the nation proudly celebrates the achievements of its scientists. Ministry of science & technology holds a series of functions to commemorate achievements of innovation and technology in the country. This years theme for celebrations is Technology enablers of Startup India. On this day in the year 1999, the first indigenous aircraft Hansa-3 was test flown at Bangalore. The country also executed three successful nuclear tests, carried out at Pokhran, in Rajasthan, on May 11 in 1998. It was the countrys second nuclear test. 08. Indian Navy launches underwater vigil system in Visakhapatnam: The Indian Navy has launched the state-of-the-art harbour defence systems, viz., integrated underwater harbour defence and surveillance system and mine warfare data centre. Which would enhance the Navys surveillance capability and response to security threats at the naval dockyard in Visakhapatnam on 10th May 2016. Vice admiral HCS Bisht, AVSM flag officer Commanding-In-Chief, Eastern Naval Command inaugurated the two systems. The Integrated Underwater Harbour Defence and Surveillance System (IUHDSS) is a multi-sensor system capable of detecting, identifying, tracking and generating warnings for all types of surface and underwater threats to Visakhapatnam harbour. 09. Parliament passes bill on potable alcohol: Parliament on 10th May 2016, passed the Industries (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015 which seeks to transfer the control over industries engaged in the production of potable alcohol from the Centre to states with Lok Sabha approving some technical amendments suggested by the Rajya Sabha. The bill in the Lok Sabha was introduced by Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and was later approved by the House amid din. The Industries (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015 seeks to amend a schedule to exclude production of alcohol for potable purposes from the ambit of the Act. According to the Bill, the central government would continue to be responsible for formulating policy and regulating foreign collaboration (FDI and foreign technology collaboration agreements) for all products of fermentation industries, including industrial and potable alcohol. 10. Anti-Hijacking Bill Passed: The Lok Sabha on 9th May 2016, passed the Anti-Hijacking Bill, 2016, that broadens the definition of hijacking to include technological interventions and intimidation and introduces the provision of death penalty for perpetrators. The Bill got the Rajya Sabha nod last week. Piloting the bill, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said the government was trying to deal with the problem of security of airports through a mix of technology and manpower. Dismissing suggestions that there should be no death penalty provision in hijacking cases, he noted that the country had witnessed 19 hijacking incidents. “Death penalty has been brought in where if a death occurs—it could be a policeman, it could be a passenger, it could be anyone—then the people who perpetrate this nefarious act ought to be sentenced to death,” he said. The death penalty provision, as per the new bill, will apply even if ground staff and airport personnel are killed.
Current Affairs MAY 11, 2016
01. Infosys Foundation signs pact with IISER: Infosys Foundation, philanthropic arm of the IT major, has signed a pact with Indian Institute of Science Education and Research ( IISER), Pune, to support students from economically weaker section to pursue high quality education. The MoU aims at providing opportunities for economically weaker students to pursue high quality science education and research through scholarships, fellowships and travel awards, Infosys said in a release. It said as part of the Memorandum of Understanding, the corpus fund of Rs 5 crore named as The Infosys Foundation Endowment Fund, will continue in perpetuity to benefit a minimum of 50 students annually. 02. South Indian Bank announces tie-up with National Australia Bank: South Indian Bank has announced its new tie-up with National Australia Bank (NAB) for online inward remittance from Australia at competitive rates. The remittance fee is as low as AUD 7 and the arrangement enables faster, hassle-free remittance through internet at the best exchange rates. NAB is South Indian Banks main banking correspondent in Australia. As the exchange rate is decided by South Indian Bank, NRI customers in Australia would get the best possible rates. The remitted money can be either converted into Indian rupee or maintained in Australian dollar, said K N Reghunathan, Executive Vice President (Treasury) of South Indian Bank. 03. Indians average wealth soars 400% in 2005-15: Report: Average wealth of an Indian surged by 400 per cent in 10 years to 2015 while that of an European citizen declined by 5 per cent during the period, says a report by New World Wealth. The report said that in emerging markets such as India, China and Vietnam, average wealth has gone up by over 400 per cent during the 10-year period (2005-15). The average European citizen is currently worth around USD 86,000. During the past 10 years (2005 – 2015) this figure has declined by 5 per cent. This compares poorly to other developed markets as the average wealth of a person in Australia has increased by over 100 per cent and in Canada by over 50 per cent in the same period. One of the major issues that has deterred wealth creation in Europe is migration of wealthy people out of Europe (mainly to countries such as USA, Canada, New Zealand, the Caribbean and Australia). 04. RBI governor Raghuram Rajan questions feasibility of helicopter money policy: Calling for a debate among central bankers on helicopter money policy, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan questioned political feasibility and economic benefits of such an easy direct-to-public money transmission. Helicopter drop of money is used as a metaphor for an unconventional monetary policy tool that typically involves central banks printing large sums of money and distributing it directly to the public or investing in public projects. “It is not absolutely clear that throwing the money out of the window, or targeted cheques to beneficiaries will be politically feasible in many countries, or produce economically the desired effect,” the former Chief Economist of IMF said. Last weekend in New Delhi also, Rajan had said that when the rate of price rise threatens to fall below the lower band or zero, one of the options before the governments and central banks is helicopter drop of money. However, there was a probability that people may not spend and save it, thereby not contributing to growth, he had said. 05. Europe to remove 500-euro note: In a move aimed at hampering cash transactions by terrorists, drug dealers and money launderers, the European Central Bank on 6th May 2016 announced an end to the 500-euro bank note, worth roughly $575. When it comes to moving money nefariously, the €500 note has been especially handy. It is a large denomination in a widely circulated and easily convertible currency. In the United States, the largest denomination is $100, after the Federal Reserve discontinued the $500, $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000 bills in 1969. Switzerland has a 1,000-franc note, worth about $1,050, but its supply is limited. 06. Meet HoloFlex, worlds first holographic flexible smartphone: Scientists claim to have developed the worlds first holographic flexible smartphone that lets users interact with 3D videos and images without any headgear or glasses. The device, dubbed HoloFlex, is capable of rendering 3D images with motion parallax and stereoscopy to multiple simultaneous users without head tracking or glasses. "HoloFlex offers a completely new way of interacting with your smartphone. It allows for glasses-free interactions with 3D video and images in a way that does not encumber the user," said Roel Vertegaal, from Queens University in Canada. 07. 4th SAIEVAC Ministerial Meeting: Members discuss strategies: Delegates from the governments and civil society organisations of several South Asian countries including India and Nepal held a discussion to set strategies and identify priorities to end violence against children ahead of the 4th SAIEVAC Ministerial Meeting at New Delhi. Organised by Ministry of Women and Child Development, the three-day Technical Meeting and 4th Ministerial Meeting of South Asian Initiative to end Violence against Children (SAIEVAC) seeks to assess the progress and developments in the past decade. The other countries participating in the event included Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. 08. Festival to mark Tagores birth anniversary inaugurated in Egypt: A five-day cultural festival in Egypt organised by India to mark the 155th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore has been inaugurated aiming to build connections between the people of the two countries who share strong cultural bonds. The Tagore festival was inaugurated by Indias Ambassador to Egypt Sanjay Bhattacharyya on 8th May 2016 at Cairo with a painting exhibition showcasing works of artists from Egypt, India and other countries. The Embassy of India in Cairo and Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture will host the Tagore Festival from May 8-12. "It is amazing that 90 years after Tagore visited Egypt, 100 plus years after he received his Nobel Prize and more than 70 years after he passed away, we are still celebrating Tagore and see how he continues to inspire us," Bhattacharyya said. The exhibition, which is open till May 12, is organised by the Embassy of India in cooperation with the Egyptian Caricature Society. 09. Nagalands SMS-based Vehicle Monitoring Service bags award: The SMS-based Vehicle Monitoring System of Nagaland police has bagged the National Award for Smart Policing instituted by Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), police said on 7th May 2016. The award for the Best Practice in the category of Road Safety and Traffic Management was presented to Nagaland Police by Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary at a function in New Delhi , a release said. Nagaland Police was among the six state police departments selected for making presentations on the best smart policing initiatives across the country after the award ceremony.The project was launched in April last year and has resulted in substantial reduction in theft of four-wheelers across the state while more than 100 vehicles have been recovered so far using the application. 10. Solar-powered light-emitting cement developed: Scientists have created a new light-emitting cement that could last a hundred years and illuminate roads, highways or bicycle lanes at night by absorbing solar energy during the day. Currently, the cement exists in blue or green colour, and the light intensity can be regulated to avoid dazzling drivers. “The main issue was that cement is an opaque body that doesnt allow the pass of light to its interior,” said Jose Carlos Rubio, from Michoacans University of San Nicolas Hidalgo (UMSNH) in Mexico. By the morning, the building, road, highway or structure that is made out of this new cement can absorb solar energy and emit it during the night for around 12 hours, researchers said.
