Current Affairs - December 2015 and 2016

Current Affairs - December 2015

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                                            Current Affairs - 31st December 2015
 
1.  Union Govt unveils National Biotechnology Development Strategy 2015-2020

i. Union Government has unveiled National Biotechnology Development Strategy (NBDS) 2015-2020 to establish India as a world-class bio-manufacturing hub.
 
ii. It was unveiled by the Union Science and Technology Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan in New Delhi.

2. Dr Gyanendra D Bandgaiyan appointed DG of National Centre for Good Governance

i. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) on 30 December 2015 approved the appointment of Dr Gyanendra D Bandgaiyan as the Director General of the National Centre for Good Governance.

ii. He will be in the office for a period of three years which is extendable by another two years or up to 60 years of age, whichever is earlier.

iii. The 54-year-old Bandgaiyan is a former IAS officer of the Union Territories cadre. He hails from Madhya Pradesh.

3. Union Cabinet approves Raptor MoU for conservation of migratory birds of prey

i. The Union Cabinet has given its approval to sign Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia.

ii. This MoU is also called as the ‘Raptor MoU’ under the Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS). With signing it, India will become the 54th signatory to the MoU.

iii. About Raptor MoU

*
It is an agreement under Article IV paragraph 4 of the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) and is not legally binding on signatory parties.
* The MoU seeks willingness of the signatory states for working for conservation of the raptor species and their habitats.
* The Raptors MoU extends its coverage to 76 species of birds of prey out and an action plan has been formulated that envisages the conservation action for Raptor species.

4. Bjorn Isberg named as Tournament Director of 2016 Hockey India League
i. Sweden's Bjorn Isberg on 30 December 2015 was appointed as the Tournament Director of Coal India Hockey India League (HIL), the premier league for hockey in India.

ii. On the other hand, Muthukumar Balakrisnan from Malaysia was given the role of the Assistant Tournament Director in the 4th edition of the Coal India Hockey India League.

iii. Andy Mair from Scotland was named as the umpire's manager for the league.

5. BHEL commissions Prayagraj power project unit in UP
i. State-run Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has commissioned a 660 MW unit of Prayagraj Super Thermal Power Project at Bara town in Allahabad district of Uttar Pradesh.

ii. This is the first supercritical thermal unit to be commissioned in the state to achieve capacity addition on attaining full load.

iii. It is Greenfield thermal power project is owned by Prayagraj Power Generation Company Limited (PPGCL), a subsidiary company of Jaiprakash Power Ventures Limited.

iv. Super-critical units are generally eco-friendly and more efficient thermal power plants as they consume less coal as fuel.

6. Japan and South Korea reached Agreement on Issue of Comfort Women

i. Japan and South Korea on 28 December 2015 reached an Agreement on Issue of Comfort Women.

ii. The agreement was reached after a meeting between Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan and Yun Byung-se, Minister of Foreign Affairs of South Korea in Seoul.

iii. It aims to resolve a decades-old dispute over Korean women who were used as sex slaves by Japanese soldiers during World War II.

iv. The agreement is considered as historic as the issue had been a bone of contention between the countries for decades.

7.  Union Govt approves constitution of 69 bridges on Trilateral Highway in Myanmar
i. The Union Cabinet has approved the construction of 69 Bridges including Approach Roads on the Tamu-Kyigone-Kalewa (TKK) road section of the Trilateral Highway in Myanmar.

ii. Decision in this regard was taken by Union Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. These bridges will be constructed at a cost of Rs.371.58 crore and shall impart all weather usability to the TKK road section.

8. Union Cabinet gives nod for India-Australia Civil Nuclear Cooperation deal

i. The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the India-Australia Civil Nuclear Cooperation deal that came into force on November 13, 2015.

ii. The deal along with the administrative arrangement for implementing the accord will bolster India’s energy security by supporting the expansion of nuclear power in the country.

Background

*
India and Australia had started talks on the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement in 2012 after Australia had lifted the long-standing ban on selling uranium to energy-starved India.
*
The cooperation agreement was signed between two countries in September 2014 to sell uranium as a nuclear fuel for peaceful power generation.
* India-Australia Nuclear Cooperation deal follows similar agreements signed by India with the US and France after western sanctions were lifted in 2008.

                                            Current Affairs - 30th December 2015
 
1. WHO officially declared Guinea Ebola-free


i. The World Health Organization (WHO) on 29 December 2015 declared the end of Ebola virus transmission in the Republic of Guinea. The organization took the decision after observing that 42 days have passed since the last person confirmed to have Ebola virus disease and tested negative now.

ii. Guinea now enters a 90-day period of heightened surveillance to ensure that any new cases are identified quickly before they can spread to other people. The decision came after more than 2500 people died from the virus in the West African nation. With this, Liberia becomes the only country still counting down for an end to this ruinous epidemic.

iii. The end of Ebola transmission in Guinea marks an important milestone in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The original chain of transmission started two years ago in Gueckedou, Guinea in late December 2013.

iv. The outbreak later spread to neighbouring countries Liberia and Sierra Leone and ultimately travelled to seven other countries. The total number of people infected with Ebola eventually totalled more than 28000. And the number of people who died from the disease reached more than 11200.

v. In addition to the original chain of transmission, there have been 10 new small Ebola outbreaks between March and November 2015. These appear to have been due to the re-emergence of a persistent virus from the survivor population. This is for the first time that all three countries Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have stopped the original chains of transmission that were responsible for starting this devastating outbreak.

2. HAL ties up with Russian firm Rostech to build 200 Kamov helicopters


i. Under the "Make in India" initiative, Russian firm Rostech State Corporation has tied up with India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to manufacture 200 Kamov 226T light helicopters. The new fleet of Kamovs will replace the ageing Cheetah and Chetak helicopters.

ii. The deal is estimated to be worth $1 billion, according to Press Trust of India report. It is believed Rostech will organise the production of the Kamov helicopters for at least 200 units.

iii. Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. The two leaders signed a deal for Russian Kamovs to be manufactured in India under the "Make in India" initiative. The agreement also proiveded for maintenance, operation and repair facility of the helicopters in India.

iv. Of the 181 Cheetah and Chetak helicopters held by Indian Army, 51 were approximately 40 years old and 78 were between 30-40 years old, Press Trust of India quoted a CAG report as saying. "Rostech's competitive advantage lies in the fact that we are ready to deal with not only the localisation of helicopters in India, but also offer our partners the localisation of production technology," Rostech's CEO said in an official statement.

v. The Kamov 226T helicopters have a unique capability of operating in dense urban areas to mountainous regions such as Siachen, a Hindustan Times report stated. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate a helicopter production facility at Tumakuru in Karnataka on Sunday, Press Trust of India reported.

3. Sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik's Santa Claus sculpture featured in Limca Book of Records


i. Well-known sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik’s Santa Claus sculpture on 29 December 2015 found a place in Limca Book of World Records. Pattnaik claimed that he had created a 45 feet high sand Santa Claus at Puri beach on 24 December 2015, which was recognised as the largest sand Santa Claus as of today by the Limca Book of World Records.

ii. Pattnaik was assisted by 20 of his students from the Sudarsan Sand Art Institute of Puri to build the giant structure. It took him 22 hours to build the structure which will be on display till 1 January 2016.

iii. The artist had also created sculptures of Jesus and Mother Mary near Santa Claus. Pattnaik had already created eight world records registered with the Limca Book of World Records.

iv. Sudarsan Pattnaik is a world-renowned Indian sand artist from Odisha. Born on 15 April 1977, he self-taught himself the art of sand sculpture. He established The Golden Sand Art Institute which is first of its nature in India.

v. His sculptures include environmental crisis, famous festivals, national integrity and religious tolerance. He has represented India in 50 international Sand Sculpture championship and festivals all around the world and won 27 championship prizes for the country.

vi. In 2013, he won gold medal at Saint Peters Burg in 12th International sand sculpture competition at Russia. His sand sculpture on Black Taj Mahal earned him accolades all over the world. In 2014, he was awarded the Padma Shri by Government of India.

4. Indian Navy successfully test fires Barak-8 long range missile from INS Kolkata

i. In a boost to India’s maritime prowess, the Navy today successfully test-fired the nearly 70 KM range Surface to Air Missile Barak 8 from INS Kolkata, paving the way for installation of the system, developed jointly by India and Israel, on board country’s frontline warships. The Navy described the maiden firing of its newly developed Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LR SAM) as a significant milestone in enhancing its anti-air warfare capability.

ii. The firing was undertaken on the Western Seaboard by INS Kolkata, wherein the missile successfully intercepted an aerial target at extended ranges, a statement by Navy said. Two missiles were fired yesterday and today on high speed targets, during naval exercises being undertaken in the Arabian Sea.

iii. Apart from the missile, the system includes a Multi Functional Surveillance and Threat Alert Radar (MF STAR) for detection, tracking and guidance of the missile. The firing trial of the LR-SAM has been jointly carried out by the Indian Navy, DRDO and Israel Aerospace Industries.
iv. Israel made MF-STAR radar system is capable of simultaneously tracking hundreds of airborne targets to a range of more than 250 KM. DRDL, Hyderabad, a DRDO Lab, has jointly developed this missile in collaboration with Israel Aerospace Industries. The LR-SAM has been manufactured by M/s Bharat Dynamics Limited.

v. With the successful proving of these systems, the Indian Navy has become part of a select group of Navies that have this niche capability, which would provide a fillip to India’s maritime operations. The firing trial of the LR SAM has been jointly carried out by the Indian Navy, DRDO and Israel Aerospace Industries. It is expected that India and Israel are likely to win orders worth billions of dollars for the multi-purpose Barak-8 missile system.

vi. A Barak-8 battery, including the Adir radar system made by IAI subsidiary Elta Systems, a command and control system, and the missile launchers, is already installed on the deck of Israeli Navy ship Lahav, from which the new interceptor was fired last week as part of a complete trial of the system.

5. Cabinet clears formation of JVs between Indian Railways and states

i. The Cabinet on Wednesday approved the formation of joint venture companies with various state governments to mobilise resources for undertaking rail infrastructure projects.

ii. The initial paid-up capital of the Ministry of Railways will be limited to Rs. 50 crore for each state. The joint venture companies would be formed with equity participation from the Ministry of Railways and the state governments concerned. Each joint venture will have an initial paid-up capital of Rs. 100 crore and based on the projects to be undertaken, further fund infusion would be done on approval of the project.

iii. The joint ventures will be allowed to form project-specific special purpose vehicles with equity holding from other stakeholders such as banks, ports, public sector undertakings, mining companies, and others.

iv. “This would ensure greater participation of state governments in implementation of railway projects, both in terms of financial participation as well as the decision-making process. This will also facilitate faster statutory approvals and land acquisition,” an official statement added.

v. Meanwhile, the Cabinet also approved signing of various memorandums of understandings in the field of urban development. One such MoU is between SITNEF, Norway, and Central Public Works Department for cooperation in development of human resource capacity building and scientific research in recycling of construction and demolition waste in India.

6. Rakhi Haldar, Kavita Devi bagged gold at National Weightlifting Championship


i. Rakhi Haldar and Kavita Devi on 29 December 2015 bagged gold in their respective weight categories in the Senior National Weightlifting Championships held in Patiala, Punjab.

ii. Haldar lifted 94 kilograms in the snatch and 119 kilograms in clean and jerk to come up with a total lift of 213 kilograms in Women's 69 kilograms to grab the gold medal. Lalchhanhimi bagged the silver with a total lift of 210 kilograms, while Rajwant Kaur finished with a bronze with an overall effort of 201 kilograms.

iii. In Women's 75 kilograms category, Devi lifted 95 kilograms in snatch and 122 kilograms in clean and jerk for a total of 217 kilograms to win the top medal. Sushila Panwar and Daljit Kaur bagged the second and third positions with lifts of 213 kilograms and 198 kilograms, respectively.

iv. On the other hand, V A Christopher clinched the gold medal in Men's 105 kilograms with an overall lift of 329 kilograms, while Laljit Singh accumulated 317 kilograms to settle for silver. Rashpal Singh, who also came up with a total lift of 317 kilograms, had to settle on a bronze.

7. Online virtual science lab for school students

i. Students who have opted for the Science stream at the high school level, but have no access to physical labs now have the option to perform experiments in a virtual science-lab. Thanks to the educational technology initiative - “Online Labs” - developed by Amrita CREATE (Centre of Research in Advanced Technologies for Education) in association with CDAC (Centre for Development of Advanced Computing).

ii. OLabs or Online virtual Science Labs allows students to repeat the experiments as many times as they wish; it includes simulators, videos, animation, theory and quiz. It is based on the premise that lab experiments can be taught over the Net in a cost effective and efficient manner.

iii. According to Venkat Rangan, Vice Chancellor, Amrita University – the initiative is aimed at helping students understand complex science concepts and build scientific temper. Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Communications and Information Technology launched this elearning programme on Tuesday. Under this nationwide initiative, Amrita has set a target of preparing around 30,000 science teachers from across the country on how to use OLabs, so they can in turn help students perform experiments in a virtual lab.

iv. OLabs has been officially endorsed by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) as a teaching aid for all its schools. It is expected to be available in Hindi, Malayalam and Marathi and offered in both urban and rural schools.

v. Online Labs technology has an offline tablet-based component as well, which ultimately would allow the trained faculty to take the labs to remote pockets, where connectivity is still an issue. Amrita is hoping that in a span of three years at least 10000 schools across the country would be provided free access to OLabs. The Online Labs is said to have over 80,000 registered users already.

8. Ex Chief of Indian Army General Om Prakash Malhotra passed away


i. General Om Prakash Malhotra, former Punjab Governor and ex-Chief of Army, passed away on 29 December 2015 due to old age. He was 93. He is survived by his wife and two children. General Om Prakash Malhotra was the 13th Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army from 1978 – 1981.

ii. He was born in Srinagar, Kashmir, in August 1922 and attended Government College in Lahore before being selected to join the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun. He was commissioned into the Regiment of Artillery.  He commanded different Artillery Regiments between November 1950 and July 1961.

iii. He was the Military Attache at the Indian Embassy in Moscow for over three years from June 1962. He served as the Ambassador of India to Indonesia from 1981 - 1984. He was appointed as the Governor of Punjab and Administrator of Chandigarh from 1990 - 1991.

iv. He was also the President of the Equestrian Federation of India for nearly nine years. For his outstanding services to the nation and the Indian Army, he was honoured with Param Vishsist Seva Medal in 1976. In 1994, he was conferred with the Degree of Doctor of Letters (Honours Causa) by the University of Jammu.

                                        Current Affairs - 29th December 2015
 

1. Amitabh Kant got additional charge of CEO of NITIAayog

i. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, presided by PrimeMinister Narendra Modi, on 28 December 2015 gave Amitabh Kant theadditional responsibility of being Chief Executive Officer of NITIAayog, effective 31 December 2015.

ii. Kant will replace the incumbent NITI Aayog CEO SindhushreeKhullar whose extended tenure will end on 31 December 2015.

iii. The IAS officer of 1980 Batch of Kerala Cadre, Kant iscurrently serving as Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy andPromotion (DIPP). He is set to superannuate on 28 February 2016.

2. Civil Aviation Ministry gave clearance for fourgreenfield airports

i. The Civil Aviation Ministry on 28 December 2015 gave clearancefor four greenfield airports. The three airports will be located inAndhra Pradesh and one international airport at Dholera, Gujarat.

ii. The Ministry has also given its green signal for developmentof a greenfield airport in Nellore and Kurnool districts of AndhraPradesh under a public-private partnership.

iii. The site clearance, which is the first clearance, was givenon 28 December 2015 for the Bhogapuram airport in Andhra Pradeshwhich is about 40 km from Vizag.

iv. Two of the three airports proposed at Andhra Pradesh arelikely to be no-frills one.

v. The international airport proposed at Dholera in Gujarat willcost around 1378 crore rupees. It is also expected that the airportwill reduce air traffic load at the existing Ahmedabad airport, whichhas no space for expansion of terminal and construction of the secondrunway. The airport had already received environmental clearance fromthe Environment Ministry in 2014.

vi. Dholera airport, which will be developed in 3525 acres ownedby the state government, is expected to have two runways and theterminal building will have a capacity for 1200 domestic andinternational passengers.

What is a greenfield airport?

• Greenfield Airport means a new airport whichis built from scratch in a new location because the existing airportis unable to meet the projected requirements of traffic.

• The word greenfield originates from softwareengineering, meaning a project which lacks any constraints imposed byprior work.The projects which are modified or upgraded from existingfacilities are called brownfield projects.

3. Bharat Petroleum commissioned Crude Distillationunit in Mumbai

i. Bharat Petroleum on 28 December 2015 commissioned a new6-million tonne Crude Distillation Unit (CDU) at its Mumbai refinery,which will take the capacity of its oldest facility to 12 milliontonne per annum.

ii. The new state of the art CDU that came at a cost of 1419 crorerupees is a replacement of old Crude and Vacuum units of therefinery.

4. China launched Gaofen-4 dual-use geostationarysatellite

i. China on 29 December 2015 successfully launched Gaofen-4 Earthobservation satellite toward a geostationary orbit from the XichangSatellite Launch Centre in the south-western province of Sichuan. TheSatellite was launched aboard a Long March-3B carrier rocket.

ii. Launched as a part of the China High-resolution EarthObservation System (CHEOS), Gaofen-4 is located at the orbit 36000kilometres away from the earth and moves synchronously with theearth.

Highlights of the Gaofen-4

• It can see an oil tanker on the sea with ahuge CMOS camera, reaching the best imaging level among globalhigh-orbit remote sensing satellites.
• It willbe used for disaster prevention and relief, surveillance ofgeological disasters and forest disasters, and meteorologicforecast.
• It will offer optical spatialresolution of better than 50 metres and infrared sensing capabilitiesfrom geostationary orbit.
• It is designed tooperate for eight years at an altitude of almost 36000 km above theEarth.

5. Noted Gujarati writer Raghuveer Chaudhary selectedfor 51st Jnanpith award

i. Eminent Gujarati litterateur Raghuveer Chaudhary was on 29December 2015 selected for the 51st Jnanpith award for hiscontribution to the Indian literature.

ii. The decision was taken in a meeting of the Jnanpith SelectionBoard chaired by noted scholar Namwar Singh. Other members of theselection board are Shamim Hanfi, Harish Trivedi, Suranjan Das,Ramakant Rath, Chandrakant Patil, Alok Rai, Dinesh Misra andLeeladhar Mandloi.

iii. Chaudhary is the fourth Gujarati litterateur to bag thisprestigious award after Uma Shankar Joshi (1967), Pannalal Patel(1985) and Rajendra Shah (2001).

6. Gujarat clinched maiden Vijay Hazare Trophy

i. Gujarat on 28 December 2015 clinched the Vijay Hazare CricketTrophy. It is the first time that Gujarat won the trophy.

ii. In the final of the limited overs tournament, Gujarat defeatedDelhi by 139 runs at M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru.

iii. The 2015–16 Vijay Hazare Trophy was the 14th season of theVijay Hazare Trophy.

About Vijay Hazare Trophy

• The Vijay Hazare Trophy is also known as theRanji One Day Trophy.
• It was started in2002–03 as a limited-overs cricket domestic competition involvingstate teams from the Ranji Trophy plates.
• Fromthe tournament's inaugural edition during the 1993–94 seasonthrough to the 2001–02 season, no finals were held, and teamsconsequently played only within their zones, with no overall winnernamed.

7. Globe Soccer Awards 2015 conferred

i. The Globe Soccer on 27 December 2015 presented the sixthedition of Globe Soccer Awards 2015 to the winners at a ceremony heldin Dubai, UAE.

ii. Awarded for excellences in the field of football, Globe SoccerAwards are the first and only awards for the Best Club Director andthe Best Agent of the Year.

iii. The awards conferred were based on the performance of theplayers and football clubs in 2015.

iv. Globe Soccer was created and built by BC Bendoni Consulting tofacilitate intercontinental dialogue among the main players in thefootball world, with opportunities to meet and discuss for the game’sinstitutions, clubs, leagues and transfer market operators.

Winners of Globe Soccer Awards 2015

Best Player of the Year - Lionel Messi
Best President of theYear - Josep Maria Bartomeu
Best Club of the Year - F.C.Barcelona
Best Media Attraction in Football - F.C. Barcelona
BestCoach of the Year - Marc Wilmots
Best Agent of the Year - JorgeMendes
Best Referee of the Year - Ravshan Irmatov
Best Academyof the Year - Benfica
 

                                  Current Affairs - 27th & 28th December 2015
 

1.  Tech Mahindra launches contactless walletMoboMoney

i. IT major Tech Mahindra has launched first of its kind ‘Tap NPay’ contactless digital payment wallet MoboMoney for the Indianmasses.

ii. MoboMoney has been billed as India’s first commercial NFCecosystem rollout that would allow consumers to convert cash intoe-cash for making payments.

iii. MoboMoney is a prepaid wallet issued in the form of a NearField Communication (NFC) contactless tag that could be used to ‘TapN Pay’ for goods and services.

2.  Veteran Bollywood actress Sadhna passes away

i. Veteran Bollywood actress Sadhna Shivdasani (mononymously knownas Sadhana) passed away in Mumbai, Maharashtra. She was 74.

ii. She was renowned for his style statement and acting prowess inBollywood in the 1960s and 70s.

3.  Seychelles Govt allows India to build NavalBase on its Assumption Island

i. Seychelles government allowed India to build its first NavalBase on the Assumption Island in the Indian Ocean region (IOR) as ajoint project between both countries.

ii. In this regard, Seychelles government has allocated a plot ofland on in its Assumption Island which will help to enhance mutualsecurity along our western seaboard in IOR.
 
iii. India’sfirst Naval Base project has acquired significance following Chinaacquiring its first African naval base in Djibouti (near Horn ofAfrica) in November 2014.

4. Action plan for ‘Start up India’ to be unveiledon Jan. 16

i. Seeking to boost entrepreneurship at the grassroots level,Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the action plan for ‘Start upIndia, Stand up India’ will be unveiled on January 16.

ii. Mr. Modi said the programme will focus on ensuring benefitsreach the youth from the lowest strata of the society.

iii. He said the ‘Start up India, Stand up India’ campaign hasbrought in new opportunities for the youth.

5. AP Government signed MoU with Microsoft India ontechnology initiatives

i. Government of Andhra Pradesh on 28 December 2015 signed aMemorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Microsoft India on a range oftechnology initiatives. The MoU was signed after a meeting betweenthe Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and Microsoft’s CEO SatyaNadella in Hyderabad.

ii. The purpose of the MoU is to improve use of information andcommunication technologies, drive digital inclusion and provideIT-based decentralised citizen services. The initiatives will help inchecking school dropouts, improving agricultural productivity andproviding better citizen services.

iii. By applying Microsoft Azure Machine Learning and AdvancedVisualization method, the company will provide technical knowledge tothe AP Government and support building three proof-of-concept (PoC)solutions. The three PoC solutions are related to the fields ofeducation, agriculture and eCitizen services.

iv. The PoC solutions will be built and deployed to addressspecific problems within each of the fields to achieve betteroutcomes for the State. For data gathering, analysis, predictiveanalysis and policy planning, the lab method will used by theMicrosoft India.

v. State Government’s key IT executives will be trained onMicrosoft technologies such as Cloud, Mobility and appropriateMicrosoft Technology stack. The company will set up a Centre forExcellence (CoE) in Visakhapatnam.

6. Karan Adani new CEO of APSEZ

i. Karan Adani, son of Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani, has beenappointed as the CEO of Adani Ports and SEZ (APSEZ) with effect fromJanuary 1, 2016. He will take over the top job from outgoing CEOSudipta Bhattacharya, who is moving to the US as the CEO for NorthAmerica, APSEZ said in a regulatory filing.

ii. The Board has accepted the “resignation of Bhattacharya asthe CEO of APSEZ with effect from December 31, 2015”, it added. Italso approved the “appointment of Karan, Executive Director(non—board position) as CEO of the company with effect from January1, 2016,” the filing said.

iii. Karan, who looks after strategic development of Adani portsacross India, has been involved in managing various port operationsfor the firm since 2009. “He aims to build the Group’s identityaround an integrated logistics business model, backed by his soundunderstanding of new processes, systems and macro—economic issues”,the filing said.

iv. He is an economics graduate from Purdue University, the USA.Bhattacharya, in his new role, will be responsible for driving thesignificant emerging opportunities between India and the US, it said.Shares of APSEZ were up 1.10 per cent to Rs. 261.35 apiece in theafternoon trade at the BSE.

7. Shiva Keshavan clinched silver at Asian LugeChampionship

i. Shiva Keshavan on 27 December 2015 grabbed a silver medal inthe 18th edition of the Asian Luge Championship held in Nagano,Japan. The first place was claimed by defending champion HidenariKanayama of Japan. On the other hand, South Korea's Kim Dong-hyeongrabbed the third place.

ii. Born on 25 August 1981, Keshavan is the posterboy of Indianwinter sports. He is a five time Olympian and the first Indianrepresentative to compete in luge at the Winter Olympic Games. He seta new Asian speed record at 134.3 km/h after beating the previousrecord of 131.9 km/h.

iii. In Asia Cup 2011, he grabbed the gold medal. In 2012, he seta new Asian track record at 49.590 seconds. He was offered torepresent Italy in 2002, but refused.

iv. He holds the world record for youngest ever Olympian. Hestudied humanities and political science at the University ofFlorence and obtained a Master's degree in International relationsfrom the University of Florence.

