Home Daily Updates IMPORTANT CURRENT AFFAIRS & DAILY NEWS UPDATES : 31 - MAY - 2016
IMPORTANT CURRENT AFFAIRS & DAILY NEWS UPDATES : 31 - MAY - 2016
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Tuesday, 31 May 2016 04:01

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DAILY NEWS UPDATES

31 - MAY - 2016

 

AUSTRALIAN RESEARCHERS BUILT WORLD’S FIRST SCANNING HELIUM MICROSCOPE

Australian researchers built the world’s first scanning helium microscope (SHeM). An announcement in this regard was made by the scientists belonging to the University of Newcastle in the third week of May 2016.

Features of SHeM

• It would enable scientists to study human, animal and plant samples, as well as pharmaceutical drugs and computer chips in their true state.

• It is expected to provide new insights into structures at a microscopic level.

• It will be useful in major industries such as solar energy, defence, explosives and information technology.

• It will help with the clean-up of toxic or even radioactive spills, without harming the surrounding flora or fauna.

Conventional microscopes Vs SHeM

The conventional electronic microscopes use light to penetrate samples and this can damage them. The SHeM is an imaging technology based on a scanning helium ion beam.

SHeM possesses very high source brightness and the short De Broglie wavelength of the helium ions. Due to this, it is possible to obtain qualitative data not achievable with conventional microscopes which use photons or electrons as the emitting source.

WORLD’S FIRST ROBOT LAWYER ROSS HIRED BY US LAW FIRM BAKERHOSTETLER

US-based law firm BakerHostetler hired the world’s first robot lawyer ROSS to assist the company and its various teams in legal research.

The law firm will licence artificial lawyer ROSS for use in its Bankruptcy, Restructuring and Creditors’ Rights team.

Key characteristics of ROSS

•    ROSS has been built by ROSS Intelligence and is built upon IBM cognitive computer Watson.

•    With the support of Watson’s, lawyers can ask ROSS their research question.

•    The ROSS reads through the law, gathers evidence, draws inferences and returns highly relevant, evidence-based answers.

•    ROSS also monitors the law around the clock to notify users of new court decisions that can affect a case.

•    The programme continually learns from the lawyers who use it to bring back better results each time.

Background

ROSS Intelligence in 2014 began its research at the University of Toronto with the goal of building an artificial intelligence legal research assistant which would allow lawyers to enhance and scale their abilities. Just ten months after they began teaching ROSS bankruptcy law, the company is commercialising its first offering.

NK SINGH COMMITTEE FORMED TO REVIEW AND GIVE RECOMMENDATIONS ON FRBM ROADMAP

The Union Government constituted a five member committee to comprehensively review and give recommendations on the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) roadmap for the future.

The committee will be headed by former Revenue and Expenditure Secretary NK Singh. It has been asked to submit its report by 31 October 2016.

Other members of the Committee are Sumit Bose, former Finance and Revenue Secretary, Dr. Arvind Subramanian, Chief Economic Adviser, Urijit Patel, Deputy Governor, RBI and Rathin Roy, Director, National Institute Public Finance and Policy, NIPFP.

Terms of Reference (ToR) of the Committee are:

• It will review the working of the FRBM Act over last 12 years and suggest the way forward, keeping in view the broad objective of fiscal consolidation and prudence and the changes required in the context of the uncertainty and volatility in the global economy

• It will look into various aspects, factors, considerations going into determining the FRBM targets.

• It will examine the need and feasibility of having a ‘fiscal deficit range’ as the target in place of the existing fixed numbers (percentage of GDP) as fiscal deficit target; if so, the specific recommendations of the Committee thereon

• It will also examine the need and feasibility of aligning the fiscal expansion or contraction with credit contraction or expansion respectively in the economy.

• It will make its assessment and provide its views on the expected impact of its recommendations on the General Government deficit and other FRBM parameters.

•  It will examine and give recommendations on any other aspect considered relevant in relation to the determination and implementation of the FRBM roadmap.

