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India and Vietnam Signs Civil Nuclear Pact Along With Three Other Agreements
i. India and Vietnam signed a Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (N-Pact) in New Delhi on December 9, 2016, in the presence of Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and President of Vietnam’s National Assembly Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan.
ii. The MoU was signed by Sekhar Basu, Secretary of Department of Atomic Energy and Pham Cong Tac, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology of Vietnam to strengthen the bi-lateral cooperation between the two countries.
iii. Three other agreements were also signed between the two countries.
1.Enhance aviation links,
2.Jointly work in the area of energy efficiency
3.Promotion of parliamentary cooperation.
Social Development Report Finds Disabled Children Miss Out Due to Lack of Support Services
i. According to the Social Development Report (SDR) 2016, in India, 45 percent of Persons with Disability (PWD) are illiterate.
ii. The theme of the report for 2016 is ‘Disabilities Rights Perspectives’
iii. The report revealed that 38 percent of PWD males were illiterate while 55 percent of female PWD.Even in Kerala, which is known as a state associated with complete literacy, 33.1 percent of PWDs were illiterate.
iv. In India, Sikkim, Odisha, Jammu and Kashmir and Lakshadweep had the highest incidence of disability, while Tamil Nadu, Assam and Delhi had the lowest proportions of the PWDs.
v. Kerala performed the worst in giving employment to the PWDs, with a non-worker rate of 74.52 per cent, worst than national average.
28th Edition of SIMCON 2016, chaired by I&B Minister, M. Venkaiah Naidu
i. The 28th State Information Ministers Conference (SIMCON), 2016, was organised by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting from December 9 to December 10, 2016 at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi.
ii. The two day conference was chaired by Minister for Information & Broadcasting, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu.
iii. Aim: promote partnership among Centre and State, to discuss key issues in the films & broadcasting sector and new initiatives undertaken in the information domain.
iv. Theme: “Reform, Perform & Transform – A New Dimension of Communication”.
v. Some key issues discussed in the conference were, facilitating film shooting in the country, National Film Heritage Mission, issues related to copyright & piracy, Digitization of cable TV, community radio, Collaboration in Social Mediaetc.
vi. Earlier a similar conference was organized 7 years ago in 2009
SC Modifies is National Anthem Order to Exempt Differently Abled
i. The Supreme Court on December 9, 2016, modified its order of November 30 to exempt physically handicapped persons from standing up in cinema halls when the national anthem is played before film screenings
ii. The SC had on Nov 30 ordered cinema halls to play the anthem on compulsory basis and directed all present in the hall to stand up to show respect to instill a sense of patriotism and nationalism.
iii. However, the order passed by a bench comprising of Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy did not specified any exemption for disabled people.
iv. The modified order rules out that a handicapped person not able to stand up for any case, need not stand at the time of playing National Anthem, but is subjected to show respect to the Anthem.
v. However the detailed hearing for the modification in the order would take place on February 14, 2016.
Ministry of Electronics and IT Launched ‘Digi Dhan Abhiyan’ to Promote Cashless Transaction in Rural India
i. The Ministry of Electronics and IT, lead by Shri Ravishankar Prasad, launched a campaign, ‘Digi Dhan Abhiyan’, on December 9, 2016, to promote awareness about cashless transactions.
ii. The campaign will educate the citizens about various modes of digital transaction so as to enable all the citizens including small traders and merchants to make digital payment in their day to day financial transactions.
iii. As a part of the campaign, the IT Minister also launched a free to air TV Channel named ‘DigiShala’ that will educate the rural people about digital payment by demonstrating the various payment mode such as UPI, USSD, Aadhar Enabled Payment System, E-Wallets, Card, etc.
iv. DigiShala will be broadcast nationally on DD free DTH service and initially will be available in Hindi and English while later in local languages as well.
v. The ministry has also launched a new website ‘cashlessindia.gov.in’ to promote awareness about digital transactions.