8. Indigenously developed Air-to-Air missile Astrasuccessfully test fired

i. Indigenously developed Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-airmissile, Astra, was on 25 December 2015 successfully test fired. Thetest was conducted by the Indian Air Force off the coast of Odishanear the Integrated Test Range (ITR), Balasore.

ii. In addition to this air trial, the missile underwentsuccessful ground based trials in early December 2015 near Pune. Thetests were aimed at validating the ECCM (electronic counter-countermeasure) features of the missile to overcome any jamming.

iii. After carrying out some more trials, including air launchtrial with a warhead, the missile is expected to be inducted into theAir Force in 2016. Astra is India’s first beyond visual rangeair-to-air missile (BVRAAM) that is capable of engaging its target atranges of 37 km or beyond. It has operational range of 60km. Theall-weather missile has been indigeniously designed and developed bythe Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

iv. It is a state-of-the-art missile in the sense that it travelsat supersonic speed (4780 km/h), possesses Single Shot KillProbability (SSKP) with active radar terminal guidance, usessmokeless propulsion system to evade enemy radars and has thecapacity to engage in multi-target scenario.

v. It can reach up to 110 km when fired from an altitude of 15 km,44 km when launched from an altitude of eight km and 21 km when firedfrom sea level. Apart from integrating the missile with Su-30, themissile will be mounted on other fighter aircrafts including Tejas(Light Combat Aircraft), Mirage-2000 and MIG-29.

9. Reliance Jio launched 4G telecom service

i. Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (RJIL) or Reliance Jio on 27 December2015 launched 4G telecom service. The service was launched at theReliance Corporate Park in Navy Mumbai to mark the birth anniversaryof Dhirubhai Ambani, founder of the Reliance Industries Limited(RIL).

ii. However, at present, it is limited to 85000 employees andtheir families of the company, while the commercial services areexpected to begin by April 2016.

iii. It has three-pronged focus on broadband networks, affordablesmart phones and the availability of rich content and applications.It offers a unique combination of telecom, high speed data, digitalcommerce, media and payment services.

iv. It provides data services with a speed up to 1 gigabyte persecond. Under the project, around 2.5 lakh kilometers of fibre opticcables were laid to connect 18000 towns and around 1 lakh villagesacross the country.

v. It will offer broad band services to 10 crore mobile users and2 crore households. Users will have the option to switch over to 5Gservices in future.

10. China amended One Couple, One Child Policy

i. China’s National People's Congress Standing Committee,country’s top law making body, on 27 December 2015 gave itsapproval to amending One Couple, One Child Policy. The amendedpolicy, which will come into force on 1 January 2016, will lift therestrictions on couples from having only one child.

ii. The amended policy is aimed at balancing the country'spopulation structure by allowing all couples to have two children.The amendment came after the Communist Party of China (CPC) CentralCommittee on 29 October 2015 issued a communiqué in this regard.

iii. The overhaul of the policy is in continuation of gradualrelaxation of the policy in recent years. In 2013, couples wereallowed to have a second child if either parent was an only child.

iv. As per an estimate, China has 140 million women ofchild-bearing age who have already raised a child. After the new lawis adopted, about 90 million of them are expected to have a secondchild.

v. Further, the policy will mean total population with a peakaround 1.45 billion in 2029 and is expected to result over 30 millionmore people in the labor force by 2050.

11. Wicked Ride launches utility bike rental service

i. Wicked Ride, a start-up founded in 2014 by Vivekananda H.R.,Anil G and Varun Agni, has launched its brand ‘Apna Ride’ forutility bike rentals, targeted primarily at budget conscious bikeenthusiasts.

ii. The service would be initially available at Bengaluru, Mysoreand Jaipur and bookings can be done through www.apnaride.com.

iii. While Wicked Ride would focus on renting high-end luxurybikes like Harley-Davidson, Triumph, Ducati and Royal Enfield, ‘ApnaRide’ would focus on utility motorcycles, electric bikes andscooters.

iv. “After successfully establishing Wicked Ride as a leader andpioneer in the luxury bike rental segment, we wanted to enter theutility bike rental segment and that’s how ‘Apna Ride’ wasborn,” said said Vivekananda H R, Co-founder, Wicked Ride.
 

                                        Current Affairs - 26th December 2015
 

1. World Bank to give $35mn to Pakistan for Indus RiverBasin

i. The World Bank has approved an additional financial assistanceto Pakistan of $35 million to support improved management, planningand development of water resources in the Indus River Basin inPakistan.

ii.This $35 million is in addition to the $38 million givenearlier towards improvement of water resources management in theIndus River system, the Bank said.

2. India, Russia signed 16 pacts to deepen bilateralcooperation

i. India and Russia signed 16 Agreements/Memorandum ofUnderstandings (MoUs) to deepen bilateral cooperation in the fieldsof energy, security, technology, etc. The pacts were signed after theconclusion of the 16th India-Russia Annual Summit in Moscow.

ii. After the summit, which was attended by Prime MinisterNarendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, both the leadersissued a joint statement with the theme Shared Trust,New Horizons.

Some Agreements/MoUs signed were:

(1) Protocol amending the agreement on simplification ofrequirements for mutual travels of certain categories of citizens ofthe two countries.
(2) Protocol amending agreement between Indiaand Russia on mutual travel regime for holders of Diplomatic &Official Passports.
(3) Cooperation in the field of HelicopterEngineering
(4) Plan for Cooperation between the Federal CustomsService of the Central Board of Excise and Customs, Department ofRevenue, Ministry of Finance, India and the Russian Federation forcombating Customs violations in 2015 – 2017.

3. Union Government announced 4 new IT-basedinitiatives for citizen-centric health services

i. Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare J P Nadda on 25December 2015 announced 4 new Information Technology-basedinitiatives to provide citizen-centric health services.

ii. The initiatives include three applications, namely, Kilkari,Mobile Academy and M-Cessation and a dedicated toll free number1800-11–6666 which will provide round the clock counselling andtreatment support services for TB patients.

iii. The initiatives were announced on the occasion of the GoodGovernance Day which is being celebrated annually to mark the birthanniversary of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

4. Kusal Perera faces 4-year ban

i. Sri Lankan wicketkeeper Kusal Perera is facing the prospect ofa four-year ban after his B sample tested positive for a bannedsubstance.

ii. "The ICC has informed that he faces a four-year ban, ashis urine sample was tested positive in Qatar after the ICC hadoriginally found it contained banned substance.

iii. Consequently Perera had to drop out of Sri Lanka's currenttour of New Zealand. Sri Lanka lost the series 0-2. Perera is SriLanka's second player to flunk a dope test. Left-hander batsman UpulTharanga was suspended for three months after testing positive for abanned substance during the 2011 World Cup.

5. Direct-selling FMCG firm Amway India announcedBollywood actor Farhan Akhtar as its brand ambassador to promoteNutrilite range of the products

i. Amway India CEO Anshu Budhraja in her statement said that theyneeded a strong and credible face who could help people understandthe role of supplementation in addition to balanced diet and exerciseas part of leading a healthy lifestyle, that's why Farhan Akhtar wasan obvious choice.

ii.Nutrilite is a leading brand of vitamins and dietarysupplements. The brand contributes more than 50 per cent of AmwayIndia’s turnover.

6. Bangladesh signs $12.65 billion deal with Russia fornuclear power plants

i. Bangladesh's state-run Atomic Energy Commission signed a dealwith Russia to set up two nuclear power plants, each with 1,200 MWcapacity, an investment totalling $12.65 billion.

ii. The Work will begin early next year at Ruppur in Iswardi,160km (100 miles) from Dhaka, said Kamrul Islam Bhyian, spokesman forthe ministry of science and technology.

iii. "Russia will finance up to 90 per cent of the total costas credit with an interest rate of Libor plus 1.75 per cent,"Bhyian told Reuters.

iv. Bangladesh will clear the total loan within 28 years with a10-year grace period.Bangladesh finance minister Abul Maal AbdulMuhith said it would be the country's biggest power project.

 

                                       Current Affairs - 25th December 2015
 

1. Reliance Defence partnered with Russia’sAlmazAntey for Air Defence Missile Systems

i. Reliance Defence of Reliance Infrastructure Limited on 24December 2015 entered into a partnership with Russia’s AlmazAnteyfor producing Air Defence Missile Systems.

ii. A corporate agreement in this regard was signed on thesidelines of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day state visit toRussia.

Details of the Partnership

• It is aimed at fulfilling air defence missilesystems, including the TOR-1M missile systems, and radar requirementsof Indian armed forces.
• The Cooperation willextend to deep upgrades modernization, repairs, execution of offsets,supply of spares, as well as research and development projects.
• Defence Acquisition Council’s approval for acquisition of S-400 airdefence missile systems is expected to create business opportunity ofabout 40000 crore rupees.
• The partnership wasentered into to boost indigenous defence production as part of theUnion Government’s Make In India initiative.

2. Lok Sabha passed The Payment of Bonus (Amendment)Bill, 2015

i. The Lok Sabha on 22 December 2015 passed The Payment of Bonus(Amendment) Bill, 2015. The Bill will allow doubling of wage ceilingfor calculating bonus of factory workers.

ii. The Bill seeks to amend the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965. TheBill 2015 was introduced in Lok Sabha on 7 December 2015.

iii. Provisions of Bill

• It seeks to raise the eligibility limit forpayment of bonus from a salary of 10000 rupees to 21000 rupees amonth.
• It seeks to raise this calculationceiling of bonus to 7000 rupees per month or as per the minimum wagenotified for the employment under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948(whichever is higher).
• It seeks to mandateprior publication of rules made by the Union Government in theOfficial Gazette to allow for more public consultation.
• It will have retrospective effect and will come into forceon 1 April 2015.

3. Former Wicket-Keeper Syed Kirmani nominated for 2015Col. CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award

i. Former Indian Wicket-Keeper was on 24 December 2015 nominatedfor the 2015 Col. CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award.

ii. A decision in this regard was taken at a meeting of the Col.CK Nayudu Awards Committee. The meeting was held at the BCCI’sheadquarters in Mumbai.

iii. The committee consists of the Board of Control for Cricket inIndia (BCCI) President Shashank Manohar, Hon. Secretary Anurag Thakurand N Ram (Chairman of Kasturi & Sons Limited and Publisher ofThe Hindu).

iv. Kirmani represented India at the international level between1976 and 1986. His record includes 160 catches and 38 stumpings intests and 27 catches and 9 stumpings in ODIs.

4. Modi inaugurates new Afghan Parliament built byIndia in Kabul

i. Prime Minister Modi received a warm embrace and welcome byAfghan president Ashraf Ghani in Kabul where he arrived on Friday fordelegation-level bilateral talks and for inaugurating the new AfghanParliament building. Calling India and Afghanistan’s friendshipantiquated and “bound by a thousand ties”, Ghani thanked Indiafor its “valuable assistance” as Afghanistan weathers “hardtimes”.

ii. “Pleased to welcome PM Modi to Kabul. Though, India &Afghanistan need no introduction, we are bound by a thousand ties…We have stood by each other in the best and worst of times,” Ghanitweeted.

iii. Delegation-level bilateral talks between the two countrieswere held at Dilkosha Palace, the Afghan presidential office. Modilater inaugurated the Afghan parliament building that was constructedby India at a cost of USD 90 million. The Prime Minister alsoaddressed the two houses.

iv. Ghani and Modi toured the parliament building and arrived atthe main session hall in the presence of the guests, including memberof the Afghan parliament, Khaama press reported.

5. IndianOil, Oil India sign MoU with Rosneft

i. Indian Oil Corporation and Oil India Ltd have signed amemorandum of understanding with Russian national oil company Rosneftfor cooperation in geologic survey, exploration and production ofhydrocarbons in select onshore areas in Russia.

ii. The MoU document was signed during the visit of Prime MinisterNarendra Modi to Russia. In all, 16 agreements were signed betweenIndian and Russian firms in the field of nuclear energy, hydrocarbon,defence and other sectors.

iii. “The MoU document lays the foundation for a long-termpartnership between IndianOil, OIL and Rosneft. As a first step, theparties have agreed to examine the possibility of cooperation inrespect of the Taas-Yuryakh Neftegazodobycha LLC asset,” anofficial statement from IndianOil stated.

iv. “Implementation of the terms of the agreement signed willgive additional impetus to the development of one of the largest oilassets in East Siberia,” the statement added.

6. Reserve Bank of India Invites Applications forInnovative Payment Solutions

i. India’s central bank The Reserve Bank of India has invitedapplications for “Payment System Innovation Awards” to encourageinnovative solutions in the field of Payment and Settlement System.With this initiative, the RBI is hoping to transform the waytransactions are processed in the world’s fastest growing emergingeconomy.

ii. Some broad areas which the contest will hope to cover are:

• Payment security including fraud prevention
•Customer convenience and cost reduction
•Mobile payments
• Acceptance/electronic paymentinfrastructure
• Use of emerging technologiesfor payments

iii. The Institute for Development and Research in BankingTechnology (IDRBT), which is the technology arm of the RBI, willorganize the competition. A panel of experts will shortlist the mostinnovative applications, and the best three will be rewarded withcitations/prizes. The winners may also be given a chance to presenttheir ideas/ technologies to the industry representatives.

iv. Among the most revolutionary technologies that are disruptingthe payments sector is the blockchain technology, which is thetechnology underpinning the cryptocurrency bitcoin. The blockchain isable to serve the crucial purpose of cutting down transaction costswhile facilitating fast, reliable, and secure payments. Theinitiative by the central bank will also lend confidence to thecryptocurrency businesses in India as the regulator has oftenmaintained a cautious stance on the digital currencies.

v. RBI has already issued new licenses to 10 small banks and 11payment banks that would use technology to disrupt banking. India hasbeen lagging behind in the fintech race, but similar initiatives maycatapult the nation to a higher spot.

 

                                            Current Affairs - 24th December 2015
 

1. 30th National Consumers Right Day observed

i. 30th National Consumers Right Day was observed across India on24 December 2015. The day provides an opportunity to highlight theimportance of the consumer movement and the need to make everyconsumer more aware of their rights and responsibilities.

ii. The Consumer Protection and Action Committee (CPAC) celebratedthe day by distributing complaints forms, information brochures andother consumer rights literature freely to the public.

iii. The day is being observed annually on 24 December, since theConsumer Protection Act, 1986 was enacted on 24 December1986. TheConsumer Protection Act was enacted with the objective of providingbetter protection of consumer’s interest.

iv. The act provides effective safeguards to the consumer, againstvarious types of exploitations and unfair dealings, relying mainly oncompensatory rather than a disciplinary or preventive approach.Theact applies to all goods and services unless specifically exempted,which covers the private, public and cooperative sectors. It alsoprovides speedy and inexpensive adjudication. The Act envisages thepromotion and protection of rights of consumers such as Right toSafety, Right to be informed, Right to Choose and Right to be heard.

2. Idea became third mobile operator to launch 4Gservices in India

i. Idea Cellular on 23 December 2015 became the third mobileoperator in India to launch 4G services in India. Earlier, BhartiAirtel and Vodafone India had launched 4G services in India.

ii. Idea, the third largest mobile operator in terms of revenueand subscriber base, launched the 4G services across 75 towns in the4 telecom circles of South India, namely Andhra Pradesh &Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

iii. Idea customers with 4G devices in these 75 towns can nowstart experiencing superfast speeds by simply upgrading theirexisting SIM cards to new 4G SIM cards.

iv. The company intends to roll out of 4G Services in 6 moreTelecom service areas from January to March 2016 and seeks to expand4G footprint to 750 towns by June 2016 across 10 Telecom circles.

v. Idea Cellular currently holds 1800 MHz 4G spectrum in these 10Telecom circles which cover 50% of telecom market but over 60% ofIdea’s gross revenue.

3. Biocon launched generic version of hepatitis-C drugHarvoni in India

i. Biocon Limited on 24 December 2015 launched the generic versionof hepatitis – C drug in the Indian market. The generic version ofthe drug named Harvoni will be sold under the brand name CIMIVIR-L.

ii. The generic drug Harvoni is an improved version of Gilead’shepatitis-C drug Sovaldi or sofosbuvir and will come in fixed-dosecombination of ledipasvir-sofosbuvir of 90mg and 400mg, respectively.

iii. The sale of ledipasvir-sofosbuvir combination was recentlyapproved by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), which isbeing manufactured in India under a license from Gilead.

iv. Harvoni has been approved by the US Food and DrugAdministration (USFDA) for the treatment of chronic hepatitis-Cgenotype-1 infection and it has shown high cure rates of around 90percent.

v. Earlier in the year 2015, Biocon entered into a non-exclusivelicensing agreement with Gilead Sciences to manufacture and marketchronic hepatitis-C medicines, including Sovaldi and Harvoni, forIndia and 91 other developing countries by paying 7 percent royaltyon sales.

vi. According to Biocon, the CIMIVIR-L, a once-a-day oral therapy,will offer a convenient, effective and safe alternative to peopleinfected with the Hepatitis-C virus (HCV).

4. Gautam H Bambawale appointed as India's HighCommissioner to Pakistan

i. Gautam H Bambawale was on 23 December 2015 appointed as theHigh Commissioner of India to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. He ispresently serving as the Indian ambassador to Bhutan.Bambawale willsucceed TCA Raghavan, who will retire at the end of December 2015.

ii. Bambawale is an Indian Foreign Service officer of 1984 batch.Before serving in Bhutan, he was the Joint Secretary (East Asia) inthe Union Foreign Ministry Headquarters from December 2009 to July2014.

iii. In the past, Bambawale has worked in Germany, US and China.He became the first Consul General of India in Guangzhou, China, in2007.

5. India’s first indigenously designed & builtwarship INS Godavari decommissioned

i. India’s first indigenously designed and built warship IndianNavy Service (INS) Godavari was on 23 December 2015 decommissioned inNaval Dockyard Mumbai. It was commissioned into the Navy on 10December 1983.

ii. With her decommissioning, INS Godavari (F-20) will completeits full life cycle, meeting all responsibilities and dutiesassigned, proving the success of Indian ship design and construction.It was the lead ship of her class of three guided-missile frigates ofthe Indian Navy. The other two warships are INS Ganga and INS Gomati.

iii. Godavari class frigates were armed with potent surface tosurface and surface to air guided missiles. She was also among of thefirst frigates in the world capable of carrying two Sea Kinghelicopters (well known as the ‘Flying Frigate’, because of itsintegral firepower and sensor suite). Over the 32 years of theservice, it was successfully deployed in numerous operations.

iv. They operations include Operation Jupiter – 1988 (SriLanka), Operation Shield and Operation Bolster - 1994 (de-inductionof Indian Army from Somalia) and Patrol of Gulf of Aden (PoG) –2009, 2011 (anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden).

v. In 1988, in an operation called ‘Operation Cactus’, Indiasuccessfully thwarted a coup d’état against Maldivian Government.Godavari and Betwa intercepted and arrested the mercenaries, whotried to flee Male onboard the Merchant Vessel Progress Light.

6. RBI extended deadline to exchange pre-2005 notes to30 June 2016

i. The Reserve Bank of India on 23 December 2015 extended thedeadline for exchanging pre-2005 currency notes of variousdenominations by another six months to 30 June 2016. The decision toextend the deadline was notified by the apex bank in a statementissued in Mumbai.

ii. RBI in an official statement said that the notes can beexchanged for their full value. It has also clarified that all suchnotes continue to remain legal tender. Soliciting cooperation frommembers of public in withdrawing these banknotes, it also urged themto deposit the old design notes in their bank accounts or exchangethem at a bank branch convenient to them.

iii. Earlier on 25 June 2015, the Reserve Bank had set the lastdate for public to exchange pre-2005 banknotes notes as 31 December2015.

iv. The Reserve Bank pointed out that it is standard internationalpractice not to have currency notes from multiple series insimultaneous circulation. The Reserve Bank will continue to monitorand review the process so that the public is not inconvenienced inany manner.

7. Indian American Rakesh K Jain selected for USNational Medal of Science 2015

i. Indian American professor Rakesh K Jain was on 22 December 2015selected for the National Medal of Science 2015 of United States(US). Jain is a professor at Harvard Medical School and Director ofthe Tumour Biology Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital.

ii. He will receive the honour along with 16 other winners of theNational Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology andInnovation at a White House ceremony in 2016. Professor Jain holds aB.Tech degree in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute ofTechnology- Kanpur.

iii. Prof. Jain is regarded as a pioneer in the area of tumourmicro-environment and widely recognized for his seminal discoveriesin tumour biology, drug delivery, in vivo imaging and bioengineering.His work includes uncovering the barriers to the delivery andefficacy of molecular and nano-medicines in tumours and developingnew strategies to overcome these barriers.

iv. A mentor to more than 200 students from over a dozen differentdisciplines, he has received 75 awards from engineering and medicalprofessional societies and institutions. He is a member of all threebranches of the US National Academies- the National Academy ofMedicine, the National Academy of Engineering and the NationalAcademy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

v. he National Medal of Science was created by statute in 1959 andis administered for the White House by the National ScienceFoundation. Awarded annually, the Medal recognizes individuals whohave made outstanding contributions to science and engineering.

8. North India's first cable bridge inaugurated atBasohali town of J&K

i. The Basohali town which is located in Kathua district of Jammuand Kashmir was in news on 24 December 2015 as the Union DefenceMinister Manohar Parrikar dedicated the first cable-stayed bridge ofNorth India to the nation.

ii. The 592-metre bridge was constructed over river Ravi onDunera- Basohli-Bhadharwah road. It would provide close connectivitybetween three northern states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradeshand Punjab. It is fourth of its kind in India and first in NorthIndia and Jammu and Kashmir.

iii. It was constructed by Border Roads Organization (BRO) at acost of 145 crore rupees. The work on the cable stay bridge of thestate was started in May 2011 and its completion is expected to boostthe connectivity and tourism in the area.

 

                                          Current Affairs - 23rd December 2015
 

1. Pawan Kumar Agarwal appointed as CEO of FSSAI

i. Senior IAS officer Pawan Kumar Agarwal was on 22 December 2015appointed as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of food regulator FoodSafety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

ii. He succeeded Yudhvir Singh Malik, who was shifted asAdditional Secretary in Niti Aayog in September 2015. Malik isbelieved to be the man behind the ban on global giant Nestles popularnoodle brand Maggi, which has now been removed.

iii. Prior to Pawan Kumar Agarwal's appointment, FSSAI ChairmanAshish Bahuguna was holding the additional charge of FSSAI CEO.

iv. Pawan Kumar Agarwal is a 1985 batch IAS officer of West Bengalcadre. He is presently serving as the Joint Secretary in UnionMinistry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.

2. Philippines became first Asian country to approveworld's first-ever dengue vaccine

i. The Philippines on 22 December 2015 became the first Asiancountry to approve the sale of the world's first-ever dengue vaccine,Dengvaxia.

ii. The Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration approved thedengue vaccine for the prevention of disease caused by all fourdengue types in individuals from 9 to 45 years old living in endemicareas. Earlier on 9 December 2015, Dengvaxia, manufactured by Frenchpharmaceutical giant Sanofi, secured its first regulatory approval inMexico.

iii. The Federal Commission for the Protection against SanitaryRisks (COFEPRIS) approved Dengvaxia for the prevention of diseasecaused by all four dengue virus serotypes in preadolescents,adolescents and adults, 9 to 45 years of age living in endemic areas.

iv. The COFEPRIS approval of Dengvaxia is based on results from anextensive clinical development program involving over 40000 people ofdifferent ages, geographic and epidemiological settings, and ethnicand socio-economic backgrounds living in 15 countries.

v. Sanofi is a French multinational pharmaceutical companyheadquartered in Paris, France. It was founded in 1973 as subsidiaryof Elf Aquitaine. The company engages in the research anddevelopment, manufacturing and marketing of pharmaceutical drugsprincipally in the prescription market.

3. Zimbabwe announced to adopt Chinese currency Yuan

i. Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa on 21 December2015 announced that the country has planned to adopt the Chinese Yuanas legal tender. It will be done in return for debt cancellationworth 40 million dollars in the second week of December 2015.

ii. As per the decision, Yuan will be a function of trade betweenChina and Zimbabwe and acceptability with customers inZimbabwe.
 
iii. China has become the largest investor inZimbabwe, which has been shunned by the West over its human rightsrecord and is struggling to emerge from a deep 1999-2008 recessionthat forced the government to ditch its own currency in 2009.

iv. In the last five years, Zimbabwe has received more than onebillion dollars in low interest loans from China, which is Harare'ssecond largest trading partner after South Africa. China has beenaccused of exploiting the continent's vast mineral and energyresources at the expense of local people.

v. Earlier also to stabilize its hyperinflation crisis, thenations has adopted foreign currencies, mostly the US Dollar andSouth African Rand, as legal tender. This adoption helped the countryto boost its economy.

4. Rajya Sabha passed Juvenile Justice (Care andProtection of Children) Bill, 2015

i. Rajya Sabha on 22 December 2015 passed the Juvenile Justice(Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2015. With this passage, thebill awaits the President’s nod to be qualified as an act as it wasalready passed by the Lok Sabha on 7 May 2015.

ii. Most importantly, the Bill permits juveniles between the agesof 16-18 years to be tried as adults for heinous offences. Also, any16-18 year old, who commits a lesser (serious) offence, may be triedas an adult only if he is apprehended after the age of 21 years.

iii. The Bill replaces the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protectionof Children) Act, 2000.  It addresses children in conflict withlaw and children in need of care and protection.

iv. Juvenile Justice Boards (JJB) and Child Welfare Committees(CWC) will be constituted in each district. The JJB will conduct apreliminary inquiry to determine whether a juvenile offender is to besent for rehabilitation or be tried as an adult. The trial of thecase will take place accordingly by the board which will consist ofpsychologists and social experts.

v. During the passage of the bill, inside and outside theparliament differing views were expressed on the provisions of thebill especially on whether juveniles should be tried as adults.

vi. The provision of trying a juvenile committing a serious orheinous offence as an adult based on date of apprehension couldviolate the Article 14 (right to equality) and Article 21 (requiringthat laws and procedures are fair and reasonable).

vii. The Standing Committee, which examined the bill, observedthat it was based on misleading data regarding juvenile crimes andviolated certain provisions of the Constitution.