The Committee may be entrusted with additional ToR, if considered necessary. In this context, the Committee may consult Departments/Agencies of Government, experts and institutions, as considered necessary, and determine its own procedures.

Background

The plan to constitute a committee was announced by the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his Budget speech for 2016-17.

DRAFT NATIONAL POLICY FOR WOMEN, 2016 UNVEILED

Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi unveiled 2016 Draft National Policy for Women for comments and consultation.

It will replace National Policy for Empowerment of Women, 2001. It will also guide Government action on Women’s issues over the next 15-20 years.

The drafted policy shifts the focus from entitlements to rights and from empowerment to creating an enabling environment.

The Salient features of the policy are as follows:

• It seeks to create a society in which women attain their full potential and participate as equal partners in all spheres of life.

• It also emphasises the role of an effective framework to enable the process of developing policies, programmes and practices which will ensure equal rights and opportunities for women.

• It seeks to create conducive socio-cultural, economic and political environment to enable women enjoy de jure and de facto fundamental rights and realize their full potential.

• It describes emerging issues such as making cyber space safe place for women, redistribution of gender roles, for reducing unpaid care work, review of personal and customary laws in accordance with the Constitutional provisions and many more.

• It wants to review of criminalization of marital rape within the framework women’s human rights etc. relevant in the developmental paradigms.

Priority Areas

Health including food security and nutrition: Focus on recognizing women’s reproductive rights, shift of family planning focus also to males, expansion of health insurance schemes and addressing the intergenerational cycle of under-nutrition.

• Education: Improve access to pre-primary education, enrolment and retention of adolescent girls, and address disparities with regard to ICTs.

• Economy: Raising visibility, engendering macro-economic policies, generate gender-disaggregated land ownership database, skill  development and equal employment opportunities with appropriate benefits related to maternity and child care services.

Governance and Decision Making: Increasing women’s participation in the political arena, administration, civil services and corporate boardrooms.

• Violence Against Women: Address all forms of violence against women through a life cycle approach, Improve Child Sex Ratio (CSR), and prevention of trafficking at source, transit and destination areas for effective monitoring of the networks.

• Enabling Environment: Gender perspective in housing and infrastructure, gender parity in the mass media & sports, and support services for all women especially the vulnerable, marginalized, migrant and single women.

Environment and Climate Change: Addressing gender concerns during distress migration and displacement in times of natural calamities due to climate change and environmental degradation. Promotion of environmental friendly, renewable, non–conventional energy, green energy sources for women in rural households.

Operational strategies

• Enabling safety and security of women: With initiatives such as One Stop Centres, Women Helpline, Mahila Police Volunteers, Reservation of women in police force, creating immediate response mechanism through panic buttons in mobiles, public and private transport, surveillance mechanisms in public places.

• Creating eco-systems to encourage entrepreneurship amongst women: Through platforms like Mahila E-Haat, dedicated theme based exhibitions, focussed skill training, mentoring through Women Entrepreneurship Council, availability of easy & affordable credit and financial inclusion.

• Training and capacity building of all stakeholders: Through Gender Champion initiative, frontline workers, women sarpanches and all officials dealing with policy and delivery systems impacting women.

Facilitating women in workplace: Through gender friendly work place, flexi timings, increased maternity leave, provision of child care/creches at workplace, life cycle health care facilities.

SBI TO MERGE 5 SUBSIDIARIES, BHARATIYA MAHILA BANK WITH ITSELF

The SBI informed the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) that it is seeking in-principle sanction of the Union Government to enter into negotiation with its 5 subsidiaries and Bharatiya Mahila Bank for acquisition.

Beside, the boards of State Bank of India (SBI) and the subsidiary banks met individually in Mumbai and decided to begin merger talks with the parent.

As per the developments, India’s largest lender is planning to acquire the businesses including assets and liabilities of the following 5 subsidiary banks and the Bharatiya Mahila Bank –

1. State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur

2. State Bank of Hyderabad

3. State Bank of Mysore

4. State Bank of Patiala

5. State Bank of Travancore

All the above six banks are Public Sector Banks (PSBs) and among these, State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Mysore and State Bank of Travancore are listed.

