Current Affairs - January 2016-2017

Current Affairs January 2016

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Current Affairs - 30th & 31st January 2016

1. Puducherry Lt Governor AK Singh launched MITRA app for women safety


i. Lt Governor of Puducherry AK Singh on 28 January 2016 launched the MITRA mobile application to ensure safety and security of women in the Union Territory. The app was launched in the presence of the Chief Minister N Rangasamy in Puducherry.

ii. The Android based application can send emergency SOS messages when in danger or emergency.

iii. To launch the application, the person in danger need only press the power button of his/her mobile three times.

iv. At present, it is available only in smart phones.

v. It is an initiative of the Puducherry Police and can be used with ease and without anyone noticing it. Though the app can be used by anyone, it will be more useful to women, children and the aged.

2. Goa launches project tracking portal


i. Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar today launched Goa e-Suvidha Portal, an online project tracking mechanism to fast track projects.

ii. It aims at resolving a variety of issues in setting up infrastructure and other large projects , both in the public and private sectors, with targeted investment between ?50 crore and ?1,000 crore.

iii. The system is designed to enhance efficiency, bring transparency, boost investor confidence, and improve the communication between the industry and the government.

3. JS Deepak replaces Garg as Telecom Secretary

i. Amid the high-decibel debate around Net neutrality, call drops and the upcoming mega spectrum auction, Telecom Secretary Rakesh Garg on Friday was moved to the low-profile Minority Affairs Ministry, as part of a bureaucratic reshuffle.

ii. JS Deepak, a UP cadre officer from the 1982 batch, who is currently Secretary, Department of IT (DeitY), will replace Garg. This will be Deepak’s second innings in the Department of Communications (DoT).

iii. As Joint Secretary, DoT, he was among those who had played a lead role in ensuring the smooth auction of 3G and broadband wireless access spectrum in 2010, which fetched the government revenue of ?1.06 lakh crore.

iv. Following this, Deepak was asked to handle the 2G spectrum auction in 2012 after the Supreme Court ordered the cancellation of 121 licences for 2G during the tenure of A Raja as Telecom Minister. Deepak, an MSc in electronics from Bangalore University and MBA from IIM-Ahmadabad, was then Joint Secretary in the Department of Commerce.

4. Angelique Kerber stuns Serena Williams to win Australian Open


i. Angelique Kerber became the first German to win a Grand Slam title since her childhood idol Steffi Graf in 1999 when she upset world number one Serena Williams 6-4 3-6 6-4 to clinch the Australian Open on Saturday.

ii. The 34-year-old American had been seeking her seventh Melbourne Park title and 22nd overall, which would have moved her into a tie with Graf for the most Grand Slam singles titles in the Open era.

iii. The seventh-seeded Kerber, however, was not overawed by the occasion of her first Grand Slam final, breaking twice in the first set to take it in 39 minutes as Williams made 23 unforced errors.

iv. Both players suffered early breaks in the third set but the championship appeared to have tipped in the German's favour in a marathon sixth game when she finally converted her fifth break point to take a 4-2 lead.

v. She extended that to 5-2 and was serving for the title at 5-3 before Williams fought back, though the inspired German was able to clinch her first Grand Slam and then collapse onto the court in jubilation.

5. Cabinet of Somalia agreed on Election Model outlined by Mogadishu Declaration 2015


i. Cabinet of Somalia on 28 January 2016 agreed on Election Model outlined by the Mogadishu Declaration. The declaration, which was adopted in December 2015,  calls for the electoral process in Somalia to establish a new, bicameral Federal Parliament in 2016, based on inclusivity and representation.

ii. The election model paves the way for formation of new government as the term of non-elected Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) is set to expire in 2016 after serving for about four years.

iii. The new electoral model envisioned a 275-member lower house which maintains a power-sharing formula among clans and a 54-member upper house based on equal representation of existing, emerging and prospective federal states plus additional seats for Puntland and Somaliland.
iv. It also requires that a minimum of 30 percent of seats be reserved for women.

v. Mogadishu Declaration established 7 key principles and actions basing on which the precise details of a final electoral model and the plan for implementing that model to be evolved for formation of new government in Somalia in 2016.

vi. As per the declaration, representation in the country’s next federal parliament will be based on a balance between constituencies and clan affiliation. It stipulates that the representation of women in the legislative branch shall be increased by guaranteeing them a minimum number of reserved seats in both the upper and lower houses of the federal parliament.

6. Karnataka Vikas Grameen Bank sets up cell to monitor govt schemes

i. The Dharwad-headquartered Karnataka Vikas Grameen Bank (KVGB) has set up a separate cell for monitoring progress under all the government-sponsored schemes, according to Ashok Reddy, Chairman of the bank.

ii. According to a press release from the bank here on Saturday, Reddy received the ‘runner-up’ award of the ‘ASSOCHAM Social Banking Excellence Award 2015’ under the ‘regional rural banks’ category in Mumbai on Friday. The Minister of State for Finance, Jayant Sinha, gave away the award to Reddy.

iii. The cell at the head office in Dharwad monitors the progress of government-sponsored schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), the Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY), the Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY), the Atal Pension Yojana (APY), the Credit Guarantee Fund and the MUDRA Yojana.

iv. The bank has opened 10.30 lakh accounts covering all households with a bank account in its area of operation under PMJDY. He said 9.80 lakh RuPay cards have been issued to PMJDY account holders, and around 4,000 PMJDY account holders have been provided overdraft facility.

v. The bank has canvassed 2.80 lakh policies under PMJJBY, 8.90 lakh policies under PMSBY and 1,500 under APY schemes. It has financed 15,813 accounts under the Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana amounting to Rs. 125 crore during the campaign period, he said.

7. Prince Mahidol Award 2015 conferred in Bangkok

i. Prince Mahidol Award 2015 was conferred upon Professor Morton Mower and Sir Michael Marmot for outstanding achievements in medicine and public health worldwide.

ii. The award was presented on 29 January 2016 at the Grand Palace in Bangkok by the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn on behalf of the King of Thailand Bhumibol Adulyadej, who couldn’t attend the ceremony due to ill health.

iii. Mower, a citizen of the USA, received the award in the category of medicine for invention of the Automatic Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator. The device helps in monitoring heart rate and rhythm and delivers electrical current when abnormality is detected.

iv. Marmot, a citizen of the UK, won the award in public health category for his evidence-based evaluation of the role of Social Determinants of Health, a concept that was adopted by the government of the UK and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to eliminate health inequalities.

v. Mahidol Award was established in 1992 to commemorate the 100th birthday anniversary of Prince Mahidol of Songkla, who is recognized by the Thais as the father of modern medicine and public health of Thailand. The award is presented by the Prince Mahidol Award Foundation that was established under the Royal Patronage of the King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

vi. It is bestowed upon individuals or institutions that have made outstanding and exemplary contributions to the advancement of medical, and public health and human services in the world. It is conferred upon by the King of Thailand with prizes worth a total of 100000 US dollars.

8. Leslie Berland appointed as Chief Marketing Officer of Twitter Inc

i. Leslie Berland was on 26 January 2016 appointed as the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of Twitter Inc, an online social networking site. Before Berland’s appointment, the marketing operations was overseen by the Twitter’s CFO Anthony Noto.

ii. Prior to this appointment, she was working at American Express (AmEx) as an executive vice-president of global advertising, marketing and digital partnerships.

iii. Berland joined the American Express (AmEx) in 2005 and had overseen its advertising, sponsorships, media, content and brand identity.
 
iv. She also helped to create AmEx’s first social media strategies. Leslie Berland was placed at 6th position in Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business issue and also was included in Advertising Age’s Creativity 50 list.

9. Japan unveiled first stealth fighter aircraft X-2


i. Japan on 28 January 2016 unveiled country’s first stealth fighter aircraft X-2. The domestically-built fighter aircraft seeks to augment defence capabilities of the country that is surrounded by China and Russia that already have radar-evading aircraft technology.

ii. X-2 is expected to undergo its first test-flight in February 2016.

Features of X-2

* It has two engines, similar to the F-22 of the USA, and is 46 feet long by 30 feet wide and 15 feet tall.
* Its stealthy features include a special coating on the canopy that houses the pilot, as well as a carbon-fiber composite material that absorbs radar waves.
* It was built under the code name Mitsubishi Advanced Technology Demonstrator-X by the country’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.
* Apart from Mitsubishi, around 200 companies were involved in the development of the unarmed technology demonstrator.
* It was built at a cost of 340 million US dollars and is smaller than a standard jet fighter.

10. Graham Xavier Ford named chief coach of Sri Lanka for his second stint


i. South African Graham Xavier Ford on 29 January 2016 was named as the chief coach of the Sri Lankan cricket team for his second stint. At the time of his appointment, he was the head coach of the Surrey County Cricket Club

ii. For the first time he was appointed as the head coach of the Sri Lanka national team, replacing Geoff Marsh in January 2012 and was in the post for two-year term till January 2014.

iii. He succeeded Marvan Atapattu, who resigned from the post on 3 September 2015.

Current Affairs - 29th January 2016

1. Kerala to host global skill summit


i. Kerala will host a three-day ‘Nypunyam International Skill Summit and Skill Fiesta 2016’ next month with a view to bridging the gap between the job market requirement and the skill level of available workforce.

ii. The event will unfold on February 5, according to Tom Jose, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Labour and Skills, Kerala. The focus will be on improving the skill levels and bringing them up to world standards in tune with the Prime Minister’s initiative for skilling 500 million young people by 2020. The skill summit will gather an array of top industry leaders, key government officials, policy makers and analysts functioning in the sector.

iii. The Nypunyam summit will be jointly organised by Directorate of Employment and Training and Kerala Academy for Skills Excellence, Jose pointed out.

iv. At least 70 contestants will take part in the skill fiesta representing trades as varied as welding, plumbing, catering, restaurant service, mobile robotics, fashion technology, fitter, electrical, automobile technology, bakery and confectionery, carpentry, computer-aided design (Civil) and electronics.

2. Gurdeep Singh appointed as CMD of NTPC

i. Gurdeep Singh on 28 January 2016 was appointed as the Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of NTPC Ltd. Singh will be the first person to be appointed to the top job at a Maharatna company through a search committee route.

ii. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved the appointment of Singh for a period of five years from the date of assumption of charge of the post.

iii. The post of chairman and managing director at NTPC fell vacant after Arup Roy Choudhury completed his five year term on 31 August 2015.
iv. Gurdeep Singh is currently serving as the managing director of Gujarat State Electricity Company Limited (GESC). He started his career in NTPC in 1987.

v. He was earlier associated with Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation, Powergen and IDFC Projects in different capacities. During his tenure at GESC, Singh spearheaded several key reforms in Gujarat, the major being innovative solar power programmes such as the solar power plant over the Sardar Sarovar canal.

3. India successfully test fired Akash missile at Chandipur

i. India on 28 January 2016 test fired its indigenously-built surface-to-air Akash missile from complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR).at Chandipuri in Odisha. It was as part of a user trial mission. Three rounds of test were carried out by Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel aiming at para-barrel targets.

ii. The Akash (sky) is a mid-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system. It is developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) of India under the integrated guided-missile development programme (IGMDP).

iii. IGMDP is also involved the development of the Nag, Agni and Trishul missiles and Prithvi ballistic missile. The first missile was delivered to the IAF in March 2012. The missile was formally inducted into the IAF in July 2015.

iv. The missile can fly at supersonic speeds ranging from Mach 2.8 to 3.5 and can engage aerial targets up to a range of approximately 25 kilometers.

4. Navneet Kaur, Santosh Kadale won gold in Senior National Rowing Championship

i. Punjab’s Navneet Kaur on 28 January 2016 won two gold medals in the 34th Senior National Rowing Championship at Hussainsagar Lake, Hyderabad. It was her maiden gold at the country’s highest level in the senior category.

ii. Kaur took 8:26.83 seconds to take the first place in the 2000mts Open Single Scull. Later, Navneet and Harpreet Kaur won the women’s doubles sculls timing 7:42.94 seconds.

iii. In the men single scull, Nasik’s Santosh Kadale won his maiden national gold.

iv. Host Telangana men team had to be contended with a silver in the Open Men’s Coxless while K Tejeshwar Reddy bagged a bronze medal for Andhra Pradesh in single scull.

5. Union Government announced 1st batch of 20 smart cities from 11 States and Delhi

i. Union Ministry of Urban Development on 28 January 2016 announced the 1st batch of 20 smart cities from 11 States and Union Territory of Delhi under the Smart Cities Mission. The 20 cities were selected through the Smart City Challenge competition that saw the participation of 1.52 crore citizens from 97 cities and towns.

ii. 23 States and Union Territories who could not make to the list of winners will be given an opportunity to participate in a fast track competition. Among the 20 cities and towns, 3 cities are from Madhya Pradesh, two each from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan and one each from the remaining five made it to the winning list.

iii. The 20 winning cities and towns have proposed a total investment of 50802 crore rupees over five years with all the cities proposing Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) as a major vehicle of resource mobilization. A total area of 26735 acres has been identified by these cities for making them smart through necessary interventions.

iv. These 20 cities account for a total population of 3.54 crore and 5 have  population below 5 lakhs each, 4 in the range of 5-10 lakhs, 6 in between 10-25 lakhs, 4 between 25 and 50 lakhs and only Ahmedabad has above 50 lakhs.

6. Justice Sanjay Mishra appointed as Lokayukta of Uttar Pradesh


i. Justice Sanjay Mishra was on 28 January 2016 appointed as Lokayukta of Uttar Pradesh. His appointment was approved by the Supreme Court. The apex court bench comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Prafulla C Pant recalled the earlier order dated 16 December 2015 appointing Justice Virendra Singh for the post following the objections raised against Singh's appointment.

ii. The Supreme Court in December 2015 passed order appointing Justice Virendra Singh as Lokayukta of Uttar Pradesh. It was the first time that apex court exercised its powers to appoint a Lokayutka, after repeated orders to the constitutional authorities of state that it must appoint a new person in the position.

iii. The apex court utilised its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to enforce its own orders to do complete justice.
 
iv. However, Singh's appointment aroused objections as Chief Justice had received serious complaints against Justice Singh during his tenure as Chairman of Consumer Redressal Forum in November 2012.

7. Sania Mirza, Martina Hingis won 2016 Australian Open women's doubles tennis title

i. Sania Mirza and her Swiss partner Martina Hingis on 29 January 2016 won the 2016 Australian Open title of tennis in the women’s doubles category.

ii. To win the title, the top seeded Indo-Swiss pair defeated seventh seeded Czech duo Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka 7-6, 6-3 at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. With the win over the Czech duo, they extended their unbeaten run to 36.

iii. For Sania-Hingis pair, it was their maiden Australian Open title and the third successive Grand Slam doubles title after their victories in the 2015 Wimbledon and US Open.

iv. In the 2016 season, it was their second title. Earlier, they won the 2016 WTA Apia International Sydney title on 15 January 2016. In a semi final of the tournament, the duo created a world record by winning their 29th women’s doubles match in a row.

8. Madhya Pradesh to impose ban on polythene from January 2017

i. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on 27 January 2016 directed officials to impose ban on polythene in entire state from January 2017.

ii. The Chief Minister’s decision came after his review of the activities of Urban Development and Environment and Housing Department in capital Bhopal.

iii. As per the decision, the ban on polythene will be strictly enforced at tourist destinations and holy cities Ujjain, Amarkantak, Khajuraho, Pachmarhi, Maheshwar, Omkareshwar and Orchha from September 2016.

iv. Besides, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has also directed the officials to chalk out a scheme for developing a new green field city between Bhopal and Indore.

Current Affairs - 28th January 2016

1. India and Armenia sign Protocol amending the Double Taxation Avoidance Convention


i. India and Armenia has signed a Protocol to amend the existing Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC) to curb instances of tax evasion.

ii. The Protocol amends the Article on Exchange of Information for tax in the bilateral DTAC signed between India and Armenia and has been in existence since September 2004.

iii. It has been amended to bring it in line with the updated provisions in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Model.

2. IPS officer Aparna Kumar became India's first civil servant to scale Mount Vinson Massif


i. Aparna Kumar, IPS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre, became India's first civil servant to scale Mount Vinson Massif, the highest peak in the Antarctica.

ii. She hoisted the Tricolour and the flag of the Uttar Pradesh Police Service on Mount Vinson Massif.

iii. She set out on the Antarctic expedition on 5 January 2016, accompanied by a 10-member team of mountaineers from various countries.

3. Australian batsman David Warner won Allan Border Medal 2016

i. Australian batsman David Warner on 27 January 2016 defeated captain Steve Smith for the prestigious Allan Border Medal for 2016.

ii. Warner polled 240 votes from players, umpires and media representatives to beat 2015 winner and skipper Steve Smith on 219. Pace bowler Mitchell Starc was third on 183 votes.

iii. Warner also won the Test Player of the Year Award with 30 votes ahead of Smith on 24.

4. India overtakes Thailand as World's largest rice exporter

i. India has overtaken Thailand as the world’s largest rice exporter in the year 2015 by shipping (exporting) 10.23 million tonnes of rice.

ii. It was announced by the Bangkok based Thai Rice Exporters Association Chairman Charoen Laodhammatas.

5. International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust observed


i. International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust was observed on 27 January 2016 across the world. The day was proclaimed so by the United Nations General Assembly.

ii. The theme for the Holocaust remembrance and education activities in the year 2016 including the Holocaust Memorial Ceremony is The Holocaust and Human Dignity.

iii. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) celebrate the day every year.

iv. The day marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi German Concentration and Extermination Camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau by the Soviet troops in 1945.

6. Rajasthan Govt inks MoU to join UDAY Scheme


i. Rajasthan Government along with its power distribution companies (DISCOMS) has signed a MoU to join UDAY (Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana) Scheme.

ii. State DISCOMS part of this MoU are Jaipur Vidyut Vitran Nigam Limited (JVNL), Jodhpur Vidyut Vitran Nigam Limited (JVVNL) and Ajmer Vidyut Vitran Nigam Limited (AVNL).

7. Parrikar presented Rakshamantri Award for excellence for 2012-13 and 2013-14

i.Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on 27 January 2016 presented the Raksha Mantri awards for excellence for the years 2012-13 and 2013-14 in New Delhi.

ii. The awards are presented in recognition of exemplary performance amongst Ordnance Factories and the nine Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs).

iii. The awards were given in three major categories, Institutional Awards, Best Performing Division, Factory, Shipyard Awards and Group and Individual Awards.

8. Adam Lewis headed Independent Review Panel set up to safeguard integrity in Tennis

i. Tennis’s governing bodies on 27 January 2016 constituted the Adam Lewis headed Independent Review Panel (IRP) to safeguard integrity in tennis.

ii. An announcement in this regard was made by the Chairmen and CEOs of the Governing Bodies of International Tennis – Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), Women's Tennis Association (WTA), International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the Grand Slam Board.

iii. The IRP was formed to review the functioning of the existing anti-corruption mechanisms and suggest measures to further safeguard the integrity of the game.

iv. The panel will review and report on the appropriateness and effectiveness of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program (TACP) and suggest recommendations for change.

Current Affairs - 26th & 27th January 2016

1. President Rule imposed in Arunachal Pradesh


i. President Pranab Mukherjee on 26 January 2016 approved the Union Cabinet’s recommendation for the imposition of President’s rule on Arunachal Pradesh.

ii. He gave the assent after hosting the traditional ‘At Home’ or reception at Rastrapati Bhavan for French President Francois Hollande as part of the Republic Day celebrations.

iii. The Union Cabinet approved the imposition of President Rule on the state after expiration of six month deadline under which the Assembly was supposed to meet. The six month deadline for the meet expired on 21 January 2016.

iv. Other reasons for the decision on imposition of the President Rule included multiple reports by the Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa that there was no law and order in the state and even the Raj Bhawan was not safe as it was seized by Congress MLAs.

v. Besides, the Ministry of Home Affairs also appointed two retired civil servants, GS Patnaik and YS Dadwal as advisers to the Governor.

2. 67th India’s Republic Day celebrated

i. Republic Day 2016 was celebrated on 26 January 2016 across the nation. This was the 67th Republic Day of India. President of France Francois Hollande was the Chief Guest at 67th Republic Day parade.

ii. First Republic Day was celebrated on 26 January 1950 when India became a Republic with Constitution of India coming into force on this day replacing the Government of India Act (1935) as the governing document of India.

iii. For the first time since 1950, a foreign army contingent marched down the Rajpath during the Republic Day parade. The 76-member French Army contingent was the participant of the parade. The parade witnessed participation of some of India’s most highly trained dogs from the army’s Veterinary Corps, after 26 years.

iv. The celebration was curtailed by 25 minute. The duration was brought down to 90 minutes from 115 minutes, but the format will remain the same. For the first time, an all-women stunt contingent named ‘Women Daredevils CRPF’ comprising of 120 soldiers will performed stunts on bikes. Apart from this women officers were also 2nd in command to the contingents of Air Force, Coast Guard and Navy.

v. For the first time, the tableau of ex-servicemen of Army veterans was also showcased in the parade. The VVIP enclosure had a motorised glass roof so as to protect them from rain and cold weather, as in 2015 Chief guest Barack Obama and Michelle Obama held umbrellas to protect themselves from the drizzle at the Republic Day parade event.

3. International Customs Day observed on 26 January

i. The International Customs Day 2016 was observed across the world on 26 January 2016. The day is organised in commemoration of formation of World Customs Organisation (WCO) on 26 January 1953.

ii. On 26 January every year, the Customs administrations of 179 Member States of the World Customs Organisation organize various national events to celebrate the first session of the Customs Co-operation Council. On its part, the WCO Secretariat chooses a topic for the International Customs Day.

iii. The WCO is dedicating 2016 to promoting the digitalization of Customs process under the slogan Digital Customs: Progressive Engagement.

4. Marvin Minsky, the pioneer of Artificial Intelligence, died

i. Marvin Minsky, the pioneer of artificial intelligence, died at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital due to cerebral hemorrhage. The mathematician and the computer scientist died at the age of 88.

ii. Minsky, a professor emeritus at the MIT Media Lab, helped in work that helped inspired the creation of the personal computer and the Internet.

iii. In 1959, he co-founded the MIT Artificial Intelligence Project (AIT) with John McCarthy, who is credited with coining the term “artificial intelligence.” Now AIT is known as Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Minsky, a native New Yorker entered Harvard University after returning from service in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

iv. He was an American cognitive scientist in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) created robotic hands that can manipulate objects, developed new programming frameworks and wrote several texts on AI and philosophy.

v. Minsky won the AM Turing Award - the highest honor in computer science - in 1969

5. FIH Hockey Stars Awards 2015 announced

i. The International Hockey Federation (FIH) on 26 January 2016 announced the winners of its Hockey Stars awards for 2015. The Netherlands' Robert Van der Horst and Lidewij Welten won the men's and women's FIH Player of the Year awards, respectively, for their performances in 2015.

* Goalkeeper of the year (Women) - Joyce Sombroek (The Netherlands)
* Goalkeeper of the year (Men) - David Harte (Ireland)
* Rising Star of the Year (Women) - Lily Owsley (Great Britain)
* Rising Star of the Year (Men) - Chrisopher Rühr (Germany)

ii. The FIH Player of the Year Awards are awarded annually by the International Hockey Federation to the male and female field hockey players adjudged to be the best in the world.

iii. The awards were established in 1998 and have been awarded annually ever since.

iv. In 2001, the FIH Young Player of the Year award was created, to be awarded to the best young field hockey player of the year.

6. Manipal Hospitals becomes Karnataka's first centre for MRCP (UK) PACES examination


i. Manipal Hospitals Bangalore becomes the first centre in Karnataka for conducting the MRCP practical assessment of examination skills (PACES) mock exam in collaboration with UK-based Royal College of Physicians Federation. This is the final qualifying exam for getting MRCP UK degree thus providing an opportunity for students to directly practice in the UK, the company said in a statement.

ii. The exam will be conducted from January 27-30 and provides a platform for students of Bangalore to participate in the overseas exam and also a convenient option for students of neighbouring states. The successful candidates would receive MRCP(UK) Specialist Physician certification and would be eligible to practice medicine in major countries worldwide, the statement added.

iii. Sudarshan Ballal, Chairman, Manipal Hospitals Bangalore said that with this initiative, people will save on travel and stay cost and the hassles of travelling abroad. Manipal becomes the fourth centre in India apart from centres in Chennai, Cochin, and Kolkata.

7. West Indies’ Shivnarine Chanderpaul retired from international cricket


i. The West Indies batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul on 22 January 2016 announced his retirement from international cricket almost 22 years after making his debut.

ii. Chanderpaul had not played for West Indies since May 2015. The West Indies selectors dropped him after a weak performance during the three-Test series at home against England.

iii. Shivnarine Chanderpaul is the first Indo-Caribbean to play 100 Tests for the West Indies. He captained West Indies cricket team in 14 Tests and 16 One Day Internationals.

iv. His debut match for West Indies was against England in March 1994, in his native Guyana, where he made a half-century on debut. A left-handed batsman, he is well known for his unorthodox batting stance, which has been described as crab-like. He has scored 20000 runs in international cricket.

v. In 2008, he was named as one of the five Cricketers of the Year by the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, and as the Player of the Year by the International Cricket Council.

vi. His highest score in Tests was 203 not out and he finished with an average of 51.37, and he also posted a top score of 150 in ODIs, finishing with an average of 41.60.

8. Kerala dentist Sajeev Koshy honoured with Order of Australia

i. A Kerala dentist Sajeev Koshy settled in Melbourne on 26 January 2016 was honoured with the highest civilian honour, the Order of Australia. Koshy was given the award for his service to dentistry in Victoria, Australia. He was honoured on the Australia Day Awards 2016, by the Governor General of Australia.

ii. Koshy has served as the president of the Kerala Dental Council and president of the Indian Dental Association.

iii. He is currently the head of the endodontics at the Royal Melbourne Dental Hospital, which is the teaching hospital for the University of Melbourne.

iv. The Order of Australia is an order of chivalry established on 14 February 1975 by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia.

v. It is awarded to recognise Australian citizens and other persons for achievement or meritorious service.

vi. Before the establishment of the order, Australian citizens would receive British honours.

