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Union Cabinet has given its approval to carry out official amendments in “The National Waterways Bill, 2015”. The amendments are based on the recommendations of the Department related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture and comments of State Governments.
- It provides for enacting a Central Legislation to declare 106 additional inland waterways as the national waterways by which the total number of NW goes upto 111 from existing 5.
- Union Government is empowered to make laws on shipping and navigation on national waterways as per Entry 24 of the Union List of the 7th Schedule of the Constitution.
In a bid to create more consumer friendly, transparent and accountable real estate sector, Union Cabinet has approved the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2015 which is applicable both for commercial and residential real estate projects.
- The bill is an initiative to protect the interest of consumers, promote fair play in real estate transactions and to ensure timely execution of projects.
Lok Sabha passes Indian Trusts (Amendment), Bill 2015
The Lok Sabha passed the Indian Trusts (Amendment), Bill 2015 by voice vote. It will amend Indian Trusts Act, 1882 to remove the archaic provisions from the 133 year old legislation which have no relevance.
(Indian Trusts Act, 1882 regulates the functioning of private trusts and trustees in India)
Provisions of Indian Trusts (Amendment), Bill 2015:
- The bill would enable the Central Government to notify securities or class of securities for investment by trusts.
- To remove the outdated provisions occurring in section 20 of the Indian Trusts Act, 1882.
- It provides greater flexibility and autonomy for the trustees to take decisions on investment of trust money based on their assessment of the risk return.
SC directed State and UT Governments to consider acid-attack victims under Disabled Quota
Supreme Court has directed the state governments and union territories administrations to include the names of the acid attack victims in the list of disabled people.
- The decision has been taken by the bench headed by Justice M.Y.Eqbal and Justice C. Nagappan.
- The decision has come while directing the Bihar government to give enhanced compensation amount to Rs.10 lakh and Rs.3 lakh respectively to two Dalit sisters who suffered an acid attack
Earlier orders of the SC:
- In April 2015 all private hospitals in the country were directed to provide full and free medical treatment to acid attack victims.
- Fixing 3 lakh rupees as minimum compensation to the acid attack victims.
- Imposing complete ban on over-the-counter sale of acid.
CCEA approves measures to increase Pulses production
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved creation of buffer stock of pulses to deal with wide fluctuation in prices of pulses and check food inflation.
- The buffer stock will be created by the procurement and would be valid for fiscal year 2015-16.
As per decision:
- The buffer stock will consist of 50000 tonnes of pulses from the kharif crop and 1 lakh tonnes from the Rabi crop.
- The Procurement will be done at market prices through above Minimum Support Price (MSP) out of the Price Stabilisation Fund.
- If the prices fall below MSP, the procurement will be made at MSP under Price Support Scheme of Department of Agriculture (DoA).
The CCEA also decided to import pulses through Union Ministry of Commerce depending on the requirement.
Union Cabinet approves MoU between India and UK in the field of cooperation in the energy sector
Union Cabinet has approved the MoU between India and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on cooperation in the energy sector with a focus on electricity market structure and the integration of renewable energy into the grid.
- The programme would work at both central and state levels to improve energy security and reliability of supply, improve energy access and facilitate sustainable economic growth.
Areas of cooperation will include the following:
- Tidal energy
- Smart grids
- Off-grid renewable energy services
- Energy efficiency policies and practice
- Off-shore wind energy and solar energy
- Energy storage and new energy technologies
- Integration of renewable energy into the grid
- Capacity building of renewable energy institutions
Asian Development Bank (ADB) released a report titled “Asian Economic Integration Report 2015: How Can Special Economic Zones Catalyze Economic Development?”
- The Asian Economic Integration Report (AEIR) 2015 was prepared by the Regional Cooperation and Integration Division (ERCI) of ADB’s Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department (ERCD).
- The report examined the current trends in trade, finance, migration, remittances and other economic activities in the region.
