Monday, 23 November 2015

Current Affairs November 23, 2015

U.P.’s Guinness record: 10 lakh plants in 8 hours
  • Uttar Pradesh has earned itself a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the government’s green drive under which 10 lakh saplings were planted within eight hours.
  • The certificate for UP’s record-setting performance was awarded to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav at a function in Saifai.
  • “UP receives the Guinness Book of World Records for maximum number of trees planted in a single day,” Mr Yadav tweeted, highlighting the State government’s achievement.
  • Under the State government’s ‘Clean UP, Green UP’ initiative, over 10 lakh saplings were planted at 10 locations in eight hours.
  • The spokesman said plants such as sheesham, kanji, pakar, neem, arjun, aonla, chilbil, imli, bargad and peepal were being planted by women, teachers, students, army men, villagers and others.
‘India ranks 4th among world’s most vacation-deprived nations’
  • India is the fourth most vacation-deprived nation globally, with 65 per cent saying they feel very or somewhat vacation-deprived, according to a survey.
  • About 65 per cent of Indians feel they feel very or somewhat vacation-deprived, and 20 per cent said they are very vacation-deprived, full service online travel site Expedia’s ’2015 Vacation Deprivation’ survey has revealed.
  • UAE topped the list of most vacation-deprived countries in 2015 (76 per cent), followed by Malaysia (73 per cent) and Singapore (71 per cent).
  • If they had more vacation days, most Indians (67 per cent) would travel to new places (rather than favourite or usual ones), it revealed.
  • The annual 2015 Vacation Deprivation survey is about vacation habits across multiple countries and continents.
13 projects selected for National Science Congress
Thirteen projects designed by the students of various schools in the State have been selected for National Science Congress, which would be held from December 25 to 27 in Chandigarh.
  • During the two-day State-level event organised by the Telangana State Council for Science and Technology (TSCOST) conducted at Manair High School that concluded, the jury members selected 13 projects after evaluating 79 models.
  • The closing ceremony was attended by CSIR (North East region) D. Ramaiah, Pragna Bharathi Telangana State president Rajabhaskar Reddy, TSCOST member secretary Y. Nagesh Kumar, Manari Educational Institutions chairman K. Anantha Reddy and others were also present.