5. International Tennis Federation announced winners of2015 World Champions

i. International Tennis Federation (ITF) on 22 December 2015announced winners of 2015 World Champions. The awards were conferredon the basis of players’ performance in the 2015 season. They willreceive their awards at the 2016 ITF World Champions Dinner on 31 May2015, in Paris, during Roland Garros.

* Men’s World Champion - Novak Djokovic(Serbia)
* Women’s World Champion - SerenaWilliams (the USA)
* Men’s Doubles WorldChampions - Jean-Julien Rojer (Netherlands) & Horia Tecau(Romania)
* Women’s Doubles World Champions -Martina Hingis (Switzerland) & Sania Mirza (India)
*ITF Junior World Champions - Dalma Galfi (Hungary) & Taylor Fritz(the USA)
* ITF Wheelchair World Champions -Jiske Griffioen (Netherlands) & Shingo Kunieda (Japan)

6. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar approved PatnaMetro Rail project

i. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on 22 December 2015 approvedmuch anticipated Patna Metro Rail project's proposal. The stategovernment will now send the proposal for the union government'sclearance.

ii. The proposal for the metro rail project was approved at ameeting, which was called to review the performance of the stateurban development department at Patna. The Detailed Project Report(DPR) of the Patna Metro Rail project will be presented to the statecabinet for approval soon.

iii. In 2014, the Rail India Technical and Economic Service(RITES) submitted the DPR on the project to the Bihar government,reducing the project estimates to 14000 crore rupees from 17000 crorerupees earlier.

iv. The Metro proposal aims at two corridors in the first phasecovering a total distance of 31km. The first corridor will run eastto west over 14.5 Kilometres from Mithapur bus stand to Saguna Morvia Bailey Road and Patna Junction.

v. The second north-south corridor will run from Patna Junction tothe proposed bus stand at Bairiya on Patna-Gaya road via AshokRajpath, Gandhi Maidan and Rajendra Nagar Terminal over 16.5km. Acorporation on the lines of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation will beformed for monitoring the construction of the project in Patna.

7.  Winners for the 2015 ICC Awards announced

i. The International Cricket Council (ICC) on 23 December 2015announced the winners for the 2015 ICC Awards in Dubai, the UAE. Theawards were based on performance of individuals and teams, both menand women, between 18 September 2014 and 13 September 2015.

ii. Among the 10 awards announced, the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophyfor ICC Cricketer of the Year and Test Cricketer of the Year wereconferred on Australian captain Steve Smith. With this announcement,Smith became the fourth Australian and 11th overall to win theprestigious award named after former West Indies cricketer SirGarfield Sobers.

iii. During the voting period, the 26-year-old from New SouthWales finished as the leading run-scorer in Tests with 1734 runs in25 innings of 13 matches at an average of 82.57. This included sevencenturies and six half-centuries.

* Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for ICC Cricketer ofthe Year - Steven Smith (Australia)
* ICC TestCricketer of the Year - Steven Smith (Australia)
* ICCODI Cricketer of the Year - AB de Villiers (South Africa)
*ICC Women’s ODI Cricketer of the Year - Meg Lanning(Australia)
* ICC Emerging Cricketer of the Year- Josh Hazlewood (Australia)
* ICC Associate andAffiliate Cricketer of the Year - Khurram Khan (UAE)
*ICC Twenty20 International Performance of the Year - Faf du Plessis(South Africa)
* ICC Women’s T20I Cricketer ofthe Year - Stafanie Taylor (West Indies)
* DavidShepherd Trophy for ICC Umpire of the Year - Richard Kettleborough
*ICC Spirit of Cricket Award - Brendon McCullum (New Zealand)

8. FIFA’s Independent Ethics Committee banned SeppBlatter, Michel Platini from football for 8 years

i. The adjudicatory chamber of the Ethics Committee on 21 December2015 banned FIFA President Sepp Blatter and Vice-President and memberof the Executive Committee of FIFA and President of UEFA MichelPlatini.

ii. They were banned for eight years from all football-relatedactivities (administrative, sports or any other) on a national andinternational level.

iii. The ban came into force immediately. Blatter and Platini havealso been fined 40000 US dollar and 80000
US dollar respectively.

iv. The Ethics Committee of football's global governing body thatsuspended the duo was chaired by Hans-Joachim Eckert. The decisionwas made in the wake of payment of 20 lakh Swiss Francs (CHF) whichwas transferred to Platini by Blatter in February 2011.

 

                                      Current Affairs - 22nd December 2015
 

1. National Mathematics Day observed to commemoratebirth anniversary of Srinivasa Ramanujan

i. India on 22 December 2015 celebrated National Mathematics Day.The day was observed to commemorate the birth anniversary of greatIndian Mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan.

ii. On this occasion, India and UNESCO agreed to work jointly inspreading the joy of mathematics and knowledge to students andlearners across the world.

iii. To this end, Conferences on the “Zero” at UNESCOHeadquarters in Paris, as well as at the Indian Institute of Science,Bangalore were held in recognition of Aryabhata’s role in theinvention of zero. The conferences brought together academics,mathematicians and teachers to explore and discuss key associatedconcepts.

iv. The declaration to observe 22 December as National MathematicsDay was made by former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on 26February 2012 at Madras University on the occasion of 125th birthanniversary of Ramanujan.

v.  Srinivasa Ramanujan was born on 22 December 1887 in Erodedistrict of Tamil Nadu. He died at a young age of 32 years on 26April 1920. Ramanujan made important contributions in number theory,infinite series, mathematical analysis, and making formulas andequations.

2. SpaceX successfully launched and landed Falcon 9rocket

i. American aerospace company SpaceX on 21 December 2015 achievedthe historic feat of successfully launching and landing Falcon 9rocket.

ii. The Falcon 9 rocket was successfully launched from CapeCanaveral, Florida carrying 11 satellites to low-Earth orbit and wasalso successfully landed after 10 minutes to the Earth.

iii. It is the first time in the history of rocketry that a rockethas returned back after delivering a spacecraft to its orbit, so thatit could potentially fly again. This exercise of using reusablerockets will help in reducing the cost of access to space makingexplorations a more realistic goal.

iv. The 230-foot Falcon 9 blasted off from Launch Complex with 1.5million pounds of thrust and carrying 11 commercial satellites. Itmarks the company's first flight since an accident in June 2015 thatdestroyed a cargo ship bound for the International Space Station.

v. Success of SpaceX's mission is significant as the NASA isheavily relying on this private company for transport to theInternational Space Station after the US Space Shuttle program endedin 2011.

3. 10th WTO Ministerial Conference adopted NairobiPackage

i. The five-day long 10th World Trade Organisation (WTO)Ministerial Conference concluded on 19 December 2015 in Nairobi,Kenya. The conference concluded with the adoption of the NairobiPackage that is aimed at benefitting organization’s poorestmembers.

ii. The conference was attended by trade ministers of 162 membercountries of the WTO. India was represented by Minister of State(Independent Charge) for Commerce & Industry Nirmala Sitharaman.It is for the first such meeting hosted by an African nation.

iii. The Nairobi Package contains a series of six MinisterialDecisions on agriculture, cotton and issues related toleast-developed countries.
iv. The conference agreed on thetimetable for implementing a landmark deal to eliminate tariffs on201 information technology products valued at over 1.3 trillion USdollars per year.

v. Negotiations on the expanded ITA were conducted by 53 WTOmembers, including both developed and developing countries, whichaccount for approximately 90 per cent of world trade in theseproducts.

4. Andy Murray won 2015 BBC Sports Personality of theYear Award

i. Andy Murray of the UK on 20 December 2015 received the 2015 BBCSports Personality of the Year award in London. The Scottishtennis-player was presented the award by Irish boxing legend BarryMcGuigan.

ii. Murray was chosen for the award after a public vote in whichhe received 361446 of the 1,009,498 votes cast. The voting was basedon performance of sports personalities in 2015.

iii. For Murray, it was the second award in three years. Hereceived the previous award in 2013. In November, he led GreatBritain's tennis team to a first Davis Cup victory after a gap of 79years. He reached the final of the Australian Open and thesemi-finals of both Wimbledon and the French Open. He finished theyear second in the world rankings and won all 11 of his Davis Cuprubbers, including three in the final against Belgium.

iv. BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award is the annual sportsaward presented by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Thewinner is the sportsperson, judged by a public vote, to have achievedthe most that year.

5. Cow named Yahoo's Personality of the Year

i. Search engine giant Yahoo on 21 December 2015 named Cow as thePersonality of the Year 2015. The animal managed to top the list overother high-profile contenders for the spot in Yahoo's list of 2015Year in Review (YIR) for India.

ii. As per Yahoo India, it all started after the announcement ofbeef ban in Maharashtra, which led to massive debates and arguments.The Beef Controversy was fuelled further by Dadri lynching and AwardWapsi campaign, and the cow soon became the icon of discussions onintolerance.

iii. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Delhi CM ArvindKejriwal were among the top newsmakers of 2015.

iv. iThe rise of ISIS, 2015 World Cup, APJ Abdul Kalam's demise,the Sheena Bora Murder investigation and the Vyapam Scandal featuredon the list of Most searched news / events in 2015.

v. In addition, Prime Minister Narendra Modi remained the MostSearched Politician in 2015 too.

vi. Barack Obama's India visit, AAP's landslide victory in theDelhi elections, Lalitgate and Bihar’s Mahagatbandhan were amongthe Top 10 Political Moments of the Year.

vii. Sunny Leone fetched the top position as the Most SearchedFemale Celebrity for the fourth year in a row. Katrina Kaif andDeepika Padukone took the second and third slots respectively.

viii. Among the male celebrities, Salman Khan claimed the topspot, while singer-rapper Yo Yo Honey Singh came in second.

6. China launched DAMPE satellite to shed light onmysterious dark matter

i. China on 17 December 2015 launched the Dark Matter ParticleExplorer (DAMPE) Satellite to shed light on mysterious dark matter.

ii. It was the country's first space telescope and launched on aLong March 2-D rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

iii. The purpose of the satellite is to search for smoking-gunsignals of dark matter, invisible material that scientists say makesup most of the universe's mass.

iv. The satellite will be place in a sun-synchronous orbit at aheight of 500 kilometers to observe the direction, energy andelectric charge of high-energy particles in space.

v. The satellite was nicknamed "Wukong" after the MonkeyKing with penetrating eyes in the Chinese classical fiction Journeyto the West.

7. Nepal Cabinet decided to amend Constitution toaddress Madhesis' demands

i. Government of Nepal on 20 December 2015 decided to amend theConstitution to address two key demands of agitating Madhesisregarding proportional representation and constituency delimitation.

ii. A decision in this regard was approved at an emergency cabinetmeeting held at Singha Durbar in Kathmandu. The decision to amend theconstitution assumes significance against the backdrop of continuingagitation by Madhesis’, since the adoption of the Constitution on20 September 2015, which led to death of around 50 civilians.

iii. The Madhesi people inhabit the flat southern region of Nepalknown as the Madhesh. Their dissatisfaction with the new Constitutionwas with the fact that the Pahadi or hill communities, who constitute50 percent of the population, got 100 seats in the parliament, whileMadhesis’ got only 65 seats.

iv. Madhesis’ were also fighting against the Constitutionalscheme related to proposed boundaries of the new provinces. Unlikethe earlier structure in which majority Madhesis’ were within asingle administrative region, the new schemes proposes its split intwo and force them to share their provinces with hill districts.

8. Delhi Government appointed Gopal SubramaniumCommission on DDCA scam

i. Delhi Government on 21 December 2015 appointed a one-membercommission of inquiry on Delhi and District Cricket Association(DDCA) scam. A decision in this regard was taken in  a cabinetcommittee meeting headed by the Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

ii. The commission will be headed by former Solicitor GeneralGopal Subramanium. It will probe the alleged financial irregularitiesby the administrators of the DDCA.

iii. The commission was appointed on the basis of recommendationof the three-member committee headed by Chetan Sanghi. The committeewas constituted to probe alleged financial irregularities in DDCAafter the Chief Minister’s office received serious complaints aboutits functioning.

iv. The committee, which submitted its report on 17 November 2015,suggested the Delhi Government to set up a commission under theCommission of Enquiries Act 1952 to probe affairs of the cricketadministrators.

 

                                       Current Affairs - 21st December 2015
 

1. Miss Spain Mireia Lalaguna Royo crowned Miss World2015

i. Miss Spain Mireia Lalaguna Royo on 19 December 2015 was crownedMiss World 2015 at the Beauty of Crown Theater in Sanya, China.Rolene Strauss of South Africa crowned Mireia Lalaguna as hersuccessor at the end of the event. It is the first time Spain has wonthe title of Miss World.

ii. Mireia, a 23-year-old medical college student and a pianistfrom Barcelona, was crowned Miss World Spain 2015 on 24 October 2015after participating at the 2015 edition of Miss World Spain held inMalaga, Spain.

iii. Miss Russia Sofia Nikitchuk was the runner-up, while MissIndonesia Maria Harfanti stood third in the pageant.

iv. Miss India Aditi Arya won the People’s Choice Award whichensured her direct entry in the competition. Yet the Indian beautyqueen failed to make it to the final top 20 contestants.

2. Miss Iraq beauty pageant held for the first timesince 1972

i. Miss Iraq beauty pageant was held for the first time since1972. It was held on 20 December 2015 at a hotel in the capitalBaghdad and involved eight contestants. In the final event of thepageant, Shaymaa Qasim Abdelrahman was crowned Miss Iraq. She is a20-year-old from multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk which is situated in thenorth of Iraq.

ii. In the week running up to the event, the eight finalistsembarked on a string of pre-pageant activities, including a visit toa camp for displaced people in Baghdad. They also participated in atree-planting ceremony near the ruins of the ancient city of Babylon.

iii. The contest was held successfully despite the death threatsfrom Islamic militant organistaions like ISIS (Islamic State of Iraqand the Levant). It, now, allows Iraq to send its representative forthe international Miss Universe contest.

iv. It has been cancelled for the last four decades due to unrestin the Middle East. For the last time, it was held in 1972 when thecountry was stable and prosperous.

3. Abhay Singh won U-19 Singapore Squash Open

i. India’s Abhay Singh on 20 December 2015 won the Under-19Singapore Squash Open. In the final of the Old Chang Kee SingaporeOpen, he defeated second seed Alwin Chai of Malaysia.

He defeated Chai 11-8, 11-3, 11-8 in the final played atSingapore.

ii. With this win, Abhay, the world number one junior player, haswon seven junior titles in the year 2015. Out of seven titles, two ofthem are international titles.

iii. In the first round, Abhay defeated Vivek Palaniappan ofSingapore 11-2, 11-2, 11-1. He followed this up with a fighting winover Yusuke Ogata of Japan 13- 15, 11-3, 11-8, 10-12, 11-6.

iv. In the semi-finals, he beat Kojiro Tan of Singapore 7-11,11-5, 11-7, 11-7 for a place in the title round.

4. UN launched 2016 International Year of Pulses

i. Union Minister of Agriculture Radha Mohan Singh on 18 December2015 announced that Union Government had been taking considerablesteps to improve production of pulses in order to reduce country’sdependence on imports.

ii. These steps are in tune with the 2016 International Year ofPulses launched by the United Nations. The UN on 10 November 2015launched the year at the headquarters of the Food and AgricultureOrganization (FAO) in Rome, Italy. It was launched with the themenutritious seeds for a sustainable future.

iii. The purpose of the launch is to raise awareness of the manybenefits of pulses, boost their production and trade, and encouragenew and smarter uses throughout the food chain.

iv. Pulses are important food crops for the food security of largeproportions of populations, particularly in Latin America, Africa andAsia, where pulses are part of traditional diets and often grown bysmall farmers.

5. Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach crowned MissUniverse 2015

i. Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach was on 20 December 2015crowned Miss Universe 2015 at the final of 64th edition of MissUniverse held in Las Vegas, the USA.She was crowned by Miss Universe2014 winner Paulina Vega of Columbia.

ii. Urvashi Rautela who represented India in the contest couldn’tmake it to top 15 semi-finals round. She is a Filipino-Germanactress, model and beauty pageant titleholder.

iii. She finished her secondary education with the ABS-CBNDistance Learning Center and studied culinary arts at the Center forAsian Culinary Studies in Metro Manila, Philippines.

iv. She worked as a cosmetics model. At the age of 11, under thescreen name Pia Romero, she worked as an actress.

v. She is currently a stylist and writer for the lifestyle sectionof a leading newspaper in the Philippines.

6. FC Barcelona won 2015 FIFA Club World Cup

i. FC Barcelona on 20 December 2015 won the 2015 FIFA Club WorldCup. To win the title, Barcelona defeated Argentina’s River Plateby 3-0. The final match was held at the International Stadium inYokohama, Japan.

ii. From Barcelona, Luis Suárez of Uruguay scored two goals,while the remaining goal was made by Lionel Messi of Argentina. Withthis goal, Messi became the first player to score in three finalsafter leading Barca to victory in 2009 and 2011.

iii. At the end of the annual event, Suarez collected thePlayer-of-the-Tournament and Golden Boot awards. So far, the eventwas held for 12 times and Barcelona tops the table of winners withthree titles overall.

iv. The 2013 title was won by FC Bayern Munich that was held inMorocco.

7. Cochin Shipyard Limited became first licensed Indianshipyard to make LNG Ships

i. Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) on 21 December 2015 receivedcertification to build LNG-transporting ships for any clientworld-wide making it the first shipyard in India to get the nod.

ii. The shipyard successfully completed a Mark-III Flex Mock-Up,which has been certified by Gaztransport et Technigaz (GTT), France,thereby completing all requirements to be licensed by GTT. After thecertification, CSL can build LNG ships for any client world-wideusing their patented membrane containment system known as theMark-III Technology.

How the licensing helps CSL?

• GTT France has pioneered and patented various technologies forsafely carrying LNG in ships. CSL is now authorised to use theMembrane Type Technologies of GTT for any liquid gas carriers, moreparticularly the LNG carriers. Cochin Shipyard is the first shipyardin India to have obtained this technology. With this, CSL will beable to take part in the tender floated by GAIL for LNG carriers.

• GAIL has contracted substantial LNG from USAto be shipped out for the next 20 years. They are in the process offinalising transportation contracts with reputed LNG shippingcompanies who are to build vessels as per GAIL’s specifications.The contracts will be for a 20 year period and vessels are to bepositioned accordingly.

• As part of the Make in India programme, theGovernment of India is keen that three of the nine ships should bebuilt in India. CSL is keen to take part in the tender. Entering theLNG carrier technology area will set the yard on the technologygrowth path and will also lead to substantial improvements in areaslike quality control, Health, Safety & Environment (HSE).

• The yard has the technical strength and thebasic shipbuilding capability to undertake construction of thecomplex vessels. However, LNG vessel construction needs upgradationof existing facilities/systems in the yard and implementation ofvarious protocols. Therfeore, CSL has forged partnership with SamsungHeavy Industries (SHI), Korea, who are amongst the leading yards inthe world.

8. Eugenson Lyngdoh and Bala Devi bagged top AIFFhonours

i. Bengaluru FC (BFC) midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh and strikerBala Devi on 20 December 2015 was named the 2015 All India FootballFederation (AIFF) Player-of-the-Year and woman Footballer-of-the-Yearrespectively. The awards were announced at the AIFF Annual GeneralBody Meeting held in Margao, Goa.

ii. Lyngdoh was chosen the winner on basis of votes from Coachesof I-League Clubs and he will be presented a prize of 2 lakh rupeesalong with a Trophy. Bala Devi will be presented with a Trophy alongwith a prize of 1 lakh rupees.

iii. Pritam Kotal was declared the 2015 AIFF Emerging Player ofthe Year. Besides, AIFF also introduced a new award the 2015 AIFFemerging Woman Footballer of the Year, which went to Pyari Xaxa.Furthermore, Football Association of Odisha (FAO) bagged the 2015AIFF Award for Best Grassroots Programme.

iv. The 2015 AIFF Award for long time contribution to IndianFootball was awarded to Coca Cola. CR Srikrishna won 2015 AIFF Awardfor Best Referee while the 2015 AIFF Award for Best Assistant Refereewas awarded to Sapam Knnedy.

9. Kane Williamson became first-ever Kiwi batsman totop ICC Test rankings

i. Kane Williamson, 25, on 21 December 2015 became the firstcricketer from New Zealand to top the International Cricket Council’s(ICC’s) Test rankings. He clinched the spot after guiding the BlackCaps to a series-clinching five-wicket win in the second Test againstSri Lanka in Hamilton.

ii. With this, Williamson moved above England's Joe Root (886points) and South Africa's AB de Villiers (881) to sit on 889 points.

iii. Besides, 2015 has been a golden year for Williamson, who tookaggregate to 1172, the highest by a New Zealander in a calendar year.

 

                                       Current Affairs - 20th December 2015
 

1. US Security Council unanimously adopts resolution onSyria peace plan

i. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has unanimouslyadopted a resolution No. 2254 outlining a peace process in Syria.

ii. The resolution endorses an international roadmap for a Syriapeace process to end Syria’s five-year-long civil war.

Key facts

* The resolution endorses formal talks on apolitical transition between the President Bashar al-Assad led Syriangovernment and opposition in early January 2016.
* Callsfor implementation of a ceasefire in parallel with the talks on apolitical transition. Offensive and defensive actions against suchterrorist groups in Syria such as ISIS will continue.
*Calls for establishment of credible, inclusive andnon-sectarian governance in Syria within six months.
*Free and fair elections to be held in Syria under UNsupervision within 18 months.

2. India's biggest wildlife rescue centre commissionedin Nagpur

i. India’s biggest Wildlife Rescue Centre named as Gorewada Zooand Wildlife Rescue Centre has been commissioned at Gorewada nearNagpur, Maharashtra.

ii. The centre was inaugurated by Maharashtra Chief MinisterDevendra Fadnavis in presence of State Forest Minister SudhirMungantiwar.

3. PFRDA switches to PAN for online enrolment under NPS

i. Pension fund regulatory body PFRDA has started using PANinstead of Aadhaar for validation of new customers who can now beregistered online under the National Pension System (NPS) scheme.

ii. The Aadhaar-based online NPS account facility was started on apilot basis, but following a Supreme Court judgment on usage ofAadhaar, it had to be discontinued.

4. British Novelist Peter Dickinson passed away

i. British Novelist Peter Dickinson passed away on 16 December2015 following a brief illness in Winchester, Hampshire. He was 88.He was a prolific novelist for adults and children.

ii. He had the distinction of being the first author to receivetwice the prestigious Carnegie medal awarded annually in Britain bylibrarians for the outstanding new children's book.

About Peter Dickinson

• He wrote almost 60 books which have beentranslated into 53 different languages.
• Hisfirst novel for children The Weathermonger was published in 1968 andwas followed swiftly by Heartsease (1969) and The Devil’s Children(1970).
• He was the first and so far onlyauthor to win the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger award fortwo consecutive novels for his detective books Skin Deep in 1968 andA Pride Of Heroes in 1969.
• Two of his booksTulku (1979) and City of Gold (1980) won the Carnegie Medal.
•He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature andformer chairman of the Society of Authors.
•His last book In The Palace Of The Khans was published in 2012.

5. Dhoni to remain captain till World T20

i. The National selectors decided that M.S. Dhoni will remaincaptain of the limited-overs sides till the World T20 championship inMarch.

ii. Before announcing the teams for India’s upcoming tour ofAustralia next month, BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur announced thedecision regarding Dhoni.

iii. However, chairman of selectors Sandeep Patil explained thatthe decision related to Dhoni’s captaincy was taken due to rumoursrelated his tenure as captain in the shorter formats.

6. WB Govt approves proposal for formation of 5 newdistricts

i. West Bengal Government has approved proposal for formation offive new districts in the state. With this the total number ofdistricts of Bengal will increase to 25.

ii. Decision in this regard was taken by state Cabinet meetingchaired by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata.

iii. Following are the new districts:

* Kalimpong
* Sundarbans
*Basirhat
* Burdwan (Industrial)
*Jhargram

7. CII-ITC Sustainability Awards 2015 for Excellence inSustainable Business conferred

i. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)-ITC Awards 2015 forExcellence in Sustainable Business were conferred on 15 December 2015in New Delhi. They were conferred on 26 awardees in 4 main categoriesand 9 sub categories.

ii. The awards are a part of the CII-ITC Centre of Excellence forSustainable Development’s efforts to create awareness, promotepolicy and practices, and create capacity to mainstreamsustainability practices.

iii. The Union Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu was the specialguest at the award presentation ceremony.

    

                                   Current Affairs - 19th December 2015
 

1. 2nd World Internet Conference concluded in Wuzen,China

i. The three-day long 2nd World Internet Conference was concludedon 18 December 2015 at Wuzen in China. Wuzen is located in ZhejiangProvince in eastern China.

ii. The conference was held with theme An Interconnected WorldShared and Governed by All—Building a Cyberspace Community ofShared Destiny.

iii. It was jointly organized by the Cyberspace Administration ofChina and the People's Government of Zhejiang Province.

iv. The conference focused on facilitating strategic-leveldiscussions on global Internet governance, cyber security, theInternet industry as the engine of economic growth and socialdevelopment, technological innovation and philosophy of the Internet.

