Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Current Affairs November 17, 2015

UNEP lauds pesticide-free farming in Kerala
  • The success of a group of farmers in Kuruvai village in Palakkad district’s Vadakkencherry panchayat in cultivating paddy without chemical pesticides has come in for praise from United Nations Environment Programme.
  • It finds a prominent place in a book on replacing highly hazardous pesticides with agroecology brought out by Pesticide Action Network International.
  • The book was released at the fourth session of UNEP’s International Conference on Chemicals Management in Geneva early October.
  • Examples similar to the Kuruvai success from Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu; from China and the Philippines too find their place in the publication, which described them as “some of the many excellent projects and programmes underway across Asia” underlining how agroecological practices help to improve yields.
Indian silk industry hopes to become self-reliant by 2020
  • With a growth rate of 7.5 per cent per annum, the Indian silk industry — which contributes nearly 28,700 tonnes (16.12 per cent) of silk to the total world output, is expected to become self-reliant by 2020, meeting the demands of domestic silk market.
  • At present, India imports 6,000 to 8,000 tonnes of raw silk and silk fabric from China to meet the growing domestic demand (around 34,000 tonnes), besides exporting silk worth Rs. 3,000 crore a year.
  • Central Silk Board Member Secretary H. Nagesh Prabhu said that India doubled its raw silk production in the last 10 years from 15,000 tonnes a year to almost 29,000 tonnes a year.
First AMRIT Outlet Opens at AIIMS, to Offer Cancer Drugs on Discount
  • Union Health Minister JP Nadda  inaugurated India’s first retail facility at AIIMS to provide drugs for cancer and cardiovascular diseases at highly discounted rates.
  • The pharmacy named AMRIT — Affordable Medicines and Reliable Implants for Treatment — will have 202 drugs of cancer and cardiovascular diseases where the price is going to be reduced on an average by 60 to 90 per cent.
  • “Under the AMRIT programme, we want to give medicines at an affordable cost. We have identified 202 drugs of cancer and cardio-vascular diseases where the price is going to reduced on an average by 60 to 90 per cent. In the same way, 148 cardiac implants will be given from the centre and sold here and their cost will be reduced by 50 to 60 per cent,” Mr Nadda said on the occasion.
  • AMRIT will be managed by the government-owned HLL Lifecare Ltd (HLL), which will sell both drugs and implants at significant discount on market rates, based on authentic prescriptions from doctors not only to AIIMS patients but even to patients availing treatment at other hospitals.
Jharkhand introduces ‘Mobile Governance’
  • Taking another step towards realisation of Digital India dreams, Jharkhand today introduced ‘Mobile Governance’ as the state marked its statehood day.
  • “The theme of today is ‘Mobile Governance’ and 15 mobile applications have been introduced,” Chief Minister Raghubar Das announced while addressing the people to mark the 16th Foundation Day.
  • Approximately 2/3rd of the population in Jharkhand are mobile users and it could be a strong medium to disseminate information about government services and welfare schemes and rein in corruption as well.
  • To facilitate quick clearance for industries, the state has introduced ‘Advantage Jharkhand Portal’, the country’s first single window portal.
  • For setting up Food Processing Industry through this medium, MoU worth Rs 880 crore has been signed and land is being identified for entrepreneurs.
Centre declares NSCN (K) as terrorist organization
  • The Government on Monday declared the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang) (NSCNK), all its formations and front organizations as a terrorist organization under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
  • A Gazette notification issued on November 6, 2015 mentions that the NSCN (K), a militant outfit, came into existence in 1988 and is active along the Indo-Myanmar border.
  • NSCN (K) has resorted to terrorism by killing innocent civilians and security forces and engaged in other violent activities including the June 4, 2015 attack on the Army convoy in Chandel district of Manipur.
Syed Akbaruddin is India’s next Permanent Representative to UN
Senior diplomat and former high-profile spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry Syed Akbaruddin has been appointed as India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, succeeding Asoke Mukerji.
About Syed Akbaruddin
  • Mr. Akbaruddin was Chief Coordinator of the recently-held Indo-Africa Summit here which was participated by heads of state and government of 41 countries from African continent.
  • He had served at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Geneva and is considered an “expert” on the West Asia where he had served in various capacities.
