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Madhya Pradesh CM Launches Five Months Long Narmada Seva Yatra at Amarkantak
i. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan launched Narmada Seva Yatra at Amarkantak on December 11, 2016.
ii. The five months long Yatra which will continue till May 11, 2017 aims to turn the Narmada river pollution free.
iii. The Narmada Sewa Yatra will cover more than 1,900 kilometres in 16 districts and create awareness about the conservation of the river.
iv. Various campaigns will be held every week during the yatra and the Chief Minister will join the campaign and active participation of public and society will be ensured in it.
v. All the villages along the river will have Narmada Sewa Samiti to take various corrective actions on measures to be undertaken for its preservation.
vi. Trees will be planted along the banks of the Narmada and sewage water will be treated before it flows into the river.
President Pranab Mukherjee Inaugurates Vintage Tapestries and Carpets Museum
i. President Pranab Mukherjee on the occasion of his 81st birthday on December 11, 2016 inaugurated a museum for vintage tapestries and carpets in the Marble Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi.
ii. The museum will showcase Zardozi canopies from the early 1900s, red embroidered canopy prepared for the 1911 Delhi Durbar of King George VI, collection of Buddhist art, paintings, carvings and miscellaneous gifts presented to different Presidents.
iii. Besides the museum, the President also launched a campaign ‘100 Million for 100 Million to protect child rights, release books on ‘Rashtrapati Bhavan: From Raj to Swaraj’; ‘Life at Rashtrapati Bhavan’ and ‘Indradhanush – Volume II’.
India to offer Tsunami Early Warning-System to SCS Countries
i. India is looking forward to provide Tsunami Early Warning-System to South China Sea (SCS) countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia and Philippines as a part of a soft-diplomacy effort.
ii. The warning system has been developed by the scientists at Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) and uses mathematical modelling to estimate if an earthquake, in India’s oceanic neighbourhood, will result in a tsunami.
iii. The system is installed with sensors that immediately warns concerned authorities in India of any large earthquake in the Indian Ocean and the threat it poses.
iv. India developed its own tsunami-alert system after a deadly tsunami struck Tamil Nadu in 2004.
v. India has been providing earthquake and tsunami-warning alerts to several countries in the Indian Ocean neighbourhood.
♦ INCOIS was established as an autonomous body in 1999 under the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) and is a unit of the Earth System Science Organization (ESSO). It works to provide ocean information and advisory services to society, industry, government agencies and the scientific community.
European Union signs Agreement with Mali to return migrants
i. The European Union has signed an agreement with the Malian government on December 11, 2016, to enable the return of strucked Malian migrants who have reached Europe’s shores and whose asylum requests have been refused.
ii. The deal was signed on behalf of the EU by Dutch foreign minister Bert Koenders.
iii. The aim of the agreement is to fight the root causes of illegal migration and to enable the return from Europe of Malian migrants.
iv. The agreement states that EU will support Mali in development, biometric passports and improving security.
v. The deal will form the basis for setting up various schemes to help young people of Mali in finding work and thus strengthen the country’s security forces.
vi. The deal expects Mali and neighboring states to fight against people-smugglers to improve their border security.
vii. Under the deal, Malian civil servants will travel to EU member states to help determine the identity of migrants, in order to accelerate their return.
European Union :
♦ The European Union is a politico-economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe.
♦ Headquarters: City of Brussels, Belgium
♦ Founded: November 1, 1993
♦ Republic of Mali is a landlocked country in West Africa. Mali is the eighth-largest country in Africa.
♦ Capital: Bamako
♦ Currency: West African CFA franc
♦ Prime minister: Modibo Keita
♦ President: Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta
BANKING & FINANCE
Currency Worth Rs 4.27 lakh crore issued post demonetization: RBI
i. The Reserve Bank of India made an announcement on December 9, 2016 that the currency notes worth over Rs 4.27 lakh crore have been issued to public through banks and ATMs after the demonetisation Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.
ii. The Apex Court also announced that about Rs.11.85 lakh crore demonetized notes have already been returned in the banking system.
iii. The central bank will shortly issue Rs 500 denomination banknotes in the Mahatma Gandhi (New) Series, without any inset letter, bearing signature of Governor Urjit R Patel.
iv. The RBI has also made arrangements for supply of adequate quantity of banknotes in various denominations to the public through banks.