SBI first merged associate State Bank of Saurashtra with itself in 2008. Two years later, in 2010, State Bank of Indore was merged.

Outcomes of the merger

Though there are apprehensions that the proposed consolidation will result in job losses, the following positive outcomes are expected from the merger.

• It will resolve the non performing assets (NPAs) issue to a large extent. As per an estimate, publicly traded banks in India added nearly 1 trillion rupees in bad loans between October and December 2015.

• The new entity will help in leveraging the synergies among the banks. As a result, it will pave the way for lot of cost benefits and expansion of financial services to remote areas.

• It would create a banking behemoth with a balance sheet size of 37 trillion rupees. Its size would be more than 5 times the 7.2 trillion rupees worth ICICI Bank Ltd., which is India’s second largest lender.

• In terms of assets, the combined entity will help India to figure in the top 50 largest banks in the world. In 2015, SBI was at the 52nd place in the world in terms of assets. Post-merger, it will be figured at the 45th position.

SUDHA SINGH BREAKS 3000M STEEPLECHASE NATIONAL RECORD

Steeplechase athlete Sudha Singh set a national record in women’s 3000m steeplechase event to finish eighth at the IAAF World Diamond League held at Shanghai.

Sudha clocked 9 minutes, 26.55 seconds to finish a eighth in the second leg of the prestigious IAAF Diamond League Meet.

Who is Sudha Singh?

Born on 25 June 1986, Sudha Singh is an Indian athlete in the 3000 metres steeplechase event.

She has been a consistent performer in the 3000m steeplechase event, holding the National record in the same event for nearly 7 years.

In the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, she won the gold medal with a time of 9:55.67.

In June 2012, she qualified for Olympic Games 2012 after she broke her own 3000m steeplechase national record with a timing of 9:47.70 secs.

In the 2014 Asian Games held in Incheon, South Korea, she finished fourth, one place behind Lalita Babar. Babar also broke Sudha's national record, clocking 9:35.37 in the process. However, when the gold medallist Ruth Jebet from Bahrain was disqualified on account of stepping inside the track before crossing the line, Sudha was promoted and won the bronze medal.

In August 2015, she sealed her spot in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with a 19th-place finish in the women's marathon event.

FC BARCELONA WINS LA LIGA CHAMPIONS PARADE 2016

Barcelona FC retained the Spanish league title La Liga with 3-0 score against Granada in the final match.

Luis Suárez finished as top scorer, being the first player apart from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to do so since the 2008–09 season.

The football club finished the tournament with 91 points in total. It is Barcelona FC's fifth straight win and eighth league title in 12 seasons.

Football Club Real Madrid finished second with a 2-0 win over Deportivo.

About FC Barcelona

FC Barcelona is a football club founded in 1899 by a group of Swiss, English and Catalan footballers led by Joan Gamper.

It is the second most valuable sports team in the world, worth 3.56 billion US dollar.

It is also the world's second richest football club in terms of revenue, with an annual turnover of 560.8 million euro.

Barcelona's players have won a record number of Ballon d'Or awards (11), as well as a record number of FIFA World Player of the Year awards (7).

In 2009, Barcelona became the first Spanish club to win the continental treble consisting of La Liga, Copa del Rey, and the UEFA Champions League.

About La Liga

La Liga is the top professional association football division of the Spanish football league system.

It is contested by 20 teams, with the three lowest-placed teams relegated to the Segunda Division and replaced by the top two teams in that division plus the winner of a play-off.

Real Madrid had won the title for a record 32 times and Barcelona has won it 24 times.

INDIAN ARTIST ANJALI CHANDRASHEKAR WINS AWARD AT UN POSTER FOR PEACE CONTEST

Indian artist Anjali Chandrashekar won the third prize in UN Poster for Peace contest presented by the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (ODA) to raise awareness of the need for nuclear disarmament.

Her poster titled ‘Cutting Barriers through Peace’ featured a peace dove slicing through a nuclear weapon.