  • Vikas Swarup, author of best-selling novel Q&A which formed the basis for Oscar-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire, had replaced Mr. Akbaruddin as MEA spokesperson in April.
  • He had also brought an effective mix of social and digital media into the External Publicity division.
India, Bangladesh sign SOP to operationalise Agreement on Coastal Shipping
  • India and Bangladesh signed Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to operationalize the “Agreement on Coastal Shipping”.
  • The SOP was signed by the Joint DG (Shipping) Ministry of Shipping, Government of India and Chief Engineer and Ship Surveyer, Department of Shipping, Government of Bangladesh in the presence of Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Shipping and Road Transport and Highways on Sunday in New Delhi.
  • Gadkari said that once it is operational, the Coastal Shipping Agreement will enable a huge saving in logistic costs of EXIM transport between the two countries. The SOP has been framed as per the terms and conditions of the Agreement on Coastal Shipping and both India and Bangladesh have agreed to its provisions.
  • The Standard Operating Procedure will pave the way to promote coastal shipping between India and Bangladesh and would enhance bilateral trade between the two countries by bringing down the cost of transportation of EXIM cargo.
APEC summit tests security in volatile Philippines
  • Providing security for the leaders of Asia-Pacific nations including the United States and China is a huge undertaking for any country. For the Philippines, which is hosting this year’s APEC summit, the challenges are even bigger and are under renewed scrutiny following the Paris attacks.
  • The developing Southeast Asian nation has assembled more than 30,000 military, police and civilian personnel in its largest security operation in years for the meeting in its capital, Manila. Leaders of the 21 countries and territories that make up the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum began arriving Monday.
  • The extensive preparations reflect a variety of perceived threats but also are meant to address concerns the Philippines might not be up to the task. Its military is one of the most poorly funded in Asia and its south is a cradle of insecurity known for banditry and Islamic militants. Marxist insurgents are still active in parts of the country.
  • National police chief Ricardo Marquez said security forces have prepared for all possible threats, including terrorism, typhoons, fires, earthquakes and food poisoning. In metropolitan Manila, licenses for civilians to carry guns are suspended for the summit week. Rallies will not be allowed without a permit or near APEC venues.
Practo, Uber enter into pact
  • Healthcare booking platform Practo and taxi-hailing platform Uber announced a global partnership to help people reach doctors easily.
  • Across India, Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore, those who book an appointment on Practo’s mobile application will be able to view the closest Uber available along with the appointment reminder alert.
  • Practo said it will soon cover more countries as the two partners continue their global expansion.
  • “We work towards providing a simplified healthcare experience that reduces consumer stress and anxiety. Our goal with this partnership is to completely remove patient’s anxiety and enhance convenience by integrating with Uber,” Shashank ND, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Practo.
Thomas Cook India inks pact with OYO Rooms
  • Travel services provider Thomas Cook India has entered into a partnership with online aggregator of budget hotels, OYO Rooms, offering access to over 3,200 hotels, spread over 140 cities across India.
  • The company’s partnership with OYO Rooms aims at providing a wide range of standardised stay options, optimal locations (both business and leisure areas) and maximised savings, Thomas Cook India said.
  • “Domestic Indian travellers today are demanding better value in the form of good quality, conveniently located, standardised accommodation and access to this, is in woefully short supply… Our partnership with OYO Rooms, offers us a wonderful platform to tap this need & opportunity,” Thomas Cook India Chief Innovation Officer and Head Marketing & Service Quality Abraham Alapatt.
  • Thomas Cook India’s footprint (exclusive of its subsidiaries) currently extends to over 232 locations (including 23 airport counters) in 95 cities across India, Mauritius and Sri Lanka.
Nokia, Alcatel-Lucent name new India, MEA heads
  • Nokia announced that Sandeep Girotra would become the head of India and Amr Karim El-Leithy would become the head of Middle East and Africa as part of the planned combination of Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent, after and subject to the successful closing of the public exchange offer for Alcatel-Lucent securities announced on 15 April.
  • Both would oversee the combined company’s customer operations across India and Middle East and Africa, driving the execution of strategy and ensuring superior customer service, underpinned by a strong focus on innovation and quality.