2. DAC approved purchase of Russian S-400 Triumf AirDefence Missile System

i. The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) on 18 December 2015approved the purchase of Russian advance S-400 Triumf Air DefenceMissile Systems from Russia at an estimated cost of 40000 crorerupees.

ii. The approval was given by Union Defence Minister ManoharParrikar during DAC meeting in New Delhi.

iii. This system is capable of destroying incoming hostilemissiles, aircraft and even drones within a range of up to 400 km.

iv. This air defence system is capable to take on upto 36 targetsat range of over 150 kilometres.

v. It is also capable of taking out ballistic missiles andhypersonic targets.

vi. Considered to be the most modern air defence system in theRussian arsenal, the new S-400 has a 2.5 times faster firing rate ascompared to its predecessor S-300.

3. Jeff Williams appointed as Chief Operating Officerof Apple Inc

i. Jeff Williams was on 18 December 2015 appointed as the ChiefOperating Officer (COO) of Apple Inc. The post of COO of the companyhad been lying vacant since Tim Cook's ascension to position of ChiefExecutive Officer of Apple Inc in 2011.

ii. Williams has been working with Apple Inc for about 17 years.

About Jeff Williams

• Jeff joined Apple in 1998 as head ofworldwide procurement and in 2004 he was named vice president ofOperations.
• Since 2010, he has overseenApple’s entire supply chain, service and support, and the socialresponsibility initiatives.
• He played a keyrole in Apple’s entry into the mobile phone market with the launchof iPhone.
• He continues to supervisedevelopment of Apple’s first wearable product Apple Watch.
•Before joining Apple, Williams worked at IBM for three yearsin engineering and operations roles.

4. Mumbai’s iconic Marine Drive turns 100

i. Mumbai’s iconic boulevard Marine Drive, also popularly calledthe Queen’s Necklace, completed 100 years, and residents of thecity’s western waterfront flagged off the centenary celebrationswith a postcard showcasing the crescent-shaped bay off the ArabianSea.

ii. A part of city’s collective consciousness associated withthe name Bombay, Marine Drive was part of the great revival as themetropolis transitioned from its 19th century fort ramparts to amodern city in the 1860s during the tenure of British Governor SirBartle Frere. In the rebuilding process, the city was blessed withtwo great architectural styles — the Victorian Gothic and Art Deco.

5. Harvard University’s Public Health School openingMumbai centre

i. The Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health is to open its newcentre in Mumbai, the first in South Asia, this Sunday, in a bid tohelp broaden and coordinate the School’s nearly 60 years ofcollaboration to improve health in India and around the world.

ii. The centre is to open at the Piramal Tower Annexe, in a spacethat has been provided by Swati Piramal and Ajay Piramal, two Harvardalumni. Swati Piramal, Vice Chairperson of Piramal Enterprises,graduated from Harvard’s School of Public Health in 1992.

iii. Ajay Piramal, is a graduate of Harvard Business School and isthe Chairman of the Piramal Group.Harvard TH Chan School of PublicHealth is part of Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.Harvard Business School has had a centre in Mumbai since 2006.

6. WTO approved Afghanistan’s membership terms tojoin as 163rd member

i. World Trade Organisation (WTO) on 17 December 2015 unanimouslyapproved Afghanistan’s WTO membership at the WTO’s TenthMinisterial Conference (MC10) in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.

ii. With this, Afghanistan will become the 163rd WTO member andthe ninth least-developed country to become a WTO member since theorganization was established in 1995.

iii. The Protocol of Accession (PoA) was officially signed byDirector General Roberto Azevedo and Afghanistan’s First DeputyChief Executive Mohammad Khan Rahmani.

iv. Now to be the full-fledged WTO member, Afghanistan will haveto ratify the deal by 30 June 2016. After the ratification andnotification of the acceptance of its PoA to the WTO Director Genral,it will have to wait for next 30 days.

v. Afghanistan applied for WTO membership in 2004 and members ofthe Working Party concluded the negotiations on 11 November 2015.

7. Hindustan Unilever signed agreement with MosonsGroup to acquire Indulekha

i. Hindustan Unilever (HUL) on 17 December 2015 announced that itsigned an agreement with Mosons Group to acquire its flagship brandIndulekha for 330 crore rupees.

ii. The proposed acquisition is in line with HUL’s strategicintent to strengthen its leadership position in Personal Care.

Highlights of the deal

• The deal includes the acquisition of thetrademarks Indulekha and Vayodha, intellectual property, design andknowhow.
• HUL will pay Mosons Group 300 crorerupees upon closing of the transaction and a deferred considerationof 10 percent on the domestic turnover of the brands each year,payable annually for a five-year period commencing Fiscal Year2018.
• Mosons will continue to manage thebusiness until the completion of the transaction.

 

                                    Current Affairs - 18th December 2015

 

1. R.K. Mathur appointed as CIC

i. Former Defence Secretary R.K. Mathur has been appointed asChief Information Commissioner (CIC), breaking away from theconvention of appointing the head from among the serving InformationCommissioners.

ii. The post had fallen vacant after Vijai Sharma completed histenure on December 1. “R.K. Mathur has been selected as ChiefInformation Commissioner,” Minister of State for Personnel JitendraSingh told PTI. He will have tenure of about three years, till heattains the age of 65 years.

iii. The 62-year-old Mr. Mathur, a retired IAS officer of Tripuracadre, was made Defence Secretary for a fixed two-year term on May28, 2013. Mr. Mathur, who did his graduation from Indian Institute ofTechnology, Kanpur and post graduation from IIT, Delhi, has heldvarious positions in his cadre state and at the Centre.

iv. He had been Secretary in Ministry of Micro, Small and MediumEnterprises, and Defence Production and Supplies. Prime MinisterNarendra Modi-led selection committee, which has Finance MinisterArun Jaitley and leader of Congress Party in Lok Sabha, MallikarjunaKharge, as its members, had on Wednesday finalised Mr. Mathur’sname.

v. President Pranab Mukherjee has given his assent for appointmentof Mr. Mathur as CIC, official sources said. As per RTI Act, CIC isappointed by the President on the recommendation of the selectioncommittee. The Central Information Commission had been headless twicesince the BJP government came into power in 2014. Earlier, it waswithout a chief for nearly 10 months after completion of the tenureof the then Chief Information Commissioner Rajiv Mathur in August2014.

2. President Pranab Mukherjee earns Garwood Award forOutstanding Global Leader in Open Innovation

i. The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee received GarwoodAward for ‘Outstanding Global Leader in Open Innovation’ from UCBerkeley-Haas School of Business today (December 17, 2015) atRashtrapati Bhavan. Prof. Solomon Darwin, Executive Director GarwoodCenter for Corporate Innovation presented the award to the President.

ii. The University of California, Berkeley, one of the mostprestigious educational institutes in the world, has established theGarwood Award to acknowledge individuals who have embraced, supportedand encouraged open innovation in a significant and impactful way.

iii. In his acceptance speech, the President said that openinnovation is a way to future as it captures knowledge-flow from allsources, both internal and external, in an organization. Openinnovation is most essential for government entities, who are taskedto serve the citizens. Placing of data in the public domain withoutcompromising the privacy, promotes transparency, innovation and opensup new avenues to solve problems of citizens efficiently andeffectively.

iv. The President said that innovation is a critical driver ofgrowth and development. Open innovation takes the innovation to nextlevel and creates a new eco-system of access and equal opportunitiesto all. Open innovation has a potential to transform the globalsocial landscape and help achieve the goal of a more fair and justworld.

3. Sahitya Akademi awards announced for the year 2015

i. Sahitya Akademi on 17 December 2015 announced the SahityaAkademi Awards for the year 2015 in 23 languages. Poetry and shortstory writers dominated the awards.

ii. Among the winning books are six poetry collections, six booksof short stories and four novels, besides two books each of essaysand criticism.

iii. The awards were recommended by distinguished jury membersrepresenting 23 Indian languages and approved by the Executive Boardof the Akademi, under its President Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari. Theaward in Bengali is to be announced at a later date.

Poets selected for the award are

• Brajendra Kumar Brahma for Baidi DengkhwBaidi Gab in Bodo
• Dhian Singh for ParchhamenDi Lo in Dogri
• Ramdarash Mishra for Aag KiHansi in Hindi
• KV Tirumalesh for AkshayaKavya in Kannada
• Kshetri Ranjen for AhingnaYekshilliba Mang in Manipuri
• Ram ShankarAwasthi for Vanadevi (an epic) in Sanskrit

4. International Migrants Day observed across the world

i. International Migrants Day was observed across the world on 18December 2015. Since 2014, more than 5000 women, men and childrenlost their lives in search of protection and a better life whilemigrating.

ii. The year 2015 will be remembered as a year of human sufferingand migrant tragedies.  Tens of thousands have been exploitedand abused by human traffickers.  And millions have been madeinto scapegoats and become the targets of xenophobic policies andalarmist rhetoric.

iii. With the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for SustainableDevelopment, world leaders vowed to protect the labour rights ofmigrant workers, combat transnational criminal human traffickingnetworks and promote well-regulated migration and mobility.

iv. The UN General Assembly on 4 December 2000 took into accountthe large and increasing number of migrants in the world andproclaimed 18 December as the International Migrants Day. TheInternational Convention on the Protection of the Rights of AllMigrant Workers and Members of Their Families was adopted by theGeneral Assembly on 18 December 1990.

5. AP Shah Committee appointed to look into ONGC, RILdispute on KG gas fields

i. Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas on 15 December 2015appointed a single-member committee to look into the dispute betweenOil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) and RelianceIndustries Limited (RIL) on Krishna Godavari (KG) gas fields. Thecommittee will be headed by the Chairman of the 20th Law Commissionof India Justice (retd) Ajit Prakash Shah.

ii. The committee will look into acts of omission and commissionand recommend compensation to ONGC from the RIL on account of undueadvantage the latter has received due to enrichment of its gas fieldsfrom the adjacent blocks belonging to ONGC. The recommendations ofthe committee will be based on D&M’s report on the dispute andwill be submitted within three months from the date of itsconstitution.

iii. In the Krishna-Godavari Basin, ONGC owns Krishna Godavaribasin KG-DWN-98/2 (KG-D5) and the Godavari-PML gas fields. These twofields are connected with Dhirubhai-1 and 3 (D1 & D3) fieldslocated in the KG-DWN-98/3 (KG-D6) Block of RIL.iv. In 2014, the ONGCcontended that RIL’s fields were being enriched due to migration ofgas from its idle fields. Against this backdrop, the Union Governmentappointed the US-based consultant DeGolyer and MacNaughton (D&M)to look into the matter.

iv. D&M, which submitted its report on 30 November 2015,concluded that out of the 58.68 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gasproduced from KG-D6 block between 1 April 2009 and 31 March 2015,49.69 bcm belongs to RIL and the rest 8.981 bcm could have come fromONGC’s fields.

6. NSE launches three new group indices

i. The National Stock Exchange (NSE) has launched three separateindices on three corporate houses of India viz. Tata, Aditya Birlaand Mahindra Group. The first of its kind three separate indicesbased on corporate houses have been designed to reflect theperformance of companies belonging to the respective corporate group.Each of three indices will comprise all the companies of therespective business group.

ii. Nifty Tata Group Index: It includes 25 companies across 12sectors with a total market capitalisation of 7.51 lakh crore rupees.It represents 7.83 per cent of the total market capitalisation ofcompanies listed on the NSE.

iii. Nifty Aditya Birla Group Index: It consists of eightcompanies across seven sectors with the market capitalisation of 2.08lakh crore rupees. It represents 2.17 per cent of the total marketcapitalisation of companies listed on the NSE.

iv. Nifty Mahindra Group Index: It consists of seven companieswith a market capitalisation of about 1.64 lakh crore rupees. Itrepresents 1.71 per cent of the total market capitalisation ofcompanies listed on NSE.

v. These three indices have been created by the NSE’s groupcompany India Index Services & Products Ltd (IISL). The companyis planning to launch indices on other corporate groups andthird-party products based on such indices.

7. American University announces APJ Abdul KalamFellowship for Indian students

i. The University of South Florida (USF) has announced apostgraduate fellowship in the name of former president Dr. APJ AbdulKalam to support accomplished and talented Indian students looking tostudy abroad.

ii. Launching the fellowship at the Global Higher Education summitof the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), USF provost RalphWilcox said "Dr. Kalam left an indelible mark on the academiccommunity, one that will now continue over time through this mostprestigious Kalam Fellowship".

iii. The fellowship is open to Indian students who wish to pursuePhD in specified fields in science and engineering at USF. Fellowshipholders will receive a tuition waiver amounting to $84,500 in fouryears, plus a stipend of $18,000 per year. With this fellowship inplace, the university is also looking to have a larger enrolment ofIndian students, making US their preferred country for highereducation. (USF currently has 800 Indian students.)The fellowshipwill be effective from the next academi.

8. Indian-origin official Sanjay Pradhan to lead OpenGovernment Partnership

i. The Open Government Partnership (OGP) on 16 December 2015selected Indian-origin World Bank official Sanjay Pradhan to lead theorganization. Pradhan will help ensure that OGP continues to succeedin its mission to promote government transparency, accountability andresponsiveness to citizens. Currently vice president for Change,Leadership and Innovation at the World Bank Group, Pradhan willassume the new charge by mid-2016.

ii. At present, Sanjay Pradhan leads the overall coordination ofthe internal reform process, and spearheads the leadership, learningand innovation for development agenda of the World Bank Group.Previously, he was the Vice President leading the World BankInstitute where he championed an open development approach centredaround knowledge, learning, collaboration and innovation.

iii. Open Government Partnership is an international organizationpromoting multilateral initiative. It was formally launched on 20September 2011, when the 8 founding governments (Brazil, Indonesia,Mexico, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, the United Kingdom andthe United States) endorsed the Open Government Declaration, andannounced their country action plans.

iv. It seeks strong commitments from participating governmentinstitutions to promote transparency, increase civic participation,fight corruption, and harness new technologies to make governmentmore open, effective, and accountable.

 

                                        Current Affairs - 17th December 2015
 

1. Justice Reva Khetrapal took oath as Delhi'sLokayukta

i. Former Delhi High Court judge Reva Khetrapal on 17 December2015 took oath as Delhi's new Lokayukta. The post of theanti-corruption ombudsman was vacant since November 2013, whenretired Justice Manmohan Sarin renounced the office.

ii. A four-member panel comprising Lt Governor Najeeb Jung, ChiefMinister Arvind Kejriwal, Chief Justice of Delhi High Court G Rohiniand Leader of Opposition leader in Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta hadunanimously chosen Justice Khetrapal in October 2015 for the post.Her name was officially recommended by Lt Governor Najeeb Jung to thePresident of India Pranab Mukherjee in October 2015.

iii. The Delhi Government recommended Khetrapal’s name alongwith retired Chief Justice of Orissa High Court Bilal Nazki andretired Chief Justice of Haryana and Punjab High Court Jasbir Singhto the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court in July 2015.

iv. Reva Khetrapal was born in Shimla and studied at Miranda HouseCollege and the Law Faculty of the Delhi University. She worked asthe additional judge in the Delhi High Court between 28 February 2006and 22 September 2014. She also acted as the Additional District andSessions Judge in 1991 and was posted as Special Judge (Narcotics) in1994.

2. Union Cabinet approved revised Model Text for IndianBilateral Investment Treaty

i. The Union Cabinet, presided by the Prime Minister NarendraModi, on 16 December 2015 gave its approval for the revised ModelText for the Indian Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT).

ii. The revised Indian model text for BIT will replace theexisting Indian Model BIT.  The revised model BIT will be usedfor re-negotiation of existing BITs and negotiation of future BITsand investment chapters in Comprehensive Economic CooperationAgreements (CECAs)/ Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements(CEPAs) / Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).

iii. The new Indian Model BIT text will provide appropriateprotection to foreign investors in India and Indian investors in theforeign country, in the light of relevant international precedentsand practices. Besides, it will maintain a balance between theinvestor's rights and the Government obligations.

iv. A BIT increases the comfort level and boosts the confidence ofinvestors by assuring a level playing field and non-discrimination inall matters while providing for an independent forum for disputesettlement by arbitration. In turn, BITs help project India as apreferred Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) destination as well asprotect outbound Indian FDI.

3. Union Cabinet approved MoU with BRICS for energyconservation

i. The Union Cabinet on 16 December 2015 gave its ex-post factoapproval to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Indiaand BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa) forstrengthening energy efficiency cooperation.

The MoU provides for

• Joint scientific and technological research
•Conferencing and holding of lectures and seminars
•Capacity building and technology transfer
•Technology development, sharing policies and best practices
•Encouragement of use of energy efficient and energy saving approachesand instruments in the work of the business entities of the BRICScountries, carried out within the BRICS countries in Consultationwith the host country.

4. Lalit Modi back as Rajasthan Cricket Associationpresident

i. After being ousted as president of the Rajasthan CricketAssociation (RCA) for 14 months, former IPL commissioner Lalit Modiwas, on Wednesday, reinstated.

ii. On Tuesday, Amin Pathan withdrew the ‘no confidence’motion against Modi, following which retired Justice Gyan SudhaMishra reinstated Modi. Justice Mishra said 15 RCA member-districtshad withdrawn their ‘no confidence’ motion “in the interests ofthe game.”

iii. Modi had been ousted in October 2014. In March, this year,Pathan had brought the ‘no confidence’ motion, after which thecourt intervened and RCA was temporarily barred from functioning forthe past nine months.

iv. In 2013, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) hadbanned Modi for life after it found him “guilty of committing actsof serious misconduct and indiscipline”. The BCCI later suspendedRCA after Modi was made its president.

v. However, Team Rajasthan is participating in tournaments underthe court’s permission even though there is no funding from theBCCI.

5. ISRO’ PSLV-C29 successfully launched 6 Singaporesatellites into space

i. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on 16 December 2015successfully launched 6 satellites of Singapore into Space. Thesatellites were launched using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle(PSLV) C29 from the first launch pad of the Satish Dhawan SpaceCentre (SDSC) at Sriharikotta in Andhra Pradesh.

ii. For the PSLV, it was the 32nd flight overall, and 31stconsecutive successful launch. It was also the 50th launch of a bigrocket from the SDSC since the launch of SLV-3 on 10 August 1979.

iii. On the technical front, the PSLV-C29 is significant for theISRO. In this launch, the rocket engine was switched off for sometime and then switched on successfully in the space. This mid-spaceswitch on & off facility is very crucial for a launch vehicle toplace on-board satellites into different orbits.

iv. With the present launch, ISRO has put into orbits 57 foreignsatellites belonging to 20 countries successfully. Significantly, thelist of countries includes scientifically advacned countries like theUSA, the UK, France and Germany among others.

6. Rohit Sharma to launch cricket comic series 'HyperTygers’

i. Cricketer Rohit Sharma along with Graphic India, UK-based ISMKomix and Cornerstone Sport are set to launch a new environmentalsuperhero team called 'Hyper Tygers’. The digital comic will befree to read on all devices from February 1 through Sharma’sFacebook page and the Graphic POP! Mobile app.

ii. “I’ve been a big fan of the work Graphic India has beendoing in the country to create new Indian superheroes. The idea tocollaborate with them to launch India’s first cricket-basedsuperhero comic made perfect sense,” said Sharma.

iii. “Hyper Tygers is an action-packed adventure around afuturistic game of cricket unlike anything we have today. The storyalso serves as a larger allegory to protect our planet and itsendangered wildlife, which is one of the great global challenges ofour time,” he added.

iv. Hyper Tygers is set in a futuristic India in the year 2077,charting the meteoric rise of a small Indian rural community andtheir cricket team, including their mysterious hero the Green Tyger.

v. “Rohit Sharma is the perfect partner to help us bring thisfuturistic cricket world to India and the hundreds of millions ofcricket fans in the country,”added Graphic’s Co-Founder &CEO, Sharad Devarajan.

7. Combined Commanders Conference held on INSVikramaditya off Kochi coast

i. Combined Commanders Conference, an annual tri-services eventchaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi was held on board INSVikramaditya about 50 kms off Kochi coast. This is the first timewhen the conference was held outside New Delhi.

ii. It was attended by Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar,National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval, all three services chiefsand other senior officers of three armed services.

Key facts

* The Conference is also known as the UnifiedCommanders’ Conference (UCC).
* During thisconference India’s defence policy, doctrine and operationalchallenges are discussed in detail.
* Primeminister also reviewed exercise like firing of surface-to-surfacemissile by INS Nirghat during this conference.
* Priorto conference PM revived the tri-services guard of honour at SouthernNaval Command.

8.  Supreme Court bans registration of new dieselSUVs, luxury cars in Delhi

i. Supreme Court has banned the registration of all diesel SUVs(Sports Utility Vechiles) and luxury cars in the entire NationalCapital Region (NCR) of Delhi.

ii. The ban will be valid to SUVs, luxury cars with enginecapacity of 2000 cc or more till March 31, 2016. The SC ruling aimsat curbing the alarming pollution level in Delhi.

iii. Presently, over 23 percent (around 8.5 million) of thevehicles on Delhi roads run on diesel and more than 1,400 new carsare added every day. These diesel vehicles produce much morecarcinogenic nitrogen oxide than petrol cars and are one main sourceof Particulate Matters.

9. IRCTC ties up with Paytm for e-catering payments

i. Train passengers will now find it easier to make onlinepayments for the food ordered through e-catering with Indian RailwayCatering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) entering into a tie-up withPaytm, a leading payment and e-commerce shopping website.

ii. “Our tie-up with Paytm will provide an additional paymentgateway for food of their choice. In the new age, we have to offerpassengers not only novel food options but also more convenientpayment methods. The arrangement with Paytm is an effort in thatdirection,” he pointed out.

iii. In order to popularise our operations, IRCTC has created auser-friendly website and has been sending SMS, E-mail to alle-ticket passengers. For e-catering facility, known as “Food onTrack”, IRCTC has already tied up with online delivery firm FoodPanda, enabling consumers to order from a variety of cuisine options.“We are in talks with several other reputed catering companies andfast food giants like McDonald’s, Bikanerwala, Nirula’s, SagarRatna, Wangs Kitchen, Sarvana Bhavan and Bittu Tikki Wala,” heinformed.

iv. Currently, IRCTC provides e-catering facility in 1516 trainswithout pantry cars. In addition, it provides station- based “FoodOn Track” facility at 45 stations including Howrah, New Delhi,Chennai Central, Mumbai Central, Delhi, Bangalore City, Patna,Lucknow, Bhubaneswar, Madurai and Amritsar among others.

v. The e-catering facility allows passengers to order meals whiletravelling, either online on www.ecatering.irctc.co.inor by making a phone call to 0120-2383892-99 or the toll-free numberat 1800-1034-139. They can also choose to do so through an SMS to 139by giving details of their PNR and seat number.

 

                                         Current Affairs - 16th December 2016
 

1. Arun Kumar Jain appointed Central Board of DirectTaxes Chairman

i. Senior revenue service officer Arun Kumar Jain on 15 December2015 was appointed Chairman of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).

ii. The appointment of Jain as the CBDT chairman was also approvedby the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.

iii. Jain will have short tenure of two months, till January 2016.

Who is Arun Kumar Jain?

• Arun Kumar Jain is a 1978 batch IndianRevenue Services officer.
• He was made actingChairman of the board following superannuation of Anita Kapur on 30November 2015.

2.  Pakistan successfully tests nuclear-capableShaheen-IA ballistic missile

i. Pakistan has successfully tested the nuclear-capable Shaheen-IAballistic missile with a range of 900 km.

ii. The test of the missile was aimed at re-validating severaldesign and technical parameters of the weapon system. However thelocation of the test was not disclosed by Pakistan Government.

iii. It is second nuclear capable missile test to be undertaken byPakistan in December 2015. Earlier Shaheen-III surface-to-surfaceballistic missile with a range of 2,750 km was tested.

3.  Apurvi Chandela wins gold medal at NationalShooting Championship

i. Apurvi Chandela from Rajasthan has won a Gold medal in the 59thNational Shooting Championship in Delhi.
 
ii. She won thegold medal in 10-metre Air Rifle event in women’s category byshooting 207.8 score in the finals.

iii. She was followed by Geetakshi Dixit (Rajasthan) at secondspot and Anjum Moudgil (Haryana) at third spot.

4.  Vijay Diwas observed across the country tocommemorate India’s victory in 1971 war

i. Vijay Diwas was observed across the country on 16 December2015. On this day, nation remembers martyrs, who laid down theirlives during Indo-Pak War of 1971.

ii. On this occasion, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, ArmyChief D S Suhag, Navy Chief R K Dhowan and Air Chief Arup Raharemembered martyrs and paid tributes at Amar Jawan Jyoti in NewDelhi.

5.  IAEA ends 12 year Iran Nuclear Weapon probe

i. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has ended its 12-yearinvestigation into concerns that Iran might be developing nuclearweapons.
 
ii. In this regard, IAEA Board of Governorshave passed a resolution ending its long-running inquiry against Ianbut allowing inspectors to continue to police the country’s nuclearprogramme.

iii. Earlier IAEA has concluded that Iran had conducted nuclearweapons-related research until 2003 and to a lesser extent until2009, but found no evidence was found.

iv. The move is seen as a key step towards lifting UN, EU and USsanctions and a symbolic victory for Iran.

6.  Arctic Region hits record high temperatureover land: NOAA

i. The average temperature over Arctic land for the year ending inSeptember 2015 was the highest on record indicating that the Arcticis warming twice as fast as other parts of the Earth.

ii. It was revealed by the annual Arctic Report Card of NationalOceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a federal agency of USfor monitoring condition of the oceans and the atmosphere.

iii. The temperatures in areas at latitude 60 degrees north andhigher i.e. over Arctic were 1.3 degrees Celsius above average forthe year ending in September 2015.

