Daily GK Update 14th January, 2016 Important Current Affairs

1. Cabinet approves crop insurance scheme PMFBY
i. The union cabinet on Wednesday approved the crop insurance scheme Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) to boost the farming sector and ensure farmers' welfare. "The new Crop Insurance Scheme is in line with One Nation - One Scheme theme. It incorporates the best features of all previous schemes and at the same time, all previous shortcomings/weaknesses have been removed," said a ministry of agriculture statement.
ii. Under PMFBY, the farmers are required to pay a uniform premium of two percent for all Kharif crops and 1.5 percent for all Rabi crops while it is five percent for annual commercial and horticultural crops.
iii. "The premium rates to be paid by farmers are very low and balance premium will be paid by the government to provide full insured amount to the farmers against crop loss on account of natural calamities," the statement said.
iv. With no upper cap on government subsidy, even if the balance premium is 90 percent, the government will bear it. The earlier practice of capping the premium rate has been done away with as it resulted in low claims being paid to farmers, the statement said.
v. "This capping (premium rate) has now been removed and farmers will get claim against full sum insured without any reduction," the statement added.
vi. To enable faster claims payment, the government intends to encourage use of technology and smartphones to capture and upload data on crop harvesting and also deploy remote sensing to reduce crop cutting experiments.

2. WHO declares world’s worst ever Ebola outbreak over
i. The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced today that the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged west Africa for two years was over after Liberia, the last affected country, received the all-clear. “Today the World Health Organisation declares the end of the most recent outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Liberia and says all known chains of transmission have been stopped in West Africa,” the UN health agency said.
ii. WHO stressed though that “the job is not over,” warning “more flare-ups are expected.” “We need to remain engaged,” Peter Graaff, WHO director responsible for Ebola response, told reporters. One of the most feared diseases in the world, Ebola killed more than 11,000 people across west Africa after it surfaced in southern Guinea in December 2013.
iii. At its peak, the tropical haemorrhagic virus devastated Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, scything lives and dealing a hammer blow to weak economies and fragile health systems. The announcement came 42 days — the equivalent of two incubation periods of the virus — after the last Ebola cases in Liberia were tested negative. Liberia, the country worst hit by the outbreak with 4,800 deaths, discharged its last two patients from hospital — the father and younger brother of a 15-year-old victim — on December 3, 2015.
iv. The outbreak infected almost 29,000 people and claimed 11,315 lives, according to official data. But the real toll is suspected to be much higher, with many Ebola deaths believed to have gone unreported. Fighting stigma and resistance to containment measures were among the many challenges facing Ebola workers on the front line.
v. Today marked the third time that Liberia has been given the all-clear. The country was the first of the three to be declared free of human-to-human Ebola transmission in May, only to see the virus resurface six weeks later. Liberia was officially credited with beating the epidemic for a second time in September before another small cluster of cases emerged.
vi. The WHO came under fire for its sluggish response to the epidemic, which local healthcare systems were woefully underequipped to handle. Over 500 healthcare workers died in three west African countries in the eye of the outbreak.

3. Sikkim Becomes India's First Fully Organic State
i. Sikkim has become India's first fully organic state by converting around 75,000 hectares of agricultural land into sustainable cultivation. "We have achieved fully-organic status in the end of December. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will formally announce this at a sustainable agriculture conference in Gangtok on January 18," said Sikkim Organic Mission's executive director Dr Anbalagan.
ii. He said around 75,000 hectares of agricultural land was gradually converted to certified organic land by implementing organic practices and principles as per guidelines laid down in National Programme for Organic Production.
iii. It was 12 years ago in 2003 when the Pawan Chamling-led government decided to make Sikkim an organic farming state through a declaration in the legislative assembly. Later the entry of chemical inputs for farmland was restricted and their sale banned. Farmers therefore had no option but to go organic. Organic cultivation is free of chemical pesticides and chemical fertilisers as it tries to strike a harmonious balance with a complex series of ecosystems.
iv. In the long term, organic farming leads in subsistence of agriculture, bio-diversity conservation and environmental protection, agriculture secretary Khorlo Bhutia said. Sustainable farming will also help in building the soil health resulting in sustainable increased crop production, he said.
v. Besides it will also boost the tourism industry in the tiny landlocked Himalayan state. Resorts have already been marketing themselves as completely organic where tourists can pluck, cook and relish fresh organic food from their kitchen gardens.