Telecom Ministry puts state-owned BSNL on notice over poor service quality
  • The Telecom Ministry has issued notices to state-owned BSNL, MTNL and India Posts after Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad personally took note of citizen complaints over service quality on social media since July.
  • Prasad, who has over 4.65 lakh followers on Facebook, received the complaints relating to the three departments under his ministry. BSNL now has an official page on Facebook to connect with people,”.
  • “BSNL reported operating profit after a long time and within 18 months of the new government coming to power. This is a sign of improvement in services.”
  • According to Trai rules, consumers can register their complaints by calling up the customer care or shooting off an e-mail to the telecom operator.
ASEAN to ease travel, mobility of labour
  • The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was proclaimed a community through a declaration signed by the ASEAN leaders at its 27th Summit. The leaders stated that this was a historic development and an important milestone in the evolution of the 10-member grouping since its founding in 1967.
  • Simultaneously, the leaders endorsed “ASEAN 2025: Forging Ahead Together,” which charts the path for community building over the next 10 years. The forward-looking road map articulates the ASEAN goals and aspirations to realise “consolidation, integration and stronger cohesiveness as a community.”
  • Both the declarations were endorsed by the ASEAN leaders in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, among others.
‘India ready to work with Malaysia for war memorial’
  • The Indian diaspora here gave a rousing reception to Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he addressed them at the Malayasia International Exhibition & Convention Centre.
  • Recalling the association of their forefathers with India’s freedom struggle, the Prime Minister said that thousands of people from Malaysia had joined the Indian National Army.
  • “On behalf of every Indian, I also honour all the unnamed and unknown Malaya-Indians, who laid down their lives so that a free India could rise,” Mr. Modi said, adding that the Indian Cultural Centre at Kuala Lumpur would be named after Netaji .
  • Paying homage to the “countless” Indian soldiers who laid down their lives in World War II, the Prime Minister said his govt. was prepared to work with the Malaysian government to build a war memorial for them at the site of the Battle of Kampar in Perak.
Mauricio Macri wins Argentina presidential election
  • Opposition candidate Mauricio Macri has won Argentina’s presidential election, marking an end to the left-leaning and often combative era of President Cristina Fernandez, who along with her late husband dominated the country’s political scene for 12 years and rewrote its social contract.
  • Ruling party candidate Daniel Scioli, Ms. Fernandez’s chosen successor, conceded late and said he had called Mr. Macri to congratulate him on a victory that promises to chart Argentina on a more free market, less state interventionist course.
  • With 75 per cent of the vote counted, Mr. Macri had 53 per cent support compared to 47 per cent for Mr. Scioli.
FM to meet PSB heads; NPAs, rate cut on agenda
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will meet heads of Public Sector Union (PSU) banks on Monday to discuss various issues, including bad loans and interest rate reduction, in light of RBI lowering its policy rate in September.
  • The performance review meeting of public sector banks (PSBs) will also take stock of the credit flow to productive sectors to spur economy and review of ‘Indradhanush’, the seven-pronged strategy to revive PSBs, sources.
  • The government announced the programme in August, which includes Rs. 70,000 crore capital infusion in PSBs in four years, starting with Rs. 25,000 crore this fiscal, and measures to de-stress banks by introducing governance reforms.
  • The gross non-performing assets (NPAs) of PSBs rose to 6.03 per cent at the end of June 2015, as against 5.20 per cent in March 2015.
  • According to the sources, the meeting is expected to review credit offtake by sectors such as home, education and corporates as well as the progress made under the Jan Dhan Yojana and Prime Minister’s social security schemes, among other issues.
  • The meeting will also examine what steps have been taken by State-owned banks in the aftermath of Rs. 6,100 crore Bank of Baroda black money remittance case to avoid such episodes in future.
  • Jaitley is expected to review the interest rate cut by banks following reduction in the key policy rate by RBI in September.
India, EU agree to re-start talks on free trade pact early next year
  • India and the European Union (EU) have decided to re-start talks on a bilateral free trade agreement early next year ending months of acrimony over a ban imposed by Brussels on certain generic drugs tested by Hyderabad-based contract research firm GVK Biosciences.
  • New Delhi had cancelled talks for a re-launch of the FTA negotiations in July to mark its protest against the 28-member bloc’s decision to ban 700 generics tested by GVK on allegations that it did not follow proper procedures while carrying out the tests.
  • Joint Secretary in the Commerce Ministry Anita Praveen has been appointed as the new chief negotiator for the talks and negotiations are expected to start early next year.
  • The India-EU FTA formally known as the Broad-based Trade and Investment Negotiations  seeks to liberalise markets in goods and services, result in easier flow of investments and bring about stronger rules in areas like government procurement.
  • The EU is one of the largest trading partners of India accounting for a bilateral trade of $100 billion against India’s total foreign trade of $760 billion in 2014-15.
President’s medal for innovation
  • The sight of a bruised puppy on her way to school last year sparked an idea in Diva Sharma’s mind. On returning home, the class XII student developed a stress monitoring mechanism for animals to give them urgent medical care. Her project has recently been shortlisted for National Innovation Foundation (NIF)’s Dr APJ Abdul Kalam IGNITE 2015 award to be given by the president of India, Pranab Mukherjee, on November 30.
  • The project involves hardware as well as software. “There are some wearable sensors to measure health indices, which are then recorded using the computer software for further application. The software tells us what health problem the animal has and what immediate treatment should be given. I chose four parameters -pulse rate, heart beat, respiratory rate and body temperature. Depending on the results of these four factors, one can gauge the urgency of medical care required,” she elaborates.
Aid worker Anita Datar ‘represented the best of America’s generous spirit’
  • Indian-American aid worker Anita Datar, whose life exemplified the risks and sacrifices of NGO professionals who strive to give others a better life.
  • So loved and popular was the 41-year-old single mother that states and statesmen claimed her legacy and friendship  as news of her death at the hands of terrorists spread in the U.S.
About Anita Datar
  • The headlines in Boston media described her as a Massachusetts native because she was born there, local TV stations in the DC-Maryland area ran multiple stories the courageous mom describing her a ”local” who lived just outside the capital in a liberal enclave famous for its bleeding heart politics, and the press in New Jersey and New York cottoned on to her high school and university (Rutgers and Columbia University) affiliations.
  • But it was Former First Lady, former Secretary of State, and putative president Hillary Clinton who gave one of the more intimate insights into the life of a much-loved mom and aid worker.
Samsung Gear VR, powered by Facebook’s Oculus, starts shipping in US
  • Samsung Gear VR headsets, powered by Facebook-owned virtual reality developer Oculus Rift, have gone on sale in the US for $99. With this, Samsung’s Gear VR is the first consumer-ready virtual reality product to hit the stores.
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted on his wall that for Oculus and virtual reality, this was a historic day.
  • Zuckerberg wrote, “After years of development, we’re shipping the first consumer virtual reality product — Samsung Gear VR, a mobile VR headset powered by Oculus. Our mission with Oculus is empower you to experience anything, anywhere with anyone. Now, you can begin to step into a world with thousands of immersive videos, movies and games with Samsung Galaxy S6 and Note 5 phones…I believe VR is the next big computing platform — and a lot of people will experience it for the first time on mobile.”