Winners of UN poster contest on N-disarmament

• The first prize was won by Ivan Ciro Palomino Huamani from Peru for his poster titled ‘Spinning Peace’.

• Second prize was won by Michelle Li for her poster titled ‘Peace in our Hands’, which had  featured a shadow puppet of a peace dove above a broken nuclear weapon.

• Apart from the three winners, nine honourable mentions were chosen from among more than 4100 entries representing 123 countries.

About Anjali Chandrashekar

• She is a New York-based designer and activist.

• At the age of 10, She founded Picture It, a non-governmental organisation.

• Her NGO uses imagery to raise awareness and funds for various health, humanitarian and environmental causes.

Background
The UN Poster for Peace contest was organised to commemorate the anniversary of the very first UN General Assembly resolution adopted in 1946 establishing a Commission to deal with problems related to the discovery of atomic energy.

THE INDIAN AIR FORCE TEST-FIRED A LAND-ATTACK VERSION OF BRAHMOS, IN THE WESTERN SECTOR

  • The Indian Air Force successfully test-fired a land-attack version of the supersonic cruise missile, BrahMos, in the western sector.
  • The flight-trial which took place in a firing range in the western sector, met its mission parameters, a BrahMos press release said. The missile destroyed a designated target.
  • Its accuracy in mountain warfare mode was re-established during a campaign by the Army in the eastern sector last year and repeated last month.
  • This brings to light that the IAF too has been equipped with the land-attack version of BrahMos, which flies at a supersonic speed of Mach 3. The Navy and the Army have already deployed the two-stage missile, which has a range of 290 km.
  • The IAF had deployed the missile in the border areas to take out the enemy’s communication towers, runways, and radar in case of a conflict.
  • The IAF is preparing to fire the air version of BrahMos from its Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter aircraft in the coming weeks.

DEFENCE MINISTER SAYS TEJAS WOULD BE THE MAINSTAY OF THE INDIAN AIR FORCE

  • Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said the indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas would be the mainstay of the Indian Air Force and would likely replace the entire MIG-21 fleet of almost 250 fighters.
  • “LCA is mainstay. There will be seven squadrons of it. It is 3-4 times better than MiG-21s,” he told while giving an overview of the IAF modernisation plans.
  • About 250 MiG-21s were in service, most of which would be phased out in the next 10-15 years, Mr. Parrikar said, adding that they would be “replaced by the LCA and another single-engine fighter.”
  • Mirage and Jaguar upgrade programmes were currently under way which, Mr. Parrikar said, would add 10-30 years to their life.
  • The improved version of LCA referred to as Mk-1A with four major improvements over the Mk-1 variant has been offered by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) as an interim measure in view of the delay in LCA-MK2.
  • However, the LCA being a single-engine, light-weight fighter, it has its limitations, which is why another twin-engine fighter would be needed other than the Rafale.
  • Functionally, the LCA is better than many other foreign fighters. It reacts very smoothly, fly-by-wire, its turn radius is very good, manoeuvrability is very good but it has limitation in the sense that it is a light combatant.
  • It cannot go into deep penetration… It is mostly good for dogfights in your own sky or to degrade the opponent Army’s command posts,” Mr. Parrikar observed

T.S.R. SUBRAMANIAN COMMITTEE SUBMITTED ITS REPORT TO THE HRD MINISTRY

  • A committee headed by the former Cabinet secretary T.S.R. Subramanian for the evolution of the soon-to-be-announced national education policy submitted its report to the Human Resource Development Ministry.
  • The Committee has examined the large body of outcome documents, recommendations and suggestions received from the various consultations.
  • The Committee also had several meetings with various stakeholders and held regional consultations as well as undertaken field visits to educational institutions.