Current Affairs MAY 10, 2016
01. India has trade deficit with 27 countries for last 3 years: Nirmala Sitharaman: India has a trade deficit with as many as 27 major countries, including China, Australia, Iraq and Iran, during the last three years. Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha. The commodities include items like crude oil, gold, diamond and fertiliser. Other countries with which India has a trade gap include Indonesia, Korea, Germany, Canada, Taiwan, Russia and Ukraine. In a separate reply, she said Indias exports have been adversely affected by recessionary trends across the globe, including in the EU and the US. 02. Equity mutual fund inflows hit five month high: According to the data from Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI), equity funds, which also include equity-linked saving schemes (ELSS) saw net inflow of Rs 4,438 crore during April 2016. This was the highest net inflow since November, when equity mutual funds witnessed an inflow of Rs 6,379 crore. Market experts attributed the rise in inflow to investment in systematic investment plans (SIPs) and strong participation from retail investors. SIP is an investment vehicle that allows investors to invest in small periodically amounts instead of lump sums. The frequency of investment is usually weekly, monthly or quarterly. The inflow is in line with the BSEs benchmark Sensex rising 265 points or 1.04 per cent during April. 03. Banks find Rs.100, Rs.1,000 fake notes growing: The number of counterfeit currency notes caught by banks and the Reserve Bank of India has been increasing over the last three years. While fake Rs. 100 and Rs. 1,000 notes have surged, the number of similar five-hundred rupee notes have reduced. By contrast, only 134 counterfeit ten-rupee notes were caught in 2015-16. Finance Ministry data presented in the Lok Sabha show that , In value terms, Rs. 29.6 crore worth of counterfeit notes were found in 2015-16, a rise from Rs. 28.7 crore in the previous year.Of the fake currency detected in 2015-16, 41 per cent was of Rs. 500 denomination and 35 per cent, Rs. 100. Interestingly, the absolute number of fake five-hundred rupee notes dipped in 2015-16 to 2.6 lakh from 2.7 lakh in the previous year. 04. Rs 43,000 crore lies in inoperative EPF accounts: Govt: About Rs 43,000 crore is lying in inoperative Employees Provident Fund accounts and interest would be credited to such accounts, government said on 9th May 2016.Minister of State for Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya told Lok Sabha that 118.66 lakh claims were settled by the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) in 2015-16, adding that 98 per cent of them were settled within 20 days. “There is around Rs 43,000 crore in inoperative (EPF) accounts,” Dattatreya said during Question Hour. Listing the steps taken, the Minister said it has been recently decided to credit interest to the inoperative accounts. EPFO has allotted Universal Account Number (UAN) for portability and consolidation of all previous accounts. 05. Indian traders threaten to suspend business with PoK: Traders in Jammu and Kashmir have threatened to suspend business with their counterparts in the Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) alleging that they are resorting to monopoly. The traders from both sides held a meeting at Chakan-da-Bagh crossing point in the district in which the Indian traders conveyed that Pakistan side must allow all the items agreed upon by both the sides to be traded from Chakan Da Bagh crossing point as well. “There are several items which are traded from Uri in Kashmir, but the Pakistan side does not trade those items here,” “The Pakistani traders also resort to unfair practices as they keep our fruit laden trucks for several days and then return the rotten fruits,” Arun Kumar, an Indian trader said. 06. NASA unveils first global topographic model of Mercury: The first global digital elevation model of Mercury, showing in stunning detail the topography across the entire innermost planet of our solar system, has been unveiled by NASAs MESSENGER mission. The model shows a variety of topographic features including the highest and lowest points on the planet. The highest elevation on Mercury is at 4.48 kilometres above Mercurys average elevation, located just south of the equator in some of planets oldest terrain. The lowest elevation, at 5.38 kilometres below Mercurys average, is found on the floor of Rachmaninoff basin, an intriguing double-ring impact basin suspected to host some of the most recent volcanic deposits on the planet. The model was created using more than 100,000 images acquired by the MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) mission - a NASA robotic spacecraft that orbited the planet Mercury between 2011 and 2015. 07. 308 districts in India facing shortage of potable water: Over 300 districts in 13 states of the country (Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Haryana, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Maharashtra ), are facing shortage of drinking water, the Rajya Sabha was informed . Union Minister of State for Drinking Water and Sanitation Ram Kripal Yadav said while responding to queries on drinking water crisis and Governments plans to resolve it. Yadav said, the Union Ministry assists state governments technically and financially through centrally-sponsored schemes like National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP). 08. TRAI recommends global calling card sellers should be answerable to it: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on 9th May 2016, released its Recommendations on sale or rent of international roaming SIM cards or global calling cards in India. Among the recommendations were that an “itemized bill shall be provided within 10 days of the date of culmination of the journey. If the journey is undertaken for a period exceeding 30 days then the itemized bill shall be generated in 30 days cycle from the date of the commencement of the journey and provided to customer within 10 days”. 09. Plans to launch 500 courses in 10 languages, says Smriti Irani: The government along with the University Grants Commission (UGC) are also examining the regulations pertaining to Open and Distance Learning (ODL), HRD Minister Smriti Irani said during Question Hour in the Lok Sabha. The major streams offered in ODL education include humanities, social sciences and general science. The Human Resource Development Minister said there are plans to introduce 500 courses in 10 languages in open and distance learning mode this year. These are proposed to be provided through online and mobile applications and would be offered free of cost, she noted. 10. Lack of distributors and low purchasing power to hit governments drive to expand LPG base: The governments plan to offer cooking gas to 5 crore poor households and expand the overall consumer base by 60% over the next three years may run into twin hurdles: inadequate distribution capacity and low purchasing power. Hoping to drive out smoke-generating fuels from kitchens, mainly in rural areas, the government plans to add 10 crore cooking gas consumers, half of them from poor families - an ambitious target for a country that has 16.5 crore liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) consumers after decades of efforts at taking clean fuel to homes. State companies currently serve consumers through about 18,000 LPG distributors and plan to add 10,000. Executives at state oil companies say appointing so many distributors quickly wouldnt be easy. "The hard part will begin now. It will be a challenge for our distributors to reach out to the deeper rural and tribal areas, where we dont have much presence today and which is where most new consumers will come from," another state oil company executive said.
