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Current Affairs Today – December 14 2016

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CAT DecemberINDIAN AFFAIRS

Union Cabinet Approvals – December 14, 2016
i. The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on December 14, 2016, approved the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and United States Geological Survey (USGS) that was signed on July 9, 2016 at Bengaluru, for cooperation in the exchange and use of U.S. Land Remote Sensing Satellite Data.
ii. Cabinet also gave its approval for signing Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Tourism, Government of the Republic of India and Ministry of Cultural, Information & Tourism of the Government of the Kyrgyzstan Republic for strengthening cooperation in the field of Tourism.
iii. Government gave its ex-post facto approval to India’s approach to Climate Change Negotiations at the Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), held in Marrakesh, Morocco on November 7-18, 2016.
iv. Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi approved the proposal of Ministry of Shipping to replace the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963 by the Major Port Authorities Bill, 2016. 
v. Government has given its ex-post facto approval of the MoUs signed between the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) and College of Banking and Financial Studies (CBFS), Oman in 2008 and 2011 as well as the renewal of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
vi. Also approval for signing of the revised Air Services Agreement (ASA) between India and Nigeriawhich was signed on 31th January, 1978.

Rajya Sabha Clears Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014
i. The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014, which aims at securing and enhancing the rights and entitlements of disabled persons was passed with amendments in the Rajya Sabha on December 14, 2016.
ii. The bill will replace the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995.
iii. The amended Bill also complies with the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was signed by India in 2007.
iv. The legislation was drafted on the basis of the recommendations of the Sudha Kaul Committee, under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and the Bill was introduced by the Union minister for social justice and empowerment Mallikarjun Kharge.

Interim Nationwide Ban Imposed On Manja For Flying Kites By NGT
i. A ban was imposed by the National Green Tribunal on December 14, 2016 on the procurement, sale and use of glass powder coated ‘manja’ and other dangerous strings for flying kites.
ii. The order was passed by the NGT bench, headed by  Chairman Justice Swatanter Kumar who said that  the sharp string poses a danger to humans, animals and birds as well as causes harm to environment.NGT imposes interim nationwide ban on manja for flying kites
iii. The ban would apply on the use of nylon, Chinese and cotton manja coated with glass until the next hearing on February 1, 2017. The tribunal also directed Manja Association of India to submit report to Central Pollution Control Board on harmful effects of kite strings.
iv. The order was passed after a petition was filed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, to ban all kinds of sharp kite strings as the festival of Makar Sankranti was approaching and manja would be used for flying kites
v. NGT is an Act of the Parliament of India which enables creation of a special tribunal to handle the expeditious disposal of the cases pertaining to environmental issues.

9th Edition of INDRA NAVY Military Exercise Begins in Visakhapatnam
i. The 9th edition of the annual bilateral maritime exercise between Indian Navy and Russian Navy, INDRA NAVY, started off in the Bay of Bengal on December 14 and will continue till 21 December 2016.
ii. Aim: to increase inter-operability among the two navies and develop common understanding and procedures for maritime security operations.
iii. During eight-day military exercise, the Indian Navy will be represented by INS Ranvir-a guided missile destroyer, INS Satpura-an indigenous frigate and INS Kamorta-an indigenous Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) corvette among others.
iv. The Russian Federation Navy (RuFN) will be represented by Rear Admiral Eduard Mikhalov, Deputy Chief of Flotilla, Pacific Fleet and ships from the Pacific Fleet, based at Vladivostok.
v. The exercise will be progressed in two phases:
1.Harbour Phase at Visakhapatnam from 14 to 18 December 2016
2.Sea Phase off Visakhapatnam from 19 to 21 December 2016

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

India Surpasses Saudi Arabia and Russia to become Fourth Largest Defence Spender
i. According to the 2016 Jane’s Defence Budgets Report, released by research firm IHS Markit on December 12, 2016, India has become the fourth largest defence spender in the world, after US, China, and the UK.
ii. India, which is Asia’s third-largest economy spent $50.6 billion in 2016, from previous $46.6 billion in 2015.
iii. The US, China, and the UK remained the top three defence spenders respectively.India was followed by Saudi Arabia and Russia at fifth and sixth positions respectively. Russia, which was at the fourth place in 2015, slipped to the sixth spot in 2016.