US PRESIDENT PAID MOVING TRIBUTE TO VICTIMS OF THE FIRST ATOMIC BOMB

  • Barack Obama paid moving tribute to victims of the first atomic bomb, offering a comforting embrace to a tearful man who survived the devastating attack on Hiroshima.
  • In a ceremony loaded with symbolism, the first sitting U.S. President to visit the city clasped hands with one survivor and hugged another after speaking about the day that marked one of the most terrifying chapters of World War-II.
  • Mr. Obama also chatted with a smiling Sunao Tsuboi (91), who had earlier said he wanted to tell the U.S. President how grateful he was for his visit.
  • The trip comes more than seven decades after the Enola Gay bomber dropped its deadly atomic payload, dubbed “Little Boy”, over the western Japanese city.
  • The bombing claimed the lives of 140,000 people.
  • As expected, Mr. Obama offered no apology for the bombings, having insisted that he would not revisit decisions made by Truman at the close of a brutal war.
  • Shinzo Abe praised the “courage” of the visit, which he said offered hope for a nuclear free future.

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT IN GREECE TO REINFORCE THEIR RELATIONSHIP

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin was in Greece in a visit aimed at reinforcing a relationship with one of his few friends in the European Union (EU) amid tensions with the West.
  • The visit comes at a low ebb in relations between Russia and Europe over the conflict in Ukraine that broke out in 2014, with sanctions still in force against Moscow.
  • It also comes as Athens desperately seeks to come out of recession. Greek officials say increased trade with Russia could play a part in recovery efforts.
  • EU leaders are to discuss next month whether to renew sanctions on Russia’s banking, defence and energy sectors that expire in July.
  • While the sanctions are likely to be extended, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said resistance is growing within the EU to extending them, and a unanimous vote is required.
  • Italy and Hungary have been among the most sceptical while Poland and the Baltic states have repeatedly pressed for maintaining pressure on Moscow.
  • Greek leader Alexis Tsipras, urged Europe to cooperate with Russia, and to move away from what he branded a futile cycle of sanctions and militarisation.

PRESUMPTIVE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE PROMISES TO INCREASE OIL AND GAS PRODUCTION

  • With a view to overturn the existing U.S. policies, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has promised to increase oil and gas production and to incentivise fracking, while ridiculing renewable energy technologies.
  • This is the first time that he has promised to scrap the deal altogether. Throughout his campaign season, he has been stating that he would “at minimum renegotiate” the Paris deal.
  • Republicans and conservatives have been increasingly sceptical of the science of climate change, while Democrats and liberals are convinced of the phenomenon and that human interventions caused it.
  • For Hillary Clinton, Mr. Trump’s position could turn out to be advantageous.
  • While there is convergence between Mr. Trump and Mr. Sanders on a range of popular issues, climate change is one topic that places them miles apart.
  • Jobs and wages are the primary issues likely to determine the polls this year and both Mr. Trump and Ms. Clinton articulate their respective positions within that framework.
  • Mr. Trump has said that a regulation or rule should be tested by the single question of whether or not it is “good for the American worker”.
  • He holds that climate priorities are damaging the American economy and its workers. Ms. Clinton on the other hand, has been trying to project the challenges posed by climate change as a big opportunity to create jobs in clean technologies.
  • When it comes to the India-U.S. bilateral ties, combating climate change has been repeatedly cited as a key area of cooperation.
  • One of the main arguments in favour of the civil nuclear deal was that it will reduce carbon emissions in a fast growing economy.

NEW BIOCHIP FOR CANCER DETECTION

  • Scientists have created a hydrogel-based biochip with 3D cells to help diagnose colorectal cancer — the third most common type of cancer.
  • Bowel cancer i.e. colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common type of cancer and it develops with minimal clinical symptoms in the early stages. Despite doctors' efforts, the 5-year survival rate does not exceed 36%.
  • Treatment is only effective, and patients only have a good chance of recovery, if the cancer is detected early.
  • Diagnostic methods that are currently in use are not sufficient.
  • Analyses carried out in vitro have low specificity and invasive studies such as colonoscopy are not only traumatic.
  • they are also not always suitable for an early diagnosis, as they do not give a complete picture of the development and distribution of colorectal cancer.