Current Affairs MAY 09, 2016
01. Government lists tax benefits given to boost growth, jobs: The government on 8th May 2016, listed the steps taken by the revenue department to boost growth and employment generation by providing relief to businesses, small taxpayers and professionals. Listing out various related measures announced in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 budgets, it said corporate tax rates have been lowered to 25 percent for new manufacturing companies. The limit of deduction under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act has been doubled to Rs.2 lakh per annum, subject to an additional Rs.50,000 being contributed to the National Pension Scheme. Moreover, the scope of presumptive taxation regime for small businesses has been extended by increasing the turnover up to Rs.2 crore, while this benefit is now available for professionals with turnover up to Rs.50,00,000, it added. 02. United payments system to make mobile wallets redundant: Report: The ongoing push by the Reserve Bank to revolutionize banking through the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) will leave mobile wallets redundant, as mobile banking has jumped over threefold in February from the year-ago period, according to a report. "The RBI wants to cut down on cash dependence and the UPI has been brought in to do just that. It will reduce the effort, time and cost incurred on simple transactions, below Rs 1 lakh. Through UPI, two or three bank accounts can be linked and therefore any payment/withdrawal can then be done by just sending a message on this app," the report said. 03. India ranks ninth in crony-capitalism index: The Economist: India is ranked at ninth position in crony-capitalism with crony sector wealth accounting for 3.4 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP), according to a new study by The Economist. In India, the non-crony sector wealth amounts to 8.3 per cent of the GDP, as per the latest crony-capitalism index. Using data from a list of the worlds billionaires and their worth published by Forbes, each individual is labelled as crony or not based on the source of their wealth. Russia tops the list followed by Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore. Crony capitalism is a term describing an economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of state interventionism. 04. States sell Rs 100,000 cr of electricity bonds in first 3 weeks: Goyal: Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal said within a short span of three weeks the states could sell bonds worth Rs one lakh crore. As per the schedule we will have another round of sale of state government bonds and discom bonds backed by state government guarantees this fiscal. We have already sold Rs one lakh crore worth of such bonds. The plan is all made out and from time to time these will be approved by the Reserve Bank as per a set procedure, Goyal said. 05. MUDRA benefits yet to reach last mile borrower: CAIT: The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said it has drawn attention of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley towards Parliamentary Standing Committee report on MSME Ministry suggesting more inclusive role of micro-finance institutions and non-banking finance companies. There are about 5.77 crore small businesses in the country and out of which only 4 per cent could obtain loans from formal institutions and rest 96 per cent were dependent upon money lenders and private sources for getting financial assistance, CAIT said. 06. Gangavati to get Asias first Rice Technology Park: The Karnataka State government has decided to go ahead with the establishment of Asias first Rice Technology Park at Gangavati in Koppal district and a Maize Technology Park at Ranebennur in Haveri district on the public-private participation model as a one-stop solution to all problems of rice and maize growers. These parks would pave the way for opening new avenues for rice and maize growers to add value to their produce and get better returns and also enhance quality of the produce. While the rice park is being established at Navali-Karatagi villages on the outskirts of Gangavati, the maize park is to be come up in the APMC market yard at Ranebennur. 07. Bharat Darshan tourist train to cover major pilgrim spots: Railways has launched the Bharat Darshan Tourist train for pilgrims to visit Shirdi, Tirupati, Jagannath Puri, Gangasagar, Baidyanath Dham and Jyotirlingams among others. Comprising 10 coaches, the train begins the “East Darshan” on May 8 from Chandigarh and travelling from Delhi Cantonment to cover Jagannath Puri, Gangasagar, Baidyanath Dham, Gaya, Banaras and Ayodhya. The bookings are being done by IRCTC and it has firmed up a budget-friendly package for pilgrims, said a senior Railway Ministry official. 08. Union Government starts UBIN drive for budding entrepreneurs: The government "Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) has begun an exercise for issuance of Unique Business Identification Numbers (UBINs) for budding entrepreneurs to start their new businesses without any delay," DIPP Secretary Ramesh Abhishek said. Delivering his remarks at a seminar, Mr Abhishek also said that top bureaucracy has been activated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to produce results well within targeted time and in India it is no longer a business as usual, according to a release issued by PHD Chamber of Commerce." 09. Indias single emergency number 112 to be active from Jan 1: The single emergency number 112 will be operational throughout India from January 1 to help people reach immediate services of police, ambulance and fire department. “Single emergency number 112 will be operational from January 1,” a senior government official told PTI. Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has approved the provision of a single number for various emergency services that would be similar to the 911 all-in-one emergency service in the US. The service will also be accessible even through those SIMs and landlines whose outgoing call facility has been stopped or temporarily suspended. A person in distress will need to call only 112, which will direct the call to concerned departments immediately for help. All existing emergency numbers will be phased out within a year of rolling out 112, depending upon the awareness about this new facility. 10. We require more than 70,000 judges to clear pending cases: CJI: Continuing to express concern over low judge-population ratio in the country, Chief Justice of India T S Thakur said access to justice was a fundamental right and governments cannot afford to deny it to the people. Dwelling on the poor judge-population ratio, Justice Thakur said while the Law Commission of India in 1987 had suggested for having 44,000 judges to effectively tackle the then number of pending cases, the country today has only 18,000 judges. “Thirty years down the line we continue to work with depleted strength. If you go by the number of people that have been added to the population, we may now require more than 70,000 judges to clear the pending cases,” he said.