♦ The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is India’s central banking institution, which controls the monetary policy of the Indian rupee
♦ Headquarter: Mumbai, Maharashtra
♦ Founded: April 1, 1935, Kolkata
♦ Governor: Urjit Patel
ONGC to Set Up New Basin in Agartala
i. ONGC is setting up a new ‘basin’ in Agartala which would be completed by the end of the year 2017.
ii. Aim: to increase focus on exploration of oil and gas in the North-East region.
iii. The construction work of the basin is currently going on and will take around a year to prepare the facility.
iv. North East operations of ONGC are divided into two areas: Assam Shelf from Jorhat to Duliajan and Assam Fold Belt from Silchar to Agartala. Assam Fold Belt has mainly gas, while there are both oil and gas in Assam Shelf.
v. Exploration work is done only by Assam-Arakan ‘basin’ based at Jorhat, while the production is divided by three ‘assets’: AssamAsset at Nazira, Jorhat Asset at Jorhat and Tripura Asset at Agartala.
vi. Basin’s job is just to discover oiland gas and does not produce anything while an ‘asset’ produces and sends products to refineries.
♦ Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) is an Indian multinational oil and gas company
♦ Headquarters: Uttarakhand
♦ CEO: Dinesh K Sarraf
♦ Founded: August 14, 1956
DGAD suggests imposing anti-dumping duty on China
i. The Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD) has recommended imposing definitive anti-dumping duty on China for imports of steel tubes and pipes from the country.
ii. The product under consideration has been exported by China to India under its normal value which has resulted in dumping. As a result the domestic manufacturing has suffered material injury due to dumping.
iii. Earlier in May 2016, the government imposed a provisional anti-dumping duty on seamless tubes, steel pipes, among others, imported from China for six months.
iv. In March 2016, DGAD had suggested to the income department to impose provisional levy on import of certain types of iron and steel pipes from China used in oil and gas exploration in a bid to defend the local manufacturing from reduced imports.
v. DGAD is an authority that recommends imposition of definitive anti-dumping duty on imports of subject goods from the subject country so as to remove the injury to the domestic industry.
Microsoft Launches First Cybersecurity Engagement Centre in India
i. Technology giant Microsoft has launched its first full-scale Cybersecurity Engagement Centre (CSEC) in Delhi.
ii. It is the first such cyber security center of Microsoft to be bulid in India.The centre will offer Microsoft capabilities to promote deeper cybersecurity collaborations with public and private sector organizations in India.
iii. It will build a trusted and secure computing environment that will also enable to comply with India’s digital transformation.
iv. This centre is Microsoft’s seventh Cybersecurity Centre in the world and will function as a satellite to the company’s Redmond Digital Crimes Unit (DCU).
v. Apart from India and Redmond, Microsoft has similar centers in Beijing, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Brussels.
vi. The company has also started a nationwide campaign to raise awareness about cybersecurity among Indian organisations.
♦ Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational technology company that develops, manufactures, licenses, supports and sells computer software, consumer electronics and personal computers and services.
♦ Headquarters: Redmond, Washington, United States
♦ Founded: April 4, 1975
♦ Founders: Bill Gates, Paul Allen
♦ Owners: Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
John Kerry conferred with French Highest Civilian Award
i. US Secretary of State John Kerry was honored with the highest French civilian award, Legion of Honor ,on December 11, 2016 for his contribution in the favor of peace.
ii. He received the award from the French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault in Paris.
iii. Kerry has visited Paris countless times as secretary of state for high-level diplomatic meetings on Syria, Ukraine and other hotspots.
About Legion of Honour
♦ The Legion of Honour, (National Order of the Legion of Honour) is the highest French order for military and civil merits, established 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte.
♦ The order is divided into five categories: Knight, Officer, Commander, Grand Officer and Grand Cross.
♦ Foreign Nationals who have served France in any way is eligible to receive this honor. There are about 93000 Legion of Honor recipient currently.
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
Cyrus Mistry removed as Director of Tata Industries
i. Cyrus Mistry was removed as director of Tata Industries during extraordinary general meeting of Tata Industries held on December 12, 2016. The decision was made by shareholders of Tata Industries.
ii. Recently he removed from Tata Group as chairman.
iii. Tata Industries board members are K R S Jamwal, R Bhinge, Ireena Vittal, Ashish Dhawan, N Srinath, and F N Subedar.
