Current Affairs: 24 May 2017

RBI to reconstitute oversight committee to deal with bad loans

  • The Reserve Bankwill reconstitute the oversight committee (OC) under its aegis to operationalise the banking ordinance for resolving the issue of bad loans that have soared to over Rs 8 lakh crore.
  • The central bank said it has been decided to reconstitute the OC under the aegis of the central bank and also proposed to enlarge the committee to include more members so that it can constitute requisite benches to deal with the volume of cases referred.
  • The existing OC, which has two members, was constituted by the Indian Banks' Association (IBA).
  • Outlining the action plan to implement the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, the RBI said it is also working on a framework to facilitate an "objective and consistent" decision-making process for cases that may be referenced for resolution under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC).

Rijiju unveils world's first philosophical novel on God in Delhi

  • In a rare feat, a young Indian IAS officer, Haulianlal Guite, who hails from country's most remote areas of Manipur state has recently published a book titled "Confessions of a dying mind: the blind faith of atheism" in New Delhi.
  • The book was unveiled by Union Minister Kiren Rijiju in presence of David Syiemlieth, Chairman, UPSC in august gathering at Civil Services Officers' Institute 
  • The book billed as "the world's first philosophical novel for God", whose author is arguably the first Indian civil servant to write on philosophy since John Stuart Mill published On Liberty way back in 1858.
  • The book explores the nature of science, religion, evidence and even love in light of leading developments. It makes use of the latest findings of modern science and the most solid theories in philosophy.
  • Confessions of a Dying Mind" also presents some interesting arguments against atheism by using the theories and findings of atheists themselves.
  • "Confessions of the dying mind" is the first of the three volumes and arguments and storylines of the novel are yet to be completed, the author disclosed.
  • The book is published by Bloomsbury Publishing, a British independent, worldwide publishing house of fiction and non-fiction.

World's smallest nation ratifies Solar Alliance Pact

  • The world’s smallest republic, the tiny island nation of Nauru — has become the sixth country to ratify the International Solar Alliance (ISA) Framework pact initiated by the Indian and French governments at the climate change summit held at Paris in 2015.
  • Five more African nations — Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Somalia, Ghana and Djibouti — have committed to sign the Solar Alliance pact during the ongoing meeting of the African Development bank in India.
  • Nauru, which has a population of just 10,200-odd and the highest point on its terrain is only 65 metres above sea leve, is particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, said the country’s commerce, industry and environment minister Aaron Cook before handing over the ratification document to Union Finance, Defence and Corporate Affairs Minister Arun Jaitley 

IIT-Kharagpur signs MoU with Madhya Pradesh for measuring happiness index

  • IIT Kharagpur's Rekhi Centre of Excellence for the Science of Happiness has signed an MoU with Madhya Pradesh government to collaborate on the development of a Happiness Index for measuring the well-being of the people of the state. 
  • The MoU was signed with MP government's 'Rajya Anandam Sansthan' (Department of Happiness) in the presence of MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and IIT-KGP Director Prof P P Chakrabarti at Bhopal recently, an IIT-KGP 
  • IIT-KGP will develop the index and analyse data collected by the state government to assess the level of happiness and chalk out recommendations that can be used to enhance happiness 
  • It will also develop an online screening and assessment system in order to screen and identify suitable volunteers from the database of more than 30,000 people who have offered to be part of the collaborative exercise. 

Paytm launches payments bank; offers 4% interest

  • Targeting 500 million customers by 2020, digital payments firm Paytm on Tuesday launched its payments bank with 4 percent interest rate and cashbacks on deposits, zero fees on online transactions and no minimum balance requirement.
  • Backed by Chinese firm Alibaba and Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, the company has earmarked initial investment of Rs 400 crore to build its banking network over two years.
  • Paytm is the third entity in the country to launch a payments bank after Airtel and India Post.
  • This will be a mobile-first product with first-of-its- kind feature of cashback on deposits. Every customer, to open a Payments Bank account, will get a cashback of Rs 250 as soon they bring deposits of a total of Rs 25,000 in their bank account.
  • The account will have zero balance requirement and every online transaction (such as IMPS, NEFT, RTGS) will be free of charge

Paytm to bank on two new board members

  • Paytm Payments Bank has roped in two new independent directors - former executive director of the Reserve Bank of India PV Bhaskar and former Shriram Group director GS Sundarajan -who have joined the five member board. 
  • Apart from Paytm CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma and Renu Satti, CEO of Paytm Payments Bank, the board also includes Paytm cofounder Ash Lilani. 
  • Paytm held a board meeting to formally approve the launch of the Paytm Payments Bank, which kicked off it its banking operations. 
  • Sharma will be the non-executive chairman of the board, while Satti will be director on the board. Bhaskar, Lilani and Sundarajan have joined the board as independent directors. 
  • Bhaskar, who has over three decades of work experience at the banking regulator, was heading the central security cell, Department of Banking Supervision and Department of Non-Banking Supervision till recently.

The first one-bit chemical memory unit—the 'chit'

  • In classical computer science, information is stored in bits; in quantum computer science, information is stored in quantum bits, or qubits. Experiments at the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw prove that chemistry is also a suitable basis for storing information. The chemical bit, or 'chit,' is a simple arrangement of three droplets in contact with each other, in which oscillatory reactions occur.
  • The chemical foundation of this form of memory is the Belousov-Zhabotinsky (BZ) reaction. The course of the reaction is oscillatory. 
  • When one cycle ends, the reagents necessary to start the next cycle are reconstituted in the solution. 
  • Before the reaction stops, there are usually several tens to hundreds of oscillations.
  • They are accompanied by a regular change in the colour of the solution, caused by ferroin—the reaction catalyst. 
  • The second catalyst used by the Warsaw researchers was ruthenium. 
  • The introduction of ruthenium causes the BZ reaction to become photosensitive—when the solution is illuminated by blue light, it ceases to oscillate. This feature makes it possible to control the course of the reaction.

Google's AlphaGo A.I. beats world's number one in ancient game of Go

  • Google computer beat the world's number one player of the ancient Chinese board game Go, signifying a major breakthrough in artificial intelligence.
  • Global champ Chinese player Ke Jie, lost his first game against Google DeepMind computer program AlphaGo in Wuzhen. 
  • With two remaining matches, Ke, 19, could still obliterate AlphaGo and take home $1.5 million in prize money, maintaining his status as the absolute best. 
  • But if he loses, that would solidify machine domination in one of the world's most complex games.
  • The game, Go, originated thousands of years ago in China, and has two players taking turns placing black and white stones on a square board of 19 lines by 19 lines. 
  • The object is to take territorial control of the board by surrounding the opponent. Games can go on for hours, and playing requires immense mental stamina, intuition, and strategy.
  • AlphaGo was trained by studying how human experts have played in the past

Dubai has recruited the world's first robot police officer

  • Dubai will now have a robot patrolling the city streets as a police officer.
  • The world's first operational robot police officer was officially inducted into the Dubai police force at the 4th Gulf Information Security Expo and Conference (GISEC) 
  • This robot -- or as it is know, the robocop -- is around 5-foot tall and weighs a 100kg. It can not only identify hand gestures from a distance of up to 1.5 metres, but can also detect people's emotions and facial expressions.
  • In other words, the robocop can tell when you are happy, sad or even smiling, and will itself respond accordingly "to put people at ease".
  • The robocop will not just be a great help for the police force, but also for law-abiding citizens. People in Dubai can use its built-in tablet device to complete various police services.
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