Current Affairs MAY 08, 2016
01. ICICI Bank signs MoU with BRICS Grouping-promoted New Development Bank: Private sector lender ICICI Bank on 5th May 2016 ,became the first financial institution in the country to tie up with the BRICS Grouping-promoted New Development Bank (NDB) for a partnership in bond issuances, co-financing, treasury management and human resources. As part of the pact, the two lenders -- NDBs first president is ICICI Bank veteran KV Kamath -- will look at each other as "preferred partners", ICICI Bank said in a statement. The agreement "creates a platform for sharing knowledge and deepening network connectivity between NDB and ICICI Bank," Kamath said, after signing the MoU along with ICICI Bank chief Chanda Kochhar . Kamath said NDBs mandate includes partnering with local development banks in member-countries and this MoU will help it leverage the deep market access and insight of ICICI Bank in the countrys financial markets. Kochhar said there are synergies between the two organisations and the MoU will help harness this to benefit both the partners in the long run. The statement said the agreement will help NDB in exploring rupee-denominated bonds in the domestic and international markets and make both the lenders collaborate to fund development projects in the country. ICICI Bank and NDB will also leverage a mutually beneficial partnership in other areas such as treasury risk management, account and cash management services and human resource development. 02. SBI launches card-less payment solution for offline transactions: State Bank of India, the countrys largest public sector bank, has launched a mobile payment solution that will enable customers to make digital payments at offline stores by scanning a QR (quick response) code on their smartphones. The service has been launched in Bengaluru with a sizable number of merchants and will soon expand into other cities. Dubbed mVisa, the solution is a card-less way for customers to pay for goods at offline stores, and will be available to all SBI credit card, debit card and net banking users. The solution which is bank agnostic will be accessible to customers through the companys SBI Anywhere app. "This cost effective digital offering will not only provide our large base of consumers with an easy, convenient and secure payment product but will also facilitate small merchants with any-time payment, thereby changing the way businesses transact and customers pay," said Manju Agarwal, Deputy Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer at SBI, in a statement. Merchants too will be able to initiate transactions through the SBI mVisa merchant app which will display a dynamic QR code that a customer will be able to scan to authenticate the transaction. The payment process is completely cashless and enhances security as users dont have to share their card or details with the merchant. 03. Indias e-commerce sector to see $120 bn revenue by 2020: Study: The countrys e-commerce sector is expected to see revenues of $ 120 billion by 2020 from $ 30 billion at the end of last fiscal, a report said. The increase would be mainly on the back of young demographic profile, rising Internet penetration and relatively better economic performance, the Assocham-Forrester study said. Indias e-commerce sector saw revenues of $ 30 billion at the end of the financial year 2015-16. It is expected to reach $ 120 billion by 2020, it said. “While in terms of base, India may be lower than China and other giants like Japan, the Indian rate of growth is way ahead of others. Against Indias annual expansion of 51 per cent, Chinas e-commerce is growing at 18 per cent, Japan 11 per cent and South Korea 10 per cent,” the study noted. The report further said that India has an Internet user base of 400 million in 2016 whereas Brazil has 210 million Internet users and Russia 130 million, among the BRICS nations. About 75 per cent of the countrys online users are in the age group of 15-34 years since India is one of the youngest demographies globally and one out of every 5 (online user) visits the Indian Railways site, the report said. In India, about 60-65 per cent of the total e-commerce sales are being generated through smart phones. Branded apparel, accessories, jewellery, gifts, footwear are among the major hits on the e-commerce platforms, it added. 04. Banks NPA situation under control: Raghuram Rajan: Commenting on the perceived delay in taking action against rising bad loans, Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan said on 7th May 2016, the central bank accorded priority to protecting jobs by trying to put stressed assets back into health, while investigative agencies deal with cases of malfeasance. He said early enactment of the bankruptcy code would give a serious instrument in the hands of bankers, who till now lacked any such law to recover their loans in a meaningful way. After giving due consideration to representations from banks, business promoters and the government to give sometime to deal with the bad loan problem and not precipitate the situation, the RBI asked all banks to start recognising all stressed assets from October-December quarter. The move led to a spurt in gross NPAs in the public sector banks, which control 70% of banking assets in the country, by about Rs 1 lakh crore to about Rs 4 lakh crore at end-December 2015, from Rs 3 lakh crore in September-end. Rajan said promoters in India didnt care to pay back in many cases, taking advantage of lengthy legal battles that can stretch up to to 15 years. “With the bankruptcy code, even though it will take some time to set up the system, we can move faster (in resolution of bad loans),” he said. Pointing out that the RBI has been creating a structure that will help out-of-court resolutions, he said, “Assets are slowly coming back on track. Assets are being sold to pay down the debt. So I think we will limit the size of the problem.” 05. India, US want UK to stay in EU to safeguard their interests: Top European Parliament member: India and the US want the UK to stay in the EU to "look after their interests", a top European Parliament member has said and underlined that Brexit would be a "seismic shock" for the bloc if it goes through. "Countries like India and the US, they want us in the EU in order to bring a bit of common sense to the institution and to look after their interests within this European organisation," Geoffrey Van Orden, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and Britains Conservative Party leader, said. With just over a month left for the June 23 referendum on Brexit, Van Orden, however, said he has not yet declared his position but will do so in due course of time. "I oppose so much of what goes on in this place (European Parliament) and in the European Union. I think a lot of it is detrimental to British interests and indeed in the interest of many of our European countries," Van Orden, the Chair of the European Parliaments Delegation for relations with India, told a visiting group of Indian journalists here. "I would say about an 80 per cent of what goes on here I oppose. So you would think therefore I would naturally be a Brexiter. My heart says leave but there are some serious reasons why one has to hesitate about that. And included among these reasons are...we dont know how easy it would be for us to negotiate new trade arrangements with the bloc that we are leaving behind," the 71-year-old said. 06. Govt clears Infosys proposal to set up SEZ in Bengaluru: The government has approved the proposal of Infosys to set up an IT/ITeS special economic zone in Bengaluru in an area spread over 4 hectares. The decision was taken by an inter-ministerial Board of Approval (BoA), headed by Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia, at its meeting on April 28. "The Board noted that the developer is in possession of the land. It decided to grant formal approval to the proposal," the minutes of the BoA meeting said. The Board also granted more time to as many as 20 developers to complete their projects. Those that got additional time include Mayar Infrastructure Development for a biotechnology SEZ in Haryana, Wiprofor IT SEZ in Karnataka and Vedanta for its sector-specific SEZ for manufacturing and exports of aluminium in Odisha. SEZs are export hubs that contribute about 23 per cent to the countrys total exports. Exports from such zones in 2014-15 stood at Rs 4,63,770 crore compared with Rs 4,94,077 crore in 2013-14. 07. Zimbabwe is planning to print its own U.S. dollars: Good news is hard to come by in Zimbabwe. The worst drought in many years has devastated agriculture, and the government is asking for more than $1 billion to feed millions that are in dire need of food aid. The government is selling wildlife from its national parks to game reserves to scrounge up some cash. Robert Mugabe, who has ruled the country for three decades, has run the countrys economy into the ground with disastrous waste and heavy-handed land and industry nationalization policies. And he is profligate — a three-hour conference with army vets this week went eight times over budget to $2 million. [Zimbabwes Mugabe celebrated his 92nd birthday, while a starving nation got crumbs] But the unlikely announcement that Zimbabwe will begin circulating its own version of the U.S. dollar may bring a modicum of relief to its cash-strapped citizens. As supplies of hard currency have dwindled, the Africa Export-Import bank is backing the production of new bills, pegged to the U.S. dollar, to the tune of $200 million. 08. Sadiq Khan sworn in, promises a better London: Newly elected London Mayors opening words at his swearing-in ceremony – “Good Morning, Im Sadiq Khan, and Im the Mayor of London” – were drowned in claps and whistles by the audience at the Southwark Cathedral in London. The 44-year old human rights lawyer of Pakistani descent is not only the first Muslim head of London, but set a record by winning 1.1 million votes. His lead over his closest rival was bigger than that achieved by both his predecessors Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone. With a 45 per cent election turnout, he finished with a margin of 13.6 percentage points over Zac Goldsmith of the Conservative Party. Warmly acknowledging the introduction made by Doreen Lawrence, the mother of the British teenager Stephen Lawrence who was killed in a racist attack in London in 1993, Mr. Khan promised to “lead the most transparent, engaged and representative council London has ever seen”. He harked back to his humble beginnings – “So you better know this but I grew up in a council estate,” – and said he achieved what he never dreamt of because of the opportunities and “helping hand” the city offered him and his family. Promising a “better” London, he pledged to give all Londoners the opportunities that he was offered. 09. Special Commissioner Sudhir Yadav is new Tihar Jail DG: Special Police Commissioner Sudhir Yadav has been appointed the director general of the Tihar Central Jail. His appointment on 5th May 2016 was announced through a communication from the office of Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung. Yadav, an AGMUT cadre Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the 1985 batch, was serving as the special commissioner of police (provision and logistics) in Delhi. He had earlier served in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and was transferred to Delhi in September 2015. Yadavs appointment as Tihar Jail DG was necessitated by the resignation of J.K. Sharma, who quit hours after taking charge on April 20. Sharma had quit, saying his appointment had not been approved by the "competent authority" or the lieutenant governor. He was appointed Tihar DG by the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi. 10. India finish fourth in junior shooting World Cup: Indian shooters ended their campaign at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) Junior World Cup in Suhl, Germany at a creditable fourth position, finishing with three gold, four silver and three bronze. During the April 29-May 5 competition, a total of 585 junior athletes from 48 countries participated but only 24 nations made it to the medals table, which was topped by Italy with seven gold, four silver and one bronze. Russia stood second with five gold, six silver and nine bronze, while Germany came third with five gold, three silver and three bronze medals. For India, Rituraj Singh was the most successful performer with two gold medals in both the individual and team events of the mens 25m Standard Pistol. Shivam Shukla also turned in impressive performances in pistol events, winning a gold and a silver. He also made it to the finals of the individual 25m Rapid Fire Pistol event but failed to win a medal. Arjun Das won a yellow metal and a bronze for Team India. Among the junior women, Yashaswini Singh Deswal was the most impressive with her two silver medals, both in the individual and team sections of the 10m Air Pistol event. She has been a consistent performer in world events over the last couple of years.