7.  World Bank approved 1.5 billion US dollar loanto support Clean India Campaign

i. The World Bank on 15 December 2015 approved a 1.5 billion USdollar loan for the ambitious Clean India Campaign (Swachh BharatMission).The loan was granted to support the government in itsefforts to ensure all citizens in rural areas have access to improvedsanitation and end the practice of open defecation by 2019.

ii. The loan will be used for Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) SupportOperation Project.

8.  SC appoints Virendra Singh as Lokayukta ofUttar Pradesh

i. The Supreme Court has appointed Justice (Retd) Virendra Singhas new Lokayukta of Uttar Pradesh.

ii. The Court exercises its right under Article 142 of theConstitution to make the appointment while regretting that itsseveral orders have not been "heeded" by the Constitutionalfunctionaries — the Chief Minister, the leader of opposition andthe Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court.

iii. In an unusual order, the Supreme Court on Wednesday exercisedits Constitutional authority and appointed former High Court judge,Justice Virendra Singh, as Lokayukta of Uttar Pradesh after the Stategovernment failed to comply with its directives.

iv. The Supreme Court observed that

* The failure of constitutional functionaries tocomply with the orders of the apex court of the country is deeplyregretted and astonishing.
* Expresseddispleasure that Chief Minister, leader of opposition and ChiefJustice of High Court failed to comply with its order.

9. Rory McIlroy bagged European Tour Golfer of the Yearaward

i. Rory McIlroy on 15 December 2015 was named the European TourGolfer of the Year. He received the award for the third time in fouryears.

ii. McIlroy bagged the European Tour Golfer of the Year awardafter a panel consisting of members of the golfing media unanimouslyvoted for him as the 2015 winner.

iii. Previously, McIlroy was named the European Tour Golfer of theYear in 2014 and 2012.

Who is Rory McIlroy?

• Born on 4 May 1989, Rory McIlroy is aNorthern Irish professional golfer from Holywood in County Down whois a member of both the European and PGA Tours.
•Currently World No. 3, he was World No. 1 in the OfficialWorld Golf Ranking for 95 weeks.
• He is afour-time major champion, winning the 2011 U.S Open, 2012 PGAChampionship, 2014 Open Championship, and 2014 PGA Championship. Heis the first European to win three different majors.
•In 2011 and 2014, he was named RTÉ Sports Person of the Year.
•In 2012, he was appointed Member of the Order of the BritishEmpire (MBE) in the New Year Honours for services to sport.

 

                                           Current Affairs - 15th December 2015
 

1. Indian-origin politician Pravin Gordhan becomesSouth Africa’s Finance Minister

i. An Indian-origin politician, Pravin Gordhan has been appointedas South Africa’s new Finance Minister. With this he becomescountry’s third Finance Minister in a week. He replaces David vanRooyen who was appointed on 10 November 2015. Earlier President JacobZuma had sacked incumbent Nhlanhla Nene from Finance Ministry.

ii. Born 12 April 1949 in Durban. He is trained and worked as apharmacist in Durban He was one of the main negotiators in thedrafting of South Africa’s democratic constitution from 1991-1994.

iii. He had served as a commissioner in South Africa’s revenueservice (SARS) from 1999-2009 Gordhan had served as Finance Ministerfrom 2009-2014 and was widely respected for his work.

iv. Prior to this appointment he was serving as Minister ofCooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

2. Operation Smile-II to start from 1 January 2016

i. Union Government on 14 December 2015 requested the states andUnion Territories (UT) to start Operation Smile-II from 1 January2016. The operation will end on 31 January 2016.

ii. In this regard, the Union Home Secretary, Rajiv Mehrishi haswritten a letter to the Chief Secretaries of all states and UnionTerritories for participation in Operation Smile-II in theirrespective State/UT.

iii. Operation Smile-II is a campaign to rescue/rehabilitate themissing children. It is a follow up of the exercise Operation Smilethat helped in rescuing and rehabilitating 9146 missing children.

iv. All children residing in shelter homes, platforms, bus stands,roads, religious places and others will be screened by trained policepersonnel. Before 1 January 2016, the Police Personnel from eachstate will be properly trained in methodology to extract informationfrom such children tactfully without their getting intimidated.

v. The police personnel will also be trained about variousprovisions like Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO)Act, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) JJ Act,Protection of Child Right Act and others.

3. Renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman won 2016 GenesisPrize

i. Renowned Israeli-US violinist Itzhak Perlman on 14 December2015 was announced as the 2016 Genesis Prize Laureate for hisaccomplishments as a musician, teacher and advocate for people withdisabilities.

ii. Perlman will receive the award on 23 June 2016 from Israel’sPrime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at a ceremony in Jerusalem.

About Itzhak Perlman

• Perlman was born on 31 August 1945 in TelAviv.
• He contracted polio at age four.
•He first became interested in the violin after hearing aclassical music performance on the radio.
• Hetaught himself how to play the instrument using a toy fiddle.
•He studied with Rivka Goldgart at the Shulamit Conservatoryand at the Academy of Music in Tel Aviv, where he gave his firstrecital at age 10.
• Later, he moved to theUnited States to study at the Juilliard School with the violinpedagogue Ivan Galamian and his assistant Dorothy DeLay.
•His one of the notable performances was at the state dinner attendedby Queen Elizabeth II on 7 May 2007 in the East Room at the WhiteHouse.
• He has been honoured with 16 GRAMMYAwards and four Emmy Awards. In 2008, he was given a Grammy LifetimeAchievement Award for excellence in the recording arts.
•In 1986, he received the Medal of Liberty from PresidentReagan. In 2000, he received the National Medal of Arts fromPresident Clinton. In 2015, he received the Presidential Medal ofFreedom from President Obama.

4. Anirban Lahiri wins Order of Merit crown of AsianTour

i. India’s star golfer Anirban Lahiri (28) has won the covetedOrder of Merit crown of Asian Tour for year 2015. In the 2015 seasonworld No. 41, Lahiri has earned $1,139,084 a way ahead ofsecond-placed Scott Hend of Australia who has earned $491,631.

ii. With this he became only the fourth Indian golfer to win thiscoveted award after Jeev Milkha Singh (2006, 2008), Arjun Atwal(2003) and Jyoti Randhawa (2002). Anirban Lahiri has won twice on theAsia’s premier Tour to be ranked into the world’s top-50 golfers.

iii. He has posted a top-five finish in a Major (PGA Championship)that helped him to mak his maiden appearance at the Presidents Cupand earning his PGA Tour card. Earlier in 2015 Season, Lahiri had wonthe Malaysian Open and the Indian Open within a span of three weeksin February 2015. He recorded five other top-10 finishes around theworld in the season.

5. United Nations Human Development Report 2015released

i. The United Nations Human Development Report 2015 was releasedon 14 December 2015 with the title Work for Human Development inEthiopia. As per the report, 2 billion people lifted out of low humandevelopment in last 25 years.

ii. The report urges governments to act to ensure no one is leftbehind in the fast-changing world of work. It calls for equitable anddecent work for all.

iii. In the 2015 report, India with a score of 0.609 has beenranked 130 out of 188 countries in terms of Human Development Index(HDI). In the 2014 report, India was ranked 135 out of 187 countries.

Highlights of the report

• With better health and education outcomes andreductions in extreme poverty, 2 billion people have moved out of lowhuman development levels in the last 25 years.
• 830million people are classified as working poor who live on under 2 USdollars a day.
• Over 200 million people,including 74 million youth, are unemployed, while 21 million peopleare currently in forced labour.
• Women carryout 52 percent of all global work, however glaring inequalities inthe distribution of work remain there.
• Womenare less likely to be paid for their work than men, with three out ofevery four hours of unpaid work carried out by women. While, menaccount for two of every three hours of paid work.
•When women are paid, they earn globally 24 percent less thanmen on average.
• Globalization andtechnological changes are producing an increasingly polarized worldof work for example, the rise of e-commerce and the mass outsourcingof banking, ICT-support, and other services.
• Today,there are seven billion mobile phone subscriptions, 2.3 billionpeople with smart phones, and 3.2 billion with internet access.
•In 2015, 81 percent of households in developed countries haveinternet access, but only 34 percent in developing regions and 7percent in the least developed countries have that access.
•The report warns that many types of routine work arepredicted to disappear or be replaced by computers while many moreworkers face other insecurities.
• The reportstresses the key roles that work can play in achieving theSustainable Development Goals (SDG). It estimates that around 45million additional health workers will be needed to meet SDG.

6. Saudi Arabia launched 34-nation Islamic MilitaryCoalition to counter terrorism

i. Saudi Arabia on 15 December 2015 announced the launch ofIslamic Military Coalition to counter terrorism. The coalition willbe led by Saudi Arabia and see the participation of 34 nations.

ii. It was established in pursuance of the principles andobjectives of the charter of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation(OIC), which calls for member states to cooperate to combat terrorismin all its forms and manifestations.

iii. The coalition includes nations with large and establishedarmies such as Pakistan, Turkey and Egypt as well as war-torncountries such as Libya and Yemen.

iv. It will have a joint operations center based in Saudi Arabia’scapital, Riyadh.

7. Maharashtra Government constituted a task force forsetting up an IFSC in Mumbai

i. The Maharashtra government on 11 December 2015 constituted atask force for setting up an International Financial Service Centre(IFSC) in Mumbai. The task force will be headed by Union Minister ofState for Finance Jayant Sinha.

ii. The task force includes, Union Minister of State for FinanceJayant Sinha (chairman), Lok Sabha MP from Mumbai North CentralPoonam Mahajan (deputy chairman), Maharashtra Chief SecretarySwadheen Kshtriya, MMRDA Commissioner UPS Madan, Principal SecretaryUrban development Nitin Kareer, A representative from the Departmentof Economic Affairs, Union Government, OSD in the Chief MinistersOffice (CMO) Kaustubh Dhavse will be Member Convenor.

8. West Bengal Government honoured Bappi Lahiri andKumar Sanu with Lifetime Achievement Awards

i. The West Bengal Government on 14 December 2015 honoured musiccomposer Bappi Lahiri and singer Kumar Sanu with Lifetime AchievementAwards. State Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee handed over the awardsat the inauguration of the annual Bangla Sangeet Mela.

ii. Besides, Bollywood musician Shantanu Moitra was awarded withthe Sangeet Mahasamman Award. The Bishesh Sangeet Samman was awardedto Dwijen Mukhyopadhyay, Ajoy Chakraborty and Sandhya Mukherjee.

iii. Vocalists Nachiketa, Sriradha Bandyopadhyay, Dileep KumarBose and Fakir Alamgir were honoured with Special Sangeet Samman.

iv. In addition, it was announced at the function that SangeetMela will be held for the next 10 days at different venues where 5000artists will participate. A monthly honorarium of 1000 will be givento 50000 folk artists.

 

                                    Current Affairs - 13th & 14th December 2015

 

1. Saudi voters elected women candidates for first timein Municipal council polls

i. Saudi Arabian voters on 12 December 2015 voted to elect womenin at least 18 municipal council seats. This was a historic localelections in Saudi Arabia in which women were allowed to vote and runfor office for the first time. This event occurred for the first timein the history of the country. The results of the election weredeclared on 13 December 2015.

ii. The winners hailed from different parts of the nation, rangingfrom largest city to the small village near Islam’s holiest site.The conservative capital of Riyadh saw the most women candidates win,with four elected. Salma bint Hizab al-Oteibi was elected to thecouncil of Madrakah, a region in Mecca.

iii. Though there are no quotas for female council members, anadditional 1050 seats are appointed with approval by the king whocould use his powers to ensure more women are represented. Women arestill not allowed to drive and are governed by guardianship laws thatgive men final say over aspects of their lives like marriage, traveland higher education.

iv. The women were allowed to vote and contest in the municipalelection in accordance to the royal decree issued in 2011. As per thedecree, only 978 women were registered as candidates on 284 councils,however many were barred from registering by the authorities.

2. Mumbai Police Commissioner Ahmad Javed appointed asAmbassador to Saudi Arabia

i. Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on 11 December 2015appointed Mumbai Police Commissioner Ahmad Javed as the Ambassador toSaudi Arabia. He is expected to take up his assignment shortly.

ii. His appointment to the post will fill the vacancy which waslying vacant since retirement of Hamid Ali Rao in April 2015. Javed,a 1980-batch IPS officer from Maharashtra Cadre, is scheduled toretire on 31 January 2016.

iii. With this, Javed became the 20th Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.He is also the fourth IPS officer to be appointed as an Ambassador,which is generally is a domain of Indian Forest Service officers.

iv. IPS officer Julio Ribeiro, who was Mumbai Police Commissionerfrom 1982 to 1985, also served as Indian Ambassador to Romania.

3. Indian-origin writer J M Sali won 2015 South EastAsian Write Award for Singapore

i. Indian-origin Tamil writer Jamaludeen Mohamed Sali on 11December 2015 was declared as the winner of the prestigious SouthEast Asian Write Award for Singapore. Sali will receive the award forliterary excellence on 14 December 2015 at a ceremony in Bangkok.

ii. Born in Madras in 1939, J M Sali was invited to Singapore atthe age of 25 to be an assistant editor at the Tamil Murasu newspaperby its founder, the late G Sarangapani. Sali worked for localbroadcasting station, Singapore Broadcasting Corporation, as abroadcast journalist.

iii. He produced books on famous people including martial art iconBruce Lee and legendary boxer Muhammad Ali. He retired in 2000 fromjournalism to do full-time writing and translation work. His famousshort stories and novels are Vellai Kodugal (White Lines) and AlaigalPesuginrana (The Sound of the Waves). They are now studied by Tamilliterature students in Singaporean and Indian universities.

iv. Since 1979, the Southeast Asian Write Awards (S.E.A. WriteAwards) is presented annually to poets and writers of Southeast Asia.The awards are given to the writers from each of the countries thatcomprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, though not allcountries in ASEAN are represented every year. The award is sometimesgiven for a specific work by an author, or it could be awarded forlifetime achievement.

4. Vijay Kumar won gold in the 59th National shootingchampionship

i. Vijay Kumar on 13 December 2015 won the centre fire pistol goldin the 59th National shooting championship at the Dr Karni SinghRange in Tughlakabad in New Delhi. The 15 day event began on 1December 2015.

ii. To win the gold, Vijay Kumar scored 588 points to pip GurpreetSingh by two points. Vijay Kumar won the silver medal in the 25mrapid fire pistol event in 2012 Olympics held in London.

5.  Dilip Kumar gets Padma Vibhushan award

i. Legendary actor Dilip Kumar was today presented the PadmaVibhushan by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh at the thespian’sresidence in suburban Bandra.

ii. Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao, Chief Minister DevendraFadnavis, were among other dignitaries present at the actor’s homewhen he received the award.

iii. The announcement to honour Bollywood veterans Kumar, AmitabhBachchan and a few others with the prestigious Padma Vibhushan awardwas made by the government on the eve of Republic Day on January 25,2015.

iv. However, Kumar, due to ill-health, could not attend thespecial function held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in April when otherPadma awardees were honoured by President Pranab Mukherjee.

v. Born as Muhammad Yousuf Khan in Peshawar, Kumar made his debutas an actor in the film “Jwar Bhata” in 1944 produced by BombayTalkies.

vi. The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushanaward in 1991, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1994 and the PadmaVibhushan earlier this year, for his exceptional and distinguishedcontribution to the Indian cinema.

6. COP 21 under UNFCCC adopted Paris Agreement onClimate Change

i. Conference of the Parties 21 (COP 21) under the United NationsFramework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on 12 December 2015adopted the Paris Agreement on Climate Change which was attended by192 parties. India was represented by Union Minister for Environment,Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar.

ii. The agreement facilitates enforcement of global green houseemission reduction measures in the post-2020 (post Kyoto Protocol)scenario. It was prepared based on consensus among the partiesincorporating Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) ofthe respective parties including that of India.

iii. And, the agreement took into account the principle of equityand common but differentiated responsibilities and respectivecapabilities in the light of different national circumstances.

iv. The primary objective of the protocol is to limit the globalaverage temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels.Efforts will be made to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °Cabove pre-industrial levels so that it will be possible to reduce therisks and impacts of climate change.

v. The global environmental protocol took into account theprinciple of common but differentiated responsibility (CBDR) toensure climate justice which has been advocated by India for a longtime. It strikes the right balance between national developmentalneeds of developing and small island nations and global environmentalnecessities by incorporating the INDCs under which countries willpublicly outline what post-2020 climate actions they intend to take.

vi. It was adopted in the light of the 2030 Agenda for SustainableDevelopment in particular its goal 13 that advocates for urgentaction to combat climate change.

7. Construction work of TAPI Gas Pipeline started

i. Construction work on the TAPI(Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) Gas Pipeline projectstarted in Turkmenistan on 13 December 2015.  The work startedafter the button to begin the welding process of the project waspressed.

ii. The button was pressed by Vice President of India Hamid Ansarialong with Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif, President ofAfghanistan Ashraf Ghani and President of Turkmenistan GurbangulyBerdimohamedov.

iii. The TAPI project is intended to deliver Caspian Sea naturalfrom the energy-rich former Soviet republic Turkmenistan to threeSouth Asian countries.

iv. The pipeline will carry the gas from the Dauletabad gas fieldin Turkmenistan to the Indian town of Fazilka, in the Punjab near thePakistan-India border. The pipeline will cross the Afghan cities ofHerat and Kandahar as well as Pakistan cities of Quetta and Multan.

v. Turkmenistan will lead the consortium to build the project andthe remaining members will invest according to the techno-commercialviability, shareholders agreement and investment agreement.

vi. The abbreviation TAPI comes from the first letters of thosecountries. Proponents of the project see it as a modern continuationof the Silk Road.

8. Mascot and Logo of 2016 South Asian Games unveiled

i. Orgnaising committee of 12th South Asian Games (OC-SAG) on 13December 2014 unveiled mascot of the games and logo at ITA CulturalCenter Machkhowa in Guwahati, Assam.

ii. The mascot Tikhor is a one horned rhino and is the brandambassador of the games carries the message of peace, stability,amity and progress in the South Asian region. On the other hand, thelogo has eight petals representing the countries participating in themega event.

iii. The mega event will be jointly held in Guwahati and Shillongfrom 6 February to 16 February 2016.

 

                                         Current Affairs - 12th December 2015
 

1. Salman Rushdie honoured with Mailer Prize forLifetime Achievement

i. India-born author Salman Rushdie on 10 December 2015 wasawarded the prestigious Mailer Prize for lifetime achievement.American experimental performance artist Laurie Anderson presentedthe award to Rushdie at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York City.

ii. The prestigious Mailer Prize honours writers who fullyexercise their freedom of creativity and thrive on dialogue anddebate.

About Salman Rushdie

• Rushdie is the author of famous books like,Booker Prize winner Midnight’s Children, and controversial TheSatanic Verses.
• His most recent novel, TwoYears Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, was published in theEnglish language in September 2015.
• He is aFellow of the British Royal Society of Literature.
• Hehas received the Whitbread Prize for Best Novel (twice), the Writers’Guild Award, the European Union’s Aristeion Prize for Literature,the London International Writers’ Award and a US National ArtsAward.
• He holds honorary doctorates andfellowships at six European and six American universities. He is alsoan Honorary Professor in the Humanities at MIT and UniversityDistinguished Professor at Emory University.

2. Myanmar launched its first UNESCO Biosphere ReserveInle Lake

i. Myanmar on 11 December 2015 launched its first UNSECO BiosphereReserve Inle Lake in Shan state. The Inle Lake was designated asUNESCO Biosphere reserve in Paris in June 2015. With this, Myanmarfulfilled its commitment to bio-diversity and eco-system conservationunder the UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Prorgamme.

ii. The inscription of Inle Lake as one of the world naturalheritage sites by the UN Educational, Scientific and CulturalOrganisation (UNESCO) came after that of Myanmar's three Pyu ancientcities in June 2014.

iii. The Inle Lake is spread in an area of 489721 hectares andlocated in Nyaungshwe township, Taunggyi district in Myanmar'seastern Shan state. The lake gets funding from the government ofNorway under the framework of the Inle Lake Conservation andRehabilitation project.

iv. The wetland ecosystem of this freshwater lake is home to 267species of birds, out of which 82 are wetland birds, 43 species offreshwater fishes, otters and turtles. The Inle Lake is reported tobe the nesting place for globally endangered Sarus crane.

3. Indian cyclist Deborah Herold became World No. 4Cyclist

i. Indian cyclist Deborah Herold on 11 December 2015 became thefirst Indian female cyclist to be ranked fourth in the World EliteWomen Ranking for the 500m time trial event. The ranking was issuedby cycling world body International Cycling Union (UCI).

ii. Besides, the Indian team also improved its world ranking to13th. India is the highest ranking Asian country in 500m time trial.China fetched the 15th spot in the ranking.

iii. 20-year-old Deborah is a tribal girl from Andaman and NicobarIslands who survived the 2004 Tsunami that devastated the islands.She was trained at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre inAndaman and emerged as one of the rising stars of Indian cycling.

iv. In October 2015, Deborah became the first ever Indian to winfive medals at the Taiwan Cup Track International Classic, includinga gold, three silver and a bronze. In November 2014, the Indiancyclist had won four gold medals at the Track Asia Cup CyclingChampionship 2014.

4. UNESCO designated Varanasi and Jaipur as members ofCreative Cities Network

i. Two Indian cities, Varanasi and Jaipur, on 11 December 2015have made it to the Creative City Network of the United NationsEducational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for thefirst time ever. Varanasi and Jaipur made it to the network in thecategories, City of Music and City of Crafts and Folk Artrespectively.

ii. UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, announced thedesignation of 47 cities from 33 countries as new members of theUNESCO Creative Cities Network. India had applied for the first timeto UNESCO in these categories in 2015.

iii. Varanasi was advocated as a perfect example of India'sintangible cultural heritage as a combination of a temple city withits rich tradition in music. The Varanasi School of Music or theBenaras Gharana is named after the holy city of Varansi. Semiclassical genres like Hori, Chaiti, Tappa, Daadra trace city’s richmusical heritage.

iv. The Government of Rajasthan nominated Jaipur under theCreative Cities Network for its art and craft. The city identifies 36varieties of crafts including the ones related to Sculpture, PotteryTextiles and Jewellery making. Right from King Sawai Jai Singh II ofJaipur in 18th Century to his successors, the city has been nurturedas a centre of artistic excellence.

5. Elizabeth Susan Koshy clinched gold in 59th NationalShooting Championships

i. Kerala’s Elizabeth Susan Koshy on 11 December 2015 won theWomen's 50m Rifle 3 Positions Gold at the 59th National ShootingChampionships held at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting range in New Delhi.Haryana’s Anjum Moudgil won the silver medal and Gaayathri N ofTamil Nadu fetched the bronze in the championship.

ii. On the other hand, Commonwealth Games gold medalist TejaswiniSawant along with veteran Anjali Bhagwat and Priyal Keni won the teamgold for Maharashtra in the event, in which the Railways won silverand Haryana won bronze.

iii. Born on 10 May 1994, Koshy made her international debut atthe Junior meet in Germany in 2011. In 2011, she won five gold medalsin Thiruvananthapuram at the State championship.

iv. She won silver in the Asian Shooting Championships andrepresented India in the 2013 and 2014 World Cups. She won gold inthe 2015 National Games women's 50m Rifle Prone event, the first forKerala.

6. Wipro won 2015 Aegis Graham Bell Award forinnovation in IoT

i. Global software giant Wipro on 11 December 2015 announced thatit won the 2015 Aegis Graham Bell Award for developing a solution forthe Internet of Things (IoT). Wipro’s IoT solution, Universal DataParser (UDP), fetched the prestigious award.

ii. The Aegis School of Business established the Aegis Graham BellAwards as a tribute to the father of the telephony, Sir AlexanderGraham Bell.

iii. The award is intended to promote innovation, entrepreneurshipin the field of Telecom, Internet, Media & Edutainment (TIME) andto provide recognition for outstanding contributions in this field inIndia.

iv. The awards are organized with support of Cellular OperatorsAssociation of India (COAI), and Telecom Centres of Excellence (TCOE)India.

7. National Commission for Safai Karamcharisrecommended to make it a Permanent and Statutory Body

i. National Commission for Safai Karamcharis presented its AnnualReport 2014-15 to the Union Minister for Social Justice andEmpowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot on 11 December 2015.

ii. It recommended make the Commission a permanent and statutorybody with powers of Civil Court to lend it more credibility. TheContract system should be abolished and ensure payment of minimumwages for Safai Karamcharis. Death victims among Safai Karamcharisshould be compensated with a minimum 10 lakh rupees as has alreadybeen ordered by the Supreme Court

iii. National Commission for Safai Karamcharis was constituted on12 August 1994 for a period of 3 years under the National Commissionfor Safai Karamcharis Act, 1993. It was constituted to promote andsafeguard the interests and rights of Safai Karamcharis.

iv. The Commission comprises of a Chairperson, a Vice-Chairpersonand five Members.  All the members of the Commission arenominated from amongst the persons of eminence connected with thesocio-economic development and welfare of Safai Karamcharis, by theCentral Government. It also provides that at least one of the Membersshall be a woman.