9. Rekha honoured with 3rd National Yash Chopra Memorial Award

i. Veteran Bollywood actress Rekha on 25 January 2016 was honoured with the third Yash Chopra Memorial Award in Mumbai.

ii. Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao presented the award to the actress in recognition of her talent and contribution to the film industry.

iii. The actress was born on 10 October 1954 as Bhanu Rekha Ganesan in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. She started her career in 1966 as a child actress in the Telugu film Rangula Ratnam. Her film debut as a lead happened with Sawan Bhadon in 1970.

iv. She has won three Filmfare Awards, two for Best Actress and one for Best Supporting Actress, for her roles in Khubsoorat, Khoon Bhari Maang and Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi, respectively. Her portrayal of a classical courtesan in Umrao Jaan won her the National Film Award for Best Actress. In 2010, she was honoured with the Padma Shri by the Government of India.

v. The National Yash Chopra Memorial Award was instituted by the TSR Foundation of T Subbarami Reddy in the memory of the producer-director Yash Chopra, who died in 2012.

Current Affairs - 25th January 2016

1. Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa won Presidential Election of Portugal


i. Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa on 24 January 2016 won the Presidential election of Portugal. Sousa, a centre-right Social Democrats candidate and a former journalist, won the election by securing 52 percent of votes.

ii. The outcome is likely to help maintain political balance after the inconclusive parliamentary ballot in October 2015. His closest rival, Socialist Antonio Sampaio da Novoa, conceded defeat after picking up around 23 percent of the vote. Left Bloc candidate Marisa Matias had 10 percent.

iii. Sousa, popularly known as ‘Professor Marcelo’ and aged 67 is the one-time leader of the center-right Social democrats. He will succeed President Anibal Cavaco Silva.

iv. Earlier in October 2015 presidential election, a centre-right coalition won the most votes but lost its overall majority in November 2015. It was replaced by an alliance of left-wing parties that rejected its austerity programme in parliament.

2.  India-France inked 16 pacts including chopper venture

i. India and France on 24 January 2016 inked 16 agreements at the India-France Business Summit in Chandigarh. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) covered a wide range of sectors like urban development, urban transport, water and waste treatment and solar energy.

ii. The agreements were signed in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande, who began his three-day visit to India.

iii. Hollande is the Chief Guest at the 67th India’s Republic Day (26 January 2016) celebrations. He is the fifth French leader to be a chief guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations, maximum number from any country so far.

* MoU between AFD and Maharashtra on technical cooperation in the field of sustainable urban development for development of smart city in Nagpur.
* MoU between AFD and the Union Territory of Chandigarh on technical cooperation in the field of sustainable urban development for development of smart city in Chandigarh.
* MoU between AFD and the Union Territory of Puducherry on technical cooperation in the field of sustainable development for development of smart city in Puducherry.
* Wind Power Development Agreement between EDF JV with SITAC RE India to jointly explore opportunities for development of wind based power project in India.
* MOU between EPI ltd – Dassault Systèmes in urban sector development.
* MOU between EPI-Egis - urban sector development.
* MOU between EPI- Schneider Electric - urban sector development.
* MOU between EPI-Thales - urban sector development.
* MOU between EPI-EDF - urban sector development.
* MOU between EPI-Alstom - urban sector development.
* MOU between EPI-SA CAN - urban sector development.
* MOU between EPI-Lumiplan ITS India Pvt Ltd - urban sector development.
* MOU between EPI-POMA - urban sector development.
* Agreement between CEA (the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission) and Green Ventures – Solar photo voltaic projects in the Indian rural areas (Varanasi, U.P.).
* Agreement between CEA (the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission) and Crompton Greaves - To explore opportunities in Solar Photo Voltaic (PV) System with storage function for Indian Airports.
* Mahindra-Airbus cooperation to create the new private strategic partner for helicopters within the Make in India initiative.

3. Alice Vaidyan, new CMD of GIC Re

i. Alice Vaidyan has been appointed Chairman and Managing Director of General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC Re), the National Reinsurer. She will hold office till July 31, 2019.

ii. GIC Re is the 14th largest reinsurer globally and is presently the only reinsurance company in India.

iii. Vaidyan belongs to the 1983 batch of direct recruit officers of general insurance industry.

iv. She has been the General Manager and CFO of GIC Re from October 2012.

v. A post-graduate in English literature and a Fellow of the Insurance Institute of India, Vaidyan began her career with public sector general insurer The New India Assurance Company Ltd in 1983. She moved to GIC Re in 2008 as DGM (Reinsurance).

4. India won Blind T20 Asia Cup


i. India on 24 January 2016 won the first T20 Asia cup cricket for Blind. In the final clash played at Jawaharlal Nehru stadium of Kochi, India defeated Pakistan by 44 runs.

ii. Batting first, India scored 208 runs in 20 over whereas Pakistan was restricted to 164 runs in 18.2 over.

iii. So far, Pakistan was unbeaten in this tournament and had defeated India by 19 runs in the group stages.

5. 6th National Voters’ Day observed with theme Inclusive and Qualitative Participation


i. 6th National Voters’ Day (NVD) was observed across the country on 25 January 2016 by the Election Commission of India. The theme for the 6th National Voters’ Day is ‘Inclusive and Qualitative Participation’.

ii. The Commission’s objective through NVD is to increase enrolment of voters, especially of the newly eligible ones. The National function of the NVD was held in New Delhi and presided over by President of India, Pranab Mukherjee.

iii. On the occasion, the Chief Election Commissioner Dr. Nasim Zaidi also released a book titled, ‘Belief in the Ballot’ and presented it’s the first copy to the President.

iv. To celebrate and recognise the contribution of Government department/Agencies to the efforts of ECI for enhancing electoral participation, the election commission has introduced awards. Six newly eligible electors were given their EPICs by President of India.

v. 25 January is the foundation day of the Commission, which came into being on this day in 1950.  The National Voters’ Day is also utilised to spread awareness among voters regarding effective participation in the electoral process.

vi. After the completion of the NVD National function, the Commission inaugurated the construction of India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management (IIIDEM) campus at sector-22 Dwarka, New Delhi.

vii. Election Commission of India will be presenting a Tableau with the theme ‘Inclusive and Qualitative Participation’ at the Republic Day parade on 26 January at Rajpath, New Delhi.

6. Padma Vibhushan for Rajinikanth, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar


i. Actor Rajinikanth, media baron Ramoji Rao, former J&K Governor Jagmohan and spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar awarded Padma Vibhushan.

ii. Former CAG Vinod Rai, Bollywood actor Anupam Kher and singer Udit Narayan awarded Padma Bhushan.

iii. Former US Ambassador to India Robert D Blackwill, sportspersons Saina Nehwal and Sania Mirza and Indu Jain of Bennett, Coleman & Co get Padma Bhushan.

iv. Senior lawyer Ujjwal Nikam, actors Ajay Devgn and Priyanka Chopra get Padma Shri.

v. Reliance Industries founder late Dhirubhai Ambani awarded Padma Vibhushan.

7. Izumo Takuto and Zhu Chengzhu won ITTF World Junior Circuit Finals

i. Japan's Izumo Takuto and Hong Kong's Zhu Chengzhu on 24 January 2016 became champions in the boys' and girls' categories, respectively, in the 11Even Sports 2015 ITTF World Junior Circuit Finals at the Abhay Prashal Stadium, Indore, Madhya Pradesh.

ii. The three-day event came to its conclusion when Takuto hardly dropped a sweat beating Carlos Vedriel from Spain 4-0 in a one-sided final while Zhu overcame stiff resistance to beat Park Seri of Korea 4-2. Each winner took home 3800 US dollars while the runners-up received 2100 US dollars each.

iii. The International Table Tennis Federation is the governing body for all international table tennis associations. The role of the ITTF includes overseeing rules and regulations and seeking technological improvement for the sport of table tennis.

iv. The ITTF is responsible for the organization of numerous international competitions, including the World Junior Circuit and the World Table Tennis Championships that has continued since 1926.

Current Affairs - 24th January 2016

1. Mosquito-borne Zika virus creates panic over birth defects in Latin America


i. Mosquito-borne Zika virus has created a panic over thousands birth defects in the Latin America countries.

ii. New case of child born with the virus has been reported in these countries. However, Brazil is experiencing the largest known outbreak of Zika with most cases in the north-east region.

iii. In this region, babies have been born a with abnormal condition called microcephaly i.e. with abnormally smaller heads which can cause brain damage.

iv. To avoid the spread of Zika virus some Latin American countries viz. Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador and Jamaica have warned women to avoid getting pregnant.

v. The virus also has been reported in the United States (US) after three cases were detected in Florida in people who had recently travelled to Latin America.

2.  India submits first Biennial Update Report to UNFCCC

i. India has submitted its first Biennial Update Report (BUR) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) towards fulfillment of the reporting obligation.

ii. The BUR has been submitted as per the provisions of the UNFCCC Convention which is obligatory on countries to periodically provide national information.

Key highlights of BUR

* BUR has been prepared by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (UNFCC) under its NATCOM project funded by Global Environment Facility (GEF).
* Contains national inventory of Green House Gases (GHG) for 2010 and has been prepared in accordance with the guidelines of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
* 6 GHGs in Inventory: Carbon dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Perfluorocarbons (PFCs), Nitrous Oxide (N2O), Sulfur Hexafluoride (SF6) and Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
* Five categories: It covers agriculture, waste and Land-use, Land-use, Change and Forestry (LULUCF), energy, industrial processes and product use (IPPU).
* India’s emissions: India has emitted around 2,137 million tonnes (mt) of CO2 equivalent GHGs in 2010.

3.  India's largest and tallest tricolour hoisted at Ranchi


i. India’s largest tricolour was hoisted atop the tallest pole at Pahari Mandir in Ranchi,  by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.

ii. This flag will remain hoisted for 24 hours and shall be illuminated with the help of twenty sodium vapour lights at night.

iii. It is world’s largest and the highest hoisted Indian flag.

iv. Dimensions of flag: It measures 66 feet in height and 99 feet in width in the proper ratio 2:3. It was hoisted on pole with height of 293 feet. It weighs 80 kg.

4.  Sri Lanka tops in 2015 HDI in South Asia Region

i. Sri Lanka has maintained its high ranking in 2015 human development index (HDI) in the South Asia Region.

ii. In the 2015 Global Human Development Report (HDR) released by UN Development Programme (UNDP) Sri Lanka was ranked 73rd with an HDI value of 0.757.

5. Amit Shah re-elected BJP president

i. BJP chief Amit Shah became the party President again today. Top party leaders led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a bevy of Union ministers and chief ministers of BJP-ruled states proposed his name for the party president’s post during the nomination process.

ii. Among others who have proposed Mr. Shah’s name are Union minister Rajnath Singh, Anant Kumar and J.P. Nadda, M. Venkaiah Naidu, besides BJP chief ministers Vasundhara Raje, Raghubar Das, Shivraj Singh Chauhan and others.

6.  Sindhu wins Malaysia Masters title

i. Two-time World Championship bronze-medallist, India’s P.V. Sindhu made a rousing start to the new season as she clinched the Malaysia Masters Grand Prix Gold title after defeating Scotland’s Kristy Gilmour in straight games in the final in Penang on Sunday.

ii. The third seeded Indian had lost to Gilmour in 2013 French Open in their only meeting but today she showed why she is considered to be one of India’s most revered women’s singles shuttler as she avenged her loss with a dominating 21-15 21-9 win in a 32-minute clash to clinch her fifth Grand Prix Gold title.

iii. This is her second Malaysia Masters Grand Prix Gold title, having won it in 2013 as well. She also completed a hat—trick at the Macau Open Grand Prix Gold in November last year.

7.  TranServ launches India's first social mobile wallet Udio

i. India’s digital payment startup company TranServ has launched country’s first Social Mobile Wallet named Udio.
 
ii. The digital wallet seeks to address the gap between real and virtual modes of payment as it has more social experience.

Key features of Udio Wallet

* It integrates a social, community-driven aspect with anytime, anywhere accessibility to digital P2P (peer-to-peer) transactions.
* These transactions take place via seamless and secure payment structure that creates a ubiquitous ecosystem for both consumers and brands.
* It is relatively easy to use and is a more casual approach for making cashless payments similar to mobile banking.
* It enables users to do squaring of dues, sharing dinner bills or a cab ride and also to pay electricity and gas bills and make DTH & mobile recharges.

8. AP Government launched Giriputrika Kalyana Pathakam Scheme for tribal people

i. The Andhra Pradesh Government on 22 January 2016 launched Giriputrika Kalyana Pathakam Scheme to support the tribal women in their quest for livelihood.

ii. The scheme was launched by Andhra Pradesh Minister for Social Welfare Ravela Kishore Babu.

Highlights of the scheme

* The scheme seeks to reduce rampant infant mortality and child marriages among tribal people.
* It is designed to provide a onetime financial assistance of 50000 rupees to each tribal woman who gets married.
* The amount will be directly disbursed to the bank accounts of the beneficiary through District Tribal Welfare Office.
* To avail the benefits of this scheme, each beneficiary would have to fulfil some mandatory conditions like submission of marriage certificate, income certificate, etc.
* The scheme is envisaged to provide nutritional food to infants till the age of seven years.

Current Afffairs - 23rd January 2016

1. MSDE, DoT signed MoU to develop National Action Plan for Skill Development in Telecom Sector


i. The Union Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) and Department of Telecommunication (DoT) on 22 January 2016 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop and implement National Action Plan for Skill Development in Telecom Sector.

ii. The MoU was signed by Secretaries of the Union Ministry of Communications and Information and Union Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.

iii. MSDE and DoT together have agreed to make concerted joint efforts towards skill development by facilitating mobilization of financial support under the National Ecosystem for Development of Telecom Skills. They will suggest PSUs under DOT to utilize at least 20 percent of their CSR funds for skilling purposes.

iv. The two ministries will also to make coordinated efforts to utilize old telephone exchanges which are no longer in use for skill development initiatives and upgrade the same on need basis. National Institute for Policy Research Innovation and Training (NTIPRT) will be developed for training and skill up gradation in Telecom Sector by leveraging the infrastructure and facilities.

v. Indian Telecommunications Sector is a fast growing technological sector having manpower needs right from high school to graduates and post graduates and people with different areas of Telecommunications and Information Technology Skills.

2. Jan Dhan accounts deposits cross Rs. 30,000 cr

i. Deposits in accounts opened under the government’s flagship financial inclusion programme —— Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) —— have crossed the Rs. 30,000 crore mark. As many as 20.38 crore bank accounts were opened under the PMJDY as on the January 20, as per the latest data available. These bank accounts had deposits of Rs. 30,638.29 crore (about $4.5 billion).

ii. The accounts that can be opened under PMJDY are Basic Savings Bank Deposit Accounts (BSBDA) which can be of zero balance, as per RBI guidelines. As per the trends available, the percentage of accounts with ‘Zero Balance’ have actually shown a significant decline.

iii. Accounts with no balance in them were as high as 76.81 per cent of the total opened under the scheme as on September 30, 2015. They have come down to just about 32 per cent at the end of December.

iv. The Finance Ministry data further showed that 8.74 crore of the accounts were seeded with Aadhaar and 17.14 crore account holders were issued RuPay cards. The data further revealed that as on January 15, banks had offered 53.54 lakh account holders overdraft facility of which the sanction was issued for 27.56 lakh cases and 12.32 lakh account holders availed it. The total amount availed was Rs. 166.7 crore.

v. The OD is granted to an earning member of the family, with a condition that the account has been operated satisfactorily for at least 6 months.

3. BEPS guidelines of OECD to be implemented in India from 1 April 2016


i. The term BEPS is an acronym of Base Erosion and Profit Shifting and it was in news in the third week of January 2016 as India decided to implement these guidelines.

ii. BEPS refers to tax planning strategies that would exploit the gaps and mismatches in tax rules to artificially shift profits to low or no-tax locations where there is little or no economic activity, resulting in little or no overall corporate tax being paid.

iii. These norms were announced by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in October 2015 to close tax loopholes that it estimated cost countries upwards of 100 billion US dollars a year.

iv. With the implementation of these guidelines, it will become mandatory for Indian multinationals to make country-by-country reporting to follow guidelines from the financial year that begins on 1 April 2016.

v. It will impact all Indian companies with significant cross-border operations and with annual consolidated global revenue of more than 5500 crore rupees.

BEPS will be major significance for developing countries like India, as they strongly rely on corporate income tax and in particular from multinational enterprises (MNEs).

4. PM declassifies 100 files relating to Netaji

i. Prime Minister Narendra Modi today made public digital copies of 100 secret files relating to Subhas Chandra Bose on his 119th birth anniversary, which could throw some light on the controversy over his death.

ii. The files were declassified and put on digital display at the National Archives of India (NAI) here by the Prime Minister, who pressed a button in the presence of Bose family members and Union Ministers Mahesh Sharma and Babul Supriyo.

iii. Later, Modi and his ministerial colleagues went around glancing at the declassified files, spending over half an hour at the National Archives. He also spoke to the members of the Bose family. The NAI also plans to release digital copies of 25 declassified files on Bose in the public domain every month.

iv. The first lot of 33 files were declassified by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and handed over to the NAI on December 4, last year. Subsequently, the Ministries of Home Affairs and External Affairs too initiated the process of declassification of files relating to Bose in their respective collection which were then transferred over to the NAI, it added.

v. An official said the National Archives placed 100 files relating to Bose in public domain “after preliminary conservation treatment and digitization”. The digital copies of these files coming out in public domain meets a “long—standing public demand” which would facilitate scholars to carry out further research on Bose, the official said.

vi. Besides the controversy over whether Netaji died in the 1945 aircrash or not, those who believe he was alive after that have different theories about what happened to the leader after that. While one of them says Bose fled to the former Soviet Union to continue to fight for India’s independence but was later killed there, the other says that Netaji returned to India as an ascetic, named ‘Gumnami Baba, and continued to live in Uttar Pradesh’s Faizabad till 1985.

5. Former Deputy Speaker of Gujarat Assembly Nirmala Gajwani died

i. Former Deputy Speaker of Gujarat Assembly and Social Activist Nirmala Gajwani passed away on 21 January 2016 in Rajkot, Gujarat. She was 87.

ii. Gajwani was a reputed social worker and one of the leading lights of the Sindhi community in the state.

About Nirmala Gajwani

* Gajwani was the first lady Deputy Speaker of Gujarat legislative Assembly.
* She was first woman MLA from Kutch district in Gujarat Assembly and also served as deputy speaker of the house.
* She was Chairperson of Sindhu Resettlement Corporation (SRC) which is responsible for all the land development in the Gandhidham-Adipur metropolitan area.
* She also had worked in education field and was responsible for starting many educational institutions in the state.

6. Google, Railtel launches free public Wi-Fi service at Mumbai Central Station


i. Google India and Indian Railways’ telecom arm RailTel has launched free Rail Wire Public Wi-Fi service for railway passengers at the Mumbai Central Station. This service was launched by Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu. With this, Mumbai Central has become the first railway station in India to have free high-speed Wi-Fi Internet facility.

ii. Railwire Wi-Fi Service will be available to any user (passenger) having Wi-Fi enabled smart phones. Users can easily stream research their destination, surf high definition video while they’re waiting or save some videos for offline viewing download e books for the journey.

iii. Users can use this facility after authenticating their cell phone number by entering a four digit OTP (One Time Password) sent to their smart phone via SMS.

iv. The public Wi-Fi project for Indian Railways was announced in September 2015 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. In the initial phase, this free will be made available at 100 of the busiest railway stations and later on extended to 400 stations across the country.

Current Affairs - 22nd January 2016

1. Ravi Chellam took charge as Executive Director of Greenpeace India


i. Noted environmentalist Ravi Chellam on 20 January 2016 took charge as the Executive Director of Greenpeace India, a Non-Government Organisation (NGO). Chellam succeeds former Executive Director Samit Aich, who had resigned in June 2015 following an internal review of the organisation's handling of two sexual harassment cases.

ii. Chellam is a wildlife biologist and conservation scientist by training. He has undertaken governance roles in various conservation organisations. Prior to joining Greenpeace, he has worked with the Wildlife Institute of India and United Nations Development Programme.

iii. He has also worked with Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, Wildlife Conservation Society (India Program) and Madras Crocodile Bank Trust. Greenpeace, which has been in India for 15 years, has been embroiled in legal battles with the Union Government led by Narendra Modi over its funding and local operations.

iv. Earlier in 2015, the government suspended Greenpeace’s foreign funding licence and froze its domestic bank accounts for alleged rule violations.

v. However, the group later succeeded in removing those legal blocks. In the most recent case, the Madras high court in November 2015 temporarily halted a government order cancelling the group’s licence in the country, allowing it to continue operating.

2. IRS officer Atulesh Jindal appointed as Chairman of CBDT


i. Senior revenue service officer Atulesh Jindal on 21 January 2016 was appointed chairman of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT). Jindal will succeed A K Jain, who completes his term at the end of January 2016.

ii. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the appointment of Jindal as chairman of the apex policy-making body of the income tax department.

iii. Jindal is a 1978 batch Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer. He is currently working as member (revenue) in the CBDT. He will have a tenure of six-months until he retires in July 2016.

iv. The Central Board of Direct Taxes is a statutory authority functioning under the Central Board of Revenue Act, 1963. The officials of the Board in their ex-officio capacity also function as a Division of the Ministry dealing with matters relating to levy and collection of direct taxes.

v. The Chairperson of CBDT is the senior-most IRS civil servant in the Government of India. The Chairperson of CBDT is the ex officio Special Secretary to the Government of India and also cadre controlling authority of the Indian Revenue Service.

3. Jodhpur's Umaid Bhawan Palace named the world's best hotel of 2016


i. Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, on 21 January 2016 won the award of the world's best hotel at the Travellers' Choice award organised by TripAdvisor. The winners of Travellers' Choice Award, which entered its 14th year, were determined on the basis of the reviews and opinions collected in a single year from TripAdvisor travellers worldwide.

ii. Named after Maharaja Umaid Singh, grandfather of the present owner Gaj Singh of the palace, Umaid Bhawan Palace has 347 rooms. The palace serves as the principal residence of the erstwhile Jodhpur royal family. Umaid Bhawan Palace was called Chittar Palace during its construction due to use of stones drawn from the Chittar hill where it is located.

iii. Henry Vaughan Lanchester was commissioned as the architect to prepare the plans for the palace. Ground for the foundations of the building was broken on 18 November 1929 by Maharaja Umaid Singh and the construction work was completed in 1943. The Palace was built to provide employment to thousands of people during the time of famine.

iv. The palace was designed as an extraordinary blend of western technology, and many Indian architectural features. The estimated cost of building the palace was 11 million rupees. When it opened its gilded doors in 1943, it was considered as one of the largest royal residences in the world.

v. The palace was built with dun-coloured (golden – yellow) sandstone with two wings. Makrana marble has also been used and Burmese teak wood has been used for the interior wood work.

vi. The Palace is divided into three functional parts: the residence of the royal family, a luxury Taj Palace Hotel, and a Museum focusing on the 20th century history of the Jodhpur Royal Family.

4. 19th National Conference on e-Governance begins in Nagpur

i. The nineteenth edition of National Conference on e-Governance has begun on 21 January 2016 in Nagpur, Maharashtra. It was inaugurated by the Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari and the Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions Dr. Jitendra Singh.

ii. This edition of conference has been organised by Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG) in in association with the Government of Maharashtra.

iii. The two day conference aims at discussing various aspects of e-Governance ranging from Technology Enabled Services to Cyber Security framework. More than 600 delegates have participated in the conference including 150 delegates from Maharashtra and 250 from other States and 50 participants from the Private Sector.

iv. The Conference also included an exhibition and brainstorming sessions on-Governance by subject experts. Four books on e-Governance were also released at the inaugural session. National Awards for e-Governance for the Year 2015-16 in eighteen categories including 10 Gold and 8 Silver under various categories were presented during the Valedictory Session.

5. EPFO wins award for e-governance

i. The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation has won the National Award for e-Governance 2015-16 for its Universal Account Number programme.

ii. Minister of State for Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya noted that more than six crore UAN have been allotted to EPF members of which nearly 2.25 crore UAN have also been activated by the subscribers.

iii. Meanwhile, Central Provident Fund Commissioner KK Jalan said that other e-initiatives of the EPFO include SMS service, inoperative account helpline desk, automatic updation of accounts and a mobile app for subscribers.

6. Nai Manzil Scheme launched in Jammu and Kashmir

i. The Nai Manzil scheme was on 20 January 2016 launched for the first time in Jammu and Kashmir. The scheme was launched for girls in Srinagar in three institutions- Skill Development Centre, University of Kashmir and two Madarsas.

ii. The two Madarsas are Madarsa Shahi-i-Hamdan in Pampore and Madarsa Imam Sadique in Shadipur, Bandipora.

iii. Under the scheme, girls from minority communities will be imparted three month skill development training in seven identified sectors relevant to the region. These include training in saffron processing, food processing, embroidery, computers IT (both software and hardware), Tourism/hospitality, electronics and plumbing. Trainees will also be given stipend of 4500 rupees for the course.

iv. Nai Manzil Scheme is an integrated Education and Livelihood Initiative for the Minority Communities. It was announced by the Union Budget 2015-16. The scheme aims to benefit the minority youths who are school-dropouts or educated in the community education institutions like Madrasas.