Current Affairs MAY 07, 2016
01. Lok Sabha passes Bankruptcy Bill: The Lok Sabha on 5th May 2016 , passed the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code Bill 2016, which is seen as a “transformational” legislation that will help improve Indias ranking in the World Banks Ease of Doing Business index. Replying to the discussion on this Bill, Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Finance, told the Lok Sabha that the Government had “in toto” accepted the report of the Joint Committee of Parliament that went into the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code Bill. This would lead to “friction-free” market processes that will help create jobs, Sinha added. The Bill has also strengthened workmen rights as well as creditor rights. It has sought to provide a better deal for workmen in the waterfall (priority of repayment of dues post liquidation). The Bill ensures that there wont be any “cherry picking” on the category of persons and that everybody (workmen, secured creditors etc) will get liquidation proceeds on a pari-passu basis, according to Sinha. He also expressed hope that the new legislation would reduce the need for “personal guarantees” of promoters while availing bank loans. Sinha highlighted that proceedings against wilful defaulter will be independent of bankruptcy. The process of action against wilful defaulter will be “criminal” action, he said. He said that wilful defaulters (in the banking system) are being identified and as on date over 7,000 such defaulters have already been identified. A wilful defaulter is one who does not pay back bank loans and also siphons off funds advanced by banks to deploy them for other uses. 02. Dividend tax only on dividend income above Rs 10 lakh: The new 10 per cent Dividend Tax will be payable only on dividend income over and above Rs 10 lakh threshold in a year, according to an amendment to the Finance Bill 2016 approved by Lok Sabha. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had brought 21 amendments when he replied to the debate on Finance Bill 2016 in the Lok Sabha on 5th May 2016. One of them seeks to “clarify that tax shall be chargeable on dividend income only to the extent it is in excess of Rs 10 lakh in aggregate as received from a domestic company or companies,” the narration of the amendments released by the Finance Ministry said. This essentially means, tax payers whose dividend income crosses Rs 10 lakh would now have to pay an additional dividend tax on the excess income besides the dividend distribution tax being paid by the company/companies declaring such dividends. This amendment will be effective for the assessment year 2017-18 and subsequent assessment years. 03. E-filing: Bank account based validation facility activated: The Income Tax department launched the bank account-based validation system for filing e-ITRs by taxpayers as part of its measure to enhance the paperless regime of filing the annual IT returns. "Now, Electronic Verification Code (EVC) can be generated by pre-validating your bank account on the e-filing website," the department said in a public advisory. It added that Punjab National Bank (PNB) is the first bank to do so and other banks are also "expected to launch this facility" for those taxpayers who have not availed e-banking facility. These measures are used to validate the e-ITR so that the taxpayer does not take the trouble of sending the paper-based ITR-V by post to the Bengaluru based Central Processing Centre (CPC) for final resolution and processing. The new ITRs have been notified recently. ITR-1 can be filed by individuals having income from salaries, one house property and from other sources including interest. ITR-2 is filed by Individuals and HUFs not having income from business or profession. ITR-2A is filed by those individuals and HUFs who do not have income from business or profession and capital gains and who do not hold foreign assets. 04. Exporters need not submit landing certificate for benefits: The government has exempted exporters from submitting landing certificate of goods to avail duty benefits given under the reward scheme called Merchandise Exports India Scheme (MEIS). This step has been taken as part of ease of doing business and reduction of transaction cost of the exporters, the commerce ministry said in a statement. Landing Certificate is the proof of landing of the consignment in the designated market. The government had received many representations pointing out difficulties in obtaining landing certificate from Shipping Lines and Agents. 05. IDFC Bank, parent merger on cards: The draft guidelines on on-tap banking licences will help IDFC Bank, the countrys newest bank, to merge with its parent to create a bigger entity. Rajiv Lall, founder, managing director and chief executive IDFC Bank, told Business Standard the easing of the rules would make it possible to integrate IDFC and IDFC Bank. Asked if the new rules could be applied retrospectively, Lall said they should be to create a level-playing field. New converting entities that do not have any other group entities do not need to have a non-operative financial holding company (NOFHC) structure. Also, individual promoters or the standalone promoting company are not required to take the NOFHC route, according to the guidelines issued by the Reserve Bank of India on Thursday. IDFC has a NOFHC for the demerged IDFC Bank and other subsidiaries, IDFC Mutual Fund, IDFC Alternatives, IDFC Infrastructure Fund and IDFC Securities. However, if the rules in the draft guidelines apply to existing banks, this structure can be collapsed, Lall said. 06. New high: Seven shuttlers qualify for Rio Olympics: Seven shuttlers have made the cut for Rio Olympics, making it the biggest badminton contingent India would be fielding at the quadrennial Games. The qualifying slots were confirmed after the last qualifying tournament, the Badminton Asia Championships, ended on 1ST May 201. Though the Badminton World Federation will be making an official statement in a few days, seven Indians - Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth, Jwala Gutta, Ashwini Ponnappa, Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy - have qualified for Rio. Shuttlers earn Olympic qualification on the basis of the rankings which will be released on May 5. India will field two womens singles players for the first time in the Olympics - both Saina and Sindhu qualified without much difficulty. In singles, each country can field two if the shuttlers are ranked within top-16. India could have fielded eight players, including two in mens singles, but the untimely injury suffered by Parupalli Kashyap reduced that tally to seven. Kashyap, who was forced to undergo a knee surgery last month, could have easily made it to Rio. Ever since badminton was introduced in the Olympics, in Barcelona in 1992, Indians struggled to qualify for the event. However, things changed after Pullela Gopichand took over as the chief coach in 2006. In 2012, India fielded five players, a historic high then. The only event in which India has failed to gain an entry in Rio is the mixed doubles event. 07. Indian professor wins Commonwealth short story regional prize: A Social Science professor from India Prashar Kulkarni has won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize for 2016, for the Asia region for his "politically grounded, funny" fiction. Kulkarnis story Cow and Company about four men in search of a cow was adjudged the best piece of unpublished short fiction in English from Asia and will receive 2500 pounds prize, the Commonwealth Writers organisation said. He is set to compete with winners from other four regions- Africa, Cananda and Europe, Carribbean and the Pacific - for the 5000 pounds grand prize, to be announced at the Calabash International Literary Festival in Jamaica on June 5. Set up by Commonwealth Writers in 2012 to "inspire and connect writers and storytellers across world" the prize attracted 4,000 entries from 47 Commonwealth countries in 2016. Besides Kulkarni three authors from India - Kritika Pandey (Dirty White Strings), Sumit Ray (Girdhars Mansion) and Vinayak Varma (Instant Karma) were in the regional shortlist. 