Committee headed by Ratan P. Watal submitted its report to Finance Minster to boost Digital Payment
i. The committee formed by Finance Ministry to boost Digital Payment system in India that was headed by Shri. Ratan P. Watal submitted its report to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on 09 December 2016.
ii. The committee has recommended to bridge the gaps between those are digitally active and those are not, by promoting competition, open access & interoperability in payments.
iii. The report also recommended including those group of citizens into the digital payment system who are not well versed with it so that they can use it for their benefit and reduce dependence on cash. Safeguarding of the digital security system should also be maintained.
iv. Inter-operability of the payments system between banks and non-banks, up-gradation of the digital payment infrastructure and institutions and a system to reward innovations and for leading efforts in enabling digital payments are some other recommendation of the committee.
Rajasthan High Court Strucks SBCs 5% quota.
i. The Rajasthan High Court on December 9, 2016, cancelled the Rajasthan Special Backward Classes (SBC) reservation Act 2015 that allowed for 5% quota to Gujjars and five other communities of the state.
ii. A division bench of justices M N Bhandari and J K Ranka struck down the notification of October 2015 saying that it was in violation with the 50% limit set by the Supreme Court.
iii. In September 2015, the Rajasthan Assembly, passed separate Bills to provide five per cent reservation to Gujjars and other communities under Special Backward Classes (SBC) and 14 per cent to Economically Backward Classes (EBC) of unreserved categories.
iv. According to the Act 5% reservation in jobs and educational institutes were given to five communities namely, Gujjars (Gurjars), Banjara (Baldia, Labana), Gadia-Lohar (Gadolia), Raika (Rebari, Debasi), Gadaria (Gaadri, Gayari).
v. The Bills led to an increase in the 50 per cent limit of reservation laid down by the Supreme Court, while the reservation under Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and OBC categories remained unchanged.
vi. In 2008 decision was made to grant five per cent reservation to SBCs which was struck down by the High Court in 2009.
vii. The OBC community had initially demanded its inclusion in the Scheduled Tribes but later accepted the decision of High Court to pass a separate bill for both the communities.
First India China Think-Tanks Forum held in New Delhi
i. The First India-China Think-Tanks Forum which started on December 9, 2016, concluded in New Delhi on December 10, 2016.
ii. The two day forum was jointly organized by the Institute of Chinese Studies, the Indian Council of World Affairs, and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
iii. The Forum was a part a Memorandum of Understanding signed between Ministry of External Affairs, India and Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, when Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi visited China in May 2015
iv. The forum was based on the theme ‘Towards a Closer India-China Developmental Partnership’,
v. The two countries discussed various issues in the forum related to strengthening strategic communication, promoting economic relations, and regional economic and security architecture.
vi. Strategic thinkers, economists, academics, and social scientists from both countries participated in the forum.The second Forum will be held in Beijing in 2017.
♦ Capital: Beijing
♦ Currency: Renminbi
♦ President: Xi Jinping
BANKING & FINANCE
Viola Desmond Becomes First Canadian Woman to be Featured on Banknote
i. Civil rights activist Viola Desmond has emerged as the first Canadian Woman to be featured on the nations $ 10 Currency note.
ii. Canada’s Governor Stephen S. Poloz, Minister of Finance Bill Morneau and Minister of Status of Women Patty Hajdu on December 8, 2016, made the announcement at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que.
iii. She would replace Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A Macdonald, on the $10 bill coming into effect in 2018.
iv. Desmond, an icon of the human rights and freedoms movement in Canada, was selected from a list of five iconic Canadian women by Finance Minister Morneau, in accordance with the Bank of Canada Act.
v. The choice of Viola Desmond was felt as she led Canada to become a diverse country where everyone deserves equality and respect.
vi. In 1946, Desmond was arrested and jailed for sitting in the whites-only section of a local cinema. The case triggered the civil rights movement in Canada. She was jailed, convicted and fined.
vii. Her court case was the first legal challenge against racial discrimination by a Black woman in Canada.
Government to Introduce Plastic Currency Notes
i. Government on December 9, 2016, informed the Parliament about its decision to print plastic currency notes for which the process of procurement of material has been initiated.
ii. The introduction of plastic notes has been decided by Reserve Bank of India quite long before for which it had also launched field trials.
iii .In February 2014, the government informed about introduction of one billion plastic notes of Rs 10 denomination for field trial in five cities. The selected cities were Kochi, Mysore, Jaipur, Shimla and Bhubaneswar.
iv. Plastic notes were first introduced in Australia.Plastic notes have an average life span of about five years and are difficult to imitate, while currency notes made of plastic are cleaner than paper ones.
v. One major reason for the introduction of plastic money is that in December 2015, RBI received some banknotes of Rs. 1,000 with no security thread. These notes were printed at Currency Note Press (CNP), Nashik, on paper supplied by Security Paper Mill (SPM), Hoshangabad.
vi. An enquiry has been initiated by Security Printing and Minting Corporation (SPMCIL) and SPM and CNP.
Government of India and Intel ties up for ‘Water and Air Quality Monitoring’ systems.
i. The Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, has partnered with the US Technology Giant Intel on December 8, 2016, to conduct research on water and air quality monitoring.
ii. Aim: to develop key technologies for sensing, communication and analysis of large-scale data collected from autonomous networks of sensor nodes and acting accordingly for water and air quality monitoring in real-time.
iii. The monitoring program will be administered by the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF).
iv. The Collaborative Research of DST-Intel for Real-Time River Water and Air Quality Monitoring will also invite proposals from academic and research institutions for the development of online ‘Water and Air Quality Monitoring’ (WAQM) systems.
v. The collaboration would also provide financial support to the selected project for which an amount of Rs 33 crore has already been set aside.
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
Indian Filmmaker Onir’s Indo-Australian Documentary Wins Hollywood Independent Documentary Award
i. The Indian filmmaker Onir won the Hollywood Independent Documentary Awards for his Indo-Australian documentary, “Raising the Bar” which was selected as the ‘Best Foreign Documentary Feature’.
ii. The film was premiered at Indian Film Festival Melbourne in August 2016.
iii. The documentary is based on children who have Down syndrome. It is about the lives of six young people with Down Syndrome from India and Australia who meet at the World Down Syndrome Congress in Chennai, India.
iv. Australia’s Non–Profit Organisation, e.motion21, with the support from the local community in Australia, brought a group of 60 youths with Down Syndrome and their care givers, to India.
v. The documentary is based on the lives of 6 of these Indian and Australian children/youth with Down’s Syndrome.
vi. The documentary was shot in Melbourne, Kolhapur, Delhi, Agra & Chennai.The film has been produced by Onir and Sanjay Suri-owned Anticlock Films, Cate Sayers, leader of e.motions 21, Mitu Bhowmik, and Mindblowing Films Australia.
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
Coca-Cola Names Quincey As Next CEO, Kent Stays As Chairman
i. US based carbonated soft drink producer Coca-Cola named James Quincey as new CEO of the company on December 10, 2016. He will replace Muhtar Kent who will be the chairman of the board.
ii. Quincey is currently working as Chief Operating Officer of Coca – Cola.He worked at the beverage maker for about two decades, has led the company’s drive to cut down sugar in its drinks
Nana Akufo-Addo Wins Presidential Election of Ghana
i. Opposition leader of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, won the country’s national election, to become president elect, defeating President John Mahama.
ii. Nana Akufo-Addo leader of New Patriotic Party (NPP) won the election with majority vote of 53.8% while President John Mahama got 44.4%.
iii. 72 Year Old Akufo-Addo served as Attorney General from 2001 to 2003 and as Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2003 to 2007 in NPP Governemnet.
iv. Earlier, Akufo-Addo ran for Presidential Election in Ghana in the 2008 and 2012 as the New Patriotic Party(NPP) candidate, but was defeated both times. This was his third attempt where he won 54% of the votes, to become the new President of Ghana.
