Home Daily Updates IMPORTANT CURRENT AFFAIRS & DAILY NEWS UPDATES : 24 - MAY - 2016
IMPORTANT CURRENT AFFAIRS & DAILY NEWS UPDATES : 24 - MAY - 2016
Wednesday, 25 May 2016 04:54

 

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DAILY NEWS UPDATES

24 - MAY - 2016

 

STEPHEN CURRY NAMED NBA’S MOST VALUABLE PLAYER FOR SECOND STRAIGHT YEAR

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for the second straight year.

With this, he became the first unanimous winner in the award’s 61-year history after a record-breaking contribution to the Warriors’ historic season.

Stephen Curry, the 11th person to win back-to-back MVP awards, swept all 131 first-place votes including 130 from a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters and one from the Kia MVP fan vote. He secured 1310 points to top in the list.

Becoming the 11th person to win back-to-back MVP awards, he joined an illustrious club that includes the likes of James, Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.

28-year-old, Curry was followed by San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (second with 634 points) and Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (third with 631 points).

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook (stood at fourth place with 486 points) and Kevin Durant (stood at fifth place with 147 points).

The league said that it is the first time in the National Basketball Association’s history that a player has been the blanket first pick for the award. No player, not even Michael Jordan in his pomp, has been a unanimous choice for MVP.

How the MVP is chosen?

The MVP award is chosen by a panel of 130 sportswriters and broadcasters in the United States and Canada with one vote going to fans.

Under a preferential voting system, players receive 10 points for a first choice vote, seven points for each second place vote, five points for third, and three points for fourth and one point for fifth.

WORLD'S OLDEST GROUND-EDGE STONE AXE FOUND IN AUSTRALIA

Australian archaeologists announced that they have discovered a piece of the world's oldest axe. The axe was discovered in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia.

The analysis of the fragment was published in the journal Australian Archaeology on 9 May 2016.

Key highlights of the axe

The axe fragment is about the size of a thumbnail and dates back to a Stone Age period of 45000 to 49000 years ago.

It is an axe with a handle attached.

Its antiquity coincides with or immediately follows the arrival of humans on the Australian landmass.

It is the earliest evidence of a ground-edge axe yet reported in the world. In Japan, such axes appear about 35000 years ago. However, in most countries in the world they arrive with agriculture after 10000 years ago.

New studies of the fragment revealed that it comes from an axe that had been shaped from basalt then polished by grinding it on another rock until it was very smooth.

The axe fragment was initially excavated in the early 1990s by Professor O’Connor at Carpenter’s Gap 1. The Carpenter’s Gap 1 is a large rock shelter in Windjana Gorge National Park in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

This type of axe would have been very useful for a variety of tasks including making spears and chopping down or taking the bark off trees.

UDAY KOTAK, ONLY INDIAN IN FORBES MOST POWERFUL PEOPLE IN THE FINANCIAL WORLD LIST

Forbes magazine released the list of Money Masters: the Most Powerful People in the Financial World. The list comprises of 40 most powerful peoples in the financial world.

The only Indian who finds mention in the list is Uday Kotak, the CEO of the Kotak Mahindra Bank. He is ranked 33rd in the list with a net worth of 7.1 billion dollars and oversees assets worth 34.6 billion dollars.

The list has been topped by Stephen Schwarzman of Blackstone Group followed by David Tepper of Appaloosa Management and Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase & Co.

Top ten People in the list include:

•    Stephen Schwarzman: He is the CEO of Blackstone Group, the world’s biggest private equity firm. The net worth is 10.2 billion dollars and oversees assets worth 344 billion dollars.

•    David Tepper: He is the CEO of Appaloosa Management and has a net worth of 11.4 billion dollars and oversees assets worth 18 billion dollars.

•    Jamie Dimon: He is the CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co, America’s largest bank. He oversees an institution that moves 5 trillion dollars a day. His net worth is 700 million dollars and oversees asset worth 2.4 trillion dollars.

•    Warren Buffet: He is the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and has a net worth of 68.5 billion dollars and oversees assets worth 552 billion dollars.

•    Laurence Fink: He is the CEO of the world’s biggest asset manager BlackRock and has net worth of 550 million dollars and oversees assets worth 4.6 trillion dollars.

•    Ken Griffin: A successful hedge fund manager and CEO of the financial firm Citadel. He as a net worth of 7.6 billion dollars and oversees assets worth 25 billion dollars.