08. WiFi in 400 railway stations by next year: Suresh Prabhu: Work on providing WiFi at 400 railway stations across the country would be completed by next year and it will have the fastest speed among public WiFis in the world, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said on 6th May 2016. "We are tying up with Google for providing WiFi at 400 railways stations across the country. We have started with Mumbai Central Station. "As per Google, which is a worlds top company, when this work will be completed by next year, this WiFi will have the fastest speed across the world among public WiFis," Prabhu said, adding that this has been already proved at Visakhapatnam and Bhubaneswar stations. He added that besides Google, the Railways was providing WiFi at railway stations through other operators also. To a question on developing Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal in Mumbai, the Minister said many issues have been resolved at a meeting with Maharashtra Chief Minister on April 21 and it has been decided to have seven buildings at the Terminal on the lines of Shivajis Fort, with a central dome and six other buildings, besides a statue of Shivaji. 09. All Indian cell phones to have panic buttons from January 1, 2017: Come January 1, 2017. Every mobile phone in India will be fitted with a panic button that can be used by women in danger, Minister for Child and Women Development Maneka Gandhi said on 6th May 2016. "Panic buttons will be mandatory from January 1, 2017 and any woman in danger can press it. Earlier mobile phones will be retrofitted," she told Rajya Sabha while replying to a private members resolution on women safety issues. An app is also being developed through which at least 10 people will get an alarm in case of an emergency. The phones will also have GPS so that even if the molester throws the mobile, the location of the woman can be traced, she said. Elaborating on other measures to protect women from sexual harassment, she said the government has ensured sexual harassment committees in every work place and "Finance Minister has been requested by us to declare in audit that there will be one woman director in every companys board." She said that instead of wife or daughters, every company board would soon have independent directors. Also, it is being ensured that there are 33 per cent women in police force which will ensure women safety, Gandhi. 10. Cow urine goes mainstream! Emami, Anand Rathi cash in, BigBasket takes up distribution: When Bangalore-based Maa Gou Products (MGP) approached Big Basket to distribute its range of cow-urine based products in September, the online retailer agreed to do it on a trial basis. The products were initially put in the just in time category, which meant that Big Basket would not keep inventory, but would source them from the manufacturer when it received an order. As it turns out, the MGP range - which includes a floor cleaner, tooth powder, balm and face pack -- has proved to be a hit, with monthly sales in Bangalore crossing Rs one lakh. "They are fast moving products, so we have now decided to carry an inventory and offer them in all our centres," says Big Basket CEO Hari Menon. Started in 2011 with an investment of Rs 1.2 crore, MGP is the brainchild of five experienced businessmen, one of whom is the Kolkata-based Radhe Shyam Goenka, co-founder of Emami, who has been lending the cosmetics companys expertise to the venture. "There are more than 50 units processing cow urine in India, but weve tried to bring a more professional approach to manufacture and marketing," says Goenka. That cow urine is in demand not just in India, but around the world, became evident recently when health authorities in London raised objections to shopkeepers placing cow urine concentrate on shelves next to food items.
Current Affairs MAY 06, 2016
01. Cabinet approves currency swap deal with UAE: Focusing on Indias cooperation with the Gulf region, the Union Cabinet on 4th May 2016 , cleared the currency-swap agreement with the UAE. “The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in February, 2016 between Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Central Bank of United Arab Emirates (UAE) on co-operation concerning currency swap agreement,” the Press Information Bureau said on the currency swap MoU which was announced on February 11 during the visit of Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Following the Cabinet approval India and the UAE will be a step closer to bilateral currency swap on mutually agreed terms and conditions. The agreement is also likely to facilitate invoicing of bilateral business in local currencies. The Cabinet was “apprised of” an IT agreement between Qatar and India which was signed in March 2015. The agreement is significant as it is likely to be showcased during the coming visit of Mr. Modi to Qatar. 02. Australian Craig Wright claims to be Bitcoin creator: Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright has publicly identified himself as Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto. His admission follows years of speculation about who came up with the original ideas underlying the digital cash system. Mr Wright has provided technical proof to back up his claim using coins known to be owned by Bitcoins creator. Prominent members of the Bitcoin community and its core development team say they have confirmed his claims. But many others in the Bitcoin world are asking for more proof. Mr Wright has revealed his identity to three media organisations - the BBC, the Economist and GQ. At the meeting with the BBC, Mr Wright digitally signed messages using cryptographic keys created during the early days of Bitcoins development. The keys are inextricably linked to blocks of bitcoins known to have been created or "mined" by Satoshi Nakamoto. "These are the blocks used to send 10 bitcoins to Hal Finney in January [2009] as the first bitcoin transaction," said Mr Wright during his demonstration. Satoshi Nakamoto is the name used by the person or people who designed bitcoin and created its original reference implementation, Bitcoin Core (formerly known as Bitcoin-Qt). In May 2008, Nakamoto published a paper on The Cryptography Mailing list at describing the bitcoin digital currency. In January 2009, Nakamoto released the first bitcoin software that launched the network and the first units of the bitcoin cryptocurrency, called bitcoins. 03. RBI Finance Bill clears the way for monetary panel on policy rate: The move to strip Reserve Bank Governor of powers to set interest rates by transferring the authority to a broader panel is a step closer to reality with the Lok Sabha approving the Finance Bill 2016. The Finance Bill 2016 contained an amendment to the Reserve Bank of India Act of 1934 giving the central bank a mandate to target inflation. “We have drafted the amendment (to the RBI Act) in consultation with the RBI so that inflation is reduced,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in his hour-long reply to the debate on the Bill. The six-member monetary policy committee (MPC), which will include RBI Governor and three nominees of the government, will set interest rates to bring consumer or CPI inflation to pre-set targets. “Inflation targets will be set once every five years,” he said adding the MPC would have three representatives each from government and RBI with the central bank governor having the casting vote. After the Finance Bill is approved by the Rajya Sabha, the process of setting up of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) will be set in motion. Government will nominate three eminent persons to the MPC. No government official will be nominated to the MPC. The remaining three members would be from RBI with the Governor being the ex officio Chairperson. Deputy Governor of RBI in charge of the monetary policy will be a member, so will an Executive Director of the Central bank. Each member shall have one vote and in case of a tie, the Governor shall have a second or casting vote, according to the Finance Bill. 04. Govt retires 33 tax officials for non-performance: Cracking the whip on non-performing officials, the government for the first time has prematurely retired 33 tax officers including seven Group A officers. In a statement issued on 5th May 2016, the Finance Ministry further said 72 officers have been dismissed including six Group A officers in other departmental/disciplinary actions in the last two years. “There is a general perception that no action is