7. BEPS guidelines of OECD to be implemented in India from 1 April 2016


i. BEPS: Base Erosion and Profit Shifting

ii. The term BEPS is an acronym of Base Erosion and Profit Shifting and it was in news in the third week of January 2016 as India decided to implement these guidelines.

iii. BEPS refers to tax planning strategies that would exploit the gaps and mismatches in tax rules to artificially shift profits to low or no-tax locations where there is little or no economic activity, resulting in little or no overall corporate tax being paid.

iv. These norms were announced by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in October 2015 to close tax loopholes that it estimated cost countries upwards of 100 billion US dollars a year.

v. With the implementation of these guidelines, it will become mandatory for Indian multinationals to make country-by-country reporting to follow guidelines from the financial year that begins on 1 April 2016.

vi. It will impact all Indian companies with significant cross-border operations and with annual consolidated global revenue of more than 5500 crore rupees.

vii. BEPS will be major significance for developing countries like India, as they strongly rely on corporate income tax and in particular from multinational enterprises (MNEs).

Current Affairs - 21st January 2016

1. World Economic Forum meeting starts in Davos, Switzerland


i. The annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting has started in Swiss resort of Davos, Switzerland with participation of political leaders and business from around the world. In this edition of WEF meeting, the agenda includes the outlook of the global economy and measures to fight terrorism.

ii. Leaders from about 40 countries and more than 2,500 business people are attending the meeting. The 4-day conference will cover the discussions on tumbling oil prices and China’s uncertain economic prospects.

iii. It will be also discussing the issue of growing terror threats in the wake of the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris (France) and influx of migrants and refugees in Europe. Participants will also discuss environmental issues such as greenhouse gas emissions. They will also review the latest efforts to improve industrial production with robotics, artificial intelligence and information technology.

iv. WEF is an international institution founded by Klaus Schwab that works to improve the state of the world through public-private cooperation. It was established in 1971 and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

2. Indian Mi-25 helicopters set to join Afghan Air Force

i. Three Mi-25 gunship helicopters supplied by India are to officially join the Afghan Air Force today. The gunships, delivered at the end of December last year, have been in the assembly process. The decision for the delivery of Mi-25 gunship helicopters was concluded during the recent visit of Afghan National Security Adviser Mohammad Hanif Atmar to New Delhi.

ii. The attack helicopters are designed to take on fortified enemy positions and counter heavy ground fire. The Afghanistan Air Force (AAF) already operates three Indian Cheetal helicopters. The Cheetal helicopters were manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). Subsequently, Afghan pilots and technicians were trained to operate them.

iii. Sources indicated that the Afghan government has stepped up efforts to build the capabilities of the AAF to combat the Taliban-led insurgency across the country. India is set to replace its Mi-25 chopper fleet with the new generation Apache choppers that have been contracted from the US under a government-to-government deal.

iv. The US Air Force is to deliver the light attack turboprops to Afghanistan under the Light Air Support (LAS) programme to bolster its fighting capabilities. Up to 30 Afghan pilots are to be trained by the US Air Force over the next three years.

3. Amitabh Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra replace Aamir Khan as 'Incredible India' brand ambassadors

i. The selection of the two actors follows the Centre's decision to discontinue the contract of actor Aamir Khan, who had angered the BJP-led government with his remarks on perceived intolerance in the country. Khan had promoted Indian tourism for a decade as the brand ambassador.

ii. A number of multi-disciplinary icons, including famous sports personalities, were shortlisted by the tourism ministry to be the face of the 'Incredible India' campaign. Other suggestions being considered include choosing a female personality as the mascot for the 'Atithi Devo Bhava' series which is part of the 'Incredible India' campaign to attract foreign tourists.

iii. Khan had late last year stirred a controversy after he expressed "alarm and despondency" over rising instances of intolerance in the country in the past few months and said that his wife (Kiran Rao) even asked if they should move out of India as she feared for the safety of their children.

iv. Defending Khan's exit from the campaign, senior bureaucrat Amitabh Kant had said the actor, by terming India an 'intolerant country', worked against his role as that of a brand ambassador.

4. CCEA approved setting up of over 5000 MW of Grid-connected Solar PV Power Projects

i. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on 20 January 2016 gave its approval for setting up over 5000 MW of Grid-Connected Solar PV Power Projects on build, own and operate basis.

ii. The work will be implemented by Solar Power Developers (SPDs) with Viability Gap Funding (VGF) under Batch-lV of Phase-ll of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM). The total investments expected under the scheme is about 30000 crore rupees.

iii. This would help in creating additional 5000 MW capacity of Grid-connected solar PV power generation projects in four trenches of each 1250 MW capacity during four financial years - 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19. It will also help in employment generation of about 30000 people in rural and urban areas with reduction of about 8.525 Million T of CO2 emissions into environment every year.

iv. Installation of 5000 MW Solar PV plants will generate about 8300 Million units per year, which caters power to almost 2.5 Million households. The Scheme will be implemented by Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) as per the guidelines of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).

v. SECI will prepare necessary bidding documents for inviting the proposals for setting up of projects on a competitive bidding through e-bidding. SECI will enter into Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the selected developers and the Power Sale Agreement (PSA) with the buying entities.

vi. Requisite funds for provision of the VGF support will be made available to MNRE from the National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF), operated by Ministry of Finance. Out of 5000 MW, some capacity in each tranche, will be developed with mandatory condition of solar PV cells and Modules made in India. This will be called the Domestic Content Requirement (DCR) category and remaining will be in open category.

5. ISRO, Kuwait Institute signed MoU on cooperation in space exploration

i. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and Kuwait Institute of Scientific Research (KISR) on 20 January 2016 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.

ii. It will allow use of data from Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites by KISR for initiating a few research and application projects. It will also enable Training and Building and launching of remote sensing and communication satellites on commercial terms.

iii. It will provide impetus to explore newer research activities and application possibilities in the field of remote sensing; satellite communication; satellite navigation and exploration of outer space.

iv. It will lead to developing a joint activity in the field of application of space technology for the benefit of humanity.

v. It will lead to setting up of a Joint Working Group from ISRO and KISR which will work out the plan of action including the time-frame and the means of implementing this MoU.

6. Eminent dancer Mrinalini Sarabhai passes away


i. Eminent danseuse Mrinalini Sarabhai, wife of the late Dr Vikram Sarabhai, father of India’s space programme, passed away here on Thursday following age-related health complications. She was 97.

ii. Popularly known as “Amma”, the choreography legend is survived by her environmentalist son Kartikeya and daughter Mallika, well-known dancer and social activist. The former President, late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, protégé of Dr Sarabhai, was a close family friend.

iii. Ms Sarabhai, a Padma Bhushan awardee for her contributions to Bharatanatyam and other classical dance forms, was hospitalised here on Wednesday, Kartikeya, said. Her last rites will be performed at village Pethapur in Gandhinagar, which she used to visit frequently due to her keen interest in handicrafts, for which the village is well-known.

iv. Born on May 11, 1918, in Kerala, she was married to Dr. Vikram Sarabhai. Daughter of a former Member of Parliament, Ammu Swamimanathan, she spent her childhood in Switzerland, where she learnt her first lessons in western dance forms.

v. Subsequently, Mrinalini joined Santi Niketan, founded by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. She also had a stint at the American Academy of Dramatic Acts in the USA. She later founded the Ahmedabad-based Darpana Academy of Performing Arts for training youth in dance, drama, music and puppetry. She was also a poet, writer and naturalist. She was active at the academy until a few years ago.

vi. Mrinalini Sarabhai was decorated with many awards and citations in recognition of her contribution to the arts. She was credited with training hundreds of students in Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattam and Kathakali.

7. Uttar Pradesh won 2014-2015 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy


i. Uttar Pradesh on 20 January 2016 won its maiden Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy with a 38-run win over two- time champions Baroda in the final played at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. It was Uttar Pradesh’s ninth straight win in the tournament, including five in the preliminary league phase and three more in the super league stage.

ii. The Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy is a Twenty20 cricket domestic championship, named after a famous Indian cricketer, Syed Mushtaq Ali. It is organized by Board of Control for Cricket (BCCI), among the teams from Ranji Trophy.

iii. The 2008-09 season was the inaugural season for this trophy.

iv. BCCI had launched its own state structure in 2006-07 season with 27 Ranji teams divided in 5 Zones with the name of Inter-State T20 Championship, which was renamed and re-launched as the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.

v. Gujarat was the winner of 2014-15 season of the tournament.

8. DMRC inks interim consultancy pact for light metro projects in Kerala

i. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has signed an interim consultancy agreement with Kerala Rapid Transit Ltd (KRTL) for the Rs. 6,728-crore 'light metro' in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode.

ii. KRTL is a special purpose vehicle set up by the state government to execute the mass rapid transport system for the two cities. S.D. Sharma, Director, Business Development, DMRC, and P.L. Sheikh Pareeth, Managing Director, KRTL, signed the interim consultancy agreement in the presence of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, his cabinet colleagues, and E Sreedharan, principal adviser, DMRC.

iii. In the coming days, DMRC will prepare the tender documents for procurement of rolling stock, land acquisition survey, estimates for the flyovers, identification of major utilities and utility shifting plans.

iv. DMRC had sought the interim consultancy to save time and cost escalation as the Ministry of Urban Development had not yet granted in-principle approval for or cleared the participation of the Centre and its 20 per cent equity contribution in the project.

v. The 21.82-km light metro in Thiruvananthapuram will be implemented at an estimated cost of Rs. 4,219 crore, while the 13.33-km project in Kozhikode is estimated to cost Rs. 2,509 crore. The Thiruvananthapuram project will be completed in five years and that in Kozhikode in four years, the Chief Minister said.

vi. He said despite the 'light metro' tag, the proposed projects in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode will more or less match the amenities and conveniences of the Kochi metro.

Current Affairs - 20th January 2016

1. Light combat aircraft, Tejas to fly at Bahrain Air Show


i. Country’s own fighter aircraft light combat aircraft (LCA), Tejas, will take part in the three-day Bahrain International Airshow.

ii. “Two limited series production (LSP) aircraft will take part in the Bahrain International Air Show to enthral the visitors from various countries during the flying display through a series of aerobatic manoeuvres such as 8-g pull, vertical loop, slow fly past, barrel roll”, said T Suvarna Raju, CMD, HAL.

iii. “It is important that indigenous aircraft fly outside India in international air-shows. HAL is proud to be associated with design, development and production of Tejas. We have set-up state of the art, environmentally controlled dedicated Division at Bengaluru for production of LCAs,” he added.

iv. Tejas is a single engine, light weight, highly agile, multi-role supersonic fighter. The Tejas light combat aircraft is a 4.5 generation aircraft with supersonic capability at all altitudes. It has the fly by wire, state of the art open architecture computer for avionics and better weapon and combat capability. With the advanced avionics, the pilot load is also reduced.

2. Mamta Binani elected President of ICSI

i. Mamta Binani has been elected President of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) for 2016. She took charge on January 19. A commerce and law graduate and a fellow member of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India, Binani was the all-India topper in the Intermediate examinations of The Institute of Company Secretaries of India, amongst all the lady candidates in India and had ranked 14th on an all-India basis.

ii. In the final examinations, she stood all-India first in the subject 'Company Law'. She has been practising as a Company Secretary for over 19 years now. Binani has been an empanelled trainer with ICICI Bank, and also with the mutual fund industry. She is also associated with the financial sector, the education sector, and is an experienced mentor and counsellor to young professionals and students. She also serves as an independent director on a few of the boards.

iii. She has been the Chairperson of the Eastern India Regional Council of The Institute of Company Secretaries of India in 2010.

iv. Binani was also the first CS to be conferred the 'Bharat Nirman Awards' in 2010.

3. PSLV-C31 successfully launched IRNSS-1E satellite


i. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on 20 January 2016 successfully launched the Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS) 1-E satellite. The satellite will provide navigation, tracking and mapping services to the Indian sub continent.

ii. The satellite is the fifth of the IRNSS constellation. It was launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SHAR), Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on-board the PSLV-C31.

iii. The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)-C31 was the 32nd consecutively successful mission of the PSLV. The 'XL' configuration of PSLV was used for this mission.

iv. This is the eleventh time ‘XL’ configuration was flown, earlier ten being PSLV-C11/Chandrayaan-1, PSLV-C17/GSAT-12, PSLV-C19/RISAT-1, PSLV-C22/IRNSS-1A, PSLV-C25/Mars Orbiter Spacecraft, PSLV-C24/IRNSS-1B, PSLV-C26/IRNSS-1C, PSLV-C27/IRNSS-1D, PSLV-C28/DMC-3 and PSLV-C30/ASTROSAT  missions.

4. India slips to 89th rank in global talent competitiveness: Report

i. Reflecting an acute shortage of skilled labour force and difficult business conditions, India has slipped 11 places to rank 89th on a global index of talent competitiveness, a list which has been topped by Switzerland.

ii. Switzerland is followed by Singapore, Luxembourg, the US and Denmark in the top five positions on the annual Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTC) released today by INSEAD business school in partnership with Adecco Group and the Human Capital Leadership Institute of Singapore.

iii. ndia’s ranking is worst among the five BRICS countries, with China leading the pack with a global rank of 48. Last year, India was ranked 78th on the index that measures a nation’s competitiveness based on the quality of talent it can produce, attract and retain. It is released every year on the first day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting here.

iv. The improvement of India would have the greatest impact in terms of the pool of talent not only in the region but also globally.

5. Indian driver Jehan Daruvala won Lady Wigram Trophy motor race


i. Sahara Force India Academy racer Jehan Daruvala on 16 January 2016 won one of New Zealand's most prestigious events, the Lady Wigram Trophy. It was Daruvala’s maiden victory in Formula cars since making the switch from karting in 2015.

ii. In August 2015, Daruvala won Rookie of the Year at the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC series championships in the Netherlands.

iii. The Lady Wigram Trophy is a New Zealand motorsport race trophy formerly awarded to the winner of the Wigram Airfield race.

iv. It made up part of the Tasman Series and classes like Formula Holden, Formula 5000, Formula Pacific and Formula Three.

v. Formula 1 greats like Jackie Stewart, Jack Brabham, Stirling Moss, Jim Clark and Bruce McLaren were all former winners of the Lady Wigram Trophy.

6. Andhra Pradesh Government reconstituted the Commission for Backward Classes

i. Andhra Pradesh Government on 18 January 2016 reconstituted the Commission for Backward Classes with immediate effect. AP Commission for Backward Classes (APCBC) will be a two member commission with Justice KL Manjunath, (Retd.) as its chairman and Member Secretary, APCBC as the other member.

ii. The Chairman of APCBC shall hold office for a term of three years from the date of assumption of office. The Commission was not constituted since, 24 September 2011, when the previous commission term expired.

iii. In compliance with the directions of the Supreme Court in Mandal Case (Indra Sawhney Vs Union of India 1992) to set up permanent B.C. Commissions, the Andhra Pradesh Commission for Backward Classes was constituted under the A.P. Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993 and started functioning from 31 March 1994.

7. Maharashtra government inks MoU with Tata Trust for skill training of youth


i. Maharashtra Government has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Tata Trust for a skill training programme for the youth in the state. This programme has been undertaken under the state government’s ambitious Kushal Maharashtra, Rojgaryukt Maharashtra initiative.

ii. Tata Trust will train around one lakh youths in the state in order to make them employable. It will set up skill development and vocational training centres in 10 districts across the state.

iii. The Trust will also set up virtual classrooms in 100 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) in Maharashtra. It will improve infrastructure these of ITIs.

8. French President Francois Hollande declared economic emergency


i. French President Francois Hollande on 18 January 2016 declared a state of economic and social emergency to redefine country’s economic and social model.

ii. To tackle the emergency, Hollande unveiled a 2 billion euro plan to revive hiring and catch up with a fast-moving world economy.

iii. Also, the government has proposed series of economic measures to revive long-stagnant economic growth and reduce chronic unemployment, which has been around 10 percent for years.

Proposed measures to be taken by French Government are:

* Under a two-year scheme, companies employing fewer than 250 people will receive a 2000 euro bonus for each new employee with a contract of more than six months, under certain conditions.
* One billion euros will be spent on training schemes for unemployed people.
* About 500000 vocational training schemes will be created.
* Updating country’s labour-friendly business model in an increasingly online and border-free economy.
* Loosening of France's rigid working time rules.
* Integrating youth from France's troubled suburbs, including minorities who face job discrimination, into the global economy.
* The government will also include a few measures in draft economic reform laws which will be presented in the parliament in the coming weeks.

Current Affairs - 19th January 2015

1. SBI offers loans for women entrepreneurs under MUDRA scheme


i. The ‘MUDRA' loan for women entrepreneurs or Boutique Finance for Women Entrepreneurs – a special loan scheme under Prime Minister MUDRA Yojana – has been launched for catering to the financial needs of women entrepreneurs.

ii. Under the scheme, State Bank of India too has come forward to participate and provide loans to help women entrepreneurs in West Bengal who are engaged in various handicraft activities. One such camp was organised by the bank, earlier this month., according to a release issued by the bank.

iii. Around 80 women entrepreneurs received sanctioned letters for loan, SBI said.

iv. Loans are being provided at a concessional rate of interest. Loans up to Rs. 10 lakh will be provided under the scheme without any collateral security. A maximum loan amount of Rs. 50 lakh can be availed under the scheme.

2. International Kolkata Book Fair on Jan 27

i. The 40th edition of the International Kolkata Book Fair – the world’s largest non-trade fair – is all set to bring to life a slice of history. The history of: Kolkata’s love affair with books. In a first of its kind, the Publishers and Booksellers Guild – organisers of the International Kolkata Book Fair – will organise a ‘heritage walk’ that takes the person through the 39-year-old journey of the fair.

ii. According to Sudhangshu Dey, Director, Publishers & Booksellers Guild, the walk will see installations depicting the landmark achievements of the book-fair including the inception of the Guild at the iconic (India) Coffee House of Kolkata – a favourite haunt of intellectuals and book lovers in the city.

iii. “The heritage walk will be organised within the fair grounds. The idea is to connect the younger generation with the fair. This is our first year with such an experiment. Based on the response, we might look at different variations in the coming years,” Dey told BusinessLine.

iv. Incidentally, the fair is also expected to go hi-tech this year. An application (mobile app) that can be downloaded on smart-phones to locate the book stalls. Around 600 (book) stalls and 200 ‘little magazines’ will be there in the 40th edition of the fair. This apart, special shuttle buses will ply to and from the fair grounds to the nearest point in central Kolkata.

v. Special arrangements have also been made with taxi-aggregrator, Ola. The taxi aggregrator will be given space to park its vehicles at the fair car parking lot.

3. Guenter Butschek appointed as CEO and MD of Tata Motors

i. Guenter Butschek was on 18 January 2016 appointed as Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of India's biggest auto maker Tata Motors' Group.

ii. He was appointed after post of Managing Director of Tata Motors was vacant for two years since the death of Karl Slym on 26 January 2014 after falling from a hotel building in Bangkok. He is expected to join the company by 15 February 2016.

iii. Butschek will lead all operations of Tata Motors in India and in international markets including South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia and South Africa. However, Jaguar Land Rover would continue to be managed by its Chief Executive Officer and Director, Ralf Speth, who is also on the Board of Tata Motors.

iv. He joins Tata Motors after his stint as the Chief Operating Officer at Airbus and Member of the Group Executive Committee. Prior to Airbus, He worked at Daimler AG in international automotive management for more than 25 years.

v. He handled the sections like production, industrialization and procurement. He held position of President and Chief Executive Officer of Beijing Benz Automotive, a joint venture between Daimler AG and Beijing Automotive Industrial Holding in Beijing, China as his last role in the company.

4. Jayalalithaa launches Amma Call Centre


i. In an initiative aimed at quick delivery of government services, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa today launched a round-the-clock call centre for ensuring fast response to grievances. The ‘Amma Call Centre’, which will work all through the year, was launched by the Chief Minister here through video-conferencing.

ii. Jayalalithaa is fondly addressed as ‘Amma’ (mother) by her supporters and her government is already running many initiatives named after her, including the hugely popular ’Amma Canteens’ which provide subsidised food, and ‘Amma Mineral Water’, among others.

iii. The latest initiative was aimed at ensuring quick response to people’s grievances where in they can dial toll-free number ’1100’ at any point of time in the day, a government release here said. The Chief Minister’s Special Cell is already involved in addressing people’s issues by referring petitions and letters to departments concerned and this is an effort to further quicken the process, it said.

iv. The details of the callers and the issues reported by them would be registered on computer and referred to the relevant department for action through e-mail, SMS and telephone, it said, adding, the callers will also be informed of the details through SMS like which department and official their issue had been referred to. “The action taken on the grievance will also be shared with the caller through SMS,” it said.

v. Equipped with latest technology like Computer Telephony Integration and Voice Logger System, the centre will initially handle up to 15,000 calls a day, with 138 operators recruited for the purpose. Their numbers will be expanded based on the requirement, the release added.

5. Draft report of R V Easwar Committee to simplify Income-tax Act, 1961 released


i. Union Ministry of Finance on 18 January 2016 released the draft report of Justice R V Easwar (Retd) Committee to simplify the provisions of Income-tax Act, 1961.

ii. The draft recommendations of the 10-member committee contain 27 suggestions for amendments under the Income-tax Act, 1961 and 8 recommendations for reform through administrative instructions.

iii. Amendment to Section 255(3) to enhance the monetary limit for Single Member Bench (SMC) cases before the Tribunal to rupees one crore from the present rupees 15 lakhs. Amendment to Section 254(2) to reduce the time-limit for rectification of orders of the Tribunal from the present four years to 120 days. Deletion of section 143(1D) – Avoiding undesirable delay in issue of refunds

iv. Tax deduction at source (TDS) rates for individuals and Hindu undivided families (HUFs) to be reduced to 5 percent as against the present 10 percent. Proposal for certain amendments in rule 30 and 31 in relation to time and mode of payment of TDS and filing of statement of TDS under the provisions of section 200

v. The RV Easwar Committee was constituted on 27 October 2015 to study and identify the provisions/phrases in the Income-tax Act, 1961. The committee was also mandated to suggest measures to improve the ease of doing business, reduce litigation and accelerate the resolution of tax disputes.

6. Ronnie O'Sullivan defeated Barry Hawkins to win sixth Snooker Masters title


i. Ronnie O'Sullivan on 17 January 2016 won his sixth Snooker Masters title after defeating Barry Hawkins 10-1 in the final at the Alexandra Palace in London. O'Sullivan had previously won the event in 1995, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2014, equalling the record set by Stephen Hendry.

ii. Ronald Antonio O'Sullivan is an English professional snooker player. He is one of the most successful players in the sport's modern era. He is regarded by many commentators as the most naturally gifted player in snooker history, and is frequently described as a genius. He is also noted for his mercurial temperament and for his ambivalent relationship with the sport, from which he has repeatedly threatened to retire.

iii. He made his first century break at the age of 10. His first maximum break came at age 15. He turned professional in 1992 and soon earned the nickname The Rocket because of his rapid playing style.

iv. He achieved his first major professional success when he won the 1993 UK Championship at the age of 17 years and 358 days, making him the youngest player ever to win a ranking title. He is also the youngest player to have won the Masters.

v. He holds the record for the most competitive century breaks, with 807. He also holds the record for the most ratified maximum breaks in professional competition and for the three fastest competitive maximum breaks, the quickest in 5 minutes and 20 seconds.

vi. The Masters is a professional invitational snooker tournament. The tournament is held every year since 1975. It is the second longest running tournament behind the World Championship. It is one of the Triple Crown events. It is regarded as one of the most prestigious tournaments on the circuit.

7. UNWTO released World Tourism Barometer

i. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) on 18 January 2016 released the World Tourism Barometer, which reviewed trends in tourism at the regional and global level for 2015 and enumerated prospects for 2016.

ii. As per the publication, international tourist arrivals grew by 4.4 percent in 2015 to reach a total of 1184 million in 2015. In numbers, around 50 million more travelers were recorded in 2015 compared to that 2014.

iii. 2015 marks the 6th consecutive year of above-average growth, with international arrivals increasing by 4 percent or more every year since the post-crisis year of 2010. The tourist arrivals, in 2015, were largely influenced by exchange rates, oil prices and natural and manmade crises in many parts of the world.

iv. Growth in advanced economy destinations (5 percent growth) exceeded that of emerging economies (4 percent), boosted by the solid results of Europe (5 percent). By region, Europe, the Americas and Asia and the Pacific all recorded around 5 percent growth in 2015.

v. Arrivals to the Middle East increased by 3 percent, while in Africa points to an estimated 3 percent decrease mostly due to weak results in North Africa, which accounts for over one third of arrivals in the region.

vi. Based on the current trend and this outlook, UNWTO projects international tourist arrivals to grow by 4 percent worldwide in 2016. Among the world’s top source markets, China, with double-digit growth in expenditure every year since 2004, continues to lead global outbound travel.

                                      Current Affairs - 17th & 18th January 2016

1. Anuradha Roy won 2016 DSC Prize for Sleeping on Jupiter


i. Indian author Anuradha Roy on 16 January 2016 won the prestigious DSC Prize for South Asian Literature for her novel Sleeping on Jupiter at the Galle Literary Festival in Sri Lanka.

ii. Roy was awarded the prize and a unique trophy by Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

iii. The six shortlisted authors in contention for the prestigious prize were:

* UK-based Indian-origin author Akhil Sharma for Family Life
* KR Meera's Hangwoman (Translated by J Devika)
* Mirza Waheed's The Book of Gold Leaves
* Neel Mukherjee's The Lives of Others
* Raj Kamal Jha for She Will Build Him A City

2. Mindtree appoints Ravanan as CEO, Natarajan as executive chairman


i. ndtree has appointed Rostow Ravanan as the CEO and managing director, and Krishnakumar Natarajan as the executive chairman of the company. Subroto Bagchi has stepped down as executive chairman but will continue on the Board as a non-executive director. All the changes will be effective April 1.

ii. Apurva Purohit, independent director and chairperson of the nomination and remuneration committee of the Board said, "This is the culmination of a year-long succession planning exercise that the Board had undertaken after carefully considering several candidates. We are very happy with the process and the outcome.

iii. We believe that Mindtree with a stellar management team is fully ready for the opportunities and the challenges ahead. The Board recognizes and thanks Subroto for his invaluable contributions and inspirational leadership".

iv. Ravanan, 44, is a member of Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Institute of Company Secretaries of India and alumni of Harvard Business School. In April 2014, he stepped out of his role as chief financial officer and took over as head for Europe, service lines and key accounts. "I am very honored and humbled at being named to lead one of the most valuable and respected IT services companies.

v. Natarajan incoming executive chairman said, "Mindtree is on a strong footing today to explore newer opportunities that take us to a different orbit in the years ahead. I would be focusing my energies towards making Mindtree a significant global player by the year 2020."

3. NITI Aayog collaborated with IDFC for Enterprise Survey of Manufacturing Firms

i. The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog on 17 January 2016 announced that it collaborated with the IDFC Bank Ltd to conduct an enterprise survey of manufacturing firms.

ii. The primary objective of this Survey is to assess the business regulatory environment in each State and Union Territories (UTs) and identify policy and regulatory hurdles faced by businesses in the States/UTs.

Features of the survey

* It will include start-ups across all States and UTs.
* It will bring out a comprehensive analysis and report on State-level performance.
* It will complement the governments Make in India initiative by taking stock of issues faced and providing impetus for State-level reforms that will make it easier to do business in India.
* It will suggest measures needed to foster competitive and cooperative federalism.

4. 61st Filmfare Awards presented in Mumbai


i. The 61st Filmfare Awards were presented on 15 January 2016 at the Yash Raj Studios in Mumbai. The ceremony was hosted by Shah Rukh Khan and comedian Kapil Sharma.

ii. Bajirao Mastani won the most awards including the Best Film award. Other winners included Piku that was awarded with six awards, Dum Laga Ke Haisha, Roy, Talvar, Tanu Weds Manu Returns, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Bombay Velvet, Dil Dhadakne Do, Hero, Masaan and Tamasha.

iii. Moushumi Chatterjee was awarded with the 2015 Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award.

Recepients of the Awards

* Best Actor: Ranveer Singh for Bajirao Mastani
* Best Actress: Deepika Padukone for Piku
* Best Film: Bajirao Mastani
* Best Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali for Bajirao Mastani
* Lifetime Achievement: Moushumi Chatterjee
* Best Debut Director: Neeraj Ghaywan for Massan
* Best Debutant (Male): Sooraj Pancholi for Hero
* Best Debutant (Female): Bhumi Pednekar for Dum Laga Ke Haisha
* Critics Award for Best Film: Piku
* Critics Award for Best Actor (Male): Amitabh Bachchan for Piku
* Best Actor Female Critics Choice (Female): Kangana Ranaut for Tanu Weds Manu Returns
* Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Female): Priyanka Chopra for Bajirao mastani
* Best Story: V Vijayendra Prasad for Bajrangi Bhaijaan
* Best Singer (male): Arijit Singh for Sooraj dooba hai from Roy
* Best Singer (female): Shreya Ghoshal for Deewani mastani from Bajirao Mastani
* Best VFX: Prana Studios for Bombay Velvet
* Best Dialogue: Anupam Roy for Piku
* Best Action: Sham Kaushal for Bajirao Mastani
* Best Cinematography: Manu Anand for Dum Laga Ke Haisha
* Best Choreography: Birju Maharaj for Mohe rang de laal from Bajirao Mastani
* Best Edit: Talvar
* Best Production Design: Sujit Sawant, Saloni and Sriram Iyenger for Bajirao Mastani
* Best Costume Designer: Anju Modi and Maxima for Bajirao Mastani

5. Somnath Temple to invest in Gold Monetisation Scheme

i. The Somnath Temple is all set to become Gujarat’s first temple to deposit its idle gold in the Gold Monetisation Scheme as its trustees including Prime Minister Narendra Modi have given their nod to invest the yellow metal reserves in the scheme.

ii. The trust has around 35 kg of gold and will deposit the gold which is not in day-to-day use of the temple. The decision was taken during the recently held meeting of trustees at Modi’s residence in Delhi on January 12, said the trust secretary P K Lahiri, who is also one of the trustees of the Somnath Temple, situated in the Gir-Somnath district.

iii. “During the meeting, all the trustees have agreed to the proposal of depositing the gold, which is not in day-to-day use of the temple, in the Gold Monetisation Scheme,” said Lahiri. According to him, the trust is having around 35 kg of gold, which is either in the form of pure gold or ornaments.

iv. Now, the management will segregate the pure gold from the whole lot to finalise the quantum of gold which can be deposited. “We don’t have a huge amount of gold. Majority of the gold is used for decoration on day-to-day basis in the temple. Thus out of that 35 kg of gold, we will separate pure gold which can be deposited under the scheme,” said Lahiri.

v. Other trustees of the Somnath Temple trust include former Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, who is also the chairman of the trust, veteran BJP leader L K Advani, Harshvardhan Neotia and JD Parmar. All these six trustees were present during the meet.

6. Delhi Acers defeated Mumbai Rockets to clinch Premier Badminton League title


i. Delhi Acers on 17 January 2016 emerged victorious over Mumbai Rockets by 4-3 in the summit clash to clinch the Premier Badminton League (PBL) title. The match was held at the Siri Fort Sports Complex in New Delhi.

ii. Tommy Sugiarto, men's doubles pair of Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong, and Rajiv Ouseph won their respective matches as Delhi grabbed the trophy and a winner's cheque of 3 crores rupees.

iii. Premier Badminton League is a franchise league, managed and commercially owned by the Badminton Association of India. PBL was earlier named Indian Badminton League (IBL) when it was founded in 2013.

iv. IBL was later rechristened to Premier Badminton League before the start of 2nd Season in 2016. The objective of the tournament is to bring top Indian players along with International players on the same platform.

v. Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar is the brand ambassador of the league.

7. NASA launched SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket with Jason-3 Ocean-monitoring satellite


i. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on 17 January 2016 successfully launched SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base in the USA.

ii. The rocket carried the ocean monitoring satellite Jason-3 on board. The satellite will examine the topography of the ocean floor to help study effects of climate change or human-induced changes on the ocean.

iii. It is the fourth mission in U.S.-European series of satellite missions that measure the height of the ocean surface. It is also expected to help the USA in better forecasting of hurricane forecasting and marine navigation.

iv. It will extend the time series of ocean surface topography measurements (the hills and valleys of the ocean surface) begun by the TOPEX/Poseidon satellite mission in 1992 and continuing through the currently operating Jason-1 and Jason-2 missions. The Jason-1 and OSTM/Jason-2 missions were launched in 2001 and 2008 respectively. These measurements provide scientists with critical information about circulation patterns in the ocean and about both global and regional changes in sea level and the climate implications of a warming world.

v. The primary instrument on Jason-3 is a radar altimeter. The altimeter will measure sea-level variations over the global ocean with very high accuracy (as 1.3 inches or 3.3 centimeters, with a goal of achieving 1 inch or 2.5 centimeters).

8. First Space Zinnia Blooms and Catches Sun’s Rays on Space Station

i. The first Zinnia flower to bloom in space is dramatically catching the sun’s rays like we have never seen before – through the windows of the Cupola on the International Space Station (ISS) while simultaneously providing a splash of soothing color, nature and reminders of home to the multinational crew living and working on the orbital science laboratory.

ii. Furthermore its contributing invaluable experience to scientists and astronauts on learning how to grow plants and food in microgravity during future deep space human expeditions planned for NASA’s “Journey to Mars” initiative.

iii. NASA astronaut and Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly shared stunning new photos showing off his space grown Zinnias – which bloomed for the first time on Jan. 16, all thanks to his experienced green thumb.

9. Taiwan elected Tsai Ing-wen as first female President


i. Opposition candidate of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Tsai Ing-wen on 16 January 2016 won a landslide victory in Taiwan's presidential election, making her the island's first female president.

ii. Tsai's commanding victory brings to power DPP, which supports Taiwan's formal independence from China, a red line for Beijing, which claims the island as its territory. Her victory brings the biggest mandate ever won by a DPP president. It is the second-ever victory for the DPP since Taiwan split with China in 1949.

iii. In the 2016 general elections, DPP led by Tsai emerged victorious with 56 percent of the total vote share. She defeated Eric Chu of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) Party that secured 31 percent vote share. Chu also made the announcement of quitting as KMT head. Taiwan's Premier Mao Chi-kuo also resigned.

iv. Born on 31 August 1956 in Taipei, Taiwan, Tsai graduated from the College of Law, National Taiwan University in 1978. She obtained a Master of Laws at Cornell University Law School in 1980 and then a Ph.D. in law at the London School of Economics in 1984. Upon her return to Taiwan, she taught law at Soochow University School of Law and National Chengchi University both in Taipei, Taiwan.

v. She served as consultant for the Mainland Affairs Council and the National Security Council. She also led the drafting team on the Statute Governing Relations with Hong Kong and Macau. In 2000, she was given the high-profile appointment of chairperson of the Mainland Affairs Council.

10. India's Dinesh Sharma elected to Board of Directors of AIIB

i. India’s Dinesh Sharma on 17 January 2016 was elected to the 12-member board of directors of the China-sponsored Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). A secret ballot for the post was held on 16 January 2016.

ii. It is the first Board of Directors of AIIB in which 57 nations are founding members including India. The inaugural meeting of the board of the governors of the AIIB was held in Beijing after its formal launch. The meeting approved by-laws, rules and codes of conduct for the bank.

iii. Union Finance Minister of India Arun Jaitley is the designated governor of the AIIB from the country. However, he was represented by Sharma at the meeting. Sharma is currently serving as the Additional Secretary of Ministry of Finance.

iv. AIIB holds authorised capital of 100 billion US dollars and subscribed capital of 50 billion US dollars. It will invest in sectors including energy, transportation, urban construction and logistics as well as education and healthcare.

v. China is the largest shareholder with 26.06 percent voting shares. India is the second largest shareholder with 7.5 percent followed by Russia with 5.93 percent and Germany with 4.5 percent. On 16 January 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping launched AIIB, which is seen as a rival to the US-led World Bank, in Beijing.

vi. Despite opposition from Washington, US allies including Australia, Britain, German, Italy, the Philippines and South Korea have agreed to join the AIIB in recognition of China's growing economic influence.

                                                Current Affairs - 16th January 2016

1. India and Japan conducted joint Coast Guard exercise Sahyog-Kaijin 2016


i. The Coast Guards of India and Japan on 15 January 2016 conducted their 15th joint exercise off the coast of Chennai.

ii. India’s Coast Guard vessel Samudra Pehredar and the Japanese vessel Echigo were berthed at Chennai Port for the bilateral training called Sahyog-Kaijin 2016.

iii. The highlight of the joint exercise was anti-piracy. However, search and rescue operations and interoperability between the two forces was also given emphasis.

iv. The exercise also involved Indian coast guard ships like Rajkamal, Vishwast, Rajtarang, Hovercraft, C-415, C-417, one Dornier and one Chetak helicopter.

About Sahayog-Kaijin


* The Sahayog-Kaijin is a bilateral exercise, which is a part of the cooperative arrangements between two Coast Guards for the last 15 years.
* The exercise is also a part of the Memorandum on Cooperation, which was signed between India and Japan in 2006.
* It is a biennial bilateral exercise and the venue shifts in both countries on alternate occasions.

2. Dr Jancy James selected for Prof MV Pylee Award for the Distinguished Academician of India


i. Dr Jancy James, the first woman Vice Chancellor of Kerala, was on 15 January 2016 selected for the Prof MV Pylee Award for the Distinguished Academician of India. The award was instituted by Cochin University of Science and Technology in the name of MV Pylee. He is an Indian scholar, educationist and management guru and widely regarded as the father of management education in Kerala.

ii. The award is given for excellence in teaching and research and contribution to academic community. It carries an amount of 1 lakh rupees and a citation.

iii. Dr Jancy James is an established author, literary critic, researcher and translator. She is the former Vice Chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi University and founder Vice Chancellor of Central University of Kerala.

iv. She served as member of Kendra Sahitya Akademi and as the National President of the Comparative Literature Association of India. She is a post-doctoral Commonwealth Fellow in University of Warwick, UK and also worked as a Faculty Research Fellow in Toronto University, Canada.
v. She was a member of the Indian delegation at the Indo-US Higher Education Summit at Washington under the Obama-Singh Initiative in 2011.

3. Delhi-based writer Ankita Anand won the Lorenzo Natali Media Prize for work on Khap panchayats

i. An independent Delhi-based writer Ankita Anand on 14 January 2016 won the European Commission's prestigious Lorenzo Natali Media Prize for 2015 in Asia and the Pacific amateur category.

ii. She earned the award for her sensitive portrayal of life for young women facing the threat of the diktat of khap panchayats in Haryana with the title Stirrings beneath the peepul published in the journal The Equator Linel.

iii. Arison Tamfu, an editor for the Cameroon Journal, won the Lorenzo Natali Grand Prize for a critical investigative report on how UN Climate change negotiations that are calling on nations to switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy are going to affect the development of African communities living where the resources are found with the title Africa’s billions might be buried forever.

iv. It is organized by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development since 1992. It is awarded to journalists for outstanding reporting on development and poverty eradication. The Prize is divided into two distinct categories: amateur and professional journalism. An independent jury will identify one winner per category and per region.

v. The Regions are Africa, the Arab world and the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean and Europe. Each winner of the prize will be granted 5000 Euros. The Lorenzo Natali Grand Prize of an additional 5000 Euros will be awarded to one of the winners.

4. Chinese President Xi launches Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

i. China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), in which India and 56 countries have joined as founding members, was formally opened here today by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

ii. “This is a historical moment,” Xi said addressing the ceremony of the bank, which along with the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) is expected to expand infrastructure financing, rivalling the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

iii. An Indian delegation headed by Dinesh Sharma, additional Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, attended the opening ceremony. In all 57 countries have joined as founding members, while the US and Japan have stayed out. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will address the founding conference of the AIIB council later today.

iv. The bank was formally established in Beijing on December 25, 2015. Chinese Finance Minister, Lou Jiwei, was elected as the first Chairman of the AIIB council. China’s former Finance Minister, Jin Liqun, was elected the first AIIB president.

v. With authorised capital of $100 billion and subscribed capital of $50 billion, Beijing-based AIIB will invest in sectors including energy, transportation, urban construction, and logistics as well as education and healthcare.

vi. China, India and Russia are the three largest shareholders, taking a 30.34 per cent, 8.52 per cent, 6.66 per cent stake respectively in the newly formed bank. The opening of the AIIB marked a milestone in the reform of the global economic governance system, Lou said in an interview earlier.

vii. The AIIB will work together with multilateral development banks, including the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, to facilitate Asian infrastructure construction and sustainable development, Lou said.

5. Sania Mirza, Martina Hingis won 2016 WTA Apia International Sydney Title

i. Sania Mirza and her Swiss partner Martina Hingis on 15 January 2016 won the 2016 WTA Apia International Sydney title of Tennis in the women’s doubles category in Sydney, Australia.

ii. In the final match, the duo defeated French pair Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic by 1–6, 7–5, 10–5. This was their 30th win in-a-row.

iii. Overall, this Sydney International title was their 11th title altogether since 2015. These 11 WTA doubles titles are Indian Wells, Miami, Charleston, Wimbledon, US Open, Guangzhou, Wuhan, Beijing and the WTA Finals, Brisbane (2016) and Sydney (2016).

6. Narendra Modi initiative has Kochi’s ‘Startup Village’ plotting more success

i. Four years ago, an idea took root in Kerala’s business capital of Kochi in the hope of attracting the best entrepreneurial minds among youngsters and creating successful start-ups. Startup Village (SV), as it was called, was a nascent idea then that drew not much attention.

ii. But today, on the cusp of the launch of a nationwide campaign that aims to spawn startups across the country, Startup Village in Kochi sits pretty with a list of grand accomplishments and a grander vision.

iii. In April 2012, Startup Village commenced operations as India’s first public-private technological business incubator with the aim of creating at least 48 startup companies in five years. However, within three and a half years, it achieved its targets, becoming home to over 70 startups in typical incubation mode.

iv. After its successful first phase, officials at SV are now excited about their next phase of expansion in which they aim for complete digitization of the incubation process right from filing applications to mentoring, resource allocation and final graduation. The target is to support 10,000 startup teams in the next five years.

v. The ‘Startup India’ campaign that Prime Minister Narendra Modi launches on Saturday will be an added boost, top officials at SV told IndianExpress. Incubators like Startup Village have found favour among the administration at a time when startup companies like Flipkart, Snapdeal and Ola have made it big and entered the billion dollar club. With a young and aspiring demographic, many believe India can very well be the hotbed for enterprising startups that can contribute to national GDP as well as provide labour.

7. Start up India: This is the beginning of big bang start up boom in India, says Softbank CEO

i. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday kick-started Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ambitious Start-Up India mission at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi. The Start Up India mission to be unveiled on Saturday envisages technology business incubators and research parks.

ii. The Human Resource Development Ministry and the Department of Science and Technology have agreed to partner in an initiative to set up over 75 such startup support hubs in the National Institutes of Technology (NITs), the Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs), the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs) and NIPERs or National Institutes of Pharmaceutical Education and Research.

iii. Organised by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), along with other key Indian startup ecosystem players, the Startup India, Standup India initiative aims to celebrate the country's entrepreneurial spirit, and create a strong ecosystem for fostering innovation and startups in India.

iv. The event was inaugurated by finance minister Arun Jaitley, and was attended by the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman, and the Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha. Around 40 top CEOs and startup founders and investors from Silicon Valley attended the event as special guests, and take part question and answer sessions at the event.

8. India saved 1 billion US dollars annually using Aadhaar: World Bank

i. The World Bank on 14 January 2016 announced that India saved 1 billion US dollars annually by using Aadhaar. It was revealed in the bank’s publication World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends that was released in Washington DC, the USA.

ii. As per the report, transfer of fuel subsidy to bank accounts using the Aadhaar-based Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) saved about 1 billion per year when applied throughout the country on account of reduced leakage and efficient gains.

iii. The report further estimated that the DBT has the potential to save over 11 billion US dollars per year in government expenditure if the scheme is expanded to other subsidy programmes.

Findings of the report with respect to India


* China has the largest number of internet users, followed by the United States, with India, Japan, and Brazil filling out the top five.
* A digital identification system such as India’s Aadhaar, by overcoming complex information problems, helps willing governments to promote the inclusion of disadvantaged groups.
* In India, there are an estimated 1.063 billion population are offline.
* Nearly 900 million Indians have been issued digital IDs in the past fi ve years, which they are using to open bank accounts, monitor attendance of civil servants, and identify recipients of government subsidies.
* Digital governance played a role in improving public sector capability. For example, e-procurement helped in injecting more competition into the process by increasing the probability that the winning bidder comes from outside the project’s region.

                                               Current Affairs - 15th January 2016

1. First 'Mahila Squad' Commissioned For High-Altitute Posts Of India-China Border

i. A freshly-trained contingent of 500 women personnel will become the first 'mahila' squad to be deployed in high-altitude posts along the India-China border. The squad was commissioned into the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) today in Panchkula.

ii. The women, in the rank of constable, were inducted in the border-guarding force after 44-weeks of training in battle craft and mountain survival and will now be sent to frontier areas for final acclimatisation before being deployed at ITBP posts along the 3,488-km Sino-India Line of Actual Control (LAC).

iii. These 'mahila' contingents are expected to be posted by March this year at about 20 forward locations of the ITBP situated at heights of between 8,000-14,000 feet, including at the 'Mana pass' border post, the last village on the Indian side in Uttarakhand.

iv. ITBP Director General Krishna Chaudhary, after reviewing the 'passing out parade' of the new personnel, asked them to exhibit the best skills that they have learnt during training to discharge their duties in some of the most difficult locations in the Himalayan ranges.

v. This is the first time that India is deploying women troops right at the front, one which is considered to be the most arduous and tricky given the harsh climatic conditions and extreme mountainous terrain along the India-China border.

vi. ITBP, raised in the aftermath of the 1962 Chinese aggression, has also begun creating logistical and residential facilities for its women personnel at these posts and it is expected to be completed by early March. The force plans to have women personnel make up at least 40 per cent of its strength at these forward posts.

2. Ronaldinho announced as Brand Ambassador of Nagjee International Club Football Tournament

i. The former Barcelona and AC Milan player Ronaldinho on 11 January 2016 was announced as the Brand Ambassador of the Nagjee International Club Football Tournament. The tournament will be held at the Corporation Stadium in Kozhikode, Kerala from 5 February 2016 to 21 February 2016.

ii. The legendary footballer was a part of Brazil's 2002 World Cup winning squad and played an important role in the world's biggest sporting extravaganza.

About Nagjee International Club Football Tournament

* The Kozhikode District Football Association and Mondial Sports Management LLP joined hands to resume and revive the Sait Nagjee Trophy after a 21-year gap.
* Sait Nagjee Trophy was a premier football tournament in India and an event that was very popular in Kerala. However, it will be renamed and re-launched as the Nagjee International Club Football Tournament.
* The tournament will be inaugurated at the historic Kozhikode Corporation EMS Stadium, where it was initially started in 1952.
* It will see seven famed teams from across Europe and South America participate along with an Indian club team.
* The participating teams include Argentina's U-23 team, Premier League outfit Watford's U-23 team, La Liga side Levante's U-23 team, Atletico Paranaense's U-23 team from Brazil, German team TSV 1860 Munchen's U-23 side, Romania’s Rapid Bucharest's first team, Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin's U-23 team and an I-League team.
* It is the first time that top European and Latin American clubs are coming to India for a tournament.

3. Lagaan actor Rajesh Vivek Upadhyay died


i. Bollywood actor Rajesh Vivek Upadhyay died on 14 January 2016 due to a heart attack in Hyderabad. He was 66. Rajesh was mainly known for his roles in films like Lagaan and Swades.

ii. Born on 31 January 1949, Rajesh Vivek was best known for his role of the astrologer Guran in Lagaan and as the Postman/Postmaster in Swades. He was first introduced in film Junoon, which was directed by Shyam Benegal.

iii. He had also played role of Veda Vyasa, author of the Mahabharata in the popular TV series Mahabharat. He made his mark as a villain in the beginning with films like Veerana and Joshilay.

iv. He is also noted for his roles in the historic TV series Bharat Ek Khoj. His best acting was seen in the TV Serial Aghori which is his horror best.

4. Madhya Pradesh Government signed four MoUs with Singapore

i. Madhya Pradesh (MP) Government on 14 January 2016 signed four MOUs with Singapore to collaborate in urban planning, skill development, clean energy and food processing.

ii. The MoUs were signed in Singapore in the presence of MP Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan, who was on four day visit from 12 January 2016
iii. The MoU on setting up 1000 megawatt wind energy plant in western part of the state was signed between the Department of New & Renewable Energy and Singapore corporation unit, Sembcorp Green Infra Ltd.  It was the biggest of the investment proposals.

iv. The MoU covering urban planning was signed between the Directorate of Town & Country Planning and Singapore Cooperation Enterprise. The MoU on capacity building and skill training was signed between the Department of Technical Education and Skill Development and ITE Education Services of Singapore.

v. The MoU covering food processing was signed between India’s LT Food Ltd and Singapore-based DSM Nutritional Products.

vi. Earlier, Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan was awarded with Lee Kuan Yew Exchange Fellowship for his contribution in development and international harmony. It was by awarded Fellowship Chairman Mr. Eddie Teo in Singapore on 13 January 2016.

vii. He is the fourth Indian to receive this fellowship. Previously, former vice-chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia, former union minister for investments Arun Shourie and chief minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh Chandra Babu Naidu had received this fellowship.

5. ‘Sahayog – Kaijin 2016’: India and Japan joint Coast Guard exercise

i. The 15th edition of bilateral exercise by the Indian Coast Guard and its Japanese counterpart titled ‘Sahayog-Kaijin 2016’ has begun off the coast of Chennai, Tamil Nadu in the Bay of Bengal.

ii. Anti-piracy procedures, search and rescue operations and interoperability between the two forces and other areas of common professional interest. Japanese Coast Guard ship Echigo along with its integral helicopter is participating.

iii. It will also involve Indian coast guard ships like Samudra Pahredar, Rajkamal, Vishwast, Rajtarang, Hovercraft, C-415, C-417, one Dornier and one Chetak helicopter.

iv. Sahayog-Kaijin bilateral exercise is a part of the cooperative arrangements between two Coast Guards for the last 15 years. It is also as part of the memorandum on cooperation (MoC) signed between the two countries in 2006.

v. It is biennial bilateral exercise held once in two years and the venue would shift in both countries on alternate occasions.

6. Marat Safin inducted into International Tennis Hall of Fame

i. The Russian Tennis Federation on 14 January 2016 announced that former World No.1 tennis player Marat Safin joined the International Tennis Hall of Fame.The official ceremony to induct Safin has been scheduled for 16 July 2016.

ii. The Russian tennis player was announced as a candidate for the induction into the Hall of Fame in October 2015 together with Belgium's Justine Henin, a former women's singles No.1 and seven-time major champion, and Helena Sukova from the Czech Republic, who won 14 major titles in doubles and mixed doubles.

iii. Marat Safin began his professional career in 1997. He held the No. 1 world ranking for a total of 9 weeks between November 2000 and April 2001. He won his first Grand Slam title at the 2000 US Open after defeating Pete Sampras.

iv. He became the first Russian man to reach the semi-finals of Wimbledon at the 2008 Wimbledon Championships.

v. The International Tennis Hall of Fame honours players and contributors to the sport of tennis. Martina Hingis became the first Global Ambassador for the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2015.

7. Union Government signed a loan agreement with World Bank for Neeranchal National Watershed Project

i. Union Government on 14 January 2016 signed a loan agreement with World Bank in New Delhi for the Neeranchal National Watershed Project.

ii. All 28 states which implement the watershed projects will benefit from this project. However, the nine states, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujrat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana will benefit more from the project as they are implementation of large number of watershed schemes in their states.

Features of Neeranchal National Watershed Project

* The project was approved by the Union Cabinet in October 2015 with a total budget of 2142 crore rupees in which India would bear 1071 crore rupees and the rest 50 percent cost will be borne by the World Bank.
* It will be implemented by the Ministry of Rural Development over a six-year period (2016-21).
* It will support the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayi Yojana in hydrology and water management, agricultural production systems, capacity building and monitoring and evaluation.
* Around 12 percent of the area of wasteland will be targeted through this project to make about 336 lakh hectares of land arable.
* The Minister said that the effective implementation of the scheme will go a long way in strengthening the economic conditions of the farming community.

8. DRDO successfully test-fired anti-tank missile Nag in Rajasthan


i. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in the second week of January 2016 successfully test-fired Nag anti-tank missile at the Mahajan Field Firing Range in Rajasthan.

ii. The test was conducted during a night trial to validate the enhanced 4-km range capability of Imaging-Infrared seeker, which guides the missile to the target after its launch.

iii. During the test, the Thermal Target System (TTS) was used as target for the missile. The TTS simulated a target similar to an operational tank as thermal mapping from tank to TTS was carried out for generating thermal signature.

9. Harry Potter actor Alan Rickman passed away

i. Actor Alan Rickman, known for films including Harry Potter, Die Hard and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, died of cancer on 14 January 2016 in London, England. He was 69.

ii. One of the best-loved and most warmly admired British actors of the past three decades, Rickman gained wider notice for his film performances as Hans Gruber in Die Hard and Severus Snape in the Harry Potter film series.

iii. Born on 21 February 1946 in Acton, London, Rickman was known for playing a variety of roles on stage and screen. His first big break was as the Vicomte de Valmont in the stage production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses in 1985, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award.

iv. He played romantic leads like Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility and Jamie in Truly, Madly, Deeply. However, he often was praised for playing roles of numerous villains in Hollywood big-budget films, like German terrorist Hans Gruber in Die Hard and the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

v. In 1995, he earned a Golden Globe Award, an Emmy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award for his portrayal of the title character in Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny.

10. 68th Army Day celebrated on 15 January

i. India on 15 January 2016 celebrated the 68th Army Day. Annually, the day is celebrated to commemorate the day, when Lieutenant General (later Field Marshal) K M Cariappa became the first Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army in post independence period.

ii. He took over the command of Army from General Sir FRR Bucher, the last British Commander-in-Chief on 15 January 1949.

iii. To mark the occasion, General Dalbir Singh, Chief of the Army Staff reviewed the Parade at Army Parade Ground, Delhi Cantonment.

iv. He also awarded fifteen Sena Medals (including five posthumously) for individual acts of Gallantry and thirteen COAS Unit Citations for commendable performance of their respective units.

11. Kamal Haasan & Gautam Ghosh included in Shyam Benegal Committee on functioning of CBFC

i. Eminent film personalities Kamal Hassan and Gautam Ghosh were on 14 January 2016 included in the Shyam Benegal Committee on functioning of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

ii. The inclusion was done to give representation to more regions of the country and on the recommendation of the existing four members committee.

iii. Earlier, on 1 January 2016, the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry set up the panel under the chairmanship of Shyam Benegal to review the provisions of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 and recommend measures for the smooth run of CBFC.

The Other four members who are already in the Committee,

* Shyam Benegal-Chairman
* Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra,
* Piyush Pandey
* Bhawana Somayaa

                                               Current Affairs - 14th January 2016

1. Sikkim Becomes India's First Fully Organic State


i. Sikkim has become India's first fully organic state by converting around 75,000 hectares of agricultural land into sustainable cultivation. "We have achieved fully-organic status in the end of December. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will formally announce this at a sustainable agriculture conference in Gangtok on January 18," said Sikkim Organic Mission's executive director Dr Anbalagan.

ii. He said around 75,000 hectares of agricultural land was gradually converted to certified organic land by implementing organic practices and principles as per guidelines laid down in National Programme for Organic Production.

iii. It was 12 years ago in 2003 when the Pawan Chamling-led government decided to make Sikkim an organic farming state through a declaration in the legislative assembly. Later the entry of chemical inputs for farmland was restricted and their sale banned. Farmers therefore had no option but to go organic. Organic cultivation is free of chemical pesticides and chemical fertilisers as it tries to strike a harmonious balance with a complex series of ecosystems.

iv. In the long term, organic farming leads in subsistence of agriculture, bio-diversity conservation and environmental protection, agriculture secretary Khorlo Bhutia said. Sustainable farming will also help in building the soil health resulting in sustainable increased crop production, he said.

v. Besides it will also boost the tourism industry in the tiny landlocked Himalayan state. Resorts have already been marketing themselves as completely organic where tourists can pluck, cook and relish fresh organic food from their kitchen gardens.

2. FIFA dismissed Secretary General Jerome Valcke

i. The FIFA Emergency Committee on 9 January 2016 decided to dismiss Jerome Valcke from the position of FIFA Secretary General with immediate effect.

ii. FIFA said that Markus Kattner will continue to serve as acting Secretary General.

iii. Frenchman Valcke was provisionally suspended from football for his alleged involvement in a scheme to profit from the sale of World Cup tickets. He was released from his duties on 17 September 2015 after being accused of a series of FIFA ethics code breaches. Formal adjudicatory proceedings against him were opened on 7 January 2016 by the adjudicatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee chaired by Hans-Joachim Eckert.

iv. Appointed in 2007, the former right-hand man of FIFA president Sepp Blatter has denied any wrongdoing.

v. FIFA'S ethics committee has already recommended that Valcke should be banned from all activities of football for nine years.

3. Kerala became first State to achieve 100% primary education

i. Kerala became the first state in the country to achieve 100 percent primary education. To this effect, a declaration was made by the Vice President of India Hamid Ansari on 12 January 2016 at a special ceremony organised at Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala.

ii. The success of Kerala in achieving total primary education can be attributed to various initiatives undertaken by the Kerala Literacy Mission in the last two decades.

iii. Especially, the Athulyam Scheme, which was implemented in two stages, played a key role in addressing the educational needs of illiterate adults.

iv. The second stage of the scheme, namely Mission 676, targeted those between ages 15 and 50 who, for one reason or the other, dropped out of the formal education process.

v. Prior to the Athulyam Scheme, the fourth standard equivalency programme was started in 2000 in association with local bodies.

vi. As a result, Kannur became the first district in the country to achieve total primary education in 2001.

4. Subhashini Vasanth honoured with Neerja Bhanot Award

i. Bengaluru-based activist Subhashini Vasanth on 13 January 2016 was honoured with Neerja Bhanot Award. She was presented the award for her endeavour to help people in distress and for empowering widows of martyrs and their families across the country. Bollywood actor Sonam Kapoor presented the award to Vasanth at a ceremony held in Chandigarh.

ii. Subhashini Vasanth lost her husband Col Vasanth V, who was posthumously awarded the Ashok Chakra in 2008 for his selfless, supreme sacrifice while fighting terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir. Since the death of her husband, she has been helping the families of martyrs.

iii. She started the Vasantharatna Foundation in memory of her husband. The foundation provides education scholarships, conducted empowerment programmes and outbound learning programmes for women and children. Subhashini is also a Bharatnatyam exponent known for her intense abhinaya and immaculate footwork. She and Veena Prasad have co-authored the biography of Col Vasanth, titled Forever Forty.

iv. The Neerja Bhanot Award is an award of recognition conferred once a year by the The Neerja Bhanot Pan Am Trust in India. It is awarded to an Indian woman, subjected to social injustice, who faces the situation with grit and determination and extends help to other women in similar distress.

v. The annual Neerja Bhanot Award was instituted in 1990 and named in honour of Senior Flight Purser, Neerja Bhanot, who saved hundreds of lives while sacrificing her own, during a Pan Am Flight 73 hijack at Karachi Airport in September 1986.

5. Cabinet approves crop insurance scheme PMFBY

i. The union cabinet on Wednesday approved the crop insurance scheme Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) to boost the farming sector and ensure farmers' welfare. "The new Crop Insurance Scheme is in line with One Nation - One Scheme theme. It incorporates the best features of all previous schemes and at the same time, all previous shortcomings/weaknesses have been removed," said a ministry of agriculture statement.

ii. Under PMFBY, the farmers are required to pay a uniform premium of two percent for all Kharif crops and 1.5 percent for all Rabi crops while it is five percent for annual commercial and horticultural crops.

iii. "The premium rates to be paid by farmers are very low and balance premium will be paid by the government to provide full insured amount to the farmers against crop loss on account of natural calamities," the statement said.

iv. With no upper cap on government subsidy, even if the balance premium is 90 percent, the government will bear it. The earlier practice of capping the premium rate has been done away with as it resulted in low claims being paid to farmers, the statement said.

v. "This capping (premium rate) has now been removed and farmers will get claim against full sum insured without any reduction," the statement added.

vi. To enable faster claims payment, the government intends to encourage use of technology and smartphones to capture and upload data on crop harvesting and also deploy remote sensing to reduce crop cutting experiments.

6. Union Government formed Arvind Panagariya committee on Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Corridor

i. Union Government on 11 January 2016 formed a five-member high level committee to monitor the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Corridor (bullet train project). The committee will be headed by NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya.

ii. The mandate of the committee is to look into the overall operations and technical issues, Make in India component and financial outlay of the 90000 crore rupees worth project.

iii. Further, the committee will also overview the project’s strategic importance for India-Japan bilateral relation. Earlier, in December 2015, both countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation and assistance in the execution of the project.

7. WHO declares world’s worst ever Ebola outbreak over

i. The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced today that the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged west Africa for two years was over after Liberia, the last affected country, received the all-clear. “Today the World Health Organisation declares the end of the most recent outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Liberia and says all known chains of transmission have been stopped in West Africa,” the UN health agency said.

ii. WHO stressed though that “the job is not over,” warning “more flare-ups are expected.” “We need to remain engaged,” Peter Graaff, WHO director responsible for Ebola response, told reporters. One of the most feared diseases in the world, Ebola killed more than 11,000 people across west Africa after it surfaced in southern Guinea in December 2013.

iii. At its peak, the tropical haemorrhagic virus devastated Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, scything lives and dealing a hammer blow to weak economies and fragile health systems. The announcement came 42 days — the equivalent of two incubation periods of the virus — after the last Ebola cases in Liberia were tested negative. Liberia, the country worst hit by the outbreak with 4,800 deaths, discharged its last two patients from hospital — the father and younger brother of a 15-year-old victim — on December 3, 2015.

iv. The outbreak infected almost 29,000 people and claimed 11,315 lives, according to official data. But the real toll is suspected to be much higher, with many Ebola deaths believed to have gone unreported. Fighting stigma and resistance to containment measures were among the many challenges facing Ebola workers on the front line.

v. Today marked the third time that Liberia has been given the all-clear. The country was the first of the three to be declared free of human-to-human Ebola transmission in May, only to see the virus resurface six weeks later. Liberia was officially credited with beating the epidemic for a second time in September before another small cluster of cases emerged.

vi. The WHO came under fire for its sluggish response to the epidemic, which local healthcare systems were woefully underequipped to handle. Over 500 healthcare workers died in three west African countries in the eye of the outbreak.

8. Union Government released Draft for the Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2015

i. The Union Government in second week of January 2016 released a Draft Bill, which proposes reservation benefits for transgender persons.

ii. The Draft Bill, titled The Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2015, was formulated by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

Key highlights of Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2015

* The draft states that transgender persons who by birth do not belong to Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes may be declared as Backward Class. They will be entitled for reservation under the existing ceiling of OBC category.
* Transgender persons will not be prevented from competing for seats which are not reserved for them.
* The bill will provide for the formulation and implementation of a comprehensive national policy for ensuring overall development of the Transgender Persons.
* Transgender should be declared as the third gender, and a Transgender Person should have the option to identify as man, woman or transgender as well as have the right to choose any of the options independent of surgery/hormones.
* Only the nomenclature transgender should be used and nomenclatures like other or others should not be used.
* Transgender persons will also be issued a proper certificate for their identity by a state-level authority duly designated or constituted by respective the state or UT.
* Transgender students will be able to avail scholarship, entitlements, fee-waiver, free textbooks, free hostel accommodation and other facilities at subsidised rates.

9. R Shivakumar appointed Chairman of Assocham Karnataka

i. R Shivakumar, Chairman of Kumar Group of companies, Bengaluru, has been appointed as the Chairman of Assocham Karnataka Regional Council, the new regional outfit of Assocham, New Delhi.

ii. S Babu, Chairman of Ashwin Precision Products, has been appointed as Co-Chairman of Assocham Karnataka Regional Council.

iii. The new revamped regional council of Assocham in Karnataka is expected to play a significant role in the development of industry and trade in the state.

10. Sachin opens railway police safety drive


i. Master blaster and former captain of the Indian cricket team Sachin Tendulkar on Wednesday launched two safety and awareness initiatives by the Mumbai Railway Police. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Tendulkar expressed concern over the number of fatalities on railway tracks each year and recalled an incident in his teenage years after which he had resolved never to cross railway tracks again.

ii. The two initiatives, SAMEEP (Safety Alert Messages Exclusively For Passengers) and B-SAFE, were launched at the Railway Police headquarters in Wadi Bunder by Mr Tendulkar and Railway Police Commissioner Madhukar Pandey.

iii. “SAMEEP is an effort towards instant communication with railway passengers in case of any eventualities. As part of this initiative, we aim to send out text messages to passengers about important developments or disruptions, safety advisories, updates about women’s security and accurate information about developments to dispel any rumours.

iv. B-SAFE is a prolonged multimedia awareness campaign to educate the public about various precautions they should take for safe commuting. The campaign will consist of putting up theme based posters across railway station platforms, distribution of pamphlets and awareness meetings of commuter associations, educational institutions, etc,” Mr Pandey said.

v. Mr Tendulkar said the number of deaths on the tracks was worrying. “The general feeling is that crossing railway tracks will save us five minutes. But this also means that we are breaking the law and risking our lives for the sake of five minutes,” he said.

11. UNICEF presented David Beckham with Danny Kaye Humanitarian Leadership Award

i. David Beckham on 12 January 2016 was presented with the Danny Kaye Humanitarian Leadership Award at the sixth biennial UNICEF Ball in Los Angeles.

ii. Sir Elton John and David Furnish presented the award to Beckham at the event, honouring him for his tireless work to save and improve the lives of children around the world.

iii. Beckham has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2005. In 2015, the footballer launched 7: The David Beckham UNICEF Fund, making a personal commitment to use his voice, influence and connections to raise vital funds and rally for lasting change for children.

iv. The Danny Kaye Humanitarian Leadership Award is named after Danny Kaye, star of Hans Christian Andersen and White Christmas. Kaye was one of the world’s most beloved entertainers. He was the first ever celebrity representative for UNICEF, and was a Goodwill Ambassador from 1954 until his death in 1987.

                                              Current Affairs - 13th January 2016

1. BHEL commissioned 520 MW Vizag thermal power plant in Andhra Pradesh

i. Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) on 11 January 2016 announced that it commissioned the first unit of the 2x520 MW Vizag thermal power project in Andhra Pradesh.

ii. While the project, which is located in Visakhapatnam, is owned by the Hinduja National Power Company Limited (HNPCL), it is being executed by BHEL on engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) basis.

iii. The project is located on the coast of the Bay of Bengal and uses single flow condenser and sea water as main cooling water.

iv. And, it is in addition to the four 500 MW thermal sets supplied and executed by BHEL. They are already in operation at Simhadri Super Thermal Power Station of NTPC in Visakhapatnam district.

2. Amitabh Bachchan made honorary life member of Mohammedan Sporting

i. Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan on 12 January 2016 was bestowed honorary life membership of Kolkata’s soccer outfit Mohammedan Sporting. Sporting president Sultan Ahmed handed over the club’s life membership to Bachchan.

ii. Bachchan was also invited to be the chief guest of the club’s 125th anniversary gala event to be held later in 2016. Mohammedan Sporting Club was founded in 1891 at Kolkata. It is one of the oldest and leading football clubs in India. At present, the club plays in the I-League 2nd Division and premier division of Calcutta Football League(CFL).

iii.  It was the first Indian club to win CFL in 1934 and continued their run till 1938 season. Before Independence, numerous triumphs against British teams earned the club huge support from every section of Indian society.

iv. The club also became the first Indian club to win the Durand Cup in 1940. After Independence, the club also became the first Indian club to win on foreign soil by lifting the Aga Khan Gold Cup in 1960. Mohammedan Sporting along with Mohun Bagan A.C. and East Bengal F.C. are tagged as the Big Three.

3. Indra Nooyi becomes ‘most generous graduate’ of Yale School of Management

i. The prestigious Yale School of Management will name its deanship in honour of PepsiCo’s India-born CEO Indra Nooyi as she gifted an undisclosed amount to her alma mater, becoming the school’s biggest alumni donor and the first woman to endow a deanship at a top b-school.

ii. Yale did not disclose the amount gifted by Nooyi but said her “landmark gift” to endow the deanship of the school and inaugurate an innovation fund has made her the “most generous graduate” of Yale School of Management in terms of lifetime giving to the school. She is also the first woman to endow the deanship at a top business school, the school said in a statement yesterday.

iii. The PepsiCo chairman, who graduated from the school in 1980, credited her experience at the school for “forever” altering “the course of my life” and said her gift “pales in comparison with the gift that Yale gave me the fundamental understanding that leadership requires an expansive worldview and a deep appreciation of the many points of intersection between business and society.”

iv. “Business issues are never just business issues, and my most ardent hope is that this endowment will teach future generations of leaders that the most successful companies of tomorrow will do more than make money,” she said in a statement.

v. “They will make a difference and create shareholder value by improving the quality of life in every market in which they operate,” she said. Nooyi joins several prominent persons of Indian-origin who have donated generously to US universities.

vi. In October last year, Nooyi’s sister and Grammy-nominated musician Chandrika Tandon and her husband Ranjan had made a 100 million dollar gift to the New York University’s School of Engineering, one of the largest philanthropic gifts by a member of the Indian-American community. In 2010, Harvard Business School had received a gift of USD 50 million from Tata Companies.

vii. Industrialist Ratan Tata had attended the School’s Advanced Management Programme in 1975. The gift will also be used to inaugurate the Fifth Decade Innovation Fund, which is named in recognition of the fact that the school is entering its fifth decade; the first class entered the Yale School of Management in 1976.

viii. The fund is an ambitious initiative designed to advance the school’s aim of developing leaders with the broad global mindset and multi-disciplinary approach to business that is needed to succeed in 21st-century capitalism. It will be open to additional substantial contributions that can help the school develop the technology and other infrastructure to support these and future initiatives.

4. 20th National Youth Festival inaugurated in Naya Raipur


i. The 20th National Youth Festival was on 12 January 2016 inaugurated by Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari at Rajyostav Sthal in Naya Raipur, Chhattisgarh to mark the National Youth Day.

ii. The five day long annual festival is celebrated by the Union Government in partnership with a state government on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.

iii. For the 20th National Youth Festival, Chhattisgarh was chosen as the partner state with the theme India Youth for Skill, Development and Harmony.

5. Kerala Declared First State to Attain Total Primary Education

i. Vice President Hamid Ansari today declared Kerala as the first state in the country to attain 'Total Primary Education', and described the achievement as 'historic.' "I believe that the date today is as historic for Kerala as April 18, 1991, the day Kerala was declared to be a fully literate state," he said.

ii. "Kerala has set a model for the rest of the country to follow," the Vice President said. Noting that the achievement was another feather to the state's educational cap, he said the state was marking the successful culmination of its 'Athulyam' programme aimed at ensuring Total Primary Education in Kerala -- equivalent to Standard IV of formal education.

iii. "This is the fructification of the continuing efforts under the Total Literacy Campaign through the well-planned and executed post-literacy activities and the Continuing Education Programme by the Kerala State Literacy Mission Authority (KSLMA) under the Government of Kerala," he said.

iv. Ansari also said this remarkable educational achievement was a result of the enlightened political leadership of Kerala, the dedication of its public functionaries and the people of state who have come to value the importance of education. The declaration marks the culmination of the second phase of the 'Athulyam' Class 4 equivalency programme -— for people aged between 15 and 50 —- run by KSLMA.

v. Ansari said Kerala achieved progress in social and other sectors mainly due to the importance it gave for education. The impressive march of Kerala on the education and various other socio-economic fronts has been due to what Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has called "the constructive and combative roots of its historical background", he said.

vi. He lauded the contribution of religious reformers such as Sree Narayana Guru and other social organisations such as Nair Service Society, Muslim Educational Society (MES) and Christian missionaries, saying they also helped in inculcating and sustaining spread of education as a social movement.

6. PMO sets up panel to fast-track bullet trains


i. The Prime Minister’s Office has constituted a committee under Arvind Panagariya, vice-chairman of the NITI Aayog, to hasten the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail Corridor, meant for bullet trains between the two cities.

ii. The panel will interact with the Japanese counterpart for taking the next step in implementation. The Railway Board chairman, secretary in the department of expenditure, foreign secretary and secretary (industrial policy) will be part of the panel.

iii. Officials said the Railway Board head will look after all issues related to overall operation and technical issues. The economic affairs secretary will look after all issues related to the financial outlay and his industrial policy counterpart the Make in India component of the trains.

iv. The Cabinet’s approval for the high-speed line was based on the recommendations of a committee headed by Panagariya. Also approved was a suggestion to consider allowing private operators on the 508-km line.

v. The Panagariya panel had favoured Japan over China due to the low-cost funding up to 80 per cent of the cost proposed by Japan International Cooperation Agency, at a 0.1 per cent interest rate (50-year repayment), apart from a commitment for technology transfer and local manufacturing for a specified period.

vi. It had suggested Indian Railways run the corridor for an initial five years, after which private operators could be allowed. Bullet trains are run by state-owned agencies in France and Germany. The Japanese system was handed to private companies after two decades of operation.

7. CII Partnership Summit 2016 concluded in Vishakhapatnam

i. The 22nd edition of Confederate of Indian Industry (CII) Partnership Summit -cum-Sunrise Andhra Pradesh Investment Summit was concluded on 12 January 2016 at Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.

ii. The summit was held in cooperation with the Government of Andhra Pradesh and the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Government of India. The summit, which commenced on 10 January 2016, was organised to showcase investment opportunities in Sunrise Andhra Pradesh.

iii. Medical devices manufacturing park will be established in Andhra Pradesh with a potential investment of 20000 crore rupees. Andhra Pradesh became first state to release retail policy. Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Andhra Pradesh to set up naval facility in Vishakhapatnam.

iv. Union government announced the sanction of greenfield petrochemical complex and National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER) in Visakhapatnam and a Central Institute of Plastics Engineering & Technology (CIPET) in Vijayawada.

8. Conference of QCG on Afghan Peace & Reconciliation held in Islamabad

i. Conference of Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) on Afghan Peace and Reconciliation process was held in Islamabad on 11 January 2016. The purpose of the conference was to explore ways to create consensus for talks between the Taliban and Afghanistan's government.

ii. The conference was participated representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the US. The group will again meet in Kabul on 18 January 2016 to hold discussions on a roadmap.

iii. The joint statement released after the discussions emphasised the immediate need for direct talks between the representatives of the Afghanistan government and representatives from Taliban groups. The talks for peace process aims at preserving Afghanistan’s unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

iv. The four-nation group was set up in 2015 to expedite the process of reconciliation in the war-torn country after decades of bloodshed. The first round was held in July 2015 but the process was suspended in the same month after news of Taliban Chief Mullah Omar's death was announced.

v. The group also reiterated their commitment to the realization of objectives expressed in their statement from the quadrilateral meeting held on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia Conference in Islamabad on 9 December 2015.

9. Lenovo to launch new smartphone under Google’s Project Tango

i. The term Project Tango was in news in the second week of January 2016 as Lenovo, a Chinese multinational computer technology company, announced that it entered into a partnership with Google for the project.

ii. As part of the partnership, Lenovo will launch a new smartphone that can “see” and map out surroundings without external signals like satellite-based global positioning system (GPS).

Features of Google’s Project Tango.

* It gives a mobile device the ability to navigate the physical world, similar to how we do as humans, without using GPS or other external signals. The project was unveiled by Google in June 2014 and has features like motion tracking, depth perception, area learning that are based on 3D technology.
* It brings a new kind of spatial perception to mobiles and tablets by adding advanced computer vision, image processing, and special vision sensors. The project works on various Android device platforms that run C, Java, and Unity.
* It is an open project in the sense that it allows technology partners and developers community to develop to create new user experiences.

                                             Current Affairs - 12th January 2016

1. Binny Bansal appointed as CEO of Flipkart


i. India's biggest e-commerce company, Flipkart, on 11 January 2016 announced the promotion of current Chief Operating Officer Binny Bansal to the post of Chief Executive Officer (CEO). On the other hand, Sachin Bansal, who has been the CEO since inception, will now take on the newly-created role of Executive Chairman.

ii. The major restructuring of its top management will see Mukesh Bansal report to Binny. Mukesh will continue to be chairman of Myntra, which he co-founded, and head Flipkart's commerce platform. He has also been given additional responsibility of the overall ads business.

iii. The current ads business head Ravi Garikipati will report to Mukesh. Binny Bansal is an Indian Software engineer and Internet entrepreneur. In 2007, he co-founded the e-commerce platform Flipkart with Sachin Bansal.

iv. Before co-founding Flipkart, Binny was previously employed with Amazon for 9 months. Prior to joining Amazon, he was rejected by Google twice. He graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi with a degree in Computer Science and Engineering.

2. Balkrishna Garg conferred with 2015 Harikrishna Devsare Baalsahitya Award

i. Veteran hindi poet Balkrishna Garg was on 8 January 2016 conferred with the 2015 Harikrishna Devsare Baalsahitya Award in New Delhi. He received the award for his Baa Geet, which is a collection of poems for children.

ii. The award was presented by Sahitya Akademi President Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari and National Book Trust (NBT) Chairman Baldeo Bhai Sharma.

iii. It was the second award to be conferred since its inception in 2014 and consists of a cash prize of 75000 rupees, a shawl and a citation.

iv. The award was instituted in the memory of Harikrishna Devsare, a renowned Hindi writer known for his work in the field of children’s literature, who passed away in 2013.

3. Union Railway Ministry inaugurated Implementation of E-enabled Track Management System

i. Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu on 11 January 2016 inaugurated implementation of E-enabled Track Management System (TMS) and Mobile Application of TMS on Indian Railway at Rail Bhawan in New Delhi.

ii. Indian Railways brought in these initiatives to bring efficiency and effectiveness in management practices which involve handling of huge volumes of data statistics as well as dynamic analysis of various measurement and defects and planning, deployment of large resources.

iii. Along with these two initiatives, the minister also inaugurated pilot implementation of Track Inventory Management System on Northern Railway to track materials inventory, construction and track machines organization in entire 225 units of Northern Railway.

iv. It is an important milestone in promoting e-working in civil engineering department of Indian Railways. It is implemented on all the 68 divisions of Indian Railways. With the implementation of this system, various activities of Track Inspection, Monitoring and Maintenance came on IT platform. It is the first of its kind Organization Wide Asset Management IT Application.

v. It is designed for decentralization of data capturing and speedy information dissemination along with centralized data keeping and analysis. It will eliminate more than 100000 manual record keeping registers and make the area of working almost paperless. It provides alerts in the form of Short Message Services (SMS) and E-mails to all concerned officials right from Junior Engineer in field upto the Railway Board.

vi. Database and application servers are established in CRIS Data Center at Delhi. Required infrastructure like Netbooks/mini laptops along with requisite Internet connectivity/mobile data cards provided to all Junior and Senior Engineers.

4. RINL inked MoU with Andhra Pradesh Government for investment of 38500 crore rupees


i. Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL), the corporate entity of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, on 11 January 2016 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Andhra Pradesh government.

ii. The MoU envisages investment of around 38500 crore rupees to take up various projects at Visakhapatnam. The deal was signed during the 22nd CII Partnership Summit & 1st Sunrise AP Investment Meet, which is being held in Visakhapatnam.

iii. The investments by RINL will include expansion capacity of Vizag Steel to 7.3 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) with a modernisation that may cost approximately 3600 crore rupees. At an investment of 3400 crore rupees, construction of Coke Oven Battery and other projects are also expected to be modernised.

iv. The overall investment figure of 38500 crore rupees also includes further total expansion capacity of RINL to around 11.5 MTPA to 12 MTPA. The company will also spend 6100 crore rupees on a slurry pipeline and pellet plant in a joint venture with NMDC & others.

v. Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited, also known as Vizag Steel, is an Indian government-owned steel producer. The company is based in Visakhapatnam. It has been awarded the Navaratna status, with accompanying autonomy of operations, due to its strong financial performance.

vi. The plans for a steel plant in Visakhapatnam were announced in 1971 by then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi. Originally, intended as a plant of the state-owned Steel Authority of India Limited, RINL was established as a separate company in 1982.

5. Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi wins Ballon d'Or award for world's best player for fifth time

i. The Barcelona and Argentina forward finished ahead of Ronaldo and Brazil forward Neymar as he scooped the award for the fifth time overall, having previously won it four years in a row from 2009 to 2012. Messi helped Barcelona to a Spanish league, domestic cup and Champions League treble plus the Club World Cup and also led Argentina to the Copa America final, where they lost to Germany.

ii. "It's incredible, much more than anything I dreamed of as a kid," said Messi as he received the award. "I want to thank my team-mates, without them none of this would have been possible." Barcelona's Luis Enrique was voted coach of the year.

iii. United States World Cup winner Carli Lloyd, who scored a hat-trick in the final against Japan, was named women's player of the year. Ronaldo ended last season trophyless with Real Madrid, although he helped Portugal qualify for Euro 2016.

iv. Neymar won a treble alongside Messi at Barcelona but had a less happy time with Brazil, receiving a four-match international ban after he was sent off during the Copa America. Brazilian footballer Wendell Lira received the Puskas Award for best goal of the year, for his bicycle kick goal for Goianesia against Atletico-GO in March 2015.

6. Constro 2016 to focus on 'Smart City' concept

i. The 2016 edition of the Constro exhibition will be held in Pune from January 14-17 and will focus on the Smart City concept. Organised by the Pune Construction Engineering Research Foundation (PCERF), this is the 14th edition of the bi-annual event which is one of the biggest international fairs on construction machinery, materials, methods and projects.

ii. Shrikant Nivasarkar, President, PCERF, said, “In view of Government’s mission of creating 100 smart cities, ‘Constro 2016’ will focus on two themes: 'Emerging Technologies for Smart City’ and ‘Skill Development'.”

iii. The exhibition will provide an insight of the current state of the modern city and the measures that need to be taken to create a smart city. It will consist of six pavilions, and 250 stalls with a special focus on featuring the tools and materials connected with skill development.

iv. The other highlights include a seminar series and a display and demonstration of wall & floor tiling and bricklaying by Parshuram Naik, a bronze medallist who won the Bricklaying Medallion of Excellence in Brazil.

7. Kullu Folk Dance Finds Place in Guinness Book of World Records

i. The colourful Kullu folk dance (Nati), which saw participation of 20,000 dancers during Kullu Dussehra festival on October 26 last year, has entered the Guinness book of world records. In the Nati, 10,000 men and women attired in traditional Kullu dress performed at Dhalpur Ground during Kullu Dussehra festival on October 26 last year.

ii. The jamboree of over 20,000 people danced to spread the message of 'Beti Hai Anmol' (Girl child is precious). The Guinness Book authorities were informed about the show and the entire programme which lasted about an hour was monitored.

iii. The intimation regarding recording the event in Guinness Book was received today by Kullu Deputy Commissioner, Rakesh Kumar, the man behind the show.iv. Kanwar confirmed the information and said that it was possible due to initiative and enthusiasm of the people who participated enthusiastically in the programme, rehearsed for days and made it successful.

v. Similar folk dance was performed last year (2014) also in which 8,600 dancers participated and it was recorded in Limca book of World records.

8. Illumina, Bill Gates & Jeff Bezos launched startup GRAIL to develop blood-based cancer tests

i. Illumina, the world’s largest DNA sequencing company, on 10 January 2015 announced the launch of the startup named GRAIL to develop blood-based cancer tests. The company was launched in association with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezo’s venture fund Bezos Expeditions and Arch Venture Partners.

ii. The company will develop blood tests that cost 1000 US dollars or less for detecting many types of cancer before symptoms arise. The test, which is also called as liquid biopsy, will use high-speed DNA sequencing machines to scour a person’s blood for fragments of DNA released by cancer cells.

iii. All the partners in the startup raised around 100 million US dollars among themselves, in which Illumina will have the majority stake holder. The newly developed tests are expected to reach the market by 2019. GRAIL will operate from San Diego in California, the USA.

9. Telangana became first State to make gender education compulsory at graduate level


i. Telangana became the first State in India to introduce compulsory gender education at the graduate level. In this regard, the state in second week of January 2016 introduced a bilingual textbook titled, Towards a World of Equals. The book was introduced on a pilot basis in engineering colleges affiliated to the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU-Hyderabad).

ii. The book discusses gender in its composite form without limiting itself to crime against women. The book attempts to cover information on unacknowledged women writers of Telangana to problems of sex selection and women’s work in politics and economics.

iii.  It also touches upon complex subjects like female-centric history and male-female relationships. The book is structured in simple language and form to suit under-graduates. The book discusses different strands of women’s movements across the world, introducing students to political movements of Afro-American, Caribbean, African, Dalit and minority women.

iv. The book is coupled with a collection of visual teaching tools which include documentary films. The book is being taught over 14 weeks in a semester at the rate of two classes per week.

10. National Youth Day observed on 12 January to mark birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda


i. National Youth Day was observed across India on 12 January 2016 to mark the 153rd birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda who was India’s foremost social reformer, philosopher and thinker. The theme for 2016 is Youth for Skill Development and Harmony.

ii. On this occasion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a gathering at the National Youth Festival, which was held in Raipur, through video conference from New Delhi.

iii. The day is celebrated annually since 12 January 1985 in recognition of his ideals and teachings and to project him as a role model for the Indian youth.

                                        Current Affairs - 10th & 11th January 2016

1. President of India inaugurates 88th Annual Conference of Nikhil Bharat Banga Sahitya Sammelan


i. The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated the three day long 88th annual conference of Nikhil Bharat Banga Sahitya Sammelan today (January 10, 2016) at Ranchi, Jharkhand.

ii. Speaking on the occasion, the President said he had been closely involved with the organization for the last three decades. He said the great traditions of Bengali literature, language and culture originated from the period of 'Charyapada' a Bengali compilation that was discovered by the noted scholar, Haraprasad Shastri in Nepal in 1907.

iii. The President said Nikhil Bharat Banga Sahitya Sammelan, initially known as Prabasi Banga Sahitya Sammelan, was born in 1922 and the next year itself, in 1923, in its Varanasi session it was patronized by Rabindra Nath Tagore. Songs and music composed by Rabindra Nath and Quazi Nazrul Islam along with other luminaries played a major role in nation building.

iv. The President said the core element of Bengali literature is human being and its thinking. During the freedom movement it was Bengali literature that influenced our social thinking and social reforms as well as vice-versa.

v. He named Michael Madhusudan Dutta, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Rabindra Nath Tagore and a host of other poets and writers who have contributed significantly in enriching our mind. The President urged all participants of the conference to continue contributing meaningfully towards preserving and encouraging Indian literature.

2. 11th World Hindi Day observed on 10 January

i. The 11th World Hindi Day was celebrated on 10 January 2016. To mark the occasion, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) through its missions/posts abroad and the Department of Official Language (Rajbhasha) conducted special events to spread the greatness of the language.

ii. The day was first observed on 10 January 2006. And, it is in addition to the National Hindi Divas that is being celebrated annually on 14 September. National Hindi Divas is celebrated to mark the day, 14 September 1949, on which the Constituent Assembly adopted Hindi written in Devanagari script as the Official Language of the Union.

iii. While the focus of the World Hindi Day is the promotion of the at the global stage, the National Hindi Divas is held across the country. Hindi as a language is the fourth most spoken language of the world.

iv. In India, Hindi is used as a mother tongue by around 258 million people. It is a native language for most people living in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, and Rajasthan.

v. Outside Asia, Hindi is an official language in Fiji. The Constitution of Fiji states 3 official languages, namely English, Fijian, and Hindi. The dialect of Hindi spoken there is known as Fiji Baat or Fiji Hindi. At present Hindi as a language is spoken in more than 20 countries around the world and is being taught in 150 Universities of the world.

vi. Official Language policy of the Union has been explained in detail under Article 120 (Part-V), Article 210 (Part-VI) and, especially in Part XVII, Article 343, 344 and from 348 to 351.

3. Urjit Patel re-appointed as RBI Deputy Governor for Three Years

i. Union Government on 8 Janury 2016 re-appointed Dr Urjit R Patel, as Deputy Governor of Reserve Bank of India (RBI), for a second three-year term.

ii. Patel who joined RBI on 11 January 11, 2013 had headed a committee that paved the way for the proposed monetary policy committee. Patel, a doctorate from Yale University, also had a stint at IMF.

iii. Patel is the fourth deputy governor and the other three are HR Khan, R Gandhi and SS Mundra. The re-appointment of Patel assumes significance as in recent past, none of the deputy governors got a second term.

iv. Urjit Patel is an economist with hawkish point of view on inflation. He authored a research paper called Dynamics of Inflation Herding: Decoding India's Inflationary Process along with Gangadhar Darbha, ED, Nomura.

v. Between 1990 and 1995, he worked with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) 1995 covering the US, India, Bahamas and Myanmar desks. He was on deputation from 1996-1997 from the IMF to the RBI and provided advice on development of the debt market, banking sector reforms, pension fund reforms, real exchange rate targeting and evolution of the foreign exchange market.

vi. Patel was also a consultant with the Boston Consulting Group and was also a part of IDFC’s management committee for almost 10 years ever since it was first incepted. From 2005-2008, he also worked in board of Multi Commodity Exchange of India.

vii. Urjit Patel was NRI at Brooking Institution, Washington DC from 2006-2007. As an academic as well as consultant, Patel also provides advice to Indian government on different panels. He was the board member in Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation as well.

viii. Prior to his appointment as the deputy governor at RBI in 2013, Patel was advisor (energy & infrastructure) with Boston Consulting Group.

4. Maria Teresa de Filippis, first female Formula One driver, died

i. Maria Teresa de Filippis, the first woman to compete in a world championship Formula One grand prix, passed away on 8 January 2016 in Italy. She was 89.

ii. De Filippis participated in five World Championship Grands Prix; however, she scored no championship points. Although she remained largely unsuccessful in her Formula One racing career, she is remembered as a pioneer in motor racing, a sport dominated by men.

iii. Born on 11 November 1926 in Naples, Italy, de Filippis began her racing career at the age of 22. She won her first race, driving a Fiat 500 on a 10 km drive between Salerno and Cava de' Tirreni.

iv. She took part in various motor racing events, including hill climbing and endurance racing, before being given the chance to drive in Formula One. She finished second in a sportscar race supporting the 1956 Naples Grand Prix, driving a Maserati 200S.

v. On 18 May 1958, she was given the opportunity to enter the Monaco Grand Prix, the second round of the 1958 Formula One season, in one of the 250Fs.

5. 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas held in New Delhii. The 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas (PBD) was held in New Delhi

i. The event was inaugurated by the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and attended by Priti Patel, MoS for Employment, United Kingdom.ii. Apart from the main event in New Delhi, the day was celebrated by the MEA, across the world, through its missions/posts abroad.

iii. On this occasion, Sushma Swaraj announced that the government is considering Aadhaar cards to non-resident Indians (NRIs) and allowing women workers to Gulf countries only through the government agencies to ensure they were not duped by recruiting agents or firms.

iv. It was the first limited edition of the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas. The government, in 2015, took a decision to limit the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas conference as a biannual event and extend the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas across the world and throughout the year. In effect, the next Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas conference will be held in 2017.

v. It was organised for the first time by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) after the government’s decision to merge Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) with it. Earlier it used to celebrated by the MOIA.

vi. Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas is being held annually since 2003 to bring the Indian Diaspora on a single platform and leverage their resources in nation building activities. The day is held annually on 9 January 2015 to mark the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa to India.

vii. Apart from the PBD, regional PBDs were also held across the world. The most recent, 9th RPBD was held in November 2015, in Los Angeles, the USA. The 13th PBD was held in Gujarat marked the 100th year of Mahatma Gandhi’s return to India from South Africa.

6. ‘Stand-up India’ drive in the offing: Arun Jaitley

i. The Centre is planning to launch a "Stand-up India" drive to promote entrepreneurship among women, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, according to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

ii. He was speaking here on Sunday at the inaugural of the three-day Partnership Summit jointly hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the State Government. He said the Start-up India drive launched by the Centre had received tremendous response and "now we are planning a Stand-up India drive."

iii. He explained to the audience that the programme envisaged special assistance to women, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to promote entrepreneurship. He said each bank branch in the country would have to give at least one loan to a woman, SC and ST entrepreneur to set up units.

iv. "There are 1.5 lakh branches in the country and we are sure the programme will make a big impact as the Mudra loan scheme did," he said.

7. Stanislas Wawrinka won third consecutive Chennai Open title

i. Stanislas Wawrinka on 10 January 2016 won his Chennai Open title. In the summit clash at the Nungambakkam tennis stadium of Chennai, he defeated Croatian Borna Coric 6-3, 7-5. This is the fourth Chennai Open title for the Swiss player and the third consecutive win, who first won it in 2011.

ii. He extended his run of dominance in Chennai to a 12-match win streak, including 24 consecutive sets won.

iii. The Swiss completed the first three-peat in tournament history, becoming the ninth different active player to do so at an ATP World Tour event.

iv. The 30 year old notched his 12th tour-level crown overall and eighth on hard courts.With this win, Wawrinka lifted the cup and got the award money of 75700 US dollars and got away with 250 ATP ranking points.

8. Nepal elected as UNICEF’s executive board member for 2016-2018

i. Nepal on 9 January 2016 was elected to the UNICEF executive board, representing the group of Asia-Pacific countries for the term 2016-2018. Nepal's Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), Durga Prasad Bhattarai, was also unanimously elected vice-president to the Bureau of the Executive Board of the UNICEF for 2016.

ii. Nepal recently completed its terms as a member of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for 2013-2015 and as vice-president from Asia-Pacific region at the executive board of United Nations Development Programme/United Nations Population Fund/United Nations Office for Project Services for the year 2015.

iii. Nepal had contributed to the UNICEF by remaining in the executive board in different times including 1982 to 1985, 1992 to 1995 and 2002 to 2004.

iv. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is a United Nations program that provides long-term humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries. It is one of the members of the United Nations Development Group and its Executive Committee.

v. UNICEF was created by the United Nations General Assembly on 11 December 1946 to provide emergency food and healthcare to children in countries that had been devastated by World War II. Maurice Pate, American humanitarian and businessman, co-founded the United Nations Children's Fund with Herbert Hoover in 1947.

vi. In 1953, UNICEF became a permanent part of the United Nations System and its name was shortened from the original United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund. However, it has continued to be known by the popular acronym based on this previous title.

9. ICC announces MoneyGram as Event Partner; signs 8-year deal


i. The ICC and MoneyGram International, a leading global provider of money transfer services, today announced an eight-year deal which confirms MoneyGram as an event partner for ICC events from 2016-2023.

ii. A media release by ICC stated, “The ICC and MoneyGram recently completed a successful five-year partnership, which began with the ICC World Twenty20 West Indies 2010, concluding with the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.

iii. “In the current eight-year cycle, the alliance promises to reach greater heights, as the ICC will stage an impressive 17 tournaments, including six majors — two ICC World Twenty20 tournaments, two editions of the ICC Champions Trophy and two ICC Cricket World Cups.”

iv. Commenting on the partnership, ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said:“I am delighted that MoneyGram International has decided to continue to support cricket by extending its partnership with the ICC.

v. “The extension says much about the value of our events at which we continue to strive to create an unforgettable experience for fans from all around the world. Sponsors are the lifeline for any sport and on behalf of the ICC, I thank MoneyGram for their continued support.”

                                                    Current Affairs - 9th January 2016

1. Sri Lankan parliament begins process to adopt new Constitution


i. Sri Lankan parliament today began a process to formulate a new constitution with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe presenting a resolution to set up Constitutional Assembly of all members for the purpose.

ii. In a special session today, Wickremesinghe moved the resolution in parliament to set up Constitutional Assembly (CA) of all members and a steering committee of 17 members to draft the new constitution.

iii. “We will have the whole parliament formulating the constitution unlike the previous instances when the constitutions were drafted outside parliament,” he said. The new constitution will replace the current executive president headed constitution adopted in 1978.

iv. The resolution noted that there shall be a Committee of Parliament referred to as the “Constitutional Assembly” which shall consist of all MPs, for the purpose of deliberating on, and seeking the views and advice of the people, on a new constitution for Sri Lanka, and preparing a draft of a Constitution Bill for the consideration of Parliament in the exercise of its powers under Article 75 of the Constitution.

v. A Steering Committee consisting of the Prime Minister (Chairman), Leader of the Opposition, Leader of the House, the Minister of Justice, and not more than 11 other Members of the Constitutional Assembly will be appointed by the Constitutional Assembly.

vi. President Maithripala Sirisena in his address said the time has come to formulae a new constitution in keeping with the demands of the 21st century. He warned that extremist elements both in the south and the north may try to scuttle the process.

vii. He denied opposition’s accusations that the new constitution is being drafted to please the international community based on their advise. Sirisena, since coming to power, has reduced his presidential powers and strengthened key areas of governance by setting up independent commissions on police, judiciary elections and public service.

2. President promulgated Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance, 2016

i. President Pranab Mukherjee on 7 January 2016 promulgated the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance, 2016 to make amendments to the Enemy Property Act, 1968.

ii. These amendments will help is dealing with the loopholes of the Enemy Property Act, 1968 and ensure that the enemy properties that have been vested in the Custodian remain so and they do not revert back to the enemy subject or enemy firm.

iii. Once an enemy property is vested in the Custodian, it shall continue to be vested in him as enemy property irrespective of whether the enemy, enemy subject or enemy firm has ceased to be an enemy due to reasons such as death and others.

iv. The law of succession does not apply to enemy property. There cannot be transfer of any property vested in the Custodian by an enemy or enemy subject or enemy firm and that the Custodian shall preserve the enemy property till it is disposed of in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

v. The Union Government enacted the Enemy Property Act in the year 1968 that provided for the continuous vesting of enemy property in the custodian. The Union Government through the Custodian of Enemy Property for India is in possession of enemy properties spread across many states in the country. In addition, there are also movable properties categorized as enemy properties.

3. Bhanumurthy is new COO of Wipro

i. A couple of days after naming Abidali Neemuchawala its new chief executive, Wipro, India's third largest information technology company, has made a few changes to its organisation structure.

ii. The Bengaluru-headquartered company has elevated company veteran Bhanumurthy B M as its chief operating officer (COO) and president apart from handing over a new role to G K Prasanna, who is presently heading Global Infrastructure Services as president and chief executive.

iii. Bhanumurthy, who joined Wipro in 1992, is presently the president and chief executive of business application services (BAS), the largest business line in the company which accounts for almost a half of its overall revenues. In his new role, all the services lines including BAS, global infrastructure services, product engineering services, analytics, application management services and business process services would report to Bhanumurthy.

iv. Under the new structure, Prasanna would head a newly created business unit, marketing, innovations and technology (MIT) as the president. MIT will comprise of the offices of the chief technology officer, chief information officer, marketing, strategic engagements (Advisor Relations and sales enablement functions) among others.

v. This new unit would focus on non-linear growth engines, products and platform-based services, integrated solutions, research, and new technologies, the company said confirming the developments.

4. Sania Mirza-Martina Hingis clinch Brisbane International title

i. Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis carried the dominance of 2015 into the new season, winning their sixth consecutive title by lifting the WTA Brisbane trophy, here on Saturday. The top seeds quelled the challenge of German wildcards Angelique Kerber and Andrea Petkovic 7-5, 6-1 in mere 69 minutes.

ii. Sania and Martina, the world number one team, have now stitched a 26-match winning streak together, which has brought them six titles in a row at the US Open, Guangzhou, Wuhan, Beijing, WTA Finals and now here.

iii. It is the longest winning streak since Italians Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci's 25 in a row in 2012. Sara and Roberta had won five titles in a row, at Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, the French Open and 's-Hertogenbosch.

iv. The Indo-Swiss pair drew the first blood by breaking the rivals in the second game but the joy was short-lived as Kerber and Petkovic reeled off four straight games to take a 4-2 lead in the opening set.

v. The top seeds controlled the game better in the second set, racing to a 3-0 lead by breaking their rivals in the second game. It was a cakewalk for them from there, losing only one game before closing the match in their favour.

5. French soldiers to march down Rajpath on Republic Day 2016 along with Indian troops


i. The French soldiers will march down the Rajpath on Republic Day along with Indian troops in the presence of President Francois Hollande. Hollande is the Chief Guest for 26 January 2016 celebrations. This is the first time that a foreign army will participate in the 26th January Parade, since 1950.

ii. A French contingent, comprising 56 personnel of 35th Infantry Regiment of 7th Armoured Brigade, is already in the country to take part in a joint exercise, Shakti 2016, which began in Rajasthan on 8 January 2016. Some soldiers will also fly down from France to form a proper marching contingent.

iii. Earlier similar event occurred in France when Indian troops drawn from the three services (Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force) marched down the Champs Elysees in Paris along with French Army on the Bastille Day. The event was held on 14 July 2009 and saw participation of the Maratha light infantry, which is one of the oldest regiments of Indian Army.

iv. Bastille Day (French National Day) is celebrated on 14 July each year. The French National Day commemorates the Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789, an important event in Paris that was the symbolic start of French revolution.

6. Smriti Irani inaugurates 43rd New Delhi World Book Fair

i. Human Resource Minister Smriti Irani on Saturday inaugurated the 43rd edition of the New Delhi World Book Fair which commenced here with China as the guest of honour country and a theme presentation of the cultural heritage of India.

ii. The nine-day fair, touted as the largest in Asia, is hosting about 30 countries in which a series of programmes including panel discussions, dramas, classical and folk dances, workshops, discussions, authors’ meets, conferences, seminars and cultural programmes will be held.

iii. Talking about the Chinese participation, Irani said, “I believe that 50 publishing houses and 9 eminent authors bring with them to this World Book Fair around 5,000 titles so that through this exchange our people across both nations can be enriched.”iv. China was invited to be the guest country after the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping here last year where he signed a memorandum of understanding with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

v. This year the fair has introduced a special ‘Navlekhan’ programme which seeks to promote and publish young authors under the age of 40 writing in Indian languages. Referring to the same Irani said, while this year they are being published in 6 regional languages by next year she assured that books in 22 languages recognised by the Constitution of India will be published.

7. Modi to be chief guest at sustainable agriculture meet in Gangtok

i. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the chief guest at the National Conference on Sustainable Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare being held in Gangtok on January 17-18, the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement.

ii. The conference is being held in Sikkim, which has taken the lead on organic farming, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh, said, adding that the conference will be attended by State government representatives, scientists, academics, bankers, experts and practitioners.

iii. Jitendra Singh, Minister for Development of North East (Independent charge), said the greenfield airport at Pakyong near Gangtok is expected to be complete and become functional by 2017.

iv. He said there are also plans to connect Sikkim with the country’s rail network, which would be the third North-Eastern State after Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh to be brought on the rail map of India.

v. Singh also referred to the plan for constructing alternative road highway to Gangtok in Sikkim via West Bengal and two ropeways that will serve the purpose of both tourism as well as transport.

8. Oil Ministry launches e-initiative to improve LPG customer service


i. The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has launched an online initiative to seek suggestions from LPG consumers across the country, which will help in providing efficient and friendly service.

ii. Two online discussion forums - Citizen-Friendly Services and Increasing LPG Coverage in the Country - have been launched and are available on myGov.in and mylpg.in, an official press statement said.

iii. The initiative is part of steps being taken to observe 2016 as the 'Year of LPG Consumers'.

iv. "LPG consumers/ citizens are requested to participate and share their thoughts on the respective forums online. Valuable suggestions/ comments are welcome and will be considered for improving the customer oriented services related to LPG coverage and delivery," it said.
                                               
                                            Current Affairs - 8th January 2016

1. Amitabh Kant appointed as CEO of NITI Aayog


i. Amitabh Kant was on 7 January 2016 appointed as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NITI Aayog. His appointment was approved by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC). Kant will take over the office of CEO in March 2016, when he retires from service.

ii. On 1 January 2016, Kant was given the additional charge of the CEO of NITI Aayog following the completion of tenure of previous CEO Sindhushree Khullar on 31 December 2015.

iii. He is a 1980 batch IAS officer of Kerala cadre. Kant is currently serving as the Secretary in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion in the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

iv. He has also served as the CEO of India’s largest industrial infrastructure project the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation. He has also been steering the Union Government’s two major campaigns to attract investments and create jobs – Make In India and Start Up India.

2. Indigenously Built ASW Corvette INS Kadmatt commissioned in Visakhapatnam

i. Anti-submarine warfare (ASW) corvette INS Kadmatt was on 7 January 2016 commissioned in the Indian Navy at naval dockyard in Visakhapatnam by Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral R K Dhowan. INS Kadmatt is the second ship of Project 28 (P28) class ASW corvettes and is the latest ship after Shivalik class, Kolkata class and INS Kamorta. In all these ships, an excessive amount of weapons and sensors had been integrated to provide a Common Operational Picture (COP).

ii. The ship was manned by 13 officers and 180 sailors with Commander Mahesh Chandra Moudgil as the first Commanding Officer. The ship is an integral part of the Eastern Fleet under the Eastern Naval Command to safeguard the Eastern Seaboard of India.

iii. It was designed 90 per cent indigenously by the Directorate of Naval Design (DND) and constructed by M/s Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd. Directorate of Naval Design (DND) is the Navy’s Design Organisation undertaking indigenous design of all surface combatants.

iv. INS Kadmatt is named after one of the large islands amongst the Lakshadweep group of Islands off the west coast of India. The ship had been constructed using high grade steel (DMR 249A) produced in India. With a displacement of 3500 tonnes, the sleek and magnificent ship spans 109 meters in length and 14 meters at the beam.

3. Quikr acquired online real estate portal Commonfloor.com
i. Quikr on 7 January 2016 announced acquisition of the property search website Commonfloor.com for an undisclosed amount in a majority stock-swap transaction. Quikr bought the website in a distress sale orchestrated by Tiger Global Management Llc.

ii. After the deal, Quikr will be valued at about 1.5 billion US dollars based on the share-swap ratio. The merger is expected to be completed over the next two to three months. It will also give Commonfloor access to Quikr’s 30 million consumers and harness the potential of the cross-category nature of the platform. QuikrHomes will benefit from CommonFloor’s structured data and domain expert.

iii. Quikr is an Indian classified advertising platform. It was founded by Pranay Chulet in 2008. It is headquartered in Bangalore. It has listings in over 1000 cities in India in categories such as mobile phones, household goods, cars, real estate, jobs, services and education.

iv. CommonFloor.com is an Indian real estate portal founded in 2007 by three computer science graduates from IIT Roorkee and JSSATE. On 8 January 2015, CommonFloor received funding from Google Capital.

4. Rajan is The Banker's central banker of the year

i. Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan was named The Banker magazine's Global and Asia-Pacific Central Bank Governor of the Year 2015, for stabilising the Indian rupee, initiating key reforms to attract much needed foreign capital in the country and reining in a runaway price appreciation. The Banker is a prestigious monthly magazine of the Financial Times Group.

ii. "India is the one global economy that arguably weathered the capital outflow and currency storms in emerging markets that were fuelled by uncertainty over the US Federal Reserve interest rate hike in 2015," the magazine said in its article on Rajan.

iii. The RBI governor has been named central bank governor of the year several times by other international magazines. In October 2014, Euromoney and in January 2015, Central Banking awarded him the best central banker award for his contribution in stabilising the Indian economy.

iv.  After he took over in September 2013, the first priority for the RBI governor was to stabilise the local currency, which hit a record low of 68.87 a dollar on August 28. Through a series of innovative measures, including attracting dollars from non-resident Indians by offering higher interest rate on deposits, Rajan stabilised the rupee. The local currency soon moved back below the psychological level of 60 a dollar.

v. Steps like offshore rupee bonds, nicknamed Masala Bonds, and RBI's efforts in pushing green bonds were two other key achievements of Rajan, the magazine noted. The magazine also noted Rajan's efforts in cleaning banks' balance sheets from bad debts and introducing 23 new sets of banks in 2015.

5. Indo-French military exercise Shakti-2016 started

i. India and France on 8 January 2016 started their eight-day counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency joint exercise Shakti-2016 in Rajasthan. This is the third edition in the series of bilateral exercises under this banner and is being held in Mahajan Field Firing Ranges in Rajasthan's Bikaner.

ii. The exercise will be focused on counter terrorism operations in backdrop of semi-urban terrain under United Nations Mandate. It is an important step for the armies to train together and gain from each other's rich operational experience.

iii. French contingent comprising 56 personnel of 35th Infantry Regiment of 7th Armoured Brigade, which had taken part in the Afghan war, will participate in the Shakti-2016. The contingent led by Major Thibaut De Lacoste Lareymondie arrived Jodhpur on 6 January 2016.

iv. On the other hand, the Indian contingent to participate in the exercise will be the 2nd Battalion of Garhwal Rifles, part of the Sapta Shakti Command. Both countries have troops deployed in counter-insurgency and counter-terrorist operations and therefore sharing each other's military experiences will pay meaningful dividends.

v. The French 35th Infantry Regiment was raised in 1604 by a member of the gentry from Lorraine whose surname was Nemond. It has at least 12 battle honours to its credit. The battalion has varied combat experiences, having served in Algeria, Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan, amongst other places.

6. Devender Kumar Sikri appointed as Chairman of Competition Commission of India

i. Devender Kumar Sikri was on 7 January 2016 appointed as Chairman of fair-trade regulator Competition Commission of India (CCI). He succeeds Ashok Chawla, whose tenure as the Chairman of CCI ended on 7 January 2016 itself.

ii. Sikri will have a tenure of about two and half years, i.e. till he attains the age of 65 years.

iii. Sikri is a former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of Gujarat cadre. He has held various positions in Centre as well as in his cadre state Gujarat. He superannuated as Secretary, Department of Justice on 31 July 2013.

iv. He had also been Secretary in the Union Ministry of women and child development, Registrar General of Census. He also served as the Collector of Rajkot and Jamnagar.

7. Miguel Tabuena won Hilton Asian Tour Golfer of the Month

i. The Philippines' Miguel Tabuena on 7 January 2016 was voted as the Hilton Asian Tour Golfer of Month for December 2015. Tabuena won the award ahead of Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai and India's Himmat Rai. The trio were nominated by a selection panel before going into a voting process.

ii. Born on 13 October 1994, Miguel Tabuena is a Filipino professional golfer. As an amateur golfer, he won the events in Malaysia and Singapore and won the silver medal at the 2010 Asian Games in the men's individual event.

iii. He turned professional in 2011. He has played on the Asian Tour since 2011 and picked up his first win at the 2015 Philippine Open.iv. He became the first Filipino to win his National Open since 2008.

8. Sailesh appointed new Registrar General, Census Commissioner

i. Senior IAS officer Sailesh was today appointed as Registrar General and Census Commissioner.

ii. Sailesh, a 1985 batch IAS officer of Assam-Meghalaya cadre, is presently Additional Secretary in Home Ministry.

iii. He has been appointed in place of C Chandramouli, who completed his tenure today.

iv. The Appointments Committee of Cabinet has approved the appointment of Sailesh as Registrar General and Census Commissioner for a period till July 28, 2017, an order issued by Department of Personnel and Training said.

9. Operation Green Hunt to hunt Maoists

i. Operation Green Hunt, an all-out offensive by India’s paramilitary forces and the state's forces against the Naxalites came in news on 8 January 2016. The operation which is believed to start in November 2009 along five states in the "Red Corridor” came in news after Maoists called a two-day bandh opposing it in Nuapada, Malkangiri and Kalahandi districts of Odisha.

ii. The bandh call was given by the Mainpur-Nuapada Divisional Committee of the CPI (Maoist). The Committee is protesting against the Operation by security forces against the ultras in the south-western part of the State.

iii. The term Operation Green Hunt was coined by the Chhattisgarh police officials to describe one successful drive against the Communist Party of India (Maoist) in the state. Later, the term was erroneously used by media to describe the wider anti-Naxalite operations.

iv. On the other hand, Union Government do not use the term Operation Green Hunt to describe its anti-Naxalite offensive. Earlier, the operation also came in news in December 2014 when the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) claimed that the Sukma ambush was answer to Operation Green Hunt. Maoists killed at least 14 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in Sukma district of south Chhattisgarh on 1 December 2014.

                                            Current Affairs - 7th January 2016

1. Sam Pitroda appointed as Odisha Government’s Technical Advisor


i. Satyanarayan Gangaram Pitroda, popularly known as Sam Pitroda, on 6 January 2016 was appointed Technology Advisor to the Odisha Government. Pitroda was appointed as the technology adviser for development of telecom, electronics, IT, ITES sectors of the state.

ii. Pitroda will have a key role in Vision 2036 for Odisha@100, as the state government is making a vision document for 2036 to celebrate the 100 years of state’s formation. Born on 4 May 1942 in Titilagarh, Odisha, Sam Pitroda is a telecom engineer, inventor, entrepreneur and policymaker. In 1964, he travelled to Chicago to study electrical engineering.

iii. He is a director of the Young Indian Company co-owned by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. He also served as Advisor to the Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on Technology Missions related to water, literacy, immunization, oil seeds, telecom, and dairy.

iv. He is the founding Chairman of India’s Telecom Commission. He has also served as an advisor to the United Nations.

2. International media conference in Mysuru

i. The Global Communication Association (GCA), a not-for-profit professional organisation, to host the 11th international conference of media experts and communication specialists from around the world at Mysuru on January 28-29.

ii. The meet has University of Mysore, which is celebrating its Centenary year, as its academic partner for hosting the conference. “The 2016 India conference focusing on ‘Ombudsman: Media and social responsibility’, has aroused keen interest amongst many participants coming from different academic and industry backgrounds,” said Krishna B Mariyanka, Curator and Organising Secretary, 11th GCA Conference, Mysuru.

iii. At a time when there is a massive explosion of the media across the globe, be it of the traditional variety or the new media, it is increasingly being looked upon as a powerful instrument of social change,” he added.

iv. On the flip side, as with any instrument that can influence vast sections of a society, there are also other ‘powerful forces’ that will misuse the media for vested interests.

v. Established in the year 2007, the GCA objectives are the promotion of academic research in global communication studies among major universities worldwide; facilitation of joint project and research opportunities among scholars and students.

vi. More importantly, GCA provides an eclectic international platform for corporate executives, communication specialists, policy makers, academicians, bureaucrats, political leaders, public relations practitioners and co-related industry professionals to meet, interact and generate new ideas for growth.

3. Mufti Sayeed passes away, Mehbooba likely to succeed as CM


i. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, a crafty politician who took on the powerful Abdullah family and rose to become the country’s first Muslim Home Minister, died today at AIIMS here after his platelets dropped dangerously.

ii. Sayeed, 79, who took charge of the State on March 1 last year heading a PDP—BJP alliance, breathed his last this morning after remaining on ventilator for the past few days. He was flown from Srinagar in a special plane on December 24 and admitted to the AIIMS where he was diagnosed with sepsis (life threatening complication of an infection) and pneumonia. During hospitalisation his platelets had dropped dangerously, doctors said.

iii. He is the second J&K Chief Minister to die in office, the first one being Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah who died on September 8, 1982. Sayeed’s daughter 56-year-old Mehbooba is expected to take over as the first woman Chief Minister of the state with PDP leaders throwing their weight behind her. But this will require the approval of BJP.

iv. Sayeed is survived by his wife, three daughters and a son. Jammu and Kashmir government has declared a seven-day mourning and holiday today. Flags will be flown at half mast.

v. The mortal remains of the Chief Minister would be flown to Srinagar where the body will be kept for people to pay homage. He is likely be buried in his ancestral village Bijbehera in South Kashmir, about 48 km from Srinagar.

vi. Sayeed took over as chief minister of PDP-BJP coalition on March 1 last year. In the 87-member J and K Assembly PDP won 28 seats and BJP 25 while opposition National Conference got 15 and Congress 12.

4. AB Khare appointed CMD of Madras Fertilizers

i. The Centre has appointed AB Khare as the Chairman and Managing Director of the state-run Madras Fertilzers for a five-year term. In August last year, the government headhunter Public Enterprise Selection Board (PESB) had recommended the name of Khare for the post of CMD at Madras Fertilizers Ltd (MFL).

ii. Khare will succeed I Vijay Kumar. His name was finalised after interviewing 7 shortlisted candidates. Khare was previously working with state—owned fertiliser firm Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers as Chief General Manager (Commercial).

iii. “The President is pleased to appoint of A B Khare to the post of CMD, MFL in the pay scale of Rs. 75,000-90,000 for a period of five years with effect from the date of assumption of charge of the post or till the date of his superannuation, or until further orders, whichever is the earliest,” the Fertiliser Ministry said in an notification.

iv. MFL was incorporated in 1966 as a joint venture between the Government of India and Amoco India, a subsidiary of Standard Oil Company of the USA. It is under the administrative control of the Fertiliser Ministry.

5. Pavan Kapoor To Be India's Ambassador To Israel

i. Senior diplomat Pavan Kapoor has been appointed India's ambassador to strategically important Israel, where he will succeed Jaideep Sarkar. Mr Kapoor, a 1990 batch Indian Foreign Service Officer, is currently India's High Commissioner in Mozambique capital Maputo. "He is expected to take up his assignment shortly," the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

ii. The appointment assumes significance as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is likely to visit India this year. Prime Minister Narendra Modi may also pay a return visit to Tel Aviv. India's relations with Israel are on an upswing. President Pranab Mukherjee had visited Tel Aviv in October last year, becoming the first Indian Head of State to visit the Jewish nation.

iii. India is Israel's largest buyer of military hardware. Israel has supplied various weapons systems, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles over the last few years but the transactions have largely remained behind the curtains. Mr Kapoor, an MBA from Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, also a has a Master's degree in International Political Economy from the London School of Economics.

iv.  In his diplomatic career of two decades, he has served in different capacities in the Indian Missions in Moscow, London, Geneva and Kiev apart from serving in the Ministry of External Affairs and the Prime Minister's Office. He has also done a stint at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London as Political Adviser on Asia and Europe.

6. Achyuta Samanta elected as General President of 105th Indian Science Congress

i. Dr Achyuta Samanta was on 6 January 2016 elected as the General President of the 105th Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA) that is scheduled for 2017-18. Samanta is also currently serving as member of Executive Council of Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA).

ii. With this, Samanta becomes the second person from Odisha to be elected as President of the ISC in its 102 years history. On last occasion, Prof Prana Krushna Parija, eminent Odia scientist, was elected as President of the 47th Session of the ISCA in 1960.

iii. He has been the member of Executive Council of ISCA since 2011. He has also been the member of many prestigious educational and other national level apex bodies, including UGC (2008-2014), AICTE, National Coir Board, CAPART and NCTE.

iv. He was the only person from Odisha to be the member of both UGC and AICTE. Samanta has set up institutions like Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) University and Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS), Bhubaneshwar.

7. Gadkari launches India's first River Information System

i. Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday inaugurated the River Information System (RIS) - the first of its kind in India - to facilitate safe and accurate navigation on National Waterway-1 (the Ganga River).

ii. "While it remains a challenge how to develop the waterways of the country, the River Information System is a major step in realising the dream of waterways," said Gadkari, according to an official statement statement.

iii. Phase-II of the system from Farakka to Patna and Phase-III from Patna to Varanasi will be undertaken on priority, the statement said.

iv. "River Information Systems are combination of modern tracking equipment related hardware and software designed to optimise traffic and transport processes in inland navigation," the statement added.

8. Paramilitary forces to have 33% reservation for women in constable level position

i. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has approved 33% reservation for women in Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) at constable-level positions.

ii. There will be 33% reservation for women at constable-level posts in Central Reserve Police Force and Central Industrial Security Force, and 14-15% reservation at the constable level in border guarding forces i.e. Border Security Force, Sashastra Seema Bal and Indo Tibetan Border Police, starting immediately, according to an official statement released by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

iii. The Committee on Empowerment of Women in its Sixth Report had advocated elevating representation of women in paramilitary forces. The reservation is, however, limited to only constable-level position.

iv. There are 9 lakh troops in all these forces combined, of which women constitute a mere 20,000. In 2015, 33% positions in the Delhi Police were reserved for women; six other Union Territories also passed this proposal and women were also allowed for combat roles in the Indian Air Force.

v. The Delhi Police employed only 9.27% women when the regulation was passed.

                                              Current Affairs - 6th January 2016

1.  Union Government launched Ganga Gram Yojana in Uttar Pradesh

i. The Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Uma Bharti on 5 January 2016 launched Ganga Gram Yojana at Village Puth in Hapur district of Uttar Pradesh (UP). Under the scheme, 1600 villages of UP situated along the banks of river Ganga will be developed.

ii. In the first phase of the progamme, 200 villages have been selected initially. In these villages, open drains falling into river Ganga will be diverted and alternative arrangements for sewage treatment will be made. The villages will have toilets in every house hold.

iii. It is proposed to incur the expenditure of 1 crore rupees on every village. These villages will be developed under the Sichewal model. Sichewal is situated in Punjab, where cooperation of the villagers has been solicited for the water management and waste disposal.

iv. The Ministry also deployed first company of Ganga Task force Battalion at Garhmukteshwar as a major initiative towards fast track implementation of Namami Gange Programme. Moreover, three such companies will be soon deployed at Kanpur, Varanasi and Allahabad.

2. India keen to promote operational oceanography: Minister

i. Government is keen to promote operational oceanography since it plays an important role in translating the benefits of science for the common public, Y S Chowdary, Minister of State for Science, Technology & Earth Sciences said here today.

ii. A few examples being potential fishing zones advisories to fishermen, ocean state forecasts for mariners, tsunami and storm surge early warnings among others, the minister was quoted as saying by an official release.

iii. Chowdary performed 'bhoomipujan' or ground breaking ceremony for setting up the international training centre for operational oceanography (ITCO-Ocean) which is coming up on the campus of Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services ( INCOIS) here.

3. Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman topped 2015 US Bestseller List

i. The book Go Set a Watchman written by Harper Lee was in news in the first week of January 2016 as it topped the 2015 US bestseller list. Around 1.6 million copies of the book were sold in the USA since it was published in July 2015. The figures were based on US print unit sales reported to Nielsen.

ii. Go Set a Watchman was published more than half a century after Harper’s Pulitzer-winning first book, To Kill a Mockingbird, was published.

iii. The spike in the sales of Go Set a Watchman can be attributed to the fact that 89-year-old Harper Lee is now confined to a nursing home and may not publish a word in future.

iv. The second and third bestseller in the list was Jeff Kinney’s Diary of Wimpy Kid series (1.48 million copies) and British author EL James’ Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian (1.4 million) respectively.

4. World's largest blue star sapphire discovered in Sri Lanka

i. The world's largest blue star sapphire that weighs 1404.49 carats was discovered in a mine in Sri Lanka. The sapphire was found in August 2015 near Ratnapura city in the South of Sri Lanka.

ii. The stone is worth at an estimated cost of 100 million US dollars but could be valued up to 165 million US dollars.

iii. The sapphire has been named as The Star of Adam by its current owner. The name came from a Muslim belief that Adam arrived in Sri Lanka after being sent away from the Garden of Eden. As per the myth, Adam lived on the slopes of a mountain now known as Adam’s Peak, about 15 miles from Ratnapura.

iv. The Star of Adam Sapphire has also been certified by the Gemology Institute of Columbo, Sri Lanka.

v. A star sapphire is a type of sapphire that has a star in the middle due to a light reflection phenomenon known as asterism. The value of a star sapphire depends on the weight of the stone and also on the body color, visibility, and intensity of the asterism.

5. Apurvi Chandela sets a world record to win gold at Swedish Grand Prix

i. Indian shooter Apurvi Chandela broke the world record on way to winning gold in the women's 10 metre air rifle event at the Swedish Cup Grand Prix. Chandela shot 211.2 in the event held on Tuesday to surpass the feat of Chinese Olympic gold medallist Yi Siling, who held the record with 211.

ii. The result marked a positive start for Chandela, who has already won an Olympic quota place for the Rio Olympics. The silver and bronze went to Swedish shooters Astrid Steffensen (207.6) and Stine Nielsen (185.0).

iii. An elated Chandela said: "This gold at Sweden has further strengthened my resolve to bag a medal at the Rio Olympics this year. The support, encouragement and wishes received from my well wishers from Rajasthan has stood me in good stead in various international tournaments."

iv. Chandela had won the gold at the National Championships in the Capital last month. She had won an Olympic quota place for India after winning a bronze at the ISSF World Cup in Changwon, South Korea, in April.

6. Andhra Bank launched Immediate Payment Service

i. Andhra Bank on 6 January 2016 launched Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) across all its branches in association with the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). The service makes payments possible within fraction of seconds with all the standards and integrity maintained for security.

ii. The IMPS was enabled across all branches to provide inter-bank electronic fund transfer service capable of processing person to account remittances.

iii. Unlike National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT), IMPS will be available round-the-clock under which a real-time instant fund transfer system for inter-bank remittances is possible. The maximum cap of transaction will be 2 lakh rupees and charged at the rate of five rupees per transaction.

iv. National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) is an umbrella organization for all retail payments system in India. It was set up with the guidance and support of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA).

v. Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) is one of the electronic funds transfer systems of India. It was started in November 2010. The service enables an instant, 24X7, interbank electronic fund transfer through mobile, internet and ATM.

7. Wayne Rooney named 2015 England Player of the Year

i. Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney has been voted 2015 England Player of the Year for the fourth time after breaking his country's scoring record, the Football Association announced on Tuesday, January 5.

ii. The 30-year-old took his England tally to 51 goals, breaking Bobby Charlton's longstanding record of 49, and top-scored with 7 goals as Roy Hodgson's side qualified for Euro 2016 with a perfect record of 10 wins.

iii. Rooney, England's captain, received 37 percent of the votes in a poll of England Supporters Club members. He previously won the award in 2008, 2009 and 2014. "To win this award is always a huge honour and to win it for a fourth time is something I'm very proud of," Rooney said on his personal website.

iv. "The fact it's voted for by the fans is what makes it very special for me. It's been a great year for the team and for me personally. "I would like to thank all the fans for their continued support and hopefully 2016 will be an even better year!"

v. Stoke City goalkeeper Jack Butland, who has produced some impressive performances this season, was elected the Under-21s Player of the Year. Rooney and Butland, 22, will be presented with their awards prior to England's friendly against Germany in Berlin on March 26.

8. CCI cleared Reliance Capital-Goldman Sachs deal

i. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) on 5 January 2016 gave its approval to Reliance Capital Asset Management's proposed acquisition of Goldman Sachs' mutual fund business in India for 243 crore rupees. CCI approved the acquisition as the deal may not have an adverse impact on competition in the country.

ii. After CCI’s nod, Reliance Capital Asset Management (RCAM) will seek the final nod of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to complete the takeover.

iii. RCAM had announced the acquisition in October 2015. Under the deal, the company will acquire all 12 onshore mutual fund schemes of Goldman Sachs Asset Management India with total asset under management of 7132 crore rupees.

iv. The deal will also make Reliance MF the exclusive fund manager for the government's ambitious Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE) Exchange.

v. The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. is an American multinational investment banking firm. It engages in global investment banking, securities, investment management and other financial services primarily with institutional clients.

vi. The firm provides mergers and acquisitions advice, underwriting services, asset management, and prime brokerage to its clients. The firm also engages in market making and private equity deals, and is a primary dealer in the United States Treasury security market.

                                                   Current Affairs - 5th January 2016

1. Filippo Grandi takes helm as UN High Commissioner for Refugees

i. Filippo Grandi, a UN official who has worked in refugee and political affairs in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, began his five-year term as UN High Commissioner for Refugees on January 1, succeeding António Guterres whose more than 10 years in office ended last week.

ii. High Commissioner Grandi, who arrived at UNHCR's headquarters office in Geneva earlier on Monday (January 4), takes up the position at a time of unprecedented displacement challenges. Record numbers of people globally are forced to flee war and persecution, including more than one million refugees and migrants who crossed the Mediterranean to Europe during the past year.

iii. Other challenges include critical shortfalls in humanitarian funding, fewer voluntary returns than at any time in more than three decades, people staying in exile for longer periods of time and the increased politicization of refugee issues in many countries.

iv. Grandi, 58, who is from Italy, has worked in international affairs for over 30 years, 27 of them with the United Nations. Formerly head of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), he worked prior to that for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) as Deputy Special Representative, following a long career first with NGOs and later with UNHCR in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and at the organization's Geneva headquarters.