•    Jeffrey Gundlach: The bond king is the CEO of Doubleline Capital and has a net worth of 1.4 billion dollars and oversees asset worth 95 billion dollars.

•    Carl Icahn: The activist investor     and CEO of Icahn Investors has a net worth of 17.6 billion dollars and oversees assets worth 42 billion dollars.

•    Lloyd Blankfein: He is the CEO of Goldman Sachs and has a net worth of 700 million dollars and oversees assets worth 878 billion dollars.

•    George Soros: He is the chairman of Soros Fund Management and has a net worth 24.9 billion and oversees assets worth 29 billion dollars.

The candidates on the list were judged on net worth, assets under management or overseen, three-year track records and influence on markets.

COMMITTEE ON ESTIMATES RECOMMENDS PM-HEADED AUTHORITY ON GANGA REJUVENATION

The Estimates Committee of Parliament, in its report on Ganga Rejuvenation tabled recommended an overarching and fully empowered authority headed by the Prime Minister.

The Committee opined the authority is required to cut down on the red tape involving various ministries and state governments to be set up for securing the nirmalta (purity) and aviralta (flow) of the Ganga by July 2018.

The committee is chaired by BJP veteran Murli Manohar Joshi.

The committee also expressed concern over Ganga being declared one of the 10 most polluted rivers in the world.

Mission Clean Ganga

National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) started the Mission Clean Ganga with a changed and comprehensive approach to champion the challenges posed to Ganga through four different sectors, namely, of wastewater management, solid waste management, industrial pollution and river front development.

NGRBA functions include development of a Ganga River Basin Management Plan, regulation of activities aimed at prevention, control and abatement of pollution, to maintain water quality and to take measures relevant to the river ecology in the Ganga basin states.

It is mandated to ensure the maintenance of minimum ecological flows in the river Ganga and abate pollution through planning, financing and execution of programmes including that of

  • Augmentation of Sewerage Infrastructure
  • Catchment Area Treatment
  • Protection of Flood Plains
  • Creating Public Awareness

INDIAN-AMERICAN, MANJIT SINGH, APPOINTED AS MEMBER OF PRESIDENT'S ADVISORY COUNCIL ON FAITH-BASED

US President Barack Obama appointed an Indian-American engineer, Manjit Singh, as the member of President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

The announcement came along with several other appointments made by the US President.

Manjit Singh

• Singh is the President of Agilious, a software technology consulting firm he founded in 2013.

• He is the co-founder of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, a national Sikh American media, policy and education organization.

• He served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Guru Gobind Singh Foundation and also as a Member-at-Large of The Board of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan in Washington.

• He is an engineering graduate of Bombay University.

• He also received a Master of Science degree from the State University of New York in US.

President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

The President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships brings together leaders and experts in fields related to the work of faith-based and neighborhood organizations in order to make recommendations to the Administration on how to improve the partnerships it forms to serve people in need. The Council is charged with:

• Identifying best practices and successful modes of delivering social services.

• Evaluating the need for improvements in the implementation and coordination of public policies relating to faith-based and neighborhood organizations.

• Making recommendations to the President and the Administration on changes in policies, programs, and practices.

The Council, after conducting its research, reviews, and deliberation, submits written reports of its recommendations.

INDIA, CHINA, FOUR OTHERS SIGN AGREEMENT ENABLING AUTOMATIC SHARING OF COUNTRY-BY-COUNTRY REPORTING

Six countries, namely India, China, Israel, New Zealand, Canada and Iceland, signed a Multilateral Competent Authority agreement for the automatic exchange to boost transparency by multinational enterprises (MNEs). The signing ceremony took place in Beijing on 12 May 2016.

With this, the total number of signatories came up to 39.

Highlights

• The pact allows all signatories to bilaterally and automatically exchange Country-by-Country Reports ("CbC MCAA") with each other, as contemplated by Action 13 of the BEPS Action Plan.

• It will help ensure that tax administrations obtain a complete understanding of how MNEs structure their operations, while also ensuring that the confidentiality of such information is safeguarded.

• The OECD/G20 BEPS Project set out 15 key actions to reform the international tax framework and ensure that profits are reported where economic activities are carried out and value created.

• BEPS is of major significance for developing countries due to their heavy reliance on corporate income tax, particularly from MNEs.

• Country-by-country reporting will require MNEs to provide aggregate information annually, in each jurisdiction where they do business, relating to the global allocation of income and taxes paid, together with other indicators of the location of economic activity within the MNE group.