SBI tags Mallya, Kingfisher Air, United Breweries as wilful defaulter
  • After a protracted legal battle, State Bank of India has declared industrialist Vijay Mallya a ‘wilful defaulter’ for defaults on nearly Rs. 7,000 crore loans to the long-grounded Kingfisher Airlines.
  • “SBI has declared Mallya, Kingfisher Airlines and its holding company United Breweries Holdings as wilful defaulters,”.
  • Meanwhile, following the development, the 17 lenders to the airline has said they will e-auction the assets of the grounded airline, in their latest bid to part recover their dues of around Rs. 7,000 crore and accrued interest on the principal, that not been serviced since January 2013.
  • The airline, owned by flamboyant liquor baron Mallya, had taken Rs. 6,900 crore from a consortium of 17-lenders led by State Bank of India in early 2010 after a second debt restructuring for the airline. SBI has an exposure of Rs. 1,600 crore to the airline.
  • Out of this, the bankers, which recalled the loan in February 2013, could recover only around Rs. 1,100 crore after selling pledged shares of UB Group companies.
  • This February, SBI had taken over the possession of the airline’s prime property Kingfisher House, near the city airport, after a protracted court battle.
  • The 17,000 sqft property at Vile Parle near the domestic terminal is valued at around Rs. 100 crore.
RBI likely to keep interest rate unchanged in December
  • Higher retail inflation, coupled with the possibility of a U.S. Fed rate increase in December, may prompt the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan to keep the repo rate unchanged in the December policy review.
  • The central bank, which reduced interest rates by 50 basis points (bps) in the October policy review, will meet again on December 1 to review its monetary policy stance. The central bank had reduced the benchmark interest rate by 125 bps to 6.75 per cent so far this year as inflation eased and the economic recovery stayed tentative.
  • Inflation, however, is expected to stay within the central bank’s comfort zone, market participants said. The RBI has set a target of six per cent inflation for January 2016.
  • The central bank is now expected to reduce interest rates further in 2016.
  • “We believe the next rate cut from RBI will come in the next year. We forecast 50 bps rate cut in the first half of 2016 as retail inflation is likely to stay soft,” Sanyal.
Gamesa plans to invest in solar projects too
  • Spanish wind turbine maker Gamesa is seeing booming sales in emerging markets, expects double-digit sales growth through 2017 and plans investments in solar and off-grid power generation in India, its chairman Ignacio Martin said.
  • In India, where Gamesa started activities only five to six years ago, it expects turbine sales adding up to 900 MW this year, and in Brazil, where the company had no business four years ago, it expects sales of 60 MW this year.
  • Fast growth in emerging markets will help Gamesa reach its target of selling 3,500-3,800 MW of capacity in 2017 from an estimated 3,100 MW this year, Ignacio Martin told Reuters.
  • Gamesa does not plan to manufacture solar panels but would focus on developing solar farms, though Martin said it will probably start manufacturing inverters, which turn solar-panel direct current into alternate current.
Djokovic beats Federer to win ATP World Tour Finals
  • Novak Djokovic ended a magificent season by beating Roger Federer 6-3 6-4 to win the ATP World Tour Finals.
  • The Serbian world number one had lost to Federer in the group phase earlier in the week but dominated the final to become the first player in the tournament’s 46-year history to win the title four years in a row.
  • Federer had some early chances but wasted a couple of break points. Djokovic proved more ruthless, breaking in the third and ninth games to take the opening set.
  • Swiss Federer, bidding for a record-extending seventh title at the year-ender, was staring at the abyss when he trailed 3-4 0-40 in the second set but escaped with five straight points.
  • Djokovic was unrelenting though and wore the 34-year-old Federer down when the Swiss served to stay in the match at 4-5.
ICC backs Vineet Kulkarni, Indian umpires
  • Indians made an impression as an umpire and one among those was former India off-spinner and captain S. Venkatraghavan.
  • Under fire for giving a few decisions that did not go down well with the home team in the Twenty20 and ODI series against South Africa, Vineet Kulkarni is rated highly by the ICC which awards more matches to better performing umpires.