taken against the defaulting tax officials for their non-performance as well as in case of harassing the tax assesses among others,” it said. “The present government has taken various steps to change this perception.” For the first time, 33 officers/officials of the Revenue Services, including seven Group A officers, have been prematurely retired for non-performance under Rule 56(j) of CCS (Pension) Rules, the statement read. 05. On-tap bank licences: RBI proposes 10 per cent stake for business houses: Moving towards on-tap licensing regime, the Reserve Bank today proposed allowing professionals with 10 years of experience to promote full-fledged banks but large business houses can come in only as investors with less than 10 per cent stake. The draft guidelines, issued today, may upset the plans of several business houses who had lost out in the last round of distribution of universal bank licences and were eagerly waiting for on-tap regime to set up their own banks. In a departure from the earlier norms on universal banks, the draft guidelines have made resident individuals and professionals having 10 years of experience in banking and finance as eligible for promoting universal banks. “Large industrial or business houses are excluded as eligible entities but permitted to invest in the banks to the extent of less than 10 per cent” of paid up equity capital, which RBI has fixed at Rs 500 crore, as per the guidelines. “The initial minimum paid-up voting equity capital for a new bank shall be Rs 500 crore and thereafter, the bank shall have a minimum net worth of Rs 500 crore at all times,” the central bank said. 06. Andhra Pradesh agriculture project wins international information prize: An Andhra Pradesh project to collect very specific climate data from farms and give farmers personalised information through SMS has won the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) 2016 prize in the e-Agriculture category. International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Secretary-General Houlin Zhao announced the prize in Geneva. The Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) in Hyderabad developed the project, which is having a pilot run in Anantpur district. WSIS said the organisation had an e-strategy for implementing it at the national level. "The WSIS Prizes recognize all players in the effort to improve global connectivity, from governments and global ICT (information communication technology) companies to grassroots NGOs leading innovative ICT-oriented projects at the local level." Zhao said. A total of 18 prizes were awarded in categories ranging from international cooperation to information ethics. The prize in the e-Agriculture category was the only one won by an Indian organisation. The project, Harmonized Information of Agriculture, Revenue and Irrigation for a Transformation Agenda- Precision Technology for Agriculture or HARITA-PRIYA, uses wireless sensor networks (WSN) to collect micro-climate information from farms, according to WSIS. The Andhra Pradesh government, the Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA), the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) station and the Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University in Anantapur partnered in the project. 07. Powered by light, scientists develop worlds smallest engine ANTs: Scientists have developed the worlds smallest engine -- just a few billionths of a metre in size -- which is powered by light and may help develop nano-machines that can navigate in water, sense the environment around them and even enter living cells to fight disease. The prototype device is made of tiny charged particles of gold, bound together with temperature-responsive polymers in the form of a gel. When the nano-engine is heated to a certain temperature with a laser, it stores large amounts of elastic energy in a fraction of a second, as the polymer coatings expel all the water from the gel and collapse. This has the effect of forcing the gold nanoparticles to bind together into tight clusters. When the device is cooled, the polymers take on water and expand, and the gold nanoparticles are strongly and quickly pushed apart, like a spring. “Its like an explosion. We have hundreds of gold balls flying apart in a millionth of a second when water molecules inflate the polymers around them,” said Tao Ding from University of Cambridge in the UK. Jeremy Baumberg from the University of Cambridge, who led the research, named the devices ANTs, or Actuating Nano-transducers. “Like real ants, they produce large forces for their weight. The challenge we now face is how to control that force for nano-machinery applications,” Baumberg said. 08. At present, India has 34 operational satellites: Govt: There are 34 operational Indian satellites at present, of which 13 are for communication, 12 for the purpose of earth observation and seven for navigation purpose, Rajya Sabha was informed on 5th May 2016. In a written reply, Minister of State of the Department of Space Jitendra Singh said that of the 13 communication satellites, five are of INSAT series-3A, 3C, 4A, 4B, 4CR and eight of GSAT series GSAT-6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, 15 and 16. There are 12 earth observation satellites namely Resourcesat-2, RISAT 1 and 2, Cartosat 1, 2, 2A, 2B, Oceansat-2, SARAL, Kalpana-1, Megha-Tropiques and INSAT-3D. Seven navigational satellites which are operational are Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (INRSS)-1A, 1B, 1C, 1D, 1E, 1F and 1G. Apart from these, there are two space science satellites namely the Mars Orbiter Mission and Astrosat, he added. 09. 7-year jail, Rs 100 crore fine soon for showing PoK, Arunachal as disputed: Depiction of a wrong map of India like showing Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) or the state of Arunachal Pradesh as not a part of India on any online or electronic platform or physical documents could mean a stiff jail term of seven years along with an heavy fine of up to Rs 100 Crore, as per a new law being proposed by the Narendra Modi government. This provision is part of the draft of the Geospatial Information Regulation Bill planned to be brought to Parliament soon by the Centre. BJP has been critical of western publications and US companies like Google for showing truncated maps of India with respect to J&K and Arunachal Pradesh. As per the new provision, wrong depiction of a map of India will be made a specific offence. ""No person shall depict, disseminate, publish or distribute any wrong or false topographic information of India including international boundaries through internet platforms or online services or in any electronic or physical form," says the provision in the draft bill on which the Home Ministry has asked for comments from the public. At present, such transgressions are dealt under Section 69A in The Information Technology Act in which access to such online links is blocked by the government. Last year, India banned Al-Jazeera channel for 5 days for showing a wrong map. 10. Govt forms high-level panel to crack massive IRCTC hack: A suspected massive data hacking case has sent the Railway Board, which manages Indian Railways, in a tizzy. The Board has formed a high-level six member committee of experts to look into the case where personal data of around 10 million users on the IRCTC website, Indias largest e-commerce portal, is suspected to have been hacked and sold. Officials suspect the massive data hacking may have involved personal information of users including PAN card numbers, Aadhaar card details, email IDs and mobile numbers — immensely valuable set of information for telemarketing companies in the digital age. A senior official from the rail ministry informed the board is investigating into whether the case involves data hacking or an internal leakage, which, if correct, would be a more worrisome issue. IRCTC has a combined user base of 10 million and more than 500,000 tickets are sold on the e-ticketing portal every day. The Indian Railways e-ticketing arm has now requested the IG-Cyber Cell of Maharashtra to share the data sets or complaints that have triggered the investigation to ascertain the source of the hack or the leak. Rail minister Suresh Prabhu had last month ordered a Cyber audit of all the online systems of India Railways to make railways IT system foolproof.