8. India and Japan signed protocol to amend doubletaxation avoidance pact

i. The Government of India and the Government of Japan on 11December 2015 inked a protocol for amending the existing conventionfor the avoidance of double taxation and for the prevention of fiscalevasion with respect to taxes on income.

ii. The existing convention was signed in 1989. The protocol wassigned by Dr Hasmukh Adhia, Revenue Secretary on behalf of India.Kenji Hiramatsu, Ambassador of Japan signed the protocol on behalf ofthe Government of Japan.

iii. The protocol provides for internationally accepted standardsfor effective exchange of information on tax matters including bankinformation and information without domestic tax interest.

iv. It provides that the information received from Japan inrespect of a resident of India can be shared with other lawenforcement agencies with authorisation of the competent authority ofJapan and vice versa.

v. It also provides that India and Japan will lend assistance toeach other in the collection of revenue claims. It provides forexemption of interest income from taxation in the source country withrespect to debt-claims insured by the Government/Government ownedfinancial institutions.

9. Prakash Kumar Singh is new SAIL chairman

i. After  remaining headless for over three months, state-runSteel Authority of India (SAIL) on Thursday got a new chairman in57-year-old Prakash Kumar Singh.

ii. The task of the new chairman would be daunting considering thecurrent state of affairs of the industry and the company which hasreported a net loss for the first two quarters of the current fiscaland is set to report a net loss after a gap of 13 years.

ii. SAIL has incurred a net loss of R1,378 crore in H1, FY16 whichincludes a net loss of R1,056 crore during the second quarter. Thesituation of the industry is unlikely to change in the immediatefuture in the face of galloping imports and subdued consumption.Though the government has tried to rein in inward shipment throughvarious trade barriers, these are yet to beard desired results.

iii. From a management trainee appointed in 1980, P K Singh waschosen to become the chairman of the country’s largest steelmakerin the public sector by government head-hunter Public EnterprisesSelection Board (PESB) recommended in September the name of Singh.

iv. The post of permanent chairman in the company has been lyingvacant since incumbent CS Verma was refused an extension by thegovernment in June.

 

                                         Current Affairs - 11th December 2015
 

1. Myanmar inaugurated Yangon Stock Exchange

i. Myanmar on 9 December 2015 inaugurated a new stock exchange,named Yangon Stock Exchange (YSX), with plans for six companies tostart trading in March 2016.

ii. Initially, the Yangon Stock Exchange will be open only toMyanmar companies and investors and will eventually allow foreignersto invest in Myanmar shares.

iii. The exchange was set up by local companies in a joint venturewith Daiwa Institute of Research Japan and Japan Exchange Group,which operates the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

iv. It is hoped that the opening of stock market will helpcompanies raise capital and fuel economic development in Myanmar,which is one of Asia's poorest countries. Myanmar's economy wasstunted by decades of international sanctions until military rulersyielded to a civilian government in 2010.

2. World’s first dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia, approvedfor use in Mexico

i. The Mexican authorities on 9 December 2015 approved the use ofthe first-ever vaccine against dengue fever, which will be publiclyavailable for the first time.

ii. French manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur declared that the Mexicanauthorities have granted marketing authorization to Dengvaxia, thevaccine against dengue fever.

Key facts related to Dengvaxia vaccine

• Sanofi has requested regulatory approval ofDengvaxia vaccine in 20 countries across Asia and Latin America, butMexico was the first to green flag it.
• TheFederal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks(COFEPRIS) approved Dengvaxia for the prevention of disease caused byall four dengue virus serotypes in preadolescents, adolescents andadults, 9 to 45 years of age living in endemicareas.
•The COFEPRIS approval of Dengvaxia is based on results froman extensive clinical development program involving over 40000 peopleof different ages, geographic and epidemiological settings, andethnic and socio-economic backgrounds living in 15 countries.
•According to a World Health Organization (WHO) reportpublished in late 2014, the vaccine had an average rate ofeffectiveness of about 60.8 percent in protecting against the fourstrains of dengue now circulating.

3. International Cricket Council announced OPPO asGlobal Partner

i. The International Cricket Council on 10 December 2015 announcednew global partnership with OPPO, one of the world’s leading mobiletelephone device companies.

ii. ICC roped in OPPO on a four-year deal which runs from 2016until 2020.

iii. In October 2015, ICC had entered into an eight-year globalpartnership deal with Japanese car maker Nissan Motor Company.

About OPPO

• OPPO Electronics Corp. is a Chineseelectronics manufacturer based in Dongguan, Guangdong province,China.
• The company’s major product linesinclude smartphones and Blu-ray Disc players .
• Thecompany was globally registered in 2001 and founded in 2004.
•OPPO has a strong presence in more than 20 countries and asignificant number of regions worldwide, including Australia, China,USA and right across Africa, Europe, the Middle East, South Asia andSoutheast Asia.

4. Udai Kumar to take over as MD & CEO ofMetropolitan SE

i. The Metropolitan Stock Exchange (formerly MCX Stock Exchange)is set to appoint its interim Managing Director and CEO Udai Kumar asMD & CEO. The equities and commodities market regulator SEBI isexpected to clear the appointment soon. Kumar was the lead runneramong the two other candidates shortlisted from foreign and publicsector banks, said sources.

ii. The appointment will create a vacancy for the MD’s post atthe exchange’s clearing corporation as Kumar was playing the dualrole of heading both the organisations. In October, Kumar was askedto lead the exchange as a stop-gap arrangement after the incumbentManaging Director and Chief Executive Officer Saurabh Sarkarresigned.

iii. Kumar, who has experience of over two decades, is expected toplay a key role in the turnaround strategy of the exchange, whichposted a loss of Rs. 15 crore during the September quarter againstRs. 12 crore in the same period last year.

iv. He has worked in senior capacity with large institutions, suchas JM Financial Consultants, JM Morgan Stanley, Centrum Capital andFortune Financial. He joined Metropolitan Clearing Corporation fromInter-connected Stock Exchange where he was Managing Director.

5. Naseeruddin Shah receives lifetime achievement awardat DIFF

i. Veteran Bollywood actor Naseeruddin Shah was honoured with thelifetime achievement award at the Dubai International Film Festival(DIFF). French actress Catherine Deneuve also received the award. Thestars shared the podium with the likes of Egyptian actor Ezzat AlAlayli, award-winning French-Tunisian actor Sami Bouajila at the galaWednesday night opening.

ii. The 12th edition of the festival opened with the screening ofLenny Abrahamson’s suspenseful and heartrending drama ‘Room’based on Emma Donoghue’s 2010 best-selling novel of the same name.

iii. Actor Michael B. Jordan, Deepa Mehta and Anu Menon, JacobTremblay, the young star of ‘Room’ walked the red carpet.

iv. ‘Room’ starring Brie Larson, tells the extraordinary taleof a young mother and her five year-old son living out their lives inthe confines of a tiny windowless room. Hollywood actor JakeGyllenhaal is also expected to attend the festival.

6. Kapil Chopra to head world tourism council

i. Kapil Chopra, President, The Oberoi Group, has been appointedas the Chairman of World Travel & Tourism Council, IndiaInitiative (WTTCII) for 2016, a statement from the hotel group saidon Thursday.

ii. The Annual General Meeting of the WTTCII was held on December9. Chopra, who served as the council’s Vice-Chairman for 2015,takes over from Manav Thadani, Chairman, HVS, South Asia. iii.Ashwani Lohani, Chairman & Managing Director, Air India, has beenappointed as the Vice-Chairman of WTTCII for 2016.

7. Sharad Pawar’s autobiography On My Terms released

i. Sharad Pawar's On My Terms: From the Grassroots to theCorridors of Power, an autobiography of Sharad Pawar was released byPrime Minister Narendra Modi on 10 December 2015. The book wasreleased on the 75th birthday of Pawar, the Maratha strongman and theleader of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

ii. In this book, Pawar has detailed his experiences of politicaland social issues spanning 50 years. He, in his book, has provided adetailed account of the reason which helped in creation of roughpatches in his relation with Rajiv Gandhi. He tells that hisproximity with Chandra Shekhar brought rough patches to his ties withRajiv.

iii. Born on 12 December, 1940 in Katewadi village of Baramatitehsil of Maharashtra, he is the only leader of the state, who becameChief Minister 4 times.  He also held cabinet minister portfolioin several Congress led Government's at the centre.

iv. A heavyweight in national politics and NCP President SharadPawar has completed 75 years of his life and a political innings of55 years.

 

                                         Current Affairs - 10th December 2015
 

1. India’s Kartik Sawhney and Neha Swain won 2016Queen's Young Leaders Award

i. Two Indians, Kartik Sawhney and Neha Swain, have won the 2016Queen's Young Leaders award in the United Kingdom which will bepresented by the British monarch in Buckingham Palace in June 2016.Sawhney and Swain have won the prestigious award for theirexceptional work in transforming the lives of others and making alasting difference in their communities.

ii. Kartik Sawhney was born blind. He discovered that blindstudents were unable to pursue science after Grade 10. Therefore, heappealed and enrolled as India's first Grade 11 blind sciencestudent. He founded Project STEMAccess, which offers hands-on scienceworkshops in India, as well as virtual training sessions. He isacknowledged for his exceptional work highlighting universal accessto education for all.

iii. Neha Swain is a youth facilitator and co-founder of NGORubaroo. The NGO provides an inclusive space for young people,irrespective of their socio-economic background, to develop theirleadership skills through interactive workshops. Her team providesworkshops to schools in India free of charge and has so far workedwith nearly 2000 young people in Hyderabad.

iv. The Queen’s Young Leader Award recognises and celebratesexceptional people aged 18-29 from across the Commonwealth. The awardis given to youths who are taking the lead in their communities andusing their skills to transform lives.

2. Human Rights Day observed across the world

i. Human Rights Day was on 10 December 2015 observed across theworld.  It aimed to promote and raise awareness of the twoCovenants of Human Rights Day- International Covenant on EconomicSocial and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the International Covenant onCivil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

ii. On the occasion of the day that marks 50th anniversary ofthese two International Covenants, the United Nations (UN) HumanRights Office launched Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always, a year-longcampaign to shine a light on the inalienable and inherent rights ofglobal citizens.

iii. The Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always campaign revolves aroundthe timeless themes of rights and freedom and the relevance of thework that continues in securing and ensuring them.

iv. At its core, FREEDOM underpins the International Bill of HumanRights- freedom from fear, freedom of speech, freedom of worship andfreedom from want.

v. Human Rights Day commemorates the day on which the UnitedNations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the Universal Declaration ofHuman Rights in 1948. In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423(V), inviting all States and interested organizations to observe 10December of each year as Human Rights Day.

3. TIME Magazine named German Chancellor Merkel as 2015‘Person of the Year’

i. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was named as 2015 Person of theYear on 9 December 2015 by Time Magazine. The magazine cited her rolein Europe’s crisis over migration and Greek debt.

ii. The announcement was made by Editor Nancy Gibbs, who in praiseof Merkel said that Merkel had provided steadfast moral leadership ina world, where it is in short supply.

iii. Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was named runner-upand third place went to US Presidential candidate Donald Trump.

iv. With this, Merkel, 61, joined the list of former winners,including Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin,Mahatma Gandhi, WinstonChurchill and Richard Nixon. She is only the fourth woman since 1927to be named winner outright and the first in 29 years. The otherwomen to win were Wallis Simpson (1936), Queen Elizabeth II (1952)and Corazon Aquino (1986).

4. Sustained co-operation needed for cleaning Ganga:Bharati

i. Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharati today called forsustained co-operation from the HRD Ministry for ensuring successfulimplementation of the 'Namami Gange' programme, by intervening inareas like rural sanitation and adult education on environment.

ii. Addressing a meeting regarding role of IITs and educationalinstitutes in the ambitious programme here today, she mentioned areaswhere HRD's intervention is "specifically" required.

iii. Bharati also mentioned the major challenge before thegovernment is to keep the Ganga clean with approximately 20 crorepeople taking dip in it every year. "Small stretches of ruralareas can be adopted by educational institutes for treatment of smalldrains carrying rural sewage and solid waste and facilitate inproviding 100 per cent rural sanitation," the ministry quotedBharti as saying in a statement.

iv. Speaking on the occasion Union Minister for HRD Smriti Iraniproposed a three-pronged approach for the involvement of her ministryin the programme. It was mutually agreed that secretaries of both theministries will discuss these possible approaches and identifyactionable points through which HRD Ministry can be involved in theprogramme. The action plan will include 'goal posts' for three monthsand review of the progress every six months.

5. Mahela Jayawardene awarded honorary lifetimemembership of MCC

i. Former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene on 9 December 2015was awarded with an honorary life membership of the MaryleboneCricket Club (MCC). MCC awarded the honorary life membership of theclub to recognise Jayawardene's stellar career in which he played 149Test matches and scored 11814 runs at an average of 49.84.

ii. Jayawardene became the 14th Sri Lankan to be awarded with MCCHonorary Life Membership. Kumar Sangakkara, Muttiah Muralitharan andChaminda Vaas were awarded with the same.

iii. MCC is a cricket club in London. It was founded in 1787. Itowns, and is based at, Lord's Cricket Ground in St John's Wood,London NW8. It was formerly the governing body of cricket both inEngland and Wales as well as worldwide. In 1993, many of its globalfunctions were transferred to the International Cricket Council(ICC).

6. ADB released Asian Economic Integration Report 2015

i. Asian Development Bank (ADB) on 8 December 2015 released areport entitled Asian Economic Integration Report 2015: How CanSpecial Economic Zones Catalyze Economic Development? The reportexamined current trends in trade, finance, migration, remittances andother economic activities in the region, with a special chapter onthe role of special economic zones (SEZs).

ii. Asia’s income elasticity of trade declined from 2.69 beforethe global financial crisis (2008-09) to 1.30 in 2015. The value ofAsia’s intermediate goods trade—almost 60 percent of totaltrade—contracted 2.6 percent in 2014.

iii. Structural factors for the above decline include a generaltrend of rebalancing away from export and investment towardconsumption and services. And, the slowdown in the expansion ofglobal and regional value chains after decades of rapid expansion andChina’s growth moderation.

iv. However, regional trade integration is moving steady and Asiain general trades more with regional partners than outside theregion. Asia has become an important source of outbound investment,with FDI outflows outstripping inflows, growing over 45 percentbetween 2010 and 2014.

v. Special economic zones (SEZs) can be a driving force forincreased trade, investment and economic reform in Asia at a time theregion is experiencing a slowdown in trade, provided the rightbusiness environments and policies are put in place. The expansion inthe number of SEZs from about 500 in 1995 to over 4300 in 2015 showsthe strong and rising interest to this form of policy experiment,though the success record is somewhat mixed.

7. Luxembourg became the 10th country to ratify AoA ofAsian Infrastructure Investment Bank

i. Luxembourg on 8 December 2015 became the 10th country to ratifythe Articles of Agreement (AoA) that will lay the legal framework forthe China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).Apart from Luxembourg, Australia, Austria, Brunei Darussalam, China,Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, Singapore and United Kingdom ratifiedthe 60-article agreement so far.

ii. These 10 countries are among the 57 founder-member countriesof the multilateral bank that has its headquarters in the Chinesecapital Beijing. Among the 57 founder-member countries, except thePhilippines all other 56 countries have signed the AoA and 46countries are yet to ratify it.

iii. Earlier, on 29 June 2015, delegates of 50 countries signedthe AoA enmasse including India. Though the Union Cabinet on 18November 2015 gave its approval for the ratification and submittingof the AoA, formalities in this regard are yet to be completed.

iv. Representatives from 21 Asian countries signed the Memorandumof Understanding on Establishing Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank(AIIB) on 24 October 2014 in Beijing. It is designed to financeinfrastructure building in Asia and is headquartered in Beijing.
 

                                        Current Affairs - 9th December 2015
 

1. International Anti-Corruption Day observed acrossthe world

i. 9 December: International Anti-Corruption Day

ii. International Anti-Corruption Day was observed across theworld on 9 December 2015 with the theme Break the corruption chain.The day was observed to raise public awareness about corruption andwhat people can do to fight it.

iii. On the occasion of International Anti-Corruption Day, all theGovernments, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, themedia and citizens around the world joined forces to fight thiscrime.

iv. The 2015 joint international campaign #breakthechain was alsolaunched to focus on how corruption undermines democracy and the ruleof law leads to human rights violations, distorts markets, erodesquality of life.

v. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the UnitedNations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) are the main organisationsthat are at the forefront of these efforts.

2. Hetero became first Indian company to receive DGCI’sapproval for hepatitis C drug

i. Hyderabad-based Hetero Drugs on 8 December 2015 announced thatit received the approval of Drug Controller General of India (DCGI)to launch fixed-dose combination therapy Ledipasvir-Sofosbuvir. Theproduct will be available under the brand name Ledisof in India.

ii. With this approval, Hetero became the first company in thecountry to get approval from DGCI to launch hepatitis C medicines.

iii. In September 2014, Hetero signed a non-exclusive licensingagreement with the USA-based Gilead Sciences in to manufacture andmarket chronic hepatitis C medicines.

iv. This fixed-dose combination is the generic version of Gilead’sbrand Harvoni. It was approved by US FDA for the treatment of chronichepatitis genotype 1 in both treatment –naïve andtreatment-experienced patients.

v. And, Sofosbuvir in combination with Ledipasvir has shown tohave high cure rates of around 90 percentage.

3. Indian-American entrepreneur Frank Islam to beconferred with Uttar Pradesh Ratna Award

i. Frank Islam, an Indian-American entrepreneur andphilanthropist, will be conferred with Uttar Pradesh Ratna Award on 4January 2016 at the inaugural UP Pravasi Diwas in Agra. The UttarPradesh Government will be honouring Islam to recognise hisachievements and outstanding contributions in a foreign country.

ii. Born in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Islam moved to the UnitedStates in the early 1970s to study at University of Colorado where heobtained his Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Computer Science. In1994, he founded an Information Technology firm the QSS Group, whichhe sold in 2007.

iii. After selling the QSS Group, he established the FI InvestmentGroup. He has also authored two books, Working the Pivot Points: ToMake America Work Again, and Renewing the American Dream: A Citizen’sGuide for Restoring Our Competitive Advantage.

iv. The UP Ratna Award is conferred to the NRIs, who hail from thestate. It is awarded to the NRIs who have made significantcontribution to the field of science, technology, culture, medicine,education, public service and commerce in foreign countries.

4. New Zealand formally becomes member of AIIB

i. New Zealand has formally become a member of the AsianInfrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Finance Minister Bill Englishsaid Tuesday. New Zealand's ratification would contribute to the AIIBreaching the 50-percent threshold of the needed for the AIIB toestablish operations, English said in a statement.

ii. The move followed the passage of the International FinancialAgreement Amendment Act in the New Zealand Parliament in November.New Zealand was the ninth country to formally become a foundingmember.

iii. The AIIB would have around 100 billion U.S. dollars ofinitial capital to promote sustainable development in the region. NewZealand's paid in capital will be around 125 million NZ dollars(83.05 million U.S. dollars), paid over five years.

iv. AIIB investments would include improving transportation links,providing sanitation and clean drinking water, and supporting cleanerand more sustainable energy.

5. Singapore's Changi airport to run Jaipur, Ahmedabadairports

i. Passengers using Ahmedabad and Jaipur airports can soon lookforward to a retail and food and beverages experience that passengersgoing through Singapore’s Changi airport enjoy at present.

ii. This follows the Governments of India and Singapore signing anagreement for Singapore airport developer Changi being nominated fortaking up the operations and management of the two Indian airports.

iii. The agreement was signed on November 24 during the visit ofPrime Minister Narendra Modi to the island city state and will seeChangi manage the retail space inside the terminal building and carparking space, a senior Airports Authority of India (AAI) officialsaid. The operations of the airport will remain with AAI.

iv. The Government-to-Government agreement does away with the needfor AAI to put out a tender for deciding on who they should tie-upwith for operations and management of its airports and puts theenture process on a fast track, AAI officials said.

v. A team from Changi is expected in India by the end of the yearto do due diligence on the two airports and make an offer to AAI,which owns and manages Ahmedabad and Jaipur airports. The entireprocess is expected to be completed by April 1 next year by whenChangi should be in a position to start working at these two Indianairports, officials said.

vi. The two are airports which are seeing a jump in passengerdemand and it is estimated that by 2023-24 Ahmedabad will see 7.87million passengers passing through it up from 5.05 million whileJaipur will see 3.75 million passengers through it in 2023-24 up fromthe current about 2 million.

6. Pune, Rajkot became interim IPL franchises toreplace CSK, RR

i. Pune and Rajkot on 8 December 2015 became the interimfranchises in the Indian Premier League (IPL) till 2017. The willtake place of the suspended teams of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) andRajasthan Royals (RR).

ii. CSK and RR are facing two-year suspensions which were imposedby the Supreme Court-mandated RM Lodha panel following the 2013 IPLcorruption scandal. CSK and RR stand suspended till 2017.

iii. The Pune franchise was bought by Kolkata-based businesstycoon Sanjiv Goenka's company New Rising, while the Rajkot bid waswon by Intex Mobiles through reverse bidding.

iv. The process was necessitated by the suspension of CSK and RRfor the involvement of their officials and co-owners in the 2013 IPLspot-fixing scandal. However, both the CSK and RR will be allowedback in the league after serving out their suspension.

v. The 2016 season of IPL will be held from 9 April to 29 May2016. The opening and the final match of the season will be played inMumbai and the new players’ auctions would be conducted inBengaluru on 6 February 2016.

7. MSDE and DHI signed MoU for skill development inmanufacturing sector

i. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for skill development inthe manufacturing sector was signed on 8 December 2015 betweenMinistry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) and theDepartment of Heavy Industry (DHI). The MoU focused on capital goodsand automotive sector.

ii. The purpose of the MoU is to create centres of excellence fordifferent manufacturing skills and a multi-location nationalinstitute of manufacturing technologies for training education andresearch by utilizing/upgrading the existing training facilities ofCentral PSUs such as HMT, BHEL and Instrumentation Ltd. under theDHI.

iii. The centres of excellence will ensure that a robust nationalecosystem for development of skills in the manufacturing sector iscreated in the country and internationally known best practices inthis field are brought in with active participation of countries likeGermany.

iv. Under the MoU, all Central PSUs have committed to invest atleast 20 percent of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) fundsfor skilling purpose. The Central PSUs have also committed to provideequipment and machinery, which has been phased out of productionline, but could still be used for training purposes to traininginstitutions.

v. The MoU will also enable significant scale up of apprenticetraining in the central PSUs under the Department of Heavy Industryand promote adoption of ITIs by the Central PSUs.

 

                                         Current Affairs - 8th December 2015

 

1. Andhra Pradesh became first state to join discomrevival scheme UDAY

i. Andhra Pradesh on 5 December 2015 became the first state ofIndia to join the Union Government’s Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana(UDAY). The scheme aims at reviving debt-stressed power distributioncompanies.

ii. Andhra Pradesh joined the scheme after the state gavein-principle nod to the Power Ministry for joining UDAY.

iii. UDAY envisages reducing the interest burden, cost of power,and aggregate technical and commercial losses. Consequently,distribution companies would become sustainable to supply adequateand reliable power, enabling 24x7 power supplies.

iv. The scheme is optional and operationalised through signing ofMoU between state governments, state discoms and Union Government.

v. Other states to join UDAY scheme are Jharkhand (second state)and Rajasthan (third state).

Salient Features of UDAY

• States will take over 75 percent of DISCOMdebt as on 30 September 2015 over two years.
• UnionGovernment will not include the debt taken over by the states n thecalculation of fiscal deficit of respective states in the financialyears 2015-16 and 2016-17.
• States will issuenon-SLR including SDL bonds in the market or directly to therespective financial institutions holding the DISCOM debt to theappropriate extent.
• States will take over thefuture losses of DISCOMs in a graded manner.
• Statesaccepting UDAY and performing as per operational milestones will begiven additional/priority funding through schemes of Ministry ofPower and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.
• Statesnot meeting operational milestones will be liable to forfeit theirclaim on IPDS and DDUGJY grants.

2. Beijing issued first-ever Red Alert on Air Pollution

i. Authorities in Chinese capital Beijing on 7 December 2015issued its first-ever red alert on air pollution ordering schools toclose due to hazardous air quality. Red alert is the highest possiblestate of caution.

ii. The order was issued after acrid smog enveloped the capitalfor the second time in December 2015. The order will last from 7am(local time) on 8 December 2015 morning until midday on 10 December2015, when the weather is expected to change and blow away the smog.

iii. The red alert was announced for the first time since anemergency air-pollution response system (four-tier system) wasintroduced in 2013. Beijing got severe new law to control hazardousSmog and Air Pollution

iv. Half of private cars in the city will be ordered off the roadduring the period with an odd-even number plate system in force.Government agencies will have to keep 30 percent of their automobilesoff the streets.

v. The other extra measures to be enforced include halting outdoorconstruction, banning fireworks and outdoor barbecues. Schools andnurseries will be required to close.

3. Tech Mahindra bags 'Forbes Top 100 Middle East -Global Meets Local 2015' Award

i. Tech Mahindra, a specialist in digital transformation,consulting and business re-engineering, has been awarded theprestigious 'Forbes Top 100 Middle East - Global Meets Local 2015'Award.

ii. The award was presented at a special event hosted by ForbesMiddle East in Dubai, celebrating the top management executives thatare heading up regional offices in the Middle East for the world'smost powerful companies.

iii. The winners are judged on criteria's of Global strength,experience in region, Geographical reach, Employment impact &Position in the Middle East region.

iv. Tech Mahindra has been in Middle East for over 12 years withoperaticns across UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain andTurkey. The key focus verticals in the region are Energy &Utility, Telecom, Banking, Retail, Travel & Transport, PublicSector, Healthcare and Sports.