Rajini wins overall championship
  • National two-wheeler racing champion Rajini Krishnan bagged the overall championship (143 points) in the inaugural Pirelli Malaysia Superbike championship (MSC) at the Sepang International circuit, Kuala Lumpur.
  • In the fifth and final round on Sunday, Rajini warded off a stiff resistance from Malaysia’s Muhammad Zaqhwan Zaidi, a former Moto2 rider.
  • Zaidi, who finished first in both the races in the final round, finished overall second with 140 points.

Birsa Munda Stadium witnesses four new National records and four new meet records on the inaugural day of National Junior Championships 2015
  • What a sensational start to a Championships, a great show of athletics witnessed as four National records and four meet records were created on the opening day of the 31st National Junior Athletics Championships 2015 at the Birsa Munda stadium, Ranchi.
  • Athletes set the stadium on fire by breaking the record one after another. Two National records in Boys U-16, one in girls U-16 and one in boys U-14. Two podium finisher bettered the National record in girls U-16 Javelin Throw event.
  • Hemamalini from Tamil Nadu created the new National record by sending her implement to 39.69m and Haryana’s Neha got silver with a throw of 39.64m. Both the athletes bettered the previous National record of 39.09m created by the Pushpa Jakhar in 2012. Sakshi Parmar from Maharashtra secured bronze with a throw of 37.55m.
  • Gujarat boy Kashvir Vasani storms to finish line setting a new National record in boys U-14, 600m run. Kashvir clocked 1:22.40 to break the old mark of 1:23.22 achieved by Tamil Nadu’s R. Naveen in 2013. Anu Kumar from Uttarakhand clocked 1:24.20 and Pankaj Mathur from Delhi clocked 1:24.50 for the silver and bronze medal respectively. The event grabbed the attention as all the top five finishers performed better than the previous meet record (1:25.15) performance of Delhi’s Beant Singh.

Azhari Thangal passes away
  • He was an Islamic scholar and former president of the Samastha Kerala Jamiyyathul Ulama.
  • Sayed Abdurahman Azhari, 95, Islamic scholar and former president of the Samastha Kerala Jamiyyathul Ulama, died at his house at Valanchery on Saturday night. He was buried at Kulamangalam Juma Masjid graveyard on Sunday afternoon.
  • A large number of Islamic scholars and members of Sayed families attended the funeral prayer. He is survived by five sons and four daughters. Malappuram Kazi O.P.M. Sayed Muthukoya Thangal is his son-in-law.
  • Headed institutions in the Gulf Popularly known as Azhari Thangal, he had held several positions before becoming president of the Samastha. He was principal of Jamia Nooriyya Arabic College, Pattikkad, the flagship institution of the Samastha. He had also served several Islamic institutions in the Gulf.
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