Current Affairs MAY 5, 2016
01. Bank credit grows at 9.7 per cent in December quarter: RBI: “Bank credit registered a growth of 9.7 per cent in December 2015 as compared to December 2014 largely due to higher credit growth of private sector banks,” the Reserve Bank said in a release. In terms of total number of credit accounts, banking sector registered a growth of 12.2 per cent. The apex bank said more than four-fifth of the total credit accounts of the banking sector were concentrated in agriculture and personal loan segment. However, the concentration in terms of outstanding credit in these segments was only 30 per cent. The proportion of credit in terms of amount outstanding to industry was highest at 42 per in reporting quarter, it said. Though large credit accounts (credit limit above Rs 25 crore) registered a y-o-y growth of 3.1 per cent in three months to December, their share in total amount outstanding declined marginally to 46.5 per cent from 47.8 per cent registered in the year-ago quarter. The weighted average lending rate (WALR) of all rupee loans and advances was estimated as 11.39 per cent in December 2015 as compared to 11.59 per cent in September 2015. The reduction in WALR was observed in all sectors, the Central Bank said. 02. IREDA may be converted into a Green Bank: State-run Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) might be converted into a Green Bank to enable it to access funding from overseas banks, a top official said . IREDA might be converted in to Green Bank without under going any altercation in its basic structure to enable it access funding from overseas banks that are currently not supporting the solar and wind funding, barring well-known KFW, IREDA CMD S K Popli said at an event here. "With IREDA conversion into Green Bank, it would be entitled to avail of certain benefits, which the agency is currently deprived of and the proposal is being well supported by the Union Power Ministry," Popli was quoted as saying in a statement. Large banks in India are perhaps reluctant to fund the solar and wind projects though no developer in these two segments have defaulted on re-payment though might have delayed the pay off schedule, he added. A green bank provides low-cost financing support to clean and low-carbon projects. Meanwhile, a study by IREDA, Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), and Natural Resources Defense Council said that Indias goal to ramp up solar and wind energy capacity could get a major boost through two fast-growing financing innovations --- green banks and green bonds. A green bank could offer lower interest charges than traditional banks and tap into international capital to finance solar and wind projects to help India power its cities and rural communities. 03. Worlds first diamond trading exchange going live from tomorrow: The Singapore Diamond Investment Exchange (SDiX), the worlds first and only commodity exchange trading in physically settled diamonds, is going live from 5th May 2016. This could change the way diamonds are traded. At present, trading is done after viewing diamonds and usually one on one. Once the exchange picks up, it will be portal-based and with transparent pricing. This could also bring investors into diamonds. India has a major share in cutting and polishing of diamonds, with 90 per cent of the global work. Several diamond processors and exporters have taken membership of the Singapore exchange. One of them explained, "SDiX offers a platform to trade diamonds electronically on a price/time priority in a continuous market and buyers can place indicative price bids by diamond category. All stones traded on SDiX are Gemological Institute of America (GIA)-graded and buyers of single stones can examine certifications directly through the platform." The process will be such that a seller will have to deposit diamonds according to standardised lots, after being graded and certified by the GIA, in dedicated physical vaults -- one operated by Malca-Amit in Singapore and the second one operated by Malca-Amit within the Bharat Diamond Bourse at Mumbai. Brokers will have to keep security deposits, based on which their trading limits will be decided. They will also have to collect money from buyers and deposit it with the exchange. Trade will be settled in a T+3 cycle (three business days after the transaction date) 04. Financial inequality highest in India, China: IMF: Financial inequality is highest in India and China among Asia Pacific countries despite the two being among the fastest growing economies, International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said. According to the IMF, China and India have grown rapidly and reduced poverty sharply, however, this impressive economic performance has been accompanied by increasing levels of inequality. "In the past, rapid growth in Asia came with equitable distribution of the gains. But more recently, while the fast-growing Asian economies have lifted millions out of poverty they have been unable to replicate the growth with equity miracle," the Fund said. According to the report, China managed to increase the middle class in urban areas, as did Thailand, while India and Indonesia struggled to lift sizeable portions of their populations toward higher income levels. "In India, differences between rural and urban areas have increased, and have been accompanied by rising intra-urban inequality," it said. 05. India ratifies trade pact of WTO: The Government on 4th May 2016 said it has ratified the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of the WTO and the pact aims to expedite the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit. “India has ratified the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of the World Trade Agreement (WTO) and the instrument of Acceptance for Trade Facilitation Agreement was handed over to WTO Director-General by India on April 22,” Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.The pact will come into force once two-thirds of WTO members have completed their domestic rectification process, Sitharaman added. 06. Scientists create worlds tiniest thermometer using DNA: Scientists have created the worlds tiniest thermometer that is 20,000 times smaller than a human hair, using DNA structures that can fold and unfold at specifically defined temperatures. The advance may significantly aid our understanding of natural and human designed nanotechnologies by enabling to measure temperature at the nanoscale, researchers said. Over 60 years ago, researchers discovered that the DNA molecules that encode our genetic information can unfold when heated. “In recent years, biochemists also discovered that biomolecules such as proteins or RNA (a molecule similar to DNA) are employed as nanothermometers in living organisms and report temperature variation by folding or unfolding,” said Alexis Vallee-Belisle, professor at University of Montreal in Canada. “DNA is made from four different monomer molecules called nucleotides - nucleotide A binds weakly to nucleotide T, whereas nucleotide C binds strongly to nucleotide G,” said David Gareau, from the University of Montreal. “Using these simple design rules we are able to create DNA structures that fold and unfold at a specifically desired temperature,” Gareau said. “There are still many unanswered questions in biology,” said Vallee-Belisle. “For example, we know that the temperature inside the human body is maintained at 37 degrees Celsius, but we have no idea whether there is a large temperature variation at the nanoscale inside each individual cell,” she said. Researchers are trying to determine whether nanomachines and nanomotors developed by nature over millions years of evolution also overheat when functioning at high rate. 07. 3 Earth-like planets orbiting nearby star could have life, water: Three new planets orbiting a nearby star have been discovered that could potentially have life and water. Video provided by European Southern Observatory European Southern Observatory Since the planets are outside our solar system, they are called exoplanets."This really is a paradigm shift with regards to the planet population and the path towards finding life in the Universe," said Emmanuël Jehin, a co-author of the new study and an astronomer at the University of Liège in Belgium. "So far, the existence of such red worlds orbiting ultra-cool dwarf stars was purely theoretical, but now we have not just one lonely planet around such a faint red star but a complete system of three planets," he said. 08. India to cross 500 mn Internet users this year: Ravi Shankar Prasad: The number of Internet users in the country is likely to reach 500 million this year, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on 4th May 2016. “India has grown to around 400 million Internet users. If we take Trai numbers then it is somewhere close to 332 million. As per service providers, they were telling me that up to date it is 402 million. We were to have 500 million users by 2017, I feel it will happen this year itself,” Prasad said while launching Digital Desh Drive 2. India has now over 100 crore mobile subscribers, added Ravi Shankar Prasad. As per the official data shared by him in Lok Sabha , the total mobile subscriber base at the end of February has 98.2 crore GSM mobile users and 4.45 crore subscribers on CDMA network. People in India specially at grass root levels are using technology to transform their lives. “After being IT and communications minister, I am indeed experiencing a different India. India is sitting on cusp of a big digital revolution. Indians first observe technology, then adopt technology and then they start enjoying it and they become empowered in the process,” Prasad said. 09. Planet Nine may not exist: study: Scientists have found that there is low probability of the existence of the mysterious Planet Nine, a Neptune-mass world that may circle our Sun at a distance of about 64 billion to 225 billion kilometers or 400-1,500 astronomical units. This places it far beyond all the other planets in our solar system. Researchers conducted millions of computer simulations in order to consider three possibilities. The first and most likely involves a passing star that tugs Planet Nine outward. Such an interaction would not only nudge the planet into a wider orbit but also make that orbit more elliptical. Since the Sun formed in a star cluster with several thousand neighbours, such stellar encounters were more common in the early history of our solar system. However, an interloping star is more likely to pull the planet away completely and eject it from the solar system. Researchers find only a 10 per cent probability, at best, of Planet Nine landing in its current orbit. The planet would have had to start at an improbably large distance to begin with. Researchers propose that Planet Nine formed much closer to Sun and interacted with gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn. A series of gravitational kicks then could have boosted the planet into a larger and more elliptical orbit over time. 10. Tobacco industry must follow stringent package warning rules: Apex court: The Supreme Court on 4th May 2016 told the tobacco industry to adhere to rules requiring stringent health warnings on cigarette packs, but ordered a state high court to hear all pleas challenging the same. The tobacco industry “should not violate any rule prevailing as of today, the two-judge Bench said, and added that the Karnataka High Court should hear all pleas challenging the new rules. Last month, Indian tobacco companies, some backed by foreign “Big Tobacco, had shut down production in protest against requirements that 85 per cent of a cigarette packs surface be covered in health warnings, up from 20 per cent. The tobacco industry has taken the government to court, saying the rules are impractical and will boost the smuggling of imported cigarettes. The government backs the stringent rules to cut tobacco consumption. Smoking kills more than 1 million people a year in India, according to BMJ Global Health. The World Health Organization says tobacco-related diseases cost India $16 billion annually.




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