  • Sandeep Girotra joined Nokia Networks in 1996 and has held a number of different roles in India, heading the region since 2011. The proposed appointments are effective only after the successful closing of the public exchange offer and is subject to the completion of the relevant works council consultation procedures. Amr Karim El-Leithy is currently president for Middle East, Turkey and Africa for Alcatel-Lucent. He joined the company in 2009.
Navy gets indigenous system to decoy under water attack on ships
  • Indian Navy has got a fully indigenous decoy system that can divert under-water torpedo attacks on ships and submarines. Developed by Vishakapatnam-based Naval Science and Technological Laboratory (NSTL), two such systems are into production grade now.
  • The Advanced Torpedo Defence System (ATDS), christened as Mareech was handed over by defence minister Manohar Parrikar to the Navy on Saturday. Mareech detects and locate the incoming torpedo and apply countermeasures to protect naval platform against attack.
  • Two production grade MAAREECH systems have been developed even as their user evaluation trials have been completed on board two Indian Navy ships.
ICICI Bank Canada launches student programme
  • ICICI Bank Canada, a subsidiary of private lender ICICI Bank, has launched Student GIC (Guaranteed Investment Certificate) Program for students aspiring to study in Canada.
  • “As per the requirement, students applying for a study permit under the Student Partner Program (SPP), are required to invest in a GIC of C$10,000 with a bank in Canada authorised to offer this facility,” ICICI Bank said in a statement.
  • As per the terms of the programme, the amount of C$10,000 is paid back to the student while he/she is studying in Canada in 12 equal instalments along with the interest amount. The processing fee for applying to this programme is C$150.
  • ICICI Bank Canada is the first Indian bank to be authorised by Canadian High Commission to accept GIC from Indian students.
SBI to hire 7,000; to launch e-wallet for basic phone in 13 languages
  • The State Bank of India (SBI) is going to hire 7,000 people this financial year to support its branch expansion plans and for the regular needs. “We will hire about 2,000 probationary officers and the rest clerks. We are going to add 700 more branches this financial year to take the total to beyond 17,000 branches,” Rajnish Kumar, Managing Director of SBI, has said.
  • The need for human resources comes down as productivity increases with proliferation of technology products.
  • Addressing a press conference here, he said about 100 new branches had already been set up this year so far and the remaining would be started in the next few months. “We have multiple channels that our customers can reach out to us. In a vast country like India, you need to have a variety of channels,”.
Overdraft under Jan Dhan scheme nears ₹120-cr mark
  • Nearly ₹120 crore have been taken by bank account holders as overdraft under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY).
  • With repeated prodding by the government, banks had disbursed ₹11,825 lakh to 8.37 lakh account holders under the scheme as of October 30, according to Finance Ministry data.
  • In the past banks had often shied away from providing the facility over repayment concerns. To encourage banks to provide an overdraft facility to subscribers, the Reserve Bank of India had in February also included the funding as part of priority sector lending targets.
  • An overdraft facility of ₹5,000 under the PMJDY is available to one of the earning (preferably a woman) account holders in each family after six months of satisfactory transactions.
Australian pacer Mitchell Johnson announces retirement
  • Australia’s Mitchell Johnson, who was the most devastating fast bowler of his era when in form, will retire from all international cricket at the conclusion of the second test against New Zealand later on Tuesday.
  • The 34-year-old left-armer, who was named International Cricket Council (ICC) Player of the Year in 2009 and 2014, is fourth on the all-time list of test wicket-takers for Australia with 311 at an average of 28.52.
  • His fortunes over his test career mirrored those of his country, in his pomp from his debut in 2007 to 2009 with a return to form in late 2013.
  • In between there was a long fallow period when he became a figure of fun, particularly among the fans of England.
Saeed Jaffrey, Indian actor and Bollywood veteran, dies
  • Actor Saeed Jaffrey, a veteran of dozens of Bollywood and international films, has died at the age of 86.
  • Tributes have poured in since Jaffrey suffered a brain haemorrhage in London.
  • Jaffrey starred in such acclaimed Indian films as Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj ke Khiladi (The Chess Players) and more than 100 Bollywood productions.
  • He also appeared in A Passage To India, Gandhi and The Man Who Would Be King, and earned a Bafta nomination for his role in 1985’s My Beautiful Laundrette.
  • The actor collapsed at his London home from a brain haemorrhage and never regained consciousness, according to a statement from Jaffrey Associates.

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