5th Heart of Asia conference begins in Pakistan
The 5th edition of “Heart of Asia” conference, an annual regional gathering of Asian and other countries commenced in Islamabad Pakistan. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani jointly inaugurated the ministerial-level meeting.
Theme – “Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process: Enhanced cooperation for countering security threats and promoting connectivity in the Heart of Asia region”
Participants – Delegations from 14 participating states, 17 supporting countries and 12 international and regional organisations
Key areas to be discussed – Counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics, disaster management, education, trade and investment and regional infrastructure
About Heart of Asia conference Heart of Asia:
- Istanbul Process was established 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey.
- Seeks to provide a platform to deal common regional issues particularly encouraging security along with political and economic cooperation among Afghanistan and its neighbours facing problems of terrorism, extremism and poverty.
- 14 Member states: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and UAE.
IMF changes rule on debt as Ukraine faces Russia deadline
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has changed a rule that would block its financial aid program to Ukraine as the country defaulted on its debt owed to Russia.
- The move comes as cash-short Ukraine faces a December 20 deadline to repay Russia for a $3 billion loan.
- Ukraine is restructuring its debts under an IMF-led $40 billion bailout program.
- Defaulting on the Eurobond loan could have put the program at risk.
IMF establishment – 1945
IMF Headquarter – Washington D.C.
BANKING & FINANCE
Myanmar inaugurates a new stock exchange Yangon Stock Exchange
Myanmar inaugurated a new stock exchange with plans for six companies to start trading in March next year by Minister of Finance Win.
Yangon Stock Exchange :
- The Yangon Stock Exchange will initially be open only to Myanmar companies and investors .
- Myanmar had a stock exchange during its years of military rule but it attracted few companies and trading was almost nonexistent.
- The Yangon Stock Exchange is being set up with Japanese assistance. Myanmar government planned law changes will eventually allow foreigners to invest in Myanmar shares.
Key points :
Myanmar Capital : Naypyidaw
Myanmar Currency : Kyat
Myanmar President : Thein Sein
IISc bags US military contract for R&D on solar powered micro-grid
The prestigious Indian Institute of Science has bagged a US military contract for research and development on solar powered micro-grid announced at the meeting between defense minister Manohar Parrikar and US defense secretary Ashton Carter at the Pentagon .
- The federal contract worth USD 52,900 has been awarded by the US Pacific Air Forces, Yokota Air Base in Japan to develop solar powered micro-grid with battery and super capacitor energy storage system.
- This is one of the rare instances that an Indian scientific institute known for its high-end cutting edge research has been awarded a federal contract by the US military.
Indian Institute of Science :
- Indian Institute of Science (IISc) is a public university for scientific research and higher education located in Bangalore, India.
- Established in 1909 with active support from Jamsetji Tata it is also locally
- Known as the “Tata Institute”.
- Director : Anurag Kumar
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
Tech Mahindra, a specialist in digital transformation, consulting and business re-engineering solutions has been awarded the prestigious “Forbes Top 100 Middle East – Global Meets Local 2015” Award. The award was presented at a special event hosted by Forbes Middle East in Dubai.
- Forbes Global Meets Local recognizes the top regional executives in the largest and most powerful global multinationals in the Middle East.
President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee presented the awards to Shilp Gurus and National Awardees at a function at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi.
(Union Minister of State for Textiles (I/C) – Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar)
- 21 Shilp Gurus have been selected for the years 2012, 2013 & 2014, out of whom 18 are male and 3 are female.
- 59 craftspersons have been selected for the National Awards for the year 2012, 2013, & 2014.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel named 2015 Time’s Person of the Year
Time magazine named German Chancellor Angela Merkel its “Person of the Year 2015” for the annual honour because her leadership has helped preserve and promote an open, borderless Europe in the face of economic turmoil and an ongoing refugee crisis.
- Islamic State leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump were among the eight candidates shortlisted by Time.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani and Google’s India-born CEO Sundar Pichai were among the initial 58 global leaders, business chiefs and pop icons that Time had named as contenders for its annual honour.