♦ Ghana is the world’s second-largest producer of cocoa after Ivory Coast and Africa’s second biggest gold producer after South Africa.
♦ Capital: Accra
♦ Currency: Ghanaian cedi
♦ President: John Dramani Mahama
Rajendar Kumar Appointed New CBDT Member
Senior Indian Revenue Service officer Rajendra Kumar has been appointed as the new Member of the Central Board of Direct Taxes(CBDT) by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet
Central Board of Direct Taxes(CBDT) :
i. The Central Board of Direct Taxes is a statutory authority functioning under the Central Board of Revenue Act, 1963
ii. The CBDT is headed by a chairman and can has six members. It is headquartered at New Delhi
iii. CBDT Members : Sushil Chandra(Chairman), Gopal Mukherjee , S K Sahai and Nishi Singh
ACQUISITIONS & MERGERS
Delivery Hero acquires Rocket Internet-backed start-up Foodpanda
i. Berlin-based Delivery Hero signed an agreement on December 10, 2016 to acquire competitor Foodpanda for an undisclosed amount.
ii. The acquisition will strengthens Delivery Hero’s global leadership position in online food ordering and delivery, with the combined group processing over 20 million orders per month across 47 countries.
iii. Delivery Hero and Foodpanda are both backed by German ecommerce firm Rocket Internet.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
JAXA Launches Space Junk Collector for ISS
i. Japan’s space agency, JAXA, on December 9, 2016, successfully launched a spacecraft for the International Space Station (ISS), carrying a large magnetic space junk collector to divert the space junk toward Earth’s atmosphere.
ii. JAXA designed the ‘space junk’ collector with the help of a fishnet company.
iii. The cargo ship, ‘Kounotori’, Japanese Name for ‘White Stork’, was launched from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center on December 9, 2016. 15 minutes after the liftoff, the satellite was removed from the rocket and put into the planned orbit successfully.
iv. According to an estimate more than 100 million pieces of hazardous junk orbit in space from about 50 years of human space exploration, posing an increasing threat to future space exploration.
v. The cargo ship is also carrying other materials for the ISS astronauts like six new lithium-ion batteries and drinking water, food and other supplies.
♦ JAXA is Japan’s national aero-space agency responsible for research, technology development and the launch of satellites into orbit. Its motto is One JAXA and its corporate slogan is Explore to Realize.
♦ Established: 1 October 2003
♦ Headquarters: Chōfu, Tokyo
♦ Administrator: Naoki Okumura
Kerala govt launches mobile apps ‘ArisingKerala’ and ‘Whistle Now’ to fight corruption
i. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan launched the mobile applications – ‘ArisingKerala‘ and ‘Whistle Now’ – on the occasion of International Anti-Corruption Day.
ii. Aim : To end corruption in the government and semi-government institutions as part of the proactive policy of zero tolerance
iii. The mobile applications were developed by the state Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau as part of its series of innovative initiatives to fight graft.
iv. People can upload videos and audios related to corruption in this app, which will be available in Google Play Store
Virat Kohli Completes 4,000 Test Runs and 1,000 run in 2016.
i. Indian Cricketer, Virat Kohli completed his career’s 4,000 Test runs on December 10, 2016, at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai.
ii. Kohli completed 4,000 runs in 89 innings batting against England during the third day of the fourth match and became sixth fastest Indian batsman to do so. Virendra Sehwag was the first Indian to do so.
iii. 28-year-old batsman also completed 1,000 Test runs in the year 2016 in 11 games and became the third Test skipper after Sachin Tendulkar (1997) and Rahul Dravid (2006).
iv. Currently he is fourth on the list for the most runs made in 2016.
Human Rights Day observed on December 10,2016
i. Human Rights Day is observed on 10th December every year commemorates the day on which the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948
ii. This day is celebrated to improve the physical, social, cultural and spiritual well being and welfare of the vulnerable group of people globally.
iii. 2016 Theme: “Stand up for someone’s rights today!”