India to contribute $500,000 to UN emergency response fund
i. India will contribute $500,000 to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) for the year 2016-17 announced by Indian diplomat Anjani Kumar a counsellor at India’s UN emergency response fundUN Mission at the pledging session held at UN.
ii. India giving it’s contribution since it was launched in 2006. This fund will be used to provide relief materials to emergency evacuation arises in any countries.
iii. 29 countries promised contributions totalling $273 million to the CERF and till now 50 countries provided it’s fund to CREF
iv. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked the CREF to raise its annual target of $450 million to $1 billion by 2018.
CERF :
♦ The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) is a humanitarian fund established by the United Nations General Assembly on December 15, 2005
♦  It was launched in March 2006.

Rio Gets UNESCO World Heritage Status
i. The  Marvelous City or Rio de Janeiro officially entered into the UN’s list of world heritage sites while UNESCO status was announced in 2012 in recognition of its soaring granite cliffs, urban rainforest and beaches.
ii. The UN cultural body, UNESCO given this status to Rio to highlighted the “extraordinary fusion” of man-made and natural beauty.
Rio de Janeiro :
♦ Rio de Janeiro is a huge seaside city in Brazil.
♦ It hosts the 2016 Rio Olympics

Cuba signs deal with Google for faster internet access
i. Google and the government of Cuba signed a deal on December 12, 2016, that will enable Cuba to have faster access to internet content from the US technology giant. Google had no direct data link to the Cuba island.
ii. The deal was signed between Mayra Arevich, head of Cuban state telecommunications company Etecsa and executive chairman of Google parent company Alphabet, Eric Schmidt.
iii. Under the deal, the internet giant will install servers called Google Global Cache, on the island that will store company’s most popular content from sites like Gmail and Youtube on the local servers to provide faster access to its data.
iv. This agreement will enable users in Cuba to reduce access time for Google internet content, and bringing better speed and quality.
CubaCuba & Google
♦ Capital: Havana
♦ President: Raúl Castro
♦ Currencies: Cuban peso, Cuban convertible peso
Google
♦ Google is an American multinational technology company specializing in Internet-related services and products that include online advertising technologies, search, cloud computing, software, and hardware.
♦ CEO: Sundar Pichai
♦ Founded: September 4, 1998.
♦ Headquarters: Mountain View, California, United States

Qatar Ends Controversial kafala labour system
i. Labour Minister of Qatar, Issa bin Saad al-Jafali al-Nuaimi on December 13, 2016, formally announced the end of its controversial “kafala” system, which was the biggest ever labour reform in Qatar.
ii. Kafala System is a system used to monitor migrant laborers, working primarily in the construction and domestic sectors of Qatar and other gulf countries. The system requires a local sponsor -individual or company- and need their permission to switch jobs or leave the country.
iii. The Kafala system provide workers with little protection and was open to abuse. But the system was replaced with new contract-based system that aims to improve and protect the rights of the worker along with providing freedom of movement, right to change the job.
iv. Qatar is hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2022
Qatar
♦ Capital: Doha
♦ Currency: Qatari riyal

BANKING & FINANCE

ADB Trims 2016 India’s Growth Estimate to 7%
i. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) lowered the 2016 growth estimate for India to 7 per cent from the previous 7.4 per cent on December 13, 2016, due to demonetisation, weak investment and agricultural slowdown. However, India’s growth forecast for 2017 remained unchanged at 7.8 per cent.
ii. Besides, ADB also downgraded 2016 growth for Asia to 5.6 per cent, from the previous 5.7 per cent while for 2017, growth was kept same at 5.7 per cent
iii. The growth estimate for Southeast Asia was kept at 4.5 percent for 2016 and 4.6 percent in 2017
iv. China’s was projected to grow 6.6 per cent in 2016 and 6.4 per cent in 2017
ADB Bank
♦ The Asian Development Bank is a regional development bank to promote social and economic development in Asia.
♦ Headquarters: Mandaluyong, Philippines
♦ President: Takehiko Nakao
♦ Founded: December 19, 1966

India and IBRD signs Grant Agreement for Additional Financing in MSME Project.
i. India on December 13, 2016, signed a Grant Agreement of USD 5.19 million with International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) for Additional Financing for Financing Energy Efficiency at MSMEs Project- Programmatic Framework for Energy Efficiency.
ii. The agreement was signed by Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary at Department of Economic Affairs on behalf of the Union Government and Junaid Ali Ahmad, Country Director of World Bank (India) on behalf of IBRD.
iii. The agreement signed was a part of the parent project – India: Financing Energy Efficiency at MSME Project (FEEMP) that was initiated from September 29, 2010 with Grant amount of US$ 11.3 million.
iv. The parent project aimed at increasing demand for investment in energy efficiency in micro, small and medium enterprise sector and build their capacity to access commercial finance.
v. The additional financing agreement will bridge the gap in understanding between different stakeholders, energy professionals, technology suppliