National Current Affairs
Union Cabinet Approves Rs 40 Crore Drinking Water Project in Puducherry– December 18, 2016
- Union Environment Ministry has approved 40 crore proposal of Puducherry government, to treat water from Ousteri Lake, a major water body in Puducherry, and supply it to meet the water requirements in Puducherry and Oulgaret Municipal limits.
- Informing about the approval of the proposal on December 17, the Chief Minister of Puducherry, V Narayanasamy said that the project to utilize the water from the Ousteri was developed five years ago but the Union Environment Ministry disapproved it on the ground that the scheme would disturb the bird sanctuary in the lake.
- Puducherry government has clarified in the proposal to the Central Environment Ministry that it would take necessary steps to protect the sanctuary while implementing the project.
Supreme Court Rejects J&K’s Claim, Says “no vestige of sovereignty outside the Constitution of India”
- The Supreme Court on December 16, 2016, rejected the Jammu and Kashmir High Court’s claim that the state’s sovereignty cannot be challenged or altered, stating that the state has “no vestige of sovereignty outside the Constitution of India”.
- A bench of Justices Kurian Josephand Rohinton Nariman also rejected the J&K High Court’s view that the J&K Constitution was equal to the Constitution of India.
- The bench pointed the Section 3 of the Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir, which stated that the State of Jammu & Kashmiris and shall be an integral part of the Union of India and the residents of Jammu & Kashmir are governed first by the Constitution of India. The court stated that there is no dual citizenship and it was completely incorrect to describe the state as being sovereign and distinct class itself.
- The SC ruling came during a decision on a legal question on whether the 2002 SARFAESI Act is applicable to the state of J&K or if it is beyond the legislative competence of Parliament as the provisions will clash with Section 140 of the Transfer of Property Act of J&K 1920
Himachal Pradesh achieves 100% Aadhar, becomes sixth state to do so
- Himachal Pradeshhas become the sixth state in the country to achieve 100 percent Aadhar saturation based on population data collected till 2015 in the state. The Aadhar number was generated for 72, 52,880 residents in the state. An official of IT department informed on December 17, 2016.
- The five states which already have achieved 100 percent Aadhar saturation are Delhi, Telangana, Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh.
- Himachal Pradesh has distributed 780 computer tablets among ‘anganwari’ workers to cover children between 0-5 years under Aadhaar while 250 tablets will be deployed at health institutions to cover new born babies in order to maintain the Aadhar saturation.
- About 240 Permanent Enrolment Centers have become operational for updating and enrolment activity while 22 Aadhaar Mobile Vans have been deployed at the block-level to cover any left out citizen or elderly person in the remote areas of the state.
Government to Launch Toll-Free Helpline Number 14444 for digital literacy
- After launching free-to-air channel DigiShala and ‘Cashless India’website, the government is now set to launch a Cash Mukt Bharat Abhiyan Helpline number to educate people about digital transactions.
- A nationwide toll-free helpline number ‘14444’ will be launched soon to educate people and provide support related to cashless mode of transactions.
- Government had sought the help of NASSCOM in providing support for implementing the service on a mass scale to people.
- The IT and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad informed that the digital payments have increased in the range of 400 to 1,000 per cent since November 8 after scrapping of old Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 currency notes.
Judima Festival begins in Assam
- The three-day ‘Judima Festival’begins at Haflong in Assam on December 18, 2016.The festival seeks to establish the only hill station of Assam, Haflong into the tourism map of the Northeast.
- Aim :To promote and nurturing of ethnic culture, music, dance, craft and folk-art of Dimasa tribal living in Dima Hasao district of the state
- Cycling, hiking, angling, local sight-seeing, heritage walk and night trekking are part of this festival which is being undertaken to promote tourism.
- The first edition of the festival held in January 2016 saw the conglomeration of cultures from different ethnicities which helped in further strengthening the harmony among various tribes residing in the hill district.
‘Swasthya Raksha Programme’ launched by the AYUSH Ministry
AYUSH Ministry headed by Shripad Yasso Naik has launched Swasthya Rakshan Program to promote health and health education in villages.
♦ The Programme has been initiated through Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS), Central Council for Research in Unani Medicine (CCRUM), Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy (CCRH) and Central Council for Research in Siddha (CCRS).
Objectives of Swasthya Rakshan Program:
- To organize Swasthya Rakshan OPDs, Swasthya Parikshan Camps and Health/Hygiene awareness programme.
- Awareness about cleanliness of domestic surroundings and environment.
- Provide medical aid/incidental support in the adopted Colonies/villages.
- Documentation of demographic information, food habits, hygiene conditions, seasons, lifestyle etc., incidence/prevalence of disease and their relation to the incidence of disease.
- Assessment of health status and propagation of Ayurvedic concept of pathya-apathya and extension of health care services.
First Cyber Crime Police Station inaugurated in Himachal Pradesh
- Himachal Pradesh CM Virbhadra Singh inaugurated the state’s first Cyber Crime Police Station was inaugurated at the state police headquarters,
- Objective:To deal with increasing incidents of crime in cyberspace.
- It will register and probe cyber-crimes such as hacking of government web sites and its data, online fraud and cyber terrorism.
Tajikistan President’s 5 Day Visit to India to strengthen bilateral relation.
- President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon was on a five-day visit to India from December 14-18, 2016 to hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mr Rahmon landed in Cochin, Kerala on December 14. He arrived at New Delhi on December 16, 2016.
- This was the sixth visit of President Rahmon to India.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon witnessed the exchange of 4 MoUs in New Delhi on December 17, following delegation level talks.
- The MoU was exchanged between MoS for External Affairs M J Akbar and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan Sirojiddin Aslov.
PM Modi Launched Major Skill Development Projects at Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh
- To conform with the concept of Skill India Campaign, and make India the Skill Capital of the World, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid down the foundation stone of the first ever “Indian Institute of Skills” at Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh on December 19, 2016, which would empower the youths to be more employable and self-sustainable.
- Besides, the PM also launched a number of programs for promoting skill development among the youths of the country, ahead of the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh in 2017.
- As a part of the program, the PM distributed skill certificates to Street Food Vendors, Leather industry Workers and felicitated skilled candidates trained under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana.
- PM Modi also addressed his sixth Parivartan Rally in Kanpur as a part of BJP’s election campaign for the ensuing assembly elections in the state.
International Current Affairs
World’s Largest Ice Rink inaugurated in Paris
- A 2,700-square-meter skating space has recently opened at the Grand Palais in Paris, France. It is the world’s largest non-permanent indoor ice rink.
- The rink was inaugurated at the third edition of the ‘Grand Palais des Glaces’ festival which was held on December 15, 2016 featuring skating stunts and acrobatics.
- Over 100 workers constructed the ice rink, which will remain open until January 2, 2017.
India-Nepal Folk Crafts Festival kicks off in Kathmandu
- The five day India-Nepal Folk Crafts Festival (INCF-2016) begins in Kathmandu, Nepal on December 19, 2016 to promote cultural exchanges between the two countries
- Aim:To promote crafts based bilateral relations and enhance cultural exchanges between the artisans of India and Nepal
- The INCF-2016 will highlights more than 70 theme based pavilion with focus on folk crafts of India and Nepal, cultural events, live demonstration by crafts-persons and design workshops to be conducted as a part of this festival.
- The festival is sponsored by Ministry of Textiles, Government of India and is organised by South Asia Foundation and SAF-Nepal in association with Council of Handicrafts Development Corporations (COHANDS) and supported by Embassy of India, Kathmandu, Embassy of Nepal, New Delhi, B P Koirala India-Nepal Foundation (BPKF), Federation of Handicraft Associations of Nepal (FHAN) and Nepal Tourism Board.
Business & Economy Current Affairs
RBI opposes Digital Payment Committee proposal to set up separate payments regulator
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI)has opposed the view of Digital Payment Committee to establish a separate entity to regulate payments and settlements.
- In September, the Centre had set up a 11-member committee on Digital Payments headed by Finance Secretary Ratan Watal, and including the RBI’s former deputy governor H.R. Khan and Executive Director Chandan Sinha as its members.
- The panel suggested changes in the regulatory mechanism under various acts such as the Payments and Settlement Act, the RBI Act, and the Information Technology Act among others. It recommended that RBI will be the regulator for SIPS (systemically important payment system) and a separate board (Payments Regulatory Board) for retail payments will be created under RBI.
- The committee had suggested that the PRB be an independent body. However, RBI said that SIPS and retail payment systems are under the central bank and there was no need to create confusion by artificially dividing the payment systems for bringing them under two sets of regulators.
- The RBI has suggested a monetary-policy-committee-style structurefor the PRB, where outcomes are decided independently, but implementation remains with the banking regulator.
SBI Launches ‘State Bank MobiCash’ App
- The State Bank of India (SBI),country’s largest lender, has launched its mobile wallet application ‘State Bank MobiCash’ in partnership with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) on December 17, 2016.
- The app was jointly launched by the Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs, Arun Jaitleyand Minister of State for Communications (Independent charge) and Minster of State for Railways Manoj Sinha.
- The MobiCash app will allow users with Feature phone as well as Smartphoneto deposit cash and withdraw funds from their account through BSNL retail outlets.
- The wallet will bridge the gap between the urban and rural market and fulfill the requirements of all sections of the society and move India towards a cashless world.
- State Bank MobiCash comprise of both customers initiated and retail assisted features.
- The new wallet services will initially be available in Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana and Bihar and expanded pan-India by the end of December. SBI already has an application ‘SBI Buddy’for Smartphone users.
Foreign Exchange Reserve of India Declines by 887.2 million dollars to 362.987 billion dollars
- The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on December 16, 2016, announced that the Foreign exchange reserves of Indiahas declined by 2 million dollars to 362.987 billion dollars in a week from December 9 due to fall in foreign currency assets.
- In the previous week, the reserves had declined by $1.431 billion to $363.874 billion.
- Foreign currency assets (FCAs), a major component of the overall reserves, reduced by $873 million to $339.258 billion.
- Gold reserves remained steady at $19.982 billion. The special drawing rights with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) decreased by $5.4 million to $1.438 billion. India’s reserve position with the Fund dipped by $8.8 million to $2.307 billion.
EPFO Cuts Interest Rate from 8.8 percent to 8.65 percent
- Retirement fund body, Employees Provident Fund Organization(EPFO) on December 19, 2016, reduced interest rate on employee provident fund (EPF) deposits to 8.65 per cent for 2016-17 from the current 8 per cent.
- EPFO’s apex decision making body, the Central Board of Trustees (CBT), headed by the Labor Minister took the decision to reduce the interest rate by 0.15 per cent.
- As per the EPFO, retaining 8 per centrate of interest for the current fiscal would have left a deficit of Rs. 383 crore on projected income. EPFO has projected income of Rs. 39,084 crore for the current fiscal.
iv. However, the body could have retained the same rate of return for the current fiscal by utilizing about Rs. 409 crore surplus it has, which was accrued after providing 8.8 per cent rate of interest for 2015—16.
- A surplus of about Rs. 69.34 crore was stipulated if interest rate was lowered to 8.7 per cent.
Amazon launches e-wallet ‘Amazon Pay Balance’
- US based Amazon India launched the wallet Amazon Pay Balance in a bid to increase cashless orders and it is limited to Amazon-based transactions.
- Amazon Pay Balance will helps customers store balances for essential items and solves the pain point of tendering exact amount of cash at the time of delivery.
- The balance amount will be refunds to the user’s bank account or credit card.
A R Rahman Nominated for Double Oscar with Sports Biopic on Pele
- Academy award winning musician A R Rahman has been nominated for the 89th Academy Awards and once again stands a chance to win the double Oscar for his work on sports biopic “Pele: Birth of a Legend”.
- The Indian musician has been nominated for the 89th Academy Awards under both Best Original Score and Best Original Song category.
- Rahman’s name has been listed among 145 original scores list, as the music composer for the biographical film of Brazilian footballer Pele, directed by Jeff Zimbalist and Michael Zimbalist.
- Similarly, the song “Ginga”which Rahman composed to celebrate Pele’s soccer legacy, is one of the songs among the list of 91 songs, competing for nominations in the Original Song category.
- Nominations for the Oscars will be announced on January 24, 2017 while the main ceremony will be held on February 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood.
- Rahman, 49, will compete with titles like ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’, ‘La La Land’, ‘Moana’ and ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’.
- Earlier in 2009, Rahman bagged double Oscar at 81st Academy awards under Best Original Score and Original Song category for the song Jai Ho of the film Slumdog Millionaire directed by Danny Boyle
Colombian president receives ‘Catholic Nobel’ for FARC deal
- Colombian President Juan Manuel Santoshonored with the Lampara peace prize or Catholic Nobel for his efforts to reach the FARC deal on December 18, 2016 in Assisi, Italy.
- The award recognizes his work to end the half-century conflict that has claimed more than 260,000 lives.
Andy Murray Retains BBC Sports Personality of the Year for Record Third Time
- Andy Murray was honored with the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2016 for a record third time on December 18, 2016. The award was presented by Jessica Ennis Hill and Prince William at a ceremony in Birmingham.
- The 29-year-old won the title earlier in 2013 and 2015. Murray represents Great Britain in his sporting activities.
- Murray became the first British tennis player to reach No 1 in the world by winning Sports Personality of the Year for a record third time along with Wimbledon in June 2016, the Olympics in August 2016 and replacing Novak Djokovic as Tennis world number one in November 2016.
- Two-time Olympic triathlon champion Alistair Brownlee was second and Olympic showjumping gold medalist Nick Skelton was third.
Puerto Rico’s Stephanie Del Valle Crowned Miss World 2016
- Stephanie Del Valle from Puerto Rico was crowned the Miss World 2016 at the event’s grand finale held at the MGM National Harbor near Washington DC on December 18, 2016.
- Miss World 2015 Mireia Lalaguna Royo crowned the 19-year-old Stephanie. She is the second winner from Puerto Rican to hold the title after Wilnelia Merced who won it in 1975.Miss World 2016
- The first runner-up was Yaritza Miguelina Reyes Ramirez of the Dominican Republic, while Indonesia’s Natasha Mannuela took third place. Kenya and the Philippines were among the top five.
- Indian contestant Priyadarshini lost out on the title after making it to the top 20 at the pageant. Earlier, she featured in the top five contestants for the ‘Beauty With a Purpose’ title, which was eventually won by Miss Indonesia.
- Contestants from more than 100 countries took part in the beauty pageant.
People in News
Lt. Gen Bipin Rawat to serve as next chief of Army Staff while Air Marshal B.S. Dhanoa as chief of Air Staff
- Government on December 17, 2016, decided to appoint Lieutenant general Bipin Rawatas the new chief of Army Staff while Air Marshal B.S. Dhanoa as the new chief of Air Staff.
- Rawat will succeed General Dalbir Singh, while Dhanoa will replace Arup Raha both of whom are retiring on December 31. The two new chiefs will take charge on January 1, 2017.
Rajiv Jain appointed new IB chief while Anil Dhasmana to head RAW
- Jharkhand cadre IPS officer Rajiv Jain has been appointed as the new chief of Intelligence Bureau (IB) while Anil Dhasmana has been appointed as the next chief of the country’s external intelligence agency. Both the officers will take over on January 1 and will have tenure of two years.
- Jain is at present serving as the Special Director in the IB. He will succeed Dineshwar Sharmawho is completing his two-year tenure on December 31.
- Rajiv Jain, the 1980-batch officer, has served in various departments of the IB including the sensitive Kashmir desk and is a recipient of President’s Police Medal.
- Anil Dhasmana will succeed Rajinder Khannawho is also completing his tenure on December 31.
- Dhasmana, a 1981-batch officer of Madhya Pradesh cadre, has been with RAW for the last 23 years during which he has served on important desks including Pakistan.
- He has served in key capitals, including London and Frankfurt and has also handled SAARC and Europe desks.
Former Planning Commission Member and noted Economist Saumitra Chaudhuri Passed away at 63
- Noted economist and former Planning Commission member Saumitra Chaudhuripassed away on December 18, 2016, at New Delhi’s Sir Gangaram Hospital, following a brief illness. He was 63.
- Saumitra Chaudhuri was born on January 11, 1954. He was a member of the Planning Commission of India from 2009. Before that, he had been a member of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council from 2005
- Chaudhuri had also been in race to become the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), but Raghuram Rajan was eventually chosen for the post.
Actor Priyanka Chopra to be brand ambassador for Assam tourism
- Sarbananda Sonowal led Assam government has roped Bollywood actor Priyanka Chopraas the brand ambassador of the state tourism.
- She will be responsible for the campaign, “Awesome Assam” for a period of two years.
Renowned Hollywood actress and Socialite Zsa Zsa Gabor dies at 99
- Zsa Zsa Gabor, Hungarian-American actress and socialite died from a heart attack at 99 at her Los Angeles home on December 18, 2016.
- The Hungarian-born actress appeared in over 70 movies. She made her Hollywood film debut in 1952 in Lovely to Look At.
- The former Miss Hungary of 1936 rose to fame due to her outlandish personality, extravagant lifestyle and extraordinary series of nine marriages. She married for the first time at the age of 20, and wed for the last time when she was 69-years old.
Creator of Heimlich maneuver, Dr Henry Heimlich, died at 96
- Henry Heimlich, who became famous in the 1970s for creating the technique to save choking victims, passed away at Christ Hospital in Cincinnation December 17, 2016. He was 96.
- He suffered massive heart attackin his home in Hyde Park, Cincinnati on December 12 and died of complications on December 17.
- Henry Heimlich was an American thoracic surgeon and medical researcher. He was widely famous as the inventor of the Heimlich maneuver, a first aid procedure used to treat upper airway obstructions (or choking).
- He also invented the Micro Trach portable oxygen system for ambulatory patients and the Heimlich Chest Drain Valve which drains blood and air out of the chest cavity.
Sports Current Affairs
Vijendra singh Defeats Francis Cheka to Retain WBO-Asia Pacific Super Middleweight Title
- Indian boxing star Vijender Singh defeated former world champion Tanzania’s Francis Cheka to retain WBO-Asia Pacific Super Middleweight title in New Delhi on December 17, 2016.
- Vijender took less than 10 minutes to beat Tanzanian boxer to defend his title at the Thyagraj Stadium. Vijender ended the game by playing the winning blow in the third round which was scheduled to be a 10-round contest.
- On July 7, 2016 Singh defeated Australian Kerry Hope to win WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight title
- Among those present on the occasion to cheer Vijender included Minister of State for Home Kirren Rijiju, yoga guru Baba Ramdev, five-time world champion MC Mary Kom and star wrestling duo- Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt.
Atletico de Kolkata wins 2016 Hero Indian Super League beating Kerala Blasters 5-4
- Atletico de Kolkatawins 2016 Hero Indian Super League trophy by beating Kerala Blasters in the finals by 5-4. The final match was held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on 18 December 2016.
- This is thesecond time Kolkata has won the league. Atlético de Kolkata was also the winner of the 1st season of ISL when it was started in 2014.
- Kerala Blaster could not take the advantage of the lead goal, and at the end of 2ndhalf and extra time of 30 minutes the score of both teams was 1-1. In the penalty shootout period Kolkata overpowered Kerala by scoring 4-3 and taking the total score to 5-4.
- Match Awards:
Club award: Atlético de Kolkata
2.ISL Emerging Player of the Match: Lalrindika Ralte (Atlético de Kolkata)
3.Hero of the Match: Henrique Sereno Fonseca (Atlético de Kolkata)
India Beat Belgium 2-1 to Win 2016 FIH Junior Hockey World Cup
- India beat Belgium 2-1in the final of the 2016 Junior Hockey World Cup on December 18, 2016, at Lucknow’s Major Dhyan Chand Stadium and reclaimed the crown after 15 long years.
- India has become the first nation to win the hockey junior World Cup at home ground.
- India won their first title in 2001 in Hobart, Australia. In 1997, India won silver after losing to Australia in the final in Milton Keynes, England.
- The team lead bycaptain Harjeet singh scored two goals in the first half through Gurjant Singh and Simranjeet Singh.
- The 2016 Men’s Hockey Junior World Cup was the11th edition of the Hockey Junior World Cup for men, an international field hockey tournament. It was held in Lucknow, India from 8–18 December 2016.
Science & Technology
Power Ministry to Launch GARV-II Mobile App to monitor electrification Program in Villages
- The Power Ministry is set to launch a new app, GARV-II, to provide real time data of all six lakh villages of the country to ensure transparency in implementation of rural electrification program in the villages.
- Earlier version of the app, GARV, was used to provide data about rural electrification regarding 18,452 un-electrified villages while the new version GARV-II will provide real time data for all six lakh villages in the country.
- GARV-II has the facility to enable the people to participate in the development work. They can give their input about rural electrification program. Further, village-wise works sanctioned under DeenDayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) have also been mapped to monitor progress of works in each village. The status of release of funds to the states for projects sanctioned under DDUGJY has also been incorporated in ‘GARV-II’.
Telecom Ministry to Launch Portal ‘Tarang Sanchar’ to test Tower’s radiation Level
- Department of Telecom (DoT) is set to launch a website portal Tarang Sanchar that will help users get checked the radiation level of mobile towers and transmitters across the country.
- In order to get radiation of a particular tower tested, the applicant will have to pay a fee of Rs 5,000.
- The status of the towers will be available on the portal and those who want to get the radiation level checked of towers will be done by the government and he will be informed.
- Addressing an awareness program on EMF (electromagnetic radiation) emissions and telecom towers, Union Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha said that Mobile connectivity and broadband are a necessity of today and without infrastructure for this, society cannot be made cashless. There is a misconception that electromagnetic emission from towers cause adverse impact on health and needs to be eliminated by creating awareness.
Harvard researchers create world’s smallest radio receiver
- Scientists from US based Harvard University‘s John A Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed the world’s smallest radio receiverusing atomic-scale defects in pink diamonds. The study was published in the journal Physical Review Applied.
- This tiny radio would be able to operate in space, in harsh environments and even the human body and is biocompatible. It uses tiny imperfections in diamonds called nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centers by replace one carbonatom with a nitrogen
- NV centers can be used to emit electrons or detect very weak magnetic fields. These electrons are sensitive to electromagnetic fields, including the waves used in FM radio.
- When NV center receives radio waves it converts them and emits the audio signal as red light.
Environment & Ecology
Mutated fish becomes 8,000 times more resistant to toxic waste discovered in US
- The small striped ‘mud minnow’,or killifish, is known for living in heavily polluted estuaries such as New Jersey’s Newark Bay and Virginia’s Elizabeth River.
- The mix of dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), and heavy metals in these sites were anywhere up to 8,000 times the level that would make most killifish die.
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