• It will also cover information about which entities do business in a particular jurisdiction and the business activities each entity engages in.

Background

G20 leaders endorsed the wide-ranging BEPS package in November 2015, marking an historic opportunity for improving the effectiveness of the international tax system.

The signed package was a result of more than two years of discussions involving all OECD and G20 countries. The discussions also included more than a dozen developing countries.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

OECD is an international economic organisation of 34 countries, founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade. It aims at promoting policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.

• The OECD provides a forum in which governments can work together to share experiences and seek solutions to common problems.

• It works with governments to understand what drives economic, social and environmental change.

• It measure productivity and global flows of trade and investment.

• It analyse and compare data to predict future trends.

• It set international standards on a wide range of things, from agriculture and tax to the safety of chemicals.

In 1948, the OECD originated as the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC), to help administer the Marshall Plan for reconstruction of a continent ravaged by war.

UNION BRINGS ORDINANCE AGAINST SC NEET ORDER

  • Facing pressure from the State governments, the Union Cabinet cleared an ordinance bypassing the Supreme Court’s decision on the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET), a common test for admission to medical and dental courses.
  • Nearly 6.5 lakh candidates are to appear for the second round of the test, which is to be held on July 24.
  • Health Minister J.P. Nadda will meet President Pranab Mukherjee to brief him on the ordinance that, once it comes into effect, will override the apex court’s May 9 order and allow the State boards to hold their own entrance tests this year.
  • Sources in the Health Ministry maintain that the exception is only for this academic session. “From next year, students will have a common entrance test nationwide,”.

BANGALORE-BASED MEDGENOME COMMITTED TO SEQUENCE 100,000 ASIAN GENOMES

  • In a move to create one of the largest repositories of Indian genomes, Bangalore-based Medgenome has teamed up with a Southeast Asian consortium that has committed to sequence 100,000 Asian genomes.
  • This could mean a consolidated storehouse of at least 30,000 Indian genomes and could help understand the wide genetic variety in India’s various ethnic groups and midwife customised medications for cancer and heart disease, as well as identify possible new genetic aberrations that cause untreatable diseases.
  • Ever since the human genome was first sequenced in 2003, that is the entire DNA pattern in the cell that lends people their unique identity was deciphered, several countries have announced initiatives to map genomes of their resident populations.
  • The so-called 1000 Genomes project is a collection of gene samples from across the world to capture the variety of genes that are typical to different population groups.
  • The United Kingdom announced a plan in 2014 to create a bank of 100,000 genomes in the nation and 100,000 Asia genomes project — called GenomeAsia 100K — echoes similar ambitions.
  • The project will develop in phases with an initial 1000 genomes, consisting of India and East Asian populations, sequenced within this year, and the entire database to be ready by 2020. Medgenome already has a bank of 200 Indian genomes.
  • The project will cost $120 million, though only about half of that has been firmed up. Other key collaborators in the project are Singapore’s Nanyang Technological Institute, Singapore, and Macrogen, a genetics diagnostic company in Seoul.
  • Nearly 60 petabytes of data — equivalent to 30 trillion pages of text — are expected to be churned out in this study. Though all this data would be publicly available to researchers, access to it would be staggered.
  • Though human genome sequencing is a frontier area of biotechnology, it was prohibitively expensive.
  • Technology advancement has made prices dramatically drop, enabling several companies to offer genome sequencing services.
  • While many diseases are linked to genes going awry, afflictions such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, etc., are usually the result of several genes malfunctioning, and often in a domino-like effect.
  • Identifying such culprits is impossible without comparing genes, across individuals and population groups, in large numbers.
  • Thus BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 — genes associated with breast cancer — are found in as many as one-third of women.
  • Several of them go on to live without ever contracting the cancer. These genes come in several varieties that can vary on the level of families as well as ethnicities. Genome sequence studies are effective in studying such variations.

GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL OUTLOOK REPORT SHOWS RISKS DUE TO SEA RISE

  • Nearly 40 million Indians will be at risk from rising sea levels by 2050, with people in Mumbai and Kolkata having the maximum exposure to coastal flooding in future due to rapid urbanisation and economic growth, according to a UN environment report.
  • The ‘Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6): Regional Assessments’ said the worst impacts of climate change are projected to occur in the Pacific and South and South-East Asia.
  • It said focussing on the population at risk from sea-level rise by 2050, seven of the 10 most vulnerable countries worldwide are in the Asia Pacific region.
  • India tops the chart with nearly 40 million people in the country projected to be at risk from rising sea levels, followed by more than 25 million in Bangladesh, over 20 million in China and nearly 15 million in the Philippines.
  • It said changes in settlement patterns, urbanisation and socio-economic status in Asia have influenced observed trends in vulnerability and exposure to climate extremes.
  • The report said in many coastal areas, growing urban settlements have also affected the ability of natural coastal systems to respond effectively to extreme climate events, rendering them more vulnerable.
  • It listed Mumbai and Kolkata in India, Guangzhou and Shanghai in China, Dhaka in Bangladesh, Yangon in Myanmar, Bangkok in Thailand, and Ho Chi Minh City and Hai Phong in Vietnam as projected to have the largest population exposure to coastal flooding in 2070.
  • The report, published ahead of the UN Environment Assembly taking place in Nairobi next week, said the worst impacts of climate change are projected to occur in the Pacific and South and Southeast Asia.
  • In 2011, six of the ten countries most vulnerable to climate change worldwide were in Asia and the Pacific. The report said livelihoods can be impacted negatively by natural disasters, economic crises and climate change.
  • On coastal areas highly exposed to cyclones and typhoons, the poor tend to be more exposed to natural disasters because they live on hazardous land.
  • By 2050, areas of storm surge zones are expected for Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, with a combined total of over 58 million people at risk.
  • The UN report further said global urban populations are projected to increase by 2.5 billion by 2050, with nearly 90 per cent of the increase in Asia and Africa.
  • Asia, despite its current lower level of urbanisation, hosts 53 per cent of the world’s urban population. In 2014, there were 28 megacities worldwide, home to 453 million people or about 12 per cent of the world’s urban dwellers; 16 are in Asia.
  • Tokyo in Japan is the largest with nearly 38 million people, followed by Delhi and Shanghai. By 2030, the world is projected to have 41 megacities.

WRECKAGE FROM EGYPTAIR PLANE FOUND IN MEDITERRANEAN

  • Egypt found wreckage, including seats and luggage, from the EgyptAir plane that crashed in the Mediterranean, as investigators tried to unravel the mystery of why it swerved and plummeted into the sea.
  • Search teams spotted personal belongings of passengers and parts of the Airbus A320 about 290 km north of Egypt’s coastal city of Alexandria.
  • The country’s Aviation Minister has said a “terrorist attack” was a more likely cause than technical failure for the plane’s disappearance on a flight from Paris to Cairo with 66 people on board.
  • The tragedy raised fears of a repeat of the bombing of a Russian passenger jet by the Islamic State (IS) over Egypt last October that killed all 224 people on board.
  • Relatives of some of the passengers and crew met EgyptAir officials and later gathered at a hotel near Cairo airport to exchange information.
  • The plane disappeared between the Greek island of Karpathos and the Egyptian coast in the early hours of Thursday, without its crew sending a distress signal.
  • It had turned sharply twice in Egyptian airspace before plunging 22,000 feet (6,700 metres) and vanishing from radar screens, said Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos.
  • A multinational operation involving aircraft and ships has been launched to find the plane.
  • Fifteen French citizens, a Briton and at least one Canadian were among 26 foreigners on the plane.
  • The disaster also entered the U.S. presidential election campaign, where national security is a prominent issue.

SRI LANKA FACING BIG FLOODPROBLEM

  • India has dispatched military ships and an aircraft with rescue and relief material to Sri Lanka, where torrential rains and landslides have resulted in several deaths and massive devastation over the last few days.
  • Two Navy ships — one Naval Offshore Patrol INS Sunayna and one survey ship INS Sutlej — had set sail from Kochi with 30-40 tonnes of relief material and are scheduled to reach Colombo harbour on May 21 during the morning hours.
  • In addition to providing the relief material, India would also be participating in the rescue and relief efforts, the officer added. The Navy has also kept two Dornier aircraft on standby in Kochi for any emergency requirement.
  • Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena had said that his government had appealed to friendly nations to provide whatever possible assistance for the supply of relief materials and construction of houses.
  • Terming the flood situation “disastrous”, the President said the Foreign Ministry briefed diplomats of the present status. He also thanked those countries that had come forward to help Sri Lanka.
  • According to a report by the government’s Disaster Management Centre on Friday morning, the number of deaths stood at 64, of which 35 were in Kegalle district where a huge landslide occurred.
  • Totally, 4.27 lakh people were affected and about 3.2 lakh removed to safe locations.