4. Maharashtra becomes first state to allow MLAs raiseonline question

i. The Maharashtra legislature has become the first in the countryto launch an online mechanism for its members to send questions andmove different motions in the House. In this regard state governmenthas launched a website mls.org.in as part of Digital MLAs initiativein the winter session of state legislature in Nagpur.

ii. This system has been launched in an effort of state governmentto move towards complete digitization of the legislative process thataims at bringing the paper work to minimum. All MLAs and MLCs havebeen given unique user names and passwords to access to website sothat they can send their questions and requests online.

iii. Facilitates them to move different motions like callingattention and half-an-hour discussion questions for legislaturesessions. The system has been designed by the Maharashtra KnowledgeCorporation Limited (MKCL).

5. Atomic Energy (Amendment) Bill, 2015 introduced inLok Sabha

i. Union Government on 7 December 2015 introduced Atomic Energy(Amendment) Bill, 2015 in the Lok Sabha to facilitate and fast tracksetting up of new nuclear projects in the country. The Bill seeks toamend the Atomic Energy Act, 1962.

ii. The Atomic Energy Act, 1962 empowers the Union government toproduce, develop, control, and use atomic energy.

iii. It expands the definition of paid-up share capital in parentAct to include joint ventures (JV) of public sector undertakings(PSUs). The whole of the paid up share capital would be held by oneor more PSUs and empowers the Union government to constitute itsBoard of Directors for such JV.

iv. It proposes to make a consequential amendment in Section 14 ofthe Atomic Energy Act, 1962 to enable the Central Government to issuelicence to such joint-venture companies to set up nuclear powerplants, take measures for safe operation and ensure safe disposal ofnuclear material.

v. It states that any license, granted for matters such as (i)producing atomic energy and (ii) acquiring and using substances orminerals from which atomic energy can be obtained etc., will becancelled if a licensee ceases to be a government company.

6. India launched I-LTEO programme to monitor 8different biomes

i. India on 7 December 2015 launched the Indian Long TermEcological Observatories (I-LTEO) programme to scientifically monitoreight different biomes (natural landscapes) across the country. Theinitiative was launched on the sidelines of the Conference ofParties-21 (COP-21) of UNFCCC in Paris.

ii. The programme aims to identify and monitor targetedsocio-ecological challenges and help build capacity within India. Thestudies under the programme will indicate the need for imminentadaptation measures.

iii. Under this programme, students and young scientists will alsobe trained through sustained long-term support for research in thearea of climate change. The initiative will also help the country tohave its own scientific data-base in this key area without dependingon studies done abroad.

iv. The new initiative will cover all the major biomass of thecountry from Western Himalayas to Western Ghats, Eastern Himalayas toAndaman & Nicobar Islands, central India to the Sunderbans andfrom Jammu & Kashmir to Rajasthan and Gujarat. Moreover, longterm scientific monitoring of the natural landscapes, waterresources, grasslands, mammals, birds, fishes and insects will alsobe carried out.

v. The focus would be to pick up signals and patterns of howchanges in climate are affecting natural and closely associated humansystems of agriculture and pastoralism. It will also enable itsscientists to join international initiatives on the subject andprovide empirical data on actual impacts on various eco-systems.

7. Indo-Russia bilateral naval exercise Indra Navy-15began in Visakhapatanam

i. Indo-Russia bilateral maritime exercise Indra Navy 2015commenced on 7 December 2015 in Vishakhapatanam. The exerciseepitomises the strategic relationship between the two nations. The8th edition of Indra Navy will be conducted in the Bay of Bengal till12 December 2015.

ii. The primary aim of Indra Navy 2015 is to increaseinteroperability between the two navies and develop commonunderstanding of procedures for maritime security operations. Thescope of the exercise includes wide-ranging professional interactionsduring the Harbour phase and a diverse canvas of operationalactivities at sea across a spectrum of maritime operations.

iii. The Indian Navy will be represented by INS Sahyadri anindigenous frigate, INS Ranvijay, a guided missile destroyer and INSShakti a Fleet Support Ship. The Russian Federation Navy (RFN) willbe represented by Vadm Ryabukhin Andrey, Deputy Commander of thePacific Fleet.

iv. The exercise will be progressed in two phases: the HarbourPhase (from 7-9 December 2015) at Visakhapatnam and the Sea Phase(from 10-12 December 2015) off Visakhapatnam. The Harbour Phase willencompass table-top exercises and planning conferences ashore, priorprogressing to sea. The Sea Phase will include various facets offleet operations.

8. GRSE launches fifth ship of Indian Navy's LCU MK IVproject

i. The fifth ship of Indian Navy's LCU MK IV project, was launchedon Monday at Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd (GRSE) inKolkata. LCU L-55 is the fifth vessel in the series of eight LandingCraft Utility Ships being designed and built by GRSE for the IndianNavy.

ii. The chief guest, Vice Admiral AV Subhedar, AVSM, VSM, Chief ofMaterial, Chairman & Managing Director GRSE were present on theoccasion.
 
iii. Vice Admiral AV Subhedar asserted thatthe Indian Navy has been supporting the drive for indigenousconstruction of warships leading to advancement of our shipbuildingindustry and acknowledged the role of GRSE as a reliable partner inpursuing the national goal of 'Make in India'.

iv. He further stated that Indian Navy is eagerly looking forwardtowards induction of LCU-MKIV class of ships, which would be based atPort Blair. The ship can be deployed for multirole activities likebeaching operations, humanitarian and disaster relief operations andevacuation from distant islands.

v. The first ship of the class 'LCU-L51' was launched on March 12,2014 and is presently undergoing trials at GRSE. The vessel is likelyto be delivered shortly to Indian Navy.

9. SC directed State and UT Governments to consideracid-attack victims under Disabled Quota

i. The Supreme Court on 7 December 2015 directed State and UnionTerritory (UT) Governments to consider acid-attack victims under thedisabled quota. The decision was made to make sure that theacid-attack survivors can be able to get reservations in governmentjobs as well as education benefits as disabled person.

ii. A bench of Justice MY Eqbal and Justice C Nagappan its orderasked the states and Union territories to consider the plight of suchvictims and take appropriate steps with regard to inclusion of theirnames under the disability list.

iii. It directed Government to compensate, rehabilitate andprovide free treatment to the survivors of acid attacks in pursuanceof guidelines issued by it earlier. The court also said that itsdecision should be sent to chief secretaries of all states and UTswho would have to ensure that the order reaches to districtmagistrates.

iv. The order was pronounced while hearing a petition filed byBihar-based NGO Parivartan Kendra that in its plea said that thestate (Bihar) had not adequately compensated the victim for anincident that occurred over two years ago. The PIL said the victimhad been paid only around 1.5 lakh rupees so far.

v. The court asked Bihar government to pay a compensation of 10lakh rupees to an acid-attack victim, besides providing her freetreatment including reconstruction surgery. It also asked the stateto pay 3 lakh rupees to the victim's sister who has been providingher all help.

 

                                   Current Affairs - 6th & 7th December 2015

 

1.  India's forest & tree cover increased by5,081 sq km: ISFR 2015

i. According to the recently released India State of Forest Report(ISFR) 2015, India’s forest and tree cover has been increased by5081 Square kilometre.

ii. The report was released by the Union Environment MinisterPrakash Javadekar in New Delhi.

2. Singapore replaced Mauritius as top source of FDIinto India

i. Singapore replaced Mauritius as top source of Foreign DirectInvestment (FDI) into India during April-September of 2015-16financial year. An announcement in this regard was made by theDepartment of Industrial Policy and Promotion of Ministry of Commerceand industry in the first week of December 2015.

ii. As per the data, between 15 April and 15 September 2015, Indiareceived 43096 crore rupees as FDI from Singapore. In the same periodFDI from Mauritius was 23490 crore rupees.

iii. In the same period, While Netherlands was at number threewith 7017 crore rupees of investment, the USA stood at the stoodfourth with 5435 crore rupees.

iv. However in terms of cumulative inflows between April 2000 andSeptember 2015 Mauritius still leads the investment list. WhileMauritius contributed to 34 percent of total FDI investments, it wasonly 15 percent in the same period.

3.  South Western Railway Zones introducesBiodiesel for trains

i.The South Western Railways (SWR) Zone with headquarters inHubli, Karnataka has introduced biodiesel for trains, operating underits zone.
 
ii. In this regard, SWR’s first trainHubballi-Bengaluru Janshatabdi Express powered by five per centbiodiesel blended with High Speed Diesel was flagged off from Hubli.

iii. The main aim of the initiative is to reduce greenhouse gases(GHGs) emission and carbon footprint and also to make fuelconsumption more efficient.

iv. To meet its biodiesel demand, SWR zone has set up Biodieselfilling centres at Hubli, Bengaluru and Hospet. In next one year allthe 13 railway depots within the zone will have their own fillingunits and the biodiesel blending will be gradually increased to tenpercent.

4. Cochin Shipyard launches fast patrol vessels forCoast Guard

i. The public sector Cochin Shipyard Ltd has launched thenineteenth of the 20 Fast Patrol Vessels being built for Indian CoastGuard. The vessel was named “ICGS Atulya” and launched by HemaSubramaniam, wife of Commodore K. Subramaniam, Chairman &Managing Director, CSL.

ii. As on date, 15 ships out of 20 have been handed over to theIndian Coast Guard. Cochin Shipyard has successfully delivered 15ships in a span of just 25 months with an average delivery intervalof 1.6 months, against the contractual commitment of 3 monthsinterval.

iii. The last vessel of the order is to be delivered by Mar 2017as per the contract with ICG. However, with the current pace ofconstruction, the yard is targeting to accomplish this by mid of2016, much ahead of schedule.

iv. The yard also paid a dividend of Rs. 16.99 crore to Governmentof India. The company is paying dividend for the seventh consecutiveyear, a release said.

5. AP, Jharkhand join UDAY scheme to bolster Discoms

i. The Andhra Pradesh government has conveyed its in-principledecision to the Ministry of Power of joining UDAY (Ujwal DiscomAssurance Yojana) scheme.

ii. On receiving the official communication, Piyush Goyal, UnionMinister of State (IC) for Power, Coal and New & RenewableEnergy, lauded Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh N Chandrababu Naidufor joining the scheme.

iii. It seeks to reduce interest burden, cost of power andtransmission and commercial losses. Consequently, Discom would becomesustainable to supply adequate and reliable power enabling 24x7 powersupply. The scheme provides that States would take over 75 per centdebt of Discoms, as on September 30, 2015 in two years.

iv. The UDAY scheme has inbuilt incentives encouraging Stategovernments to voluntarily restructure their debts. These incentivesinclude taking over of Discom debt by the States outside the fiscaldeficit limits, reduction in the cost of power through variousmeasures such as coal linkage rationalisation, liberal coal swaps,coal price rationalisation, correction in coal grade slippage,allocation of coal linkages at notified prices, priority/additionalfunding through schemes of Ministry of Power and Ministry of New andRenewable Energy and, reduction in interest burden.

6. Commemorative coins of Rs 125, Rs 10 released inhonour of Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar

i. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 6 December 2015 released twocommemorative coins of 125 rupees and 10 rupees, as part of the 125thbirth anniversary year celebrations of Dr. Babasaheb Bhim RaoAmbedkar.

ii. The coins were issued on his death anniversary, which isobserved as Mahaparinirvan Divas of Babasaheb Ambedkar. He breathedhis last on 6 December 1956.

iii. He was born on 14 April 1891 in Mhow, Madhya Pradesh. He wasan Indian jurist, economist, politician and social reformer. Heinspired the Modern Buddhist Movement and campaigned against socialdiscrimination against Untouchables (Dalits), while also supportingthe rights of women and labour.

iv. He was Independent India's first law minister and theprincipal architect of the Constitution of India. In 1990, the BharatRatna, India's highest civilian award, was posthumously conferredupon Ambedkar. Ambedkar's legacy includes numerous memorials anddepictions in popular culture.

7. Australia defeated Belgium to win Hockey WorldLeague Final

i. Australia on 6 December 2015 defeated Belgium by 2-1 to win2014-2015 Men’s Hockey World League Final, which was held at SardarVallabh Bhai Patel Stadium, Raipur. India defeated world number twoand defending champions Netherlands by 3-2 in the penalty shoot-out,and clinched the bronze medal in the tournament.

ii. The 2014–15 Men's International Hockey Federation (FIH)Hockey World League was the second edition of the FIH Hockey WorldLeague field hockey championship for men. It took place from 27November to 6 December 2015 in Raipur, India. The Semifinals of thecompetition also served as a qualifier for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

iii. Each national association member of the FIH had theopportunity to compete in the tournament. After seeking entries toparticipate, 56 teams were announced to compete.

iv. A total of 8 teams competed for Hockey World League Final. Theteams were India, Germany, Argentina, Netherlands, Canada, Australia,Belgium and Great Britain.

8. Armed Forces Flag Day observed across India

i. 7 December: Armed Forces Flag Day

ii. Armed Forces Flag Day was observed across India on 7 December2015. The Day is celebrated all over India in order to collect thefunds from people all around the country for the wellbeing of thestaff of the Indian Armed Forces.

iii. On the occasion of Flag Day, the Indian Army, the Indian AirForce and the Indian Navy arrange a variety of shows, carnivals,dramas and other entertainment programmes to showcase the efforts oftheir personnel to ensure national security.

9. Ministry of Railways flagged off first double deckerGoa-Mumbai train

i. Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu on 6 December 2015 flagged offthe first Goa to Mumbai double-decker Shatabdi train through videoconference from Panaji, Goa.

ii. The fully air-conditioned double-decker train is thefirst-of-its-kind in India.

iii. The train will play important role in boosting tourism in Goaby bringing the tourists over to the coastal state.

Highlights of the first double decker Goa-Mumbai train

• The train will run thrice a week betweenMargao and the Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) in Mumbai.
•The double decker train will cover the distance in around 12hours.
• It has eight compartments with aseating capacity of 120 in each compartment.

10. Tata Trusts partnered with Khan Academy for freeonline education

i. Tata Trusts and Khan Academy on 6 December 2015 announced afive-year, not-for-profit partnership to enable free online educationfor the Indian market. The partnership will adapt and build on KhanAcademy's existing resources and tools to serve the specific needs ofthe Indian learner.

ii. The five-year partnership will be divided into two phases. Thefirst two years will focus on designing a robust set of educationalresources tuned to the needs of middle- and low-income students inurban environments.

iii. The next phase will see diversification into other contentareas, including offering classes in regional languages such asMarathi, Tamil and Bangla.

iv. Khan Academy is US-based non-profit educational organizationwhich was founded in 2006. It was founded by educator Salman Khan toprovide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere.

v. The academy produces short lectures in the form of YouTubevideos. Khan Academy is significantly backed by the Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation, The Broad Foundation, Google, and manyother philanthropic organizations.
 

                                         Current Affairs - 5th December 2015
 

1. 44th Navy Day observed on 4 December

i. 44th Navy Day was observed on 4 December 2015. Prime MinisterNarendra Modi extended greetings to naval personnel and commendedtheir dedication to protect the maritime interests of nation. Theoccasion saw screening of Navy Telefilm 2015 titled Empowering IndiaThrough Maritime Security and Indigenisation on DD National.

ii. The Navy day is celebrated every year to commemorate thesuccess of Operation Trident of Indian Navy on Karachi Harbour duringthe 1971 Indo-Pak war.

iii. In one-night attack the Indian Navy sank three vessels nearthe largest Pakistani port of Karachi. Operation Trident resulted inthe first use of anti-ship missiles in the region.

2. International Volunteer Day observed globally

i. The International Volunteer Day (IVD) was on 5 December 2015observed across the world with the theme The world is changing. Areyou? Volunteer!.

ii. This year's theme challenges everyone to be a part ofimplementing the newly launched Global Goals, the 2030 Agenda forSustainable Development. Through volunteerism the person can impactthe sustainable development agenda by mobilizing and engaginggovernments and communities.

iii. The day is viewed as a unique chance for volunteers andorganizations to celebrate their efforts, to share their values andto promote their work among their communities, non-governmentalorganizations (NGOs), United Nations agencies, government authoritiesand the private sector.

iv. The day also pays special tribute to volunteers working toimplement the new global goals. The International Volunteer Day (IVD)was established by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly throughits Resolution 40/212 on 17 December 1985.

3. China's first electricity-powered aircraft RX1Eapproved for production

i. China's first domestically developed electricity-poweredaircraft known as RX1E was on 4 December 2015 approved for productionby Civil Aviation Administration of China.

ii. RX1E electric light-sport aircraft was developed by ShenyangAerospace University and it will be China's first manned electriclight aircraft.

Highlights of the RX1E electric light-sport aircraft

• This two-seater plane is powered by lithiumbatteries.
• It is capable of flying a maximumaltitude of 3000 meters.
• A charging time of90 minutes enables it to fly for 45 to 60 minutes.
• Theplane can be used for pilot training, sightseeing tours as well asexperimental flying.
• It can take the maximumtakeoff weight of 480 kg and a cruise speed of up to 160 kilometresper hour.

4. Uttar Pradesh Government launches firstInternational festival on Birds

i. Uttar Pradesh Government has launched International festival onBirds in a bid to promote state as an international bird-watchingdestination. The first-of-its-kind festival was inaugurated by ChiefMinister Akhilesh Yadav at the National Chambal Sanctuary (NCS).

ii. It has been jointly organised by the State Forest departmentin collaboration with Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce &Industry (FICCI). The three-day international festival (from 4 to 6December 2015) on birds will be held the National Chambal Sanctuary(NCS) in Agra. Over 80 Indian ornithlogists and around 25 topinternational bird experts and are participating in thefirst-of-its-kind festival.

iii. NCS was set up in 1979 as a riverine sanctuary along theChambal River. It is managed by the Wildlife wing of the UttarPradesh Forest Department and its head-quartered are located at Agra.

iv. The sanctuary is the main area for the Gharial (Gavialisgangeticus), a fresh water crocodile species reintroductionprogrammme in the Chambal River. The river supports the largestpopulation of the Gharial in the wild in the country. It alsosupports more than 320 resident and migrant birds.

5. Centre to support rural entrepreneurs under MUDRA

i.  In an effort to support rural entrepreneurs of India, theCentre on Saturday said it would think of giving loans under theMicro Units Development and Refinance Agency (MUDRA) Yojana of thePrime Minister Narendra Modi.

ii. Speaking on the ‘e-Commerce Services: Enhancing RuralEntrepreneurship through Common Services Centres (CSCs),Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that he wouldrequest the Prime Minister and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for thepurpose.

iii. “CSCs need to be funded, and being small-timeentrepreneurs, they are fully qualified to get banking assistanceunder the MUDRA scheme. I will take up the matter with the FinanceMinistry and the Prime Minister as CSCs will play a major role tomake Digital India successful,” Prasad said.

iv. The Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY) was launched in April,under which the overall loan disbursement target has been set ataround ?1.22 lakh crore for this financial year.

v. He said the CSCs are very small-scale initiatives and MUDRA isfor such institutions and therefore, people who want to start suchservice points but do not have any funding, MUDRA can help them starttheir micro-ventures.

vi. CSCs are information and communications technology enabledservice delivery points at the village level for delivery ofgovernment, financial, social and private services such as applyingonline passports, land record, digital locker and Aadhaar cards.

vii. The Minister also launched a Handbook on e-Commerce throughCSCs and asked the e-Commerce companies to help linking CSCs as faras possible because 60 per cent of online markets are served in ruralareas.

6. RBI announced revised Priority Sector Lending normsfor Regional Rural Banks

i. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced revised PrioritySector Lending (PSL) norms for Regional Rural Banks (RRBs).

ii. Among other things, the PSL target was increased to 75 percentof total outstanding from the existing 60 percent. The revised targetwill be effective from 1 January 2016. The PSL norms have beenrevised considering the growing significance of RRBs in pursuit offinancial inclusion agenda.

iii. As on March 2015, there were 56 RRBs operating in the countrywith a network of 20059 branches. They cover 644 notified districtsin 26 states and the Union Territory of Puducherry.

iv. Medium enterprises, social infrastructure and renewable energywere included under PSL category.

v. Loans to individual farmers, for the purpose of PSL, wasincreased to 50 lakh rupees from the present 10 lakh rupees againstpledge/ hypothecation of agricultural produce (including warehousereceipts) for a period not exceeding 12 months.

vi. The RBI has lowered the quantum of loans that will qualify asPSL. Against the earlier limit of 25 lakh rupees, loans toindividuals up to 20 lakh rupees only are considered as PSL as perrevised guidelines. Housing loans to banks’ own employees will beexcluded from this limit.

 

                                    Current Affairs - 4th December 2015

 

1. YouTube opens first video production studio in India

i. Stepping up its India focus, YouTube along with SubhashGhai-owned film school Whistling Woods International, has opened itsfirst video production studio in the country.

ii. Called YouTube Spaces, it has similar collaborations in LosAngeles, London, Tokyo, New York City, Sao Paulo, Paris and Berlin.The company said that the “watch-time” of its content in Indiawas growing at 80 per cent on a year-on-year basis while the contentuploaded to India has grown by 90 per cent.

iii. Through this collaboration, India’s popular up-and-comingYouTube creators, as well as their students, will have free access toWhistling Woods’ studios, high-end audio, visual and editingequipment, in addition to training programs, workshops and communityevents.

iv. Lance Podell, Director, Global Head of YouTube Spaces, said,in addition to physical studio space that is available to studentsand creators, YouTube and Whistling Woods are developing originalcourses to train filmmakers, especially to create content for thedigital and online media.

v. Youtube, which has a billion in viewership, is seeing a hugesurge in creator-based content. He said the company was also lookingto step up the offline views.

2. GAIL, ISRO launch satellite-based portal to monitorpipelines

i. GAIL (India) Limited in collaboration with National RemoteSensing Centre, a unit of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO),has launched a surveillance geo-portal – ‘Bhuvan-GAIL Portal’ –that utilises space technology for its pipeline safety application.

ii. The launch took place in the presence of B.C. Tripathi,Chairman GAIL (India) Ltd, V.K. Dadhwal, Director NRSC, ISRO andsenior officials from GAIL and ISRO, according to a statement issuedhere.

iii. GAIL is deploying space technology to monitor the pipeline’sRight of Use (RoU). It has more than 13,000 km of pipeline network,wherein monthly monitoring of pipeline is presently done viahelicopter surveys. By January 2016, GAIL will begin live satellitemonitoring of its pipeline RoU. It is also seeking alternativemethods such as advanced Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), which can beintegrated with this system.

iv. The company has developed a mobile application from whichpictures of untoward incidents taken locally from any mobile showingthe actual scenario can be uploaded instantly to the portal. A reportsystem integrated with the Bhuvan-GAIL portal can send alerts torelevant executives via SMS and email regarding the changes notedalong the pipeline as well as the arrival of any new satellitephotos.

v. With recent progress in satellite-sensing technology,availability of new high-resolution satellites, object-oriented imageanalysis, there is the possibility to introduce space technology forpipeline monitoring applications.

vi. This R&D pilot project for monitoring of the 610-km-longDahej–Vijaipur pipeline is one such effort to keep pace withtechnological advancements enabling time and cost-effectivesolutions. The Bhuvan-GAIL portal is operated via manual as well asauto-change analysis options to monitor changes along the natural gaspipeline.

3. First India International Science Festival began atIIT-Delhi

i. The first India International Science Festival (IISF) began on4 December 2015 at IIT-Delhi. The five day festival will explore waysto translate academic research into industrial applicationsbenefiting the common man and encourage culmination of scientifictemperament among youngsters, especially school children.

ii. Exposing the fruits of Science & Technology to the masses.Building strategy to instill scientific temper among the masses.Showcasing Indian contributions in the field of Science and Tech overthe years. Providing platform to young scientists for exchange ofknowledge & ideas

iii. Supporting flagship programs like Make in India, DigitalIndia, Start-ups, Smart Villages, Smart Cities, etc. initiated by theGovt. of India

iv. The five-day festival that will conclude on 8 December 2015was jointly organised by Ministry of Science & Technology andEarth Sciences, Union Government. The event was organised with an aimto create a Guinness World Record of the highest number of studentsconducting an experiment at the same venue in which 2000 students areexpected to take part.

4. November 2015 Edition of FIFA World Rankingsannounced; Belgium topped the list

i. The November edition of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings wasreleased on 3 December 2015. In the final rankings of 2015, WhileBelgium topped the list, Indian team jumped six places to reach the166th spot.

ii. In the October 2015 edition, India was at the 172nd positiondue to five consecutive defeats in 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

iii. But, Indian team could improve its ranking with 1-0 victoryagainst Guam in their last World Cup qualifier at Bengaluru on 12November 2015.

iv. On the global stage, Belgium will end the year as the world’stop-ranked team for the first time in their history.

5. Himachal Pradesh became first state to launchRotavirus vaccination project

i. Himachal Pradesh on 3 December 2015 became the first state ofIndia to launch Rotavirus vaccination project. The vaccine will helpin controlling the child mortality rate (under five years of age) dueto diarrhoea.

ii. Rotavirus vaccines are administered orally to infants in threedose course at ages of six, ten and fourteen weeks and are part ofUniversal Immunisation Programme (UIP). The project was launched bythe state Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh at Dharamsala in Kangradistrict. Singh administered the Rotavirus drops to children agedunder five years.

iii. International Clinical Epidemiological Network will providetechnical assistance and will also bear the entire cost of thevaccines. The project will soon be launched in Vellore in Karnatakaand Pune in Maharashtra.

iv. It is a most common causative agent of moderate-to-severediarrhoea (MSD) among infants below 11 months age group in India. Itis a genus of double-stranded RNA virus in the family Reoviridae. Itspreads from person to person due to bacterial agents that areprimarily transmitted through contaminated food or water.