US TO SUPPORT INDIA’S BID TO NSG

  • The U.S. Senate is likely to pass an amendment to the 2017 National Defence Authorisation Act that seeks to ease defence trade with India to the level of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) allies and close partners of the U.S.
  • The House of Representatives has already passed amendments similar to the proposed Senate Bill, but the details vary between the two.
  • U.S. legislative process requires both Chambers to reconcile their individual versions of similar Bills, and pass a combined version before sending for the approval of the President.
  • Once the President signs them into law, the amendments will enable defence trade between the U.S. and India on automatic route for a range of equipment, bypassing the bureaucratic and legislative hurdles in the existing case by case approval process.
  • The amendment Bill incorporates provisions from the stand-alone ‘Advancing U.S.-India Defence Cooperation’ Bill moved earlier by Senators Mark Warner and John Cornyn earlier this month.

FDI INFLOW RECORDED $40 BILLION

  • Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows into India increased by 29 per cent to a record $40 billion during in the financial year ended March.
  • If re-invested earnings ($10 billion), other capital ($4.4 billion) and equity capital of unincorporated bodies ($1 billion) are taken into account along with $40 billion worth equity inflows, the total FDI flows in FY'16 is the highest-ever at $55.4 billion.
  • The FDI equity inflows in March 2016 went up by 16.5 per cent to $2.46 billion, according to data released by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP).
  • Of the FDI inflows (equity) in FY'16, services sector attracted maximum investments of $6.88 billion followed by computer hardware and software ($5.90 billion), trading business ($3.84 billion) and automobile industry ($2.52 billion).
  • Maximum inflows (equity) were from Singapore ($13.69 billion), followed by Mauritius ($8.35 billion), the US ($4.19 billion), the Netherlands ($2.64 billion) and Japan ($2.61 billion).
  • The previous highest FDI inflow was in FY12 when the country received $46.55 billion, which was a 34 per cent increase over $34.8 billion it got in FY11.
  • However, India recorded its largest-ever percentage increase in FDI when it received $22.8 billion in FY07, representing a 155 per cent increase over the $8.9 billion in FY06.

THE CENTRE IS SET TO REGULATE PRIVATE EMPLOYMENT AGENCIES

  • The Centre is set to regulate private employment agencies by amending the contract labour law of 1971.
  • The agencies won't be allowed to take money from candidates for jobs and hiring agencies who “dupe workers' would soon be weeded out.
  • The labour ministry would have to amend the contract labour Act of 1970. According to him, some quarters have looked upon contract workers as undesirable due to the industrial unrest in recent years, stemming from poor quality of jobs and the individuals being vulnerable to false hopes.
  • There are several staffing agencies that dupe people in the guise of getting them employed after charging them hefty amounts.
  • Trade unions are also in favour of the regulation. “The number of staffing agencies is growing and is largely unregulated and they mislead the workers.
  • There is no official website to check the authenticity of a particular agency. We need transparency and trade unions are willing to make the regulation a success,” Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh general secretary said.

TATA GROUP MADE FORAY INTO ECO MERCY THROUG TATACLIQ.COM

  • The 148-year-old Tata Group has made a foray into the Indian ecommerce market through TataCLiQ.com.
  • The venture will sell apparel, electronics and footwear among other products.
  • Currently, there are only 30 million regular online shoppers in India and there is immense potential to bring the next 100 million.
  • The group said it developed the Tata Cliq website over a year-and-a-half at a cost of “several hundred million dollars”.
  • The site would act as a marketplace for its in-house and partner companies. The venture marks a new direction for the salt-to-steel conglomerate which has so far focused on physical retail stores.
  • Customers can order online at TataCLiQ and get the items home-delivered or pick them up at designated stores, a model the company termed “phygital,” a combination of physical and digital.
  • “Phygital” play can be a game changer in e-commerce, significantly enhancing customer experience while reducing logistics and delivery costs for a long-term, profitable business.
  • Start-ups Flipkart, Snapdeal and U.S.-based Amazon are battling it out for market share in the country.
  • E-commerce giant Alibaba is looking to enter the India market. By 2025, online merchandise sales will hit $220 billion in India from $11 billion last year, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

 

 

 


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Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 June 2016 03:16
 

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