MOSCOW'S JOINT AIR STRIKE IN SYRIA PROPOSAL REJECTED BY US

  • Moscow on Friday proposed that Russia and United States, which have been flying separate bombing campaigns in Syria, launch joint air strikes against jihadists from next week, a proposal the Pentagon swiftly rejected.
  • “We are proposing to the U.S., as the head of the International Syria Support Group, to take part as of May 25 in joint operations between the Russian air force and the air force of the coalition,” Russian Defence Minister said.
  • Hours later Pentagon spokesman rejected Moscow’s proposal, saying the U.S. military does “not collaborate or coordinate with the Russians on any operations in Syria”.
  • “Russian operations are supporting and enabling the Assad regime and our focus is solely on degrading and defeating [the Islamic State]” Captain Davis said.

INDIA IN FAVOUR OF A FAIR AND REASONABLE SETTLEMENT OF BOUNDARY QUESTION

  • Ahead of his visit to China, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Friday that India was in favour of a “fair, reasonable” and mutually acceptable settlement of boundary question.
  • Talking to state-run Chinese Central Television (CCTV) and Xinuha news agencies, the President spoke on various issues including India’s concerns on terrorism, bilateral trade and cultural and educational exchanges.
  • Mr. Mukherjee said India would like to expand and diversify its engagement with China across various fields while “proactively addressing outstanding issues” including the boundary question.
  • “Both sides should strive to ensure that the outstanding issues are addressed in a manner that demonstrates mutual sensitivity to each other’s concerns and aspiration,” he said.
  • Only then can “we ensure that these differences will not come in the way of continued development of bilateral relations.”

FM REITERATES NEED FOR GREATER COMPETITION SECTORS SUCH AS PUBLIC TRANSPORT

  • There is a need to ensure greater competition in the country in sectors such as public transport, railways and power distribution, which are dominated by the public sector, to ensure better products and services, said Finance Minister.
  • “Competition is at the heart of a market economy. Socialism, per se, is anti-competitive as it promotes state-owned monopolies and restrictions. That is never in the consumer interest. It is always competition which ensures that the best product and service wins,” he said
  • Turning to the public transport in states where government-owned companies enjoy a monopoly, he said the Centre wants to free this sector up for competition and will work with the state governments on the matter.
  • Referring to state government-owned power distribution companies, he said they were the third-largest contributor to bad loans - mostly due to the populist policies adopted by the state governments to score political brownie points.
  • Opening up the power distribution to competition is an important reform that must be done soon, Mr. Jaitley said.

MONEY EARNED THROUGH CORRUPT PRACTICES NOT WITH IN BLACK MONEY SCHEME

  • Persons who have earned money through corrupt practices cannot take advantage of the domestic black money disclosure scheme, says the Finance Ministry’s FAQ on Income Declaration Scheme issued.
  • The four-month window which opens on June 1 provides an opportunity to people having undisclosed income to come clean by paying tax, penalty and surcharge totalling 45 per cent of fair market value.
  • The 14 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) further said declarations made will remain confidential as in the case of return of income filed by an assessee.
  • The declarant, it further said, will be liable for capital gains tax on sale of such assets in future.
  • On a question whether a person can declare undisclosed income which has been acquired from money earned through corruption, the FAQ said “No.”
  • The scheme will not apply in relation to prosecution of any offence punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
  • As per the FAQ, if a declaration is held as void, the provisions of the Income Tax Act will apply in respect of such income as they apply in relation to any other undisclosed income.

BANK BOARD BUREAU IS WORKING OUT AN INTERMEDIATE MECHANISM FOR NPAS

  • Worried over mounting bad loans, the Bank Board Bureau (BBB) is working out an “intermediate mechanism” to ensure early resolution of the problem and also to provide comfort to the bank management with regard to settlement of dues.
  • “We are putting in place an intermediate mechanism which will analyse some of the processes which would be triggered to settle the NPAs that the banks are carrying on their balance sheets,” Vinod Rai, chairman of BBB told
  • He said, adding there are two kind of issues, one is process of resolution, the other is the pricing at which the resolution takes place.
  • “Pricing is the commercial judgement of the institution. And I don’t think it would be fair to have an outside agency take that decision,” he said.
  • The entire thing will be rolled out in a fortnight, he said without giving much details of it. Asked if it will be under the Bureau, he said it will be outside BBB and would be in domain of banks.
  • Last week Rai had stressed that the bad loans situations was not alarming and said all public-sector banks have got their strategies in place to tackle the stressed asset woes.

 

 

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