6. Lok Sabha passed bill to establish BIS as NationalStandards Body

i. The Lok Sabha on 3 December 2015 passed the Bureau of IndianStandards Bill, 2015 to establish the Bureau of Indian Standards(BIS) as a National Standards Body. The bill seeks to establishharmonious development of standardization and assessment and qualityassurance of goods, processes and services.

ii. The bill broadens BIS’ ambit, and allow the Union Governmentto make it mandatory for certain notified goods, articles andprocesses to carry the standard mark. It allows multiple types ofconformity assessment schemes in tune with best global practices.

iii. It contains provision to make misuse of Standard mark as acognizable offence. Contravention of provisions of the law willattract imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or withfine of at least one lakh rupees.

iv. The fine and imprisonment may go up further depending on thevalue of goods produced or sold or applied with standard markincluding hallmark.

7. NTC signed Integrity Pact with TransparencyInternational India

i. National Textile Corporation (NTC) Limited on 3 November 2015signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with TransparencyInternational India (TII) for adopting Integrity Pact (IP).

With this signing, NTC became the 51st Public Sector Undertaking(PSU) and 49th Central PSU to sign a MoU with TII.

ii. Integrity Pact is a tool which ensures that all activities andtransactions between a Company or Government Department and theirSuppliers are handled in a fair, transparent and corruption-freemanner. It also prohibits any kind of bribing, favour or any otherunethical practice, which is closely monitored by honoraryIndependent External Monitors (IEMs).

iii. NTC is a Schedule-A Public Sector Undertaking engaged andentrusted with Management and operation of Sick Textile Undertakingstaken over and nationalized through various Acts. From a sickcorporation NTC Ltd has moved to a turnover of 12 billion rupees inthe year 2013-14 and operation loss to Zero.

iv. Transparency International India (TII) is an accreditedchapter of Transparency International, Berlin. TII has been workingin the field of public procurement since 2005 with an aim to bringabout transparency in the tendering process. Integrity Pact, aTransparency International conceptualized instrument, has been vitalin promoting clean procurement.

8. Paris Pact on Water and Climate Change Adaptationannounced

i. A broad coalition of nations, river basin organizations,business and civil society on 2 December 2015 announced the creationof the international Paris Pact on Water and Climate ChangeAdaptation.

ii. The announcement was made at the Water Resilience Focus eventheld under the Lima to Paris Action Agenda on climate change. And,the event was held on the sidelines of the United Nations ClimateChange Conference 2015 (COP21) in Paris, France.

iii. Its objective is to make water systems – the veryfoundation of sustainable human development - more resilient toclimate impacts. Almost 290 water basin organisations are engagedunder the Paris Pact on Water and Climate Change Adaptation. Itinvolves a wide geographic coalition of national and cross-borderriver basin organisations, overnments, funding agencies, localgovernments, companies and civil society.

iv. It encompasses individual commitments to implement adaptationplans, strengthening water monitoring and measurement systems inriver basins. It promotes financial sustainability and new investmentin water systems management.

v. Major collaborative projects under the pact represent over 20million US dollars in technical assistance and potentially over 1billion US dollars in financing.

 

                                    Current Affairs - 3rd December 2015
 

1. Union Cabinet approved DTAC agreement with Japan

i. The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 2December 2015 approved signing and ratification of Protocol betweenIndia and Japan for amending the Double Taxation Avoidance Convention(DTAC) in order to facilitate tax-related exchange of information.

ii. DTAC was signed between the two countries in 1989 foravoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion througha protocol.

iii. The protocol will facilitate exchange of information as peraccepted international standards on tax matters, including bankinformation and information without domestic tax interest.

iv. There is a further provision in the Protocol for sharing anyinformation received from Japan, with authorization of the competentauthority in Japan and vice versa, in respect of a resident of India,with other law enforcement agencies.

v. The Protocol also has a provision for India and Japan to lendassistance to each other in collection of revenue claims, as well asfor exemption of interest income from taxation in the source country,with respect to debt-claims insured by the Government orGovernment-owned financial institutions.

2. Navy inducts decoy system Maareech

i. A fully indigenous decoy system, that can divert underwatertorpedo attacks on ships and submarines, has been developed byVisakhapatnam-based Naval Science and Technological Laboratory(NSTL).

ii. The torpedo defence system, Maareech, was recently inductedinto the Indian Navy. Maareech has been termed a complete packageinvolving sensors and decoys for defence against torpedoes.

iii. Maareech is a joint project of the Naval Physical andOceanographic Laboratory, Kochi, and NSTL. Sources said twoproduction-grade Maareech systems have been developed and userevaluation trials were completed onboard two Indian Navy ships.

iv. Maareech is capable of diverting incoming torpedoes and is anadvanced version of the regular decoys. While submarines use decoysas anti-torpedo systems, the system has been developed for the firsttime for surface ships.

v. Maareech has been termed “an excellent model of synergybetween the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation),Indian Navy, and public and private industries.”

3. Justice Tirath Singh Thakur sworn in as 43rd ChiefJustice of India

i. Justice Tirath Singh (TS) Thakur was on 3 December 2015 swornin as 43rd Chief Justice of India (CJI) by President Pranab Mukherjeeat Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi. Thakur succeeded incumbent JusticeH L Dattu who retired on 2 December 2015.

ii. He will have the tenure as CJI for over one year and willretire on 4 January 2017. Born on 4 January 1952, Justice Thakurenrolled as a Pleader in October 1972. He was designated as a senioradvocate in 1990.

iii. In February 1994, he was appointed as an additional judge ofthe Jammu and Kashmir High Court and was transferred as a judge ofthe Karnataka High Court in March 1994. He was appointed as apermanent judge in September 1995 and transferred to the Delhi HighCourt in July 2004.

iv. He was appointed as acting Chief Justice of the Delhi HighCourt in April 2008 and in August 2008, he took over as Chief Justiceof the Punjab and Haryana High Court. He was elevated as a judge ofthe Supreme Court on 17 November 2009.

4. Axis Bank launches country's first 'display variant'debit card

i. Country's third largest private sector lender Axis BankBSE 0.70% today said it has launched a 'display variant' debit card whichdoes away with the hassles of generating one time password (OTP) overSMS while transacting.

ii. The card, which is being made available for high-value NREcustomers, has an embedded EMV chip, a display screen and atouch-sensitive button which helps generating the OTP on the carditself.

iii. "This OTP, in conjunction with the user ID and password,allows the customer to transact on internet banking without having towait for OTP delivery via SMS or email," a bank statement said,adding that it is the first lender in the country to offer thefacility.
 
iv. The card comes with free ATM access acrossthe world, offers on lounge access, loyalty points on transactionsand an air accident insurance of Rs 25 lakh and a personal accidentinsurance of Rs 5 lakh. Details on the charges or the minimum balancerequirements were not immediately available.

5. Adidas India’s Pulin Kumar won prestigious INBAAward

i. Pulin Kumar, Group Senior Legal and Compliance Director ofAdidas India, on 26 November 2015 was conferred with the IndianNational Bar Association's (INBA) General Counsel of the year 2015 -Retail Award in New Delhi.

ii. Senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani presented the award to Kumar onthe occasion of INBA's Annual International Conference-66th NationalLaw Day. The Indian National Bar Association has constituted 12awards categories for general counsel in the field of technology,infrastructure, real estate, retail, corporate, privacy and dataprotection, law firm and insurance.

iii. INBA Awards also acknowledge top women lawyers, young womengeneral counsel, young emerging lawyers and global general counsel.Every year, INBA invites nominations for the awards. The jury panelfor consideration of the awards constitute renowned people from thelegal field.

6. Vijay Kumar Choudhary elected as Bihar AssemblySpeaker

i. Senior Janata Dal (United) leader Vijay Kumar Chaudhary on 2December 2015 was unanimously elected new Speaker of the BiharLegislative Assembly. Chaudhary was elected to the post afterconsensus was generated on his name among all political parties ofthe state, including the opposition.

ii. The pro-tem Speaker and Congress MLA Sadanand Singh announcedthe election of Chaudhary as the new Speaker.

iii. Chaudhary debuted in politics after untimely demise of hislegislator father in 1982. In the same year, he won the subsequentby-election from Dalsinghsarai on a Congress ticket.

iv. He joined JD(U) in 2005. In 2010, he won the subsequentlegislative assembly elections from Sarairanjan and was rewarded withthe crucial Water Resources ministry in the newly formed cabinet.

7. UN Agencies released report on prevalence ofHIV/AIDS in Asia-Pacific region

i. UNICEF, UNAIDS and partners on 30 November 2015 released areport on prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Asia-Pacific region. It wasentitled Adolescents: Under the Radar in the Asia-Pacific AIDSResponse and was being released to mark the World AIDS Day observedon 1 December 2015.

ii. As per the report, The HIV burden among adolescents fallsheaviest on ten countries in the region, which together account for98 per cent of adolescents aged 10 to 19 living with HIV inAsia-Pacific.

iii. These are: Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Myanmar,Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam.

8. Union Cabinet approved signing of MoU between Indiaand Iran on visa facilitation

i. The Union Cabinet on 2 December 2015 approved the signing ofthe agreement between India and Iran on visa facilitation forDiplomatic, Official/Service and Ordinary passport holders.

ii. As per the agreement, upon presentation of an official note bythe local Ministry of Foreign Affairs along with the visaapplication, the resident Diplomatic Missions in the host countrywould, within 20 working days, issue a gratis visa valid for 90 daysfor the holders of valid Diplomatic/Official/Service passports,assigned on long-term missions to the Diplomatic Missions or theConsulates General.

iii. Appropriate gratis visas of three months' validity forvisiting close family members (blood relations such as parents,siblings, adult children as well as in-laws) and visas for otherclose relatives of the assignees, on the payment of visa fees duewould be issued.

iv. The agreement says that on presentation of an official note bythe Ministry of Foreign Affairs stating the purpose of the visit, anon-extendable gratis entry visa will be issued within three workingdays, with a validity of up to fifteen days, to political authoritiesand officials travelling for specific bilateral purposes or toparticipate in a conference or seminar.

v. This Agreement can be amended at any time as decided andmutually agreed upon in writing by the Parties. Any dispute arisingout of the interpretation, implementation or application of anyprovision of this Agreement shall be settled amicably throughconsultation or negotiation between the Parties.
 

                                         Current Affairs - 2nd December 2015

 

1. International Day for the Abolition of SlaveryObserved globally

i. The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery was observedglobally on 2 December 2015. The day is observed to focus on theelimination of human trafficking, child labour and other forms ofmodern-day slavery.

ii. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO),there are currently an estimated 21 million forced labour victimsworldwide, creating 150 billion US dollars in illegal profits in theprivate economy each year.

iii. To tackle with the situation, ILO has adopted a new legallybinding Protocol designed to strengthen global efforts to eliminateforced labour and which will enter into force in November 2016.

iv. International Day for the Abolition of Slavery marks the dateof adoption of the United Nations Convention for the Suppression ofthe Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution ofOthers by UN General Assembly on 2 December 1929.

v. The day focuses on eradicating contemporary forms of slavery,such as trafficking in persons, sexual exploitation, and the worstforms of child labour, forced marriage, and the forced recruitment ofchildren for use in armed conflict.

2. Sarangi maestro Ustad Sabri Khan passed away

i. Renowned sarangi player Ustad Sabri Khan died on 30 November2015 in New Delhi due to breathing problems. He was 88. Born on 21May 1927 in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh, Khan belonged to the SainiaGharana, which traces the tradition of its music back to Tansen.

ii. The sarangi maestro was initiated into Sarangi by hisgrandfather Ustad Haji Mohammed Khan. Later, Sabri Khan continued histraining under his father Ustad Chajju Khan.

iii. For his contribution to the Classical Music of India, UstadSabri Khan had received numerous honours and awards, including theSahitya Kala Parishad Award, UP Sangeet Natak Academy

iv. Award, National Sangeet Natak Academy Award. The Government ofIndia also honoured him with the prestigious Padma Shree Award in1992 and Padma Bhushan Award in 2006.

3. Sir Venkatraman Ramakrishnan assumed Presidency ofthe Royal Society

i. Sir Venkatraman Ramakrishnan on 1 December 2015 assumedPresidency of the Royal Society in London. He was elected to theoffice in March 2015 by the society’s council and will serve for upto five years.

ii. With this appointment, he became the 61st president of thesociety. And, he joined the elite club that has included ChristopherWren, Samuel Pepys, Isaac Newton, Joseph Banks, Humphry Davy, andErnest Rutherford.

iii. He studied how genetic information is translated by theribosome to make proteins and the action of antibiotics on thisprocess. The Indian-American scientist Venkatraman Ramakrishnanreceived the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2009 with Tom Steitz andAda Yonath. He was awarded a knighthood in 2012

iv. He has a B.Sc in physics from Baroda University, India and aPhD from Ohio University in the USA. He studied biology at theUniversity of California, San Diego and worked as a post-doctoralfellow at Yale University. Subsequently, he was a biophysicist atBrookhaven National Laboratory and professor of biochemistry at theUniversity of Utah before he moved to the UK in 1999.

4. Union Government launches GIAN Scheme to boosthigher education

i. Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has launchedGlobal Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) Scheme to boost thequality of higher education in India. It was launched by Union HRDMinister Smriti Irani at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) campus.

ii. GIAN Scheme aims at improving the quality of higher educationin the country through international collaboration. Facilitateparticipation of high quality international academicians fordelivering short-term courses and programs in Indian institutions.

iii. Initially 500 international faculties will be engaged inconducting courses and later in subsequent years 1000 faculties wouldbe engaged under GIAN throughout India. Under this scheme,academicians will cover 13 disciplines and 352 courses to be taughtin 68 national institutions.

iv. These courses will vary in duration from one to three weeksdepending on the subject and will be free for students of the hostinstitution and available for nominal fees for others. These courseswill be webcasted live for students across the country through webportal www.gian.iitkgp.ac.indesigned by IIT Kharagpur.

5. Delhi Development Authority awarded with E-IndiaAward

i. The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) was on 1 December 2015awarded with the E-India Award for adopting technology to serve thepublic better and using resources efficiently through mobileapplications.

ii. The award was received by VS Tomar, Director (Systems) DDAduring the e-INDIA SUMMIT 2015 in Mumbai.

The award was given to DDA for the following mobileapplication development:

• It bagged the award under the category ofDigital India IT initiatives for extraordinary IT initiatives in thefield of land protection and engineering projects.
• Itwas awarded for the vacant land photo uploading system app whereinofficials of the land and engineering department upload photographsof vacant land to keep a check on encroachment.
• Thesecond award winning app of DDA was the Measurement Books fore-filing of measurement of engineering projects for exact estimationof parameters and project requirements.

6. Koodiyattom artiste Margi Sathi passed away

i. Margi Sathi, one of the finest exponents of Koodiyattom andNangiarkoothu, passed away on 1 December 2015 at the Regional CancerCentre in Thiruvananthapuram. She was 50. She is survived by adaughter and a son.

ii. She was considered as the doyenne of the exotic dance form ofNangiarkoothu, an offshoot of Koodiyattam which is an ancient templeart form.

About Margi Sathi

• Born in an Embranthiri Brahmin family atCheruthuruthy, she began to learn Koodiyattom at the age of 11 atKerala Kalamandalam.
• Later, she was appointedat the Kerala Kalamandalam as a faculty where she continued to teachtill the end.
• Sathi emerged as the leadingwoman artist, choreographer and teacher of the classical Koodiyattamtheatre that is recognised by the UNESCO as a unique artisticheritage of entire humanity.
• Among the playsshe had conceptualised are Sreeramacharitham (the story of Rama fromSita's point of view), Sitayanam and Kannagichairtham, based on aTamil epic.
• She was also the recipient ofKerala Sangeeta Nataka Academy award (2002), Kaladarpana award (2008)and Natyarathna Puraskaram (2008).

7. India’s Thakur Anoop Singh won gold medal in WorldBodybuilding and Physique Championships

i. India’s Thakur Anoop Singh on 28 November 2015 won gold medalin the 7th WBPF World Bodybuilding and Physique Championships.

ii. He won the medal in the fitness physique category. Overall,India won 11 medals in the championships that saw participation from47 nations. The championships were held in Bangkok, Thailand.

iii. Along with him, Arambam Boby (Manipur) also won gold in thechampionship. For him, it was the 4th world title in his career.

iv. 0Also, Thingbaijam Sarita who had won a silver medal in AsianBodybuilding Championships 2015 also bagged a bronze medal in theevent.

8. Renowned violinist L Subramaniam to be honoured withITC Sangeet Samman

i. Renowned violinist Lakshminarayana Subramaniam will be honouredwith the Sangeet Samman at the ITC Sangeet Sammelan 2015 beginning on4 December 2015 at the Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata. The ITCSangeet Research Academy Executive Director Rabi Srinibasan on 1December 2015 announced the name of the artist for the award.

ii. Born on 23 July 1947, Subramaniam was trained in the classicalCarnatic music tradition and Western classical music. The artiste isknown for his virtuoso playing techniques and compositions inorchestral fusion.

iii. The violinist has also composed the film scores for the filmslike Salaam Bombay and Mississippi Masala directed by Mira Nair.

iv. Subramaniam has been awarded with the Lifetime AchievementAward by Limca Book of Records in 2012. He also won the President'sAward for Best Violinist, All India Radio in 1963. In 2001, therenowned violinist was honoured with the Padma Bhushan.

9. Union Government launches GIAN Scheme to boosthigher education

i. Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has launchedGlobal Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) Scheme to boost thequality of higher education in India. It was launched by Union HRDMinister Smriti Irani at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) campus.

ii. GIAN Scheme aims at improving the quality of higher educationin the country through international collaboration. Facilitateparticipation of high quality international academicians fordelivering short-term courses and programs in Indian institutions.

iii. Initially 500 international faculties will be engaged inconducting courses and later in subsequent years 1000 faculties wouldbe engaged under GIAN throughout India. Under this scheme,academicians will cover 13 disciplines and 352 courses to be taughtin 68 national institutions.

iv. These courses will vary in duration from one to three weeksdepending on the subject and will be free for students of the hostinstitution and available for nominal fees for others. These courseswill be webcasted live for students across the country through webportal www.gian.iitkgp.ac.indesigned by IIT Kharagpur.

 

                                        Current Affairs - 1st December 2015
 

1. Dr Abdul Kalam IGNITE award presented by PresidentPranab Mukherjee

i. President Pranab Mukharjee on 30 November 2015 presented Dr APJAbdul Kalam IGNITE awards 2015 to a total of 40 school students of 27districts from 18 states. The awards were given away for 31 grassroot innovations at the prestigious Indian Institute of ManagementAhmedabad (IIM-A). At present, President is on a three day visit toGujarat.

ii. Besides, Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel instructedGujarat government and IIMA to implement some of its innovationstargeted to ease out the work of farmers and hawkers in the state.

iii. Dr APJ Abdul Kalam IGNITE Award is a national competition oforiginal technological ideas and innovations by children up to class12 or those out of school up to the age of 17 years.

iv. The competition is organized by National Innovation Foundation(NIF) in association with Central Board of Secondary Education(CBSE), Honey Bee Network, other State Educational Boards and otherpartners every year to promote creativity and originality amongchildren.

v. The awards of IGNITE competition are announced every year on 15October, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam's birthday, which is celebrated as theChildren's Creativity and Innovation Day by NIF.

2. Hinduja Brothers received lifetime achievement awardat Asian Business Leadership Forum 2015

i. Hinduja Brothers on 29 November 2015 were honoured with theprestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual Asian BusinessLeadership Forum (ABLF) Series in Dubai. The prestigious awardrecognizes the most powerful and influential business leaders.

ii. ABLF Series' Royal Patron and the UAE's Minister of CultureSheikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan presented the award to Gopichand PHinduja, Co-Chairman, Hinduja Group of Companies, The Hinduja Group,UK.

iii. The Asian Business Leadership Forum (ABLF) Series is Asia’smost prestigious annual business leadership event series. The ABLFenjoys royal patronage in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

iv. The ABLF is headed by the Governors’ Board who areresponsible for shaping and projecting the vision, path and broadscope of the ABLF. The ABLF Series has two distinct arms: TheABLForum and the ABLF Awards.

3. UN chief launched Anticipate, Absorb, ReshapeInitiative to build climate resilience

i. The United Nations (UN) Chief Ban Ki-moon along with theagencies of the UN system on 30 November 2015 launched initiativetitled Anticipate, Absorb, Reshape to build climate resilience in theworld’s most vulnerable countries.

ii. The initiative was launched during the United Nations climatechange conference (COP21) in Paris. The initiative was launched inthe wake of economic losses that have increased by more than halfover the past decade. Ecosystems, and food and water supplies areunder increasing pressure.

iii. It will strengthen the ability of countries to anticipatehazards, absorb shocks, and reshape development to reduce climaterisks. It is expected to address the needs of the nearly 634 millionpeople, or a tenth of the global population who live in at-riskcoastal areas just a few meters above existing sea levels.

iv. It will also help those living in areas at risk of droughtsand floods. It will mobilize financing and knowledge; create andoperationalize partnerships at scale, help coordinate activities tohelp reach tangible results, catalyze research, and develop new toolsover the next five years.

4. World leaders launched Mission Innovation foraccelerating clean energy revolution

i World leaders on 30 November 2015 launched Mission Innovationfor accelerating clean energy revolution across the world. Themission was launched by 20 participating countries, including India,at the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) inParis-Le Bourget, France.

ii. As part of this initiative, the participating countries doubletheir clean energy research and development funding by 2020.

iii. And, it was launched alongside Bill Gates led BreakthroughEnergy Coalition that aims at reducing demand for fossil fuels.

Key features of Mission Innovation

• It aims to reinvigorate and accelerate globalclean energy innovation with the objective to make clean energywidely affordable.
• It will augment theefforts to provide affordable and reliable energy for everyone and topromote economic growth.
• Modus Operandi:Working with existing international institutions, participatingcountries will cooperate and collaborate to help governments, privateinvestors and technology innovators.
• Thecollaboration will cover areas such as- sharing of data, technologyexpertise and analysis in order to promote commercialization anddissemination of clean energy technologies.
• Itwas launched as a long term global response to tackle the problem ofclimate change.
• Participating countries are:Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, France, Germany,India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Saudi Arabia, SouthKorea, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the USA.

5. Union Government launched IPV injection as part ofGlobal Polio Endgame Strategy

i. The Union Government on 30 November 2015 launched theinjectable Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) as part of its commitmentto the Global Polio Endgame Strategy.

ii. The IPV injection was launched in New Delhi by Union Ministerfor Health and Family Welfare JP Nadda. It is part of next step inIndia's universal immunization programme to fight against polio inthe country.

iii. The first phase this vaccine will be introduced in sixstates, viz Assam, Gujarat, Punjab, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and UttarPradesh. IPV injection will be given to children below one year ofage along with the third dose of the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) at theroutine immunization sessions free of cost.

iv. New evidences now clearly show that IPV and OPV together willfurther strengthen the children’s immune system and will providedouble protection against polio. The introduction of IPV in routineimmunization is as per recommendation made in World Health Assemblyin May 2015 and endorsed by Global Polio Endgame Strategy.

v. IPV will roll-out to 126 countries which are only using OPV inthe National program and it will be the largest and fastestglobally-coordinated vaccine introduction project in history.

6. IMF approved China's Yuan as Elite Reserve Currency

i. International Monetary Fund (IMF) on 30 November 2015 includedChina's Yuan into its elite reserve currency basket. Yuan's entryinto the basket takes effect from 1 October 2016.

ii. Yuan also known as the Chinese Renminbi (RMB) was included inthe basket after it met the existing criteria for its inclusion. Theaction was taken after the executive board at IMF completed theregular five-yearly review of the basket of currencies that make upthe Special Drawing Right (SDR).

iii. Yuan will be a freely usable currency and will be included inthe SDR basket as a fifth currency, along with the US Dollar, Euro,Japanese Yen and British Pound. Launching the new SDR basket on 1October 2016 will provide sufficient lead time for the Fund, itsmembers and other SDR users to adjust to these changes.

iv. The inclusion of the RMB will enhance the attractiveness ofthe SDR by diversifying the basket and making it more representativeof the world’s major currencies. Inclusion of Yuan in the SDR isconsidered as a big political victory for China as Yuan’sdesirability as a reserve currency for investors will increase andundermine the hegemony of the dollar as a global reserve currency.

v. The SDR basket, upon which the SDR’s value is based, istypically reviewed every five years by the IMF’s executive board.It is reviewed to ensure that it reflects the relative importance ofcurrencies in the global trading and financial systems.

7. Robert Lewandowski awarded with four Guinness WorldRecord certificates for scoring five goals in nine minutes

i. Polish professional footballer Robert Lewandowski’snine-minute, five-goal haul for German Football Club Bayern Munichagainst Wolfsburg was officially recognised on 30 November 2015 byGuinness World Record.

ii. Lewandowski was presented with four separate official GuinnessWorld Records certificates for his goal scoring spree during aspecial press conference which took place at Bayern Munich’sground.

iii. On 22 September 2015, the Polish star scored five goalsduring the league encounter with Wolfsburg in nine minutes, thefastest in any major European football league since records have beenkept.

iv. He broke a series of records including Fastest Bundesligahat-trick (3 minutes 22 seconds), Fastest Four Goals in a BundesligaMatch (5 minutes 42 seconds), Fastest Five Goals Scored in aBundesliga Match (8 minutes 59 seconds), Most Goals Scored by aSubstitute in a Bundesliga Match (5 goals).

v. Lewandowski started his career at Varsovia, where as a teen heplayed for seven years. Soon, he moved to Delta Warsaw where hemanaged to play in the first team, scoring four goals. On 3 January2015, he signed a five-year contract with Bayern Munich. He wasofficially presented as a Bayern Munich player on 9 July 2014.