- Mr. Modi was a contender for the honour last year also and while he was not chosen the Person of the Year by Time editors, he was named winner of the readers’ poll.
National Awards for Innovation in Educational Administrations Awarded
The National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), New Delhi has instituted National Awards for Innovation in Educational Administrations for District and Block Level Education Officers.
- The National Awards presented to selected District and Block level education officers from different states and regions of the country by the Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani. Shri J. Veera Raghavan, Former Secretary, Ministry of Human Resource Development.
- Organizer : NUEPA
- Venue : Nehru Memorial Museum and Library Auditorium, Teen Murti Bhawan, New Delhi.
- Objective :To recognize innovative ideas and practices adopted by district and block level education officers for effective management of the educational administrative system at district and block levels, and ensuring institutional development and performance at school level.
A two day National Conference on Innovation in Educational Administration, 9-10 December, 2015 is also being organized by NUEPA, with participation by about 200 district and block level education officers from Xacross India.
ACQUISITIONS & MERGERS
Govt proposes joint venture between NPCIL and NTPC, NALCO
The government has proposed joint ventures between Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) and other Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) like the NTPC, Indian Oil and NALCO.
- This is subject to the passing of Atomic Energy Amendment Bill 2015 introduced in the Lok Sabha.
Objective : To give boost to nuclear power generation in the country.
- The JVs proposed with other PSUs is to pool equity for expanding installed nuclear power capacity.
- These JV with with energy majors like NPCIL and NTPC, NPCIL and Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. NPCIL and NALCO Power Ltd will be taken up by these companies after allotment and approved by the government.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
GRSE launches fifth ship of Indian Navy’s LCU MK IV project
The fifth ship of Indian Navy’s LCU MK IV project was launched at Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd (GRSE) in Kolkata.
- The chief guest, Vice Admiral AV Subhedar, AVSM, VSM, Chief of Material, Chairman & Managing Director GRSE were present on the occasion.
- LCU L-55 is the fifth vessel in the series of eight Landing Craft Utility Ships being designed and built by GRSE for the Indian Navy.
- The first ship of the class ‘LCU-L51’ was launched on March 12, 2014 and is presently undergoing trials at GRSE. The vessel is likely to be delivered shortly to Indian Navy.
The Indian Navy has been supporting the drive for indigenous construction of warships leading to advancement of our shipbuilding industry and acknowledged the role of GRSE as a reliable partner in pursuing the national goal of ‘Make in India’.
World’s first dengue fever vaccine Dengvaxia cleared by Mexico for public use
The Mexican drug authorities have approved Sanofi Pastur’s first ever dengue vaccine Dengvaxia, which promises to reduce the disease burden by 50 percent in five years among vulnerable populations.
About Dengvaxia :
- The Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS) has approved Dengvaxia, tetravalent dengue vaccine, for the prevention of disease caused by all four dengue virus serotypes in preadolescents, adolescents and adults, 9 to 45 years of age living in endemic areas.
- The approval from Mexican authorities, Sanofi is based on results from an extensive clinical development program involving over 40,000 people of different ages, geographic and epidemiological settings, and ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds living in 15 countries.
Keys : The World Health Organisation has called on endemic countries to reduce dengue mortality by 50% and morbidity by 25% by 2020.
Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Hunan University of Science and Technology and Mount Qomolangma Snow Leopard Conservation Centre has released a report showing Glaciers on Mount Everest have shrunk by 28% over the past 40 years due to climate change.
- Glaciers on Mount Everest are a major source of Asian rivers including Brahmaputra and Ganges.
- Data was based on long-term remote sensing and on-site monitoring where glacial shrinkage area is compared to the measurements taken in the 1970s.
Human Rights Day
Human Rights Day is celebrated annually across the world on 10 December every year.
Purpose : The day to honour the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption and proclamation, on 10 December 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the first global enunciation of human rights and one of the first major achievements of the new United Nations.
Theme : “Our Rights, Our Freedoms, Always”