2. Sterlite Grid commissioned first power project under TBCB incentive regime

i. Sterlite Grid on 2 January 2016 set a new benchmark by commissioning the Transmission Project to Rajasthan Atomic Power Project (RAPP) ahead of schedule under the Tariff Based Competitive Bidding (TBCB) incentive regime.

ii. RAPP is the first power transmission line to be been commissioned ahead of schedule since the implementation of TBCB scheme.

iii. As per Sterlite Grid, the construction work on transmission project to RAPP, which was awarded to the company in 2013, was completed within 12 months from the start of construction.

iv. With the commissioning of the RAPP Transmission Project, Sterlite Grid so far has commissioned four out of a portfolio of seven projects and operates ~2900 Circuit Km of projects in eight Indian states.

v. The project includes laying a 200-km, 400-kilovolt double-circuit transmission line passing through Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. It will connect Kota in Rajasthan to Shujalpur in Madhya Pradesh to provide the path for the evacuation of electricity generated at RAPP-7 and 8.

vi. Under the TBCB norms, developers quoting the lowest average electricity tariffs from a proposed project get to set it up, as against the erstwhile “cost-plus” model, where projects were set up through pacts with distribution utilities and were entitled to assured returns.

3. Kate Atkinson won 2015 Costa Novel Prize for A God in Ruins

i. British writer Kate Atkinson on 4 January 2016 won the novel-of-the-year prize at Britain's Costa Book Awards 2015 for the second time in three years. She fetched the award for A God in Ruins, a story of war and its aftermath.

ii. With this, Atkinson became the first author to receive the Costa novel prize three times: for A God in Ruins in 2016, Life After Life in 2013 and Behind the Scenes at the Museum in 1995.

iii. Kate Atkinson was born in 1951 in York, England. She studied English literature at the University of Dundee and obtained her master's degree in 1974. She subsequently studied for a doctorate in American literature, entitled The post-modern American short story in its historical context.

iv. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, won the 1995 Whitbread Book of the Year ahead of Salman Rushdie's The Moor's Last Sigh. Since then, she has published another eight novels, one play, and one collection of short stories.

v. She was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2011 Birthday Honours for services to literature.

vi. The Costa Book Awards is one of the United Kingdom’s most prestigious and popular literary prizes. It recognises some of the most enjoyable books of the year, written by authors based in the UK and Ireland. The award was launched in 1971.

4. Jharkhand Government inaugurated land bank web portal jharbhoom.nic.in

i. Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das on 4 January 2016 inaugurated the state's land bank web portal, jharbhoom.nic.in, that will help investors know land-related information.

ii. With this, one would be able to get information about the land which is available at the district and the circle area level with a click of a mouse. This land bank will help investors get information through district-wise nodal officers.

iii. For this purpose, district wise nodal officers have been appointed whose mobile numbers and email ids will also be available on the website.

iv. The state government also issued directions to make land available through the land bank to the industrialists allotted with coal blocks.

5. Mary Barra elected as Chairman of General Motors Board of Directors

i. Mary Barra was on 4 January 2016 elected as Chairman of General Motors (GM) Board of Directors with immediate effect. Barra succeeds Theodore Solso, who will continue serving as the  Lead Independent Director of the Board.

ii. Earlier, Barra was serving as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GM since January 2014.

iii. Barra began her career with GM in 1980 as a General Motors Institute (Kettering University) Co-Op Student at the Pontiac Motor Division.Barra served the company in various capacities including GM Vice President of Global Human Resources; Vice President, Global Manufacturing Engineering; Plant Manager, Detroit Hamtramck Assembly and Executive Director of Competitive Operations Engineering.

iv. In August 2013, Barra was named as Executive Vice President, Global Product Development, Purchasing & Supply Chain.

6. IUPAC announced addition of Four Elements to complete Seventh row of Periodic Table

i. The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) on 30 December 2015 announced discovery and assignment of elements with atomic numbers 113, 115, 117 and 118.

The decision was taken by the IUPAC as the four elements met the discovery of elements of the IUPAP/IUPAC Transfermium Working Group (TWG) 1991 Discovery Criteria.

ii. All these four elements are synthetic in nature. They were discovered by scientists belonging to the USA, Russian and Japan and complete the 7th row of the periodic table of the elements.

iii. Also, these four elements are the first to be added to the table since 2011, when elements 114 (Flerovium, FI) and 116 (Livermorium, LV) were added. Naming of elements: After officially recognizing the elements, the IUPAC also invited suggestions related to permanent names and symbols from the scientists who discovered them. New elements can be named after a mythological concept, a mineral, a place or country, a property or a scientist.

iv. Element 113 - Temporary working name and symbol are ununtrium and Uut respectively. It was discovered by the scientists belonging to RIKEN research laboratory in Japan.

v. 115: ununpentium, Uup are the temporary working name and symbol respectively.

vi. 117: ununseptium, Uus are the temporary working name and symbol respectively. They were discovered by scientists belonging to Russia and the USA in collaboration

vii. Element 118 - It has ununoctium and Uuo as the temporary working name and symbol respectively.viii. They were discovered by slamming lighter ­nuclei into each other and tracking the following decay of the radioactive superheavy elements. Like other superheavy elements that populate the end of the periodic table, they only exist for fractions of a second before decaying into other elements.

7. Sachin is brand ambassador for Novo Nordisk's diabetes campaign

i. Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk today announced Indian cricket star Sachin Tendulkar as brand ambassador for the disease awareness campaign 'Changing Diabetes' initiated by it in India.

ii. Addressing a press conference here on Monday, Sachin Tendulkar advised people to hit the gym or go for a long walk to keep away from diabetes. In India 69.2 million people have diabetes and by 2035, it is estimated that 123.5 million people will have diabetes. The alarming fact is that almost half of the existing diabetes patients are unaware that they have diabetes, according to the company.

iii. Novo Nordisk Corporate Vice President Mads Bo Larsen said about 2 per cent of the gross national product (GDP) gets impacted by diabetes disease. The company, which is the leading global insulin maker, is providing free diabetes treatment and education to 4,000 children, who have been suffering from Type-2 diabetes, in India.

8. PM Narendra Modi inaugurates Indian Science Congress in Mysuru

i. rime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the annual Indian Science Congress (ISC) at University of Mysore campus in Karnataka on Sunday. Theme of this edition (103rd) of the ISC is "Science & Technology for Indigenous Development in India". The Congress will continue till January 7.

ii. After inaugural of the Congress by Modi, eminent scientist CNR Rao will deliver the Bharat Ratna M Visvesvaraya Lecture on 'Doing Science in India' on the opening day on January 3.

iii. Over 100 eminent scientists from different universities and research institutions will deliver plenary talks on subjects like Nano Science, Space Science, Technology & Applications, Diabetes, Evolution: The Frontiers, Atomic Energy, Safe water and sanitation, Diseases and drug development, Public-Private partnership for the Swachh Bharat Mission initiative during the five-day meet.

iv. As part of Indian Science Congress, the Children Science Congress will be inaugurated by Nobel Laureate John B Gurdon (Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2012) on January 4 at the amphitheatre, Manasagangothri inside the University campus.

9.  LinkedIn names Akshay Kothari as India Country Manager

i. Professional networking platform LinkedIn today appointed Akshay Kothari as Country Manager for India, with immediate effect. India has one of the largest userbase for LinkedIn, which has more than 400 million members globally.

ii. Kothari replaces Nishant Rao, who quit the company in October last year to join cloud-based customer support software firm Freshdesk as its Chief Operating Officer. Kothari will report to Olivier Legrand, LinkedIn's Managing Director for the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, and join the company's APAC senior management team, LinkedIn said in a statement.

iii. He joined LinkedIn in 2013 when Pulse, the company he co-founded and was CEO for almost 3 years, was acquired by LinkedIn. Since then, based out of LinkedIn's global headquarters in Mountain View, California, he has led several major product and content initiatives, including Pulse. Kothari also played an important role in boosting the number of members publishing on LinkedIn from 1,000 to nearly 2 million in the last two years.

iv. India has the second largest base of LinkedIn members globally, after the US. Over the past six years, the member base in India saw a ten-fold increase (which translates to a compound annual growth rate of 46 per cent) to more than 33 million.

                                                    Current Affairs - 3rd & 4th January 2016

1. Atul Sobti took charge as CMD of Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited

i. Atul Sobti on 1 January 2016 took charge as Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of state-owned power equipment maker Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) for a period of five years.

ii. His appointment as CMD of BHEL was approved by the Union Government in September 2015. Prior to this appointment, Sobti was the Director on the board of BHEL, where he headed two crucial portfolios of Power and Finance.

iii. He also held Additional Charge of the post of Director (Engineering, Research and Development).

iv. Before his elevation to the Board of BHEL in December 2013, Sobti was Executive Director (Power) at BHEL and was holding concurrent charge of Industrial Systems Group, a Bengaluru based unit of BHEL.

2. Arunima Sinha scaled Mount Aconcagua in Argentina

i. Arunima Sinha, the amputee mountaineer who set a record by climbing the Mount Everest on 25 December 2015, conquered Mount Aconcagua in Argentina. Arunima started her mission on the morning of 12 December 2015 and hoisted the Indian tricolour on 25 December 2015.

ii. With this, Arunima has successfully completed the 5th summit of the Mission 7 Summits and also became the first female amputee to climb 5 Mountains of the World. The four other peaks conquered by her include Everest in Asia, Kilimanjaro in Africa, Elbrus in Europe, and Kosizko, Australia, as the world's four highest peaks.

iii. Aconcagua is the highest mountain outside Asia, at 6960.8 metres and by extension, the highest point in both the Western Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere.

iv. Arunima who lost her left leg in a train accident in 2011 surprised the world by climbing Mt. Everest on 21 May 2013. She was awarded the Padmashree for her achievement.

3. India successfully test-fired indigenously developed MBRL Pinaka II at Pokhran

i. Amament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) in the last week of December 2015 successfully test-fired Pinaka II multi barrel rocket launcher (MBRL) System. The three-day long user assisted trials were conducted at Pokhran in Rajasthan.

ii. Pinaka is an unguided rocket system and capable of neutralising large areas with rapid salvos. Range of Pinaka II is 20 km more than the Pinaka I version, which has a 40 km range and has already been inducted into the forces.

iii. The system acts as a force-multiplier while supplementing the artillery guns of the armed forces. It is capable to incorporate several types of warheads, which make the weapon deadly for the enemy as it can even destroy solid structures and bunkers.

iv. The system proved its mettle during Kargil war while neutralising the mountain peaks off the enemy. They are developed at a very low cost vis-a-vis other such rocket systems in the world bestowed with shoot and scoot capabilities. The Pinaka MBRL System has been indigenously developed by the ARDE, Pune.

4. NABARD, NRSC signed MoU for monitoring Watershed Projects

i. The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) on 1 January 2016 signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) for web-based monitoring of Indo-German Watershed Development projects.

ii. The web-based monitoring of Indo-German Watershed Development projects will happen in three states- Gujarat, Rajasthan and Telangana.

iii. Under the MoU, NRSC will create a separate page for NABARD on Bhuvan web-portal.

iv. NRSC will develop customised software tool and mobile application for real time monitoring, online comparison and visualisation with respect to activities implemented in the projects.

5. India won the 2015 SAFF championships

i. India on 3 January 2016 won of the South Asian Football Federation Cup (SAFF) championships. In the title clash played at Trivandrum International Stadium of Kerala, India defeated defending champions Afghanistan 2-1.

ii. Half time saw both the teams’ goal-less. At the end of a breathless normal second half, both India and Afghanistan were 1-1.

iii. For India, the first goal was scored by Jeje Lalpehlua. In the ongoing extra time, Indian captain Sunil Chhetri scored a goal to help India lead 2-1.

iv. India has been the most successful side in the tournaments history by winning the title in seven of the 11 editions. Afghans won their first title in 2013.

6. Lodha panel proposes drastic reforms for BCCI, IPL CEO given clean chit

i. The Supreme Court-appointed Lodha Committee today recommended sweeping reforms for the controversy-ridden BCCI, suggesting a bar on ministers from occupying positions, putting a cap on the age and tenure of the office-bearers and legalising betting.

ii. In a series of drastic reforms, the three-member panel, headed by Justice (Retd) R M Lodha, also suggested one unit should represent one state, while taking away the voting rights of institutional and city-based units. The committee also suggested the restructuring of the BCCI’s administrative set-up, proposing the position of a CEO accountable to a nine-member apex council.

iii. Among the most sensational recommendations by the Lodha panel was the suggestion to legalise betting. The panel felt that the move would help curb corruption in the game and recommended that except for players and officials, people should be allowed to place bets on registered sites.

iv. “Regarding the IPL, the recommendation is that the chief governing body will be known as the Governing Council, which will comprise nine members. The Secretary and the Treasurer of the BCCI will be ex-officio members of this IPL governing council,” Justice Lodha said.

v. “The Governing Council of IPL will be entitled to take all decisions concerning IPL, which includes decisions relating to financial matters. However, the Governing Council will be answerable to the general body of the BCCI. So limited autonomy is proposed for the IPL GC,” he added.

7. LIC offers longer cover under ‘Jeevan Labh’

i. LIC is offering a ‘New Year gift’ to the public in the form of a limited-premium, non-linked and with-profit endowment assurance plan ‘Jeevan Labh’ from Monday. The highlight of the plan is that premium is payable for a limited period while risk is covered for the whole policy term.

ii. The plan is available from ages 8 to 59 years with a choice of policy term of 16, 21 and 25 years and premium-paying terms of 10,15 and 16 years respectively. The maximum age at maturity is 75 years, said Shaji M Shankar, Senior Divisional Manager, LIC, Thiruvananthapuram Division.

iii. The plan is suitable for those who want premium commitment for a short duration while life coverage and benefits are assured for a longer period. Minimum basic sum assured is ?2 lakh with maximum basic sum assured having no limit, Shankar added.

iv. LIC’s accidental death and disability benefit rider is available as an optional rider by payment of additional premium. New term assurance rider is also available at the inception of the policy on payment of additional premium.                 
                                                                    
                                                Current Affairs - 2nd January 2016

1. Telangana become first state to accept e-motor insurance policies

i. Electronic motor insurance policies are legally accepted by the police and transport authorities in Telangana from today, making it the first state in the country to do so. The e-Vahan Bima, an electronic motor insurance policy issued in digital form with Quick Response (QR) code, has been formally launched here by the Minister for IT, K T Ramarao.

ii. As these policies can be stored and accessed on smart phones, the process of verification will become easier for commuters as well as police. There are 84 lakh vehicles in the state and 50 per cent of them do not have insurance.

iii. Driving a vehicle without a motor third party insurance is an offence under Motor Vehicle Act 1988 as it pays for legal liability in case of any injury or damage to any third party life or property caused by the use of vehicle in a public place.

iv. "The launch of e-Vahan Bima and digital acceptance will help the poor accident victims in the state and also ensure better compliance,’’ Ramarao said after formally launch of the initiative here on Saturday.

v. Going forward, registration certificates of vehicles and driving licences should be verified electronically, he added. The initiative was a joint effort by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) of India, Department of Information Technology, police and transport departments of the state.

2. Indian-origin cancer expert Harpal Singh Kumar knighted

i. An Indian-origin cancer research expert Harpal Singh Kumar was honoured with a Knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for his influential work on prevention and treatment of cancer. Mr. Singh’s name has appeared in the 2015 New Year’s Honours list that includes several other Indian-origin individuals.

ii. Harpal Singh Kumar was born in India in 1965. He had founded Nexan Group, a venture capital-backed medical devices company in 1997. Later he had joined Cancer Research Technology Limited (CRTL) as chief executive in 2002 and was promoted as COO of Cancer Research UK in 2004.

iii. He is the chairman of the Board at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) and also chairman of the Cancer Outcomes Strategy Advisory Group (COSAG) in England. He has won the Mobil Prize, Metal Box Prize, and Hughes Prize.

iv. Knighthood is one of the highest honours bestowed upon an individual in the UK and it doesn’t carry any military obligations to the sovereign. The knighthoods are conferred by the Queen or a member of the Royal Family acting on her behalf in Britain. Queen usually presents insignia at the ceremony.

3. Eight states to implement DBT in kerosene from April 1

i. Eight states have agreed to implement direct benefit of transfer in kerosene in 26 districts, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas said on Friday. The scheme will be implemented from April 1, 2016 and till then state governments will be consulted in the run up to the scheme.

ii The scheme will be implemented in three districts of Chhattisgarh, two in Haryana, three in Himachal Pradesh, six in Jharkhand, four in Madhya Pradesh, two in Maharashtra, three in Punjab and three in Rajasthan.

iii. In these districts, the consumer will pay the un-subsidised price of kerosene at the time of purchase and subsequently the subsidy amount will be directly transferred to the bank account of the beneficiary, an official statement said.

iv. Calculations of the savings will be based on the net savings in kerosene consumption at the state level from the baseline which would be 90 per cent of the 2015-16 allocation. The implementing states will be advised to take all necessary steps to ensure that eligible and genuine beneficiaries particularly in rural areas are able to access the full entitlement of kerosene.

v. Kerosene subsidy outgo for the financial year 2014-15 was ? 24,799 crore. The government expects DBT in kerosene to ensure that genuine beneficiaries get the subsidy benefit while preventing illegal diversion.

4. Vocalist Sanjay Subrahmanyam conferred 2015 Sangita Kalanidhi award

i. Foremost south Indian classical vocalists Sanjay Subrahmanyam has conferred with prestigious 2015 Sangita Kalanidhi award. The prestigious award was bestowed upon him by renowned mathematician Manjul Bhargava at 89th annual conference of the Madras Music Academy in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.

ii. With this, he became seventh artistes to be conferred with this award before completing 50 years of age. Others are Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Musiri Subramania Iyer, Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer, Semmangudi R. Srinivasa Iyer, G.N. Balasubramaniam, M.L. Vasanthakumari and M. Balamuralikrishna

iii. By profession he is Charted Accountant but in 2000 became full-time musician. He had started performing Carnatic music from 1987. Gaana Padhmam (2013), Vani Kala Sudhakara (2010) and the title Kalaimamani by Tamil Nadu Government (2006) etc.

iv. It is a prestigious award bestowed annually upon an expert of Carnatic Music by the Madras Music Academy. The award’s name has been derived from Sanskrit which means treasure of Music and art in English. This honour is considered one of the highest awards in Carnatic music.

5. Film-maker Shyam Benegal to head panel on Censor Board revamp

i. To put an end to recent controversies surrounding the Censor Board, the Centre has set up a Committee headed by noted film-maker Shyam Benegal to work out a revamp plan and submit its report within two months.

ii. Noting that film certification has to ensure that in doing so (giving certification), “artistic creativity and freedom do not get stifled/curtailed and the people tasked with the work of certification understand these nuances,” the committee is expected to provide a “holistic framework and enable those tasked with the work of certification of films to discharge their responsibilities keeping in view this framework,” a statement from Information & Broadcasting Ministry said.

iii. The other members of the Committee are Hindi film director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, adman Piyush Pandey, film critic Bhawana Somaaya, Nina Lath Gupta of National Film Development Corporation and Joint Secretary (Films).

iv. Among other things, the committee would be expected to take note of the “best practices in various parts of the world, especially where the film industry is given sufficient and adequate space for creative and aesthetic expression.”

v. It has been tasked with recommending broad guidelines/procedures under the provisions of the Cinematograph Act/Rules for the benefit of the chairperson and other members of the Screening Committee.

vi. The committee will also look into the staffing pattern of Central Board of Film Certification, known as the Censor Board, and recommend a framework to provide efficient/transparent user-friendly services.

6. Government constitute Kamlesh Chandra Committee to study wage structure of Gramin Dak Sevaks

i. The Union Government has constituted a committee to examine the wage structure, service conditions of the Gramin Dak Sevaks (GDS) in the Department of Posts (DoP). It is one member committee comprising of Kamlesh Chandra, Retired Member of Postal Services Board.

ii. The Committee will be assisted by Senior Administrative Grade Officer T.Q. Mohammad who will act as Secretary to the GDS Committee. The Committee will go into the service conditions of GDS and suggest changes as considered necessary. Examine the present system of Branch Post Offices, engagement conditions and existing structure of wage and enrolments paid to the GDS and recommend necessary changes.

iii. Review the existing Services Discharge Benefits Scheme and also other social security benefits for the GDS and suggest necessary changes. Review the existing facilities as well as welfare measures provided to the GDS and suggest necessary changes.

iv. Examine and suggest any changes in the(a) method of minimum qualification for engagement as GDS.(b) Conduct and disciplinary rules of GDS, particularly keeping in view the proposed induction of technology in the Rural Post Offices.

7. DAVA project bags 2015 eASIA award for trade facilitation

i. The Drug Authentication and Verification Application (DAVA) project of The Department of Commerce has won the 2015 eASIA Award under Trade Facilitation category. The award was announced by Asia Pacific Council for Trade Facilitation (APCTF) and Tehran based (Iran) Electronic Business.

ii. The eASIA award is administered by AFACT which aims to development and promotion of trade facilitation, electronic business policies and activities in the Asia Pacific region.

iii. DAVA project was launched by Union Government in June 2015. It seeks to create an integrated platform for implementation of the Track and Trace system for exporters and domestic markets of Drugs and Pharmaceuticals. The project aims to cover all the drugs manufactured in India and contribute considerably in enhancing the brand image of our pharmaceutical exporters.

iv. It will also provide simpler platform for the regulatory agencies and consumer for establishing drug authentication. Under this project, the DAVA application has been incorporated with value-added features like availability of stocks for a drug in an area/retailers/ wholesalers at a point of time.v. Using it drugs can easily be identified and recalled due to traceability of stocks which in turn helps in prevention of black marketing which especially arises during epidemics.

                                               Current Affairs - 1st January 2015

1.  Harpal Singh Kumar received Knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II

i. An Indian-origin cancer research expert Harpal Singh Kumar received a Knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for his influential work on prevention and treatment of cancer. His name appeared in the annual New Year’s Honours list that includes several other Indian-origin individuals.

ii. Samir Desai, founder-CEO of Funding Circle, received a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his work in the field of financial inclusion. Chairman of Sun Mark Ltd, Raminder Singh Ranger, was awarded a CBE for services to business and community cohesion.

iii. Among the Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) list were Kala Patel, managing director of Kiddycare Ltd Nurseries, for services to childcare  business and Daljit Lally, deputy chief executive of Northumberland Country Council, for services to integrated care.

2.  Pakistan's Singer Adnan Sami gets Indian Citizenship

i. The Union Home Ministry cleared the proposal to grant Adnan Sami the citizenship of India. Mr Sami, who has been staying in India since 2011, will now have to fill a citizenship form at the Home Ministry’s office in Delhi and pay Rs 13,700.

ii. He will be given citizenship under Section 6 (I) of the Indian Citizenship Act, 1955 under the category “citizenship by naturalisation.”

iii. Lahore-born Sami first arrived in India on March 13, 2001 on a visitor’s visa with a validity of one year. It was issued by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.

3.  Magnus Carlsen won the Qatar Masters Open chess tournament

i. World champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway won the Qatar Masters Open chess tournament, billed as the strongest Open in history. The top seed had finished with seven  points, the same as Yu Yangyi of China, seeded 11th. He drew his 10th and final round encounter with former World champion  Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, while Yu defeated Wesley So of the United States.ii. Surya Shekhar Ganguly was the best-placed Indian, at 10th.

4.  D.K.Hota to be the new CMD of defence PSU BEML Ltd

i. The Public Enterprises Selection Board has recommended D.K.Hota to be the new CMD of defence PSU BEML Ltd. He is currently Director (HR) of the Bengaluru-based BEML. He has been on deputation at BEML from oil marketing major HPCL for the past two years.

5.  LRSAM test-fired from INS Kolkata

i. Long Range Surface-to-Air Missile (LRSAM), the missile co-developed by India and Israel, was successfully test-fired on the Western Sea Board. The missile was fired from INS Kolkata and it successfully intercepted an aerial target at extended ranges.

ii. The test-fire was jointly carried out by the Indian Navy, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Israel Aerospace Industries.

iii. This was the first test for LRSAM or BARAK 8 missile in India. Earlier, on 11 November 2015, it was successfully test-fired from a range in Israel.

iv. The missile was developed by the DRDL, Hyderabad in collaboration with Israel Aerospace Industries. It has been manufactured by M/s Bharat Dynamics Limited, India.

6.  Ashwin becomes the no.1 Test Bowler

i. Star India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin ended 2015 as the No. 1 Test bowler in the ICC rankings issued on the back of his strong showing against South Africa in the recent home series.

ii. Ashwin, who took 62 wickets in nine Tests this year including 31 scalps in the four matches against South Africa, became the first India bowler since Bishen Bedi in 1973 to achieve the milestone of finishing the year on top.

iii. Ashwin achieved the number-one spot for first time in his career after injury prevented South African Dale Steyn from bowling more than 3.5 overs in England’s second innings in the Durban Test.

7. Union government and the World Bank signed a $50-million credit agreement

i. The Union government and the World Bank signed a $50-million credit agreement for a project aimed at helping young people from minority communities complete their education and improve their employment opportunities named Nai Manzil Scheme.

ii. The Nai Manzil Scheme is designed as an integrated education and training programme that provides youth from minority communities skills needed for different tasks in a rapidly changing world.

iii. The agreement was signed by Mr. Kumar and Michael Haney, the World Bank’s Operations Adviser in India.

8.  Indian Test captain Virat Kohli named ‘BCCI Cricketer of the Year’

i. Indian Test captain Virat Kohli was named ‘Cricketer of the Year’, while Mithali Raj was picked for the M.A. Chidambaram Trophy for the best women’s cricketer.

ii. Under Kohli, the Indian team ended a 22-year wait for a series win on Sri Lankan soil before battering world No.1 South Africa to give them their first overseas loss in nine years. Mithali, on the other hand, became the first Indian woman and second overall to complete 5,000 runs in ODI format this year.

iii. In other awards, former wicketkeeper Syed Kirmani will be presented the Col. C.K. Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award. Karnataka all-rounder Robin Uthappa has been picked for the Madhavrao Scindia Award for being the highest run-scorer in Ranji Trophy.
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