Akshaykumar Kale elected President of 90th Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan
i. Marathi Writer and scholar Akshaykumar M Kale was elected as the President of the 90th Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan which is scheduled to be held from February 3 to 5, 2017 at Dombivili in Maharashtra.
ii. The three-day annual conference is expected to be attended by Marathi litterateurs from Maharashtra and other parts of the country.
Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan :
♦ All India Marathi Literary Conference is an annual conference for literary discussions by Marathi writers.
♦ First Marathi Sahitya Sammelan was held in Pune in 1878 under the chairmanship of Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade.
Bill English Sworn in as New Prime Minister of New Zealand
i. New Zealand’s Minister of Finance and leader of National Party Bill English was sworn in as the country’s new Prime Minister on December 12, 2016 after John Key announced his intention to resign as prime minister last week.
ii. The ruling National Party voted Mr. English at the Government House in Wellington.
iii. Mr. English (54) has served as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister for eight years.
iv. After the appointment of Mr. English, State Services Minister, Paula Bennett was named as deputy Prime Minster of the country.
♦ Capital: Wellington
♦ Currency: New Zealand Dollar
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
ISRO Ties with Private Firms to Built First Joint Navigation Satellite
i. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) signed a contract with a consortium of six companies on December 9, 2016, to build two navigation satellite jointly with private firms by March 2017.
ii. The contract was signed between M. Annadurai, Director of ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC), and the consortium lead Alpha Design Technologies P Ltd.
iii. The work will start around January 2017 and the first spacecraft will be brought out in around nine months.
iv. The contract includes assembly, integration and testing (AIT) of two spare navigation satellites consecutively in around 18 months.
v. ISRO plans to outsource satellite manufacturing to private firms and focus on research and deep space missions. The vendors will jointly build, test and certify two navigation satellites that would be launched to join the fleet of seven Navic satellites already in space.
vi. Alpha is a defence manufacturing contractor while the others are small and medium-sized vendors that already supply components to ISRO. The others in the consortium are Newtech Solutions, Aidin Technologies and DCX Cables of Bengaluru, Vinyas Technologies of Mysuru and Avantel Systems of Hyderabad.
♦ The Indian Space Research Organisation is the space agency of the Government of Republic of India
♦ Headquarters: Bengaluru
♦ Chairman: A. S. Kiran Kumar
♦ Founded: August 15, 1969
Scientists Identifies Protein Called CD36 Responsible for Spreading Cancer
i. Scientists at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), identified a specific protein called CD36 which is responsible for spreading cancer.
ii. CD36 is found in the cell membranes of tumour cells and are dependent on fatty acids.
iii. The researchers found that the protein was present on metastatic (spread) cancer cells from patients with a range of different tumours including oral tumours, melanoma skin cancer, ovarian, bladder, lung and breast cancer.
iv. To confirm the essential role of protein in spreading cancer, the researchers added CD36 to non-metastatic (non-spreading) cancer cells which then caused the cells to become metastatic.
v. Scientists around the globe are trying to understand the process of occurring of protein and develop new ways to stop it.
First Time Ammonia Has Been Detected in Earth’s Lower Atmosphere
i. German scientists have detected ammonia in the upper troposphere layers for the first time above India and China.
ii. Researchers from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology analysed satellite data collected between June 2002 to April 2012 and calculated the three-month averages.
iii. They identified atmospheric ammonia – a chemical compound of nitrogen and hydrogen – some 12 to 15 km (7.5 to 9.3 miles) above sea level in the area of the Asian monsoon.
iv. This accumulation of ammonia was found at a concentration of up to 33 pptv (33 ammonia molecules per trillion air molecules) above North India and Southeast China.
What is troposphere ?
♦ The troposphere is the lowest layer of Earth’s atmosphere which starts at Earth’s surface and goes up to a height of 7 to 20 km.
♦ Ammonia or azane is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the formula NH₃.