4. SBI launches dedicated branch for start-ups in Bengaluru
i. State Bank of India launched its wealth management offering and inaugurated a dedicated branch for start-ups here today. While the wealth management service 'Exclusif' is targeted at the fast-growing affluent segment in the country, 'SBI InCube' -the branch for start-ups - would offer advisory services to the budding entrepreneurs under one roof, SBI Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya told reporters here.
ii. Initially, SBI InCube would not be providing loans, but give start-ups financial management services, she said. However, the bank would love to give them loans when they turn more mature than, Bhattacharya said. "Actually funding could be done when they become a little more mature or they have sufficient number of orders for scaling the companies. Surely, then they can become good candidates for funding," she said.
iii. Asked whether SBI would help start-ups to raise funds from equity market, she said, as of now, it is not the bank's part of the mandate. 'SBI InCube' would be useful tostart-ups because they need financial management advice apartfrom providing financial help. "We still believe we will be useful to the start-upsthough we are not giving them financial help, becausefinancing is not the only thing that start-ups need. What theyreally need is a lot of financial management advice. So, wehope this kind of service will help them a lot," she said.
iv. To a query, SBI Managing Director (National Banking Group) Rajnish Kumar said after Bengaluru, the bank isthinking of launching the project in Pune and NCR, as much of start-up activities are taking place in these three centres. Talking about the partnerships, Bhattacharya said the bank has been in touch with its mentors including former Infosysians Mohandas Pai and Nandan Nilekani who are guiding iton needs of start-up companies.
v. On SBI Exclusif, Bhattacharya said it proposes tobring to customers a completely different and new approach tointeracting with the Bank. The customers will have access to a dedicated Relationship Manager to take care of all theirbanking and investment needs. Further, customers will have access to the best products across categories from market leading institutions as the bank has introduced an open platform, Bhattacharya said.

5. Pilot project on DBT for kerosene to start soon: Pradhan
i. In order to cover more households under Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme, the union minister of state (Independent charge) for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Dharmendra Pradhan on Wednesday informed that soon kerosene consumers would be able to get their subsidy directly into their bank accounts. The Centre will rollout a pilot project in 33 districts across the country, he said.
ii. "We are especially working to further the reach of LPG connections in tribal and rural areas. In the coming days, all needy people who buy kerosene will get subsidy amount directly in their bank. We will start pilot scheme in 33 districts across the country including seven districts in Gujarat," Pradhan informed here after meeting the State Government officials.
iii. In order to chalk out a plan for seamless implementation, Pradhan met state minister for civil supplies Bhupendrasinh Chudasama along with secretaries of the concerned departments and 7 district collectors from Gujarat.
iv. Pradhan maintained that Government of India's Petroleum and Natural Gas Department has the biggest Public Distribution System (PDS). "Daily 3 crore people in India visit petrol pumps, kerosene retailers, and LPG distributors to buy petroleum products. Government of India and various state governments are working on a detailed scheme to ensure smooth reach of petroleum products," he added.
v. The Ministry is currently focusing on increasing the reach of LPG connections in tribal and rural areas. In Gujarat, the pilot project of DBT scheme for kerosene will be taken up in seven districts having large tribal population. These districts will be Banaskantha, Chhota Udepur, Ahmedabad rural, Bharuch, Dang, Porbandar and Devbhumi Dwarka.

6. R Shivakumar appointed Chairman of Assocham Karnataka
i. R Shivakumar, Chairman of Kumar Group of companies, Bengaluru, has been appointed as the Chairman of Assocham Karnataka Regional Council, the new regional outfit of Assocham, New Delhi.
ii. S Babu, Chairman of Ashwin Precision Products, has been appointed as Co-Chairman of Assocham Karnataka Regional Council.
iii. The new revamped regional council of Assocham in Karnataka is expected to play a significant role in the development of industry and trade in the state.