Andhra Pradesh CM launches website of APEDB
i. Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, N Chandababu Naidu launched the website of the Andhra Pradesh Economic Development Board (AP-EDB), on December 10, 2016.
ii. The website, apedb.gov.in will provide the information about the policies of various sectors of the state, help to track the areas of investment in Andhra Pradesh and enable investor to determine various investment opportunities available in the state.
iii. The website will act as a single point of reference about investment in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
iv. The Andhra Pradesh Economic Development Board (AP-EDB), formed under the Chairmanship of the Chief Minister is the single point of contact for investments and partnerships in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
NGT bench Directs Rajasthan Government to Cancel illegal salt pans in Sambhar Lake
i. The central zonal bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Rajasthan government to cancel allotments of salt pans in Sambhar Salt Lake that fall within the wetland and run against to the order of Wetland Rules, 2010.
ii. The bench has given six months’ time to implement the recommendations which should not exceed 2017 monsoon.
iii. A bench headed by Justice Dalip Singh and expert Satyawan Singh Garbyal gave the order after a petition filed by Ajay Dubey, claiming that commercial and other activities harming the eco-system of the wetland in and around the Sambhar Lake, were being carried out contrary to the provisions of the Wetland (Conservation and Management) Rules framed under the Environment Protection Acts of 1986 and 2010.
iv. The bench has also directed the state government not to make any further allotments or permit new salt pans within the wetland areas or in the no construction zone identified.
v. The state wetland authority was also directed to review the allotments made so far and submit the compliance report within six months.
About Sambhar Salt Lake
♦ Sambhar Salt Lake is India’s largest inland salt lake. It is located in Nagaur and Jaipur districts of Rajasthan. It is India’s largest saline lake and is the source of most of Rajasthan’s salt production.
Cyclone Vardah Hits Tamil Nadu, Kills Seven People
i. The very severe cyclonic storm, Vardah made landfall in Chennai about 3 pm on December 12, 2016, killing seven people in the state.
ii. According to the Regional Meterological Centre, the storm after crossing Chennai and coastal districts of north Tamil Nadu, will move westward and is likely to emerge in Arabian Sea on December 14.
iii. The cyclone caused severe destruction by uprooting trees, damaging houses, disrupting power services, land and air transport as heavy rains, strong winds hit the city.
iv. As per the report of the National Disaster Management Authority 4 people died (2 in Chennai, 1 in Kancheepuram and 1 in Nagapattinam).
v. Two fishermen went off missing in Kakinada in Andhra after which Coast Guard deployed ship for search and rescue operations.
vi. The government has issued a high red alert. 15 NDRF teams have been deployed in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh to conduct the necessary rescue operations.
viii. 296 Relief Camps have been opened, out of which 92 started operating and provided shelter to about 10432 people.
ix. The Tamil Nadu government has declared holiday for educational institutions in Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur, coastal Taluks of Villupuram and also requested private institutions and undertaking to remain closed or work from home.
x. State government asked people to stay indoors, fishermen were restriced to venture into sea
BOOKS & AUTHORS
President Pranab Mukherjee Releases Three Books Based on Rashtrapati Bhavan
i. President Pranab Mukherjee on December 11, 2016, released three books at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on the occasion of his 81st birthday.
ii. The three books include: Life at Rashtrapati Bhavan, Indradhanush-2 and Rashtrapati Bhavan – From Raj to Swaraj.
iii. The book ‘Rashtrapati Bhavan: From Raj to Swaraj’, is a book for children which narrates the story of Rashtrapati Bhavan from its establishment as Government House to the present day.
iv. The book ‘Life at Rashtrapati Bhavan’ tells about the history of the residents living in the President’s Estate. The book highlights the contributions made by President Pranab Mukherjee and his team to transform the premises of the Rashtrapati Bhavan into the ‘smart’ city and the impact of such changes on the lives of the people now.
v. The book ‘Indradhanush Volume-II’ is a package of music, dance, theatre and cinematic presentations organized at Rashtrapati Bhavan from mid of 2014 to September 2016.
vi. All the three books have been published by Publications Division of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India.
WHO marks Universal Health Coverage Day with new data portal
Universal Health Coverage Day was observed on December 12, 2016 to mark the anniversary of UN’s historic endorsement of universal health coverage in 2012
Aim : To promote the human right to health.
i. WHO launched a new data portal to track progress towards universal health coverage (UHC) across the globe.
ii. The portal launched to improve access to services and where they need to improve information.
iii. The portal features the latest data on access to health services globally and data on the impact that paying for health services has on household finances will be added next time.
♦ Head: Margaret Chan
♦ Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland
♦ Founded: April 7, 1948