7. Subhashini Vasanth honoured with Neerja Bhanot Award
i. Bengaluru-based activist Subhashini Vasanth on 13 January 2016 was honoured with Neerja Bhanot Award. She was presented the award for her endeavour to help people in distress and for empowering widows of martyrs and their families across the country. Bollywood actor Sonam Kapoor presented the award to Vasanth at a ceremony held in Chandigarh.
ii. Subhashini Vasanth lost her husband Col Vasanth V, who was posthumously awarded the Ashok Chakra in 2008 for his selfless, supreme sacrifice while fighting terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir. Since the death of her husband, she has been helping the families of martyrs.
iii. She started the Vasantharatna Foundation in memory of her husband. The foundation provides education scholarships, conducted empowerment programmes and outbound learning programmes for women and children. Subhashini is also a Bharatnatyam exponent known for her intense abhinaya and immaculate footwork. She and Veena Prasad have co-authored the biography of Col Vasanth, titled Forever Forty.
iv. The Neerja Bhanot Award is an award of recognition conferred once a year by the The Neerja Bhanot Pan Am Trust in India. It is awarded to an Indian woman, subjected to social injustice, who faces the situation with grit and determination and extends help to other women in similar distress.
v. The annual Neerja Bhanot Award was instituted in 1990 and named in honour of Senior Flight Purser, Neerja Bhanot, who saved hundreds of lives while sacrificing her own, during a Pan Am Flight 73 hijack at Karachi Airport in September 1986.

8. Sachin opens railway police safety drive
i. Master blaster and former captain of the Indian cricket team Sachin Tendulkar on Wednesday launched two safety and awareness initiatives by the Mumbai Railway Police. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Tendulkar expressed concern over the number of fatalities on railway tracks each year and recalled an incident in his teenage years after which he had resolved never to cross railway tracks again.
ii. The two initiatives, SAMEEP (Safety Alert Messages Exclusively For Passengers) and B-SAFE, were launched at the Railway Police headquarters in Wadi Bunder by Mr Tendulkar and Railway Police Commissioner Madhukar Pandey.
iii. “SAMEEP is an effort towards instant communication with railway passengers in case of any eventualities. As part of this initiative, we aim to send out text messages to passengers about important developments or disruptions, safety advisories, updates about women’s security and accurate information about developments to dispel any rumours.
iv. B-SAFE is a prolonged multimedia awareness campaign to educate the public about various precautions they should take for safe commuting. The campaign will consist of putting up theme based posters across railway station platforms, distribution of pamphlets and awareness meetings of commuter associations, educational institutions, etc,” Mr Pandey said.
v. Mr Tendulkar said the number of deaths on the tracks was worrying. “The general feeling is that crossing railway tracks will save us five minutes. But this also means that we are breaking the law and risking our lives for the sake of five minutes,” he said.

9. UNICEF presented David Beckham with Danny Kaye Humanitarian Leadership Award
i. David Beckham on 12 January 2016 was presented with the Danny Kaye Humanitarian Leadership Award at the sixth biennial UNICEF Ball in Los Angeles. Sir Elton John and David Furnish presented the award to Beckham at the event, honouring him for his tireless work to save and improve the lives of children around the world.
ii. Beckham has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2005. In 2015, the footballer launched 7: The David Beckham UNICEF Fund, making a personal commitment to use his voice, influence and connections to raise vital funds and rally for lasting change for children.
iii. The Danny Kaye Humanitarian Leadership Award is named after Danny Kaye, star of Hans Christian Andersen and White Christmas. Kaye was one of the world’s most beloved entertainers. He was the first ever celebrity representative for UNICEF, and was a Goodwill Ambassador from 1954 until his death in 1987.

Daily GK Update 14th January, 2016 Important Current Affairs Daily GK Update 14th January, 2016 Important Current Affairs Reviewed by Job today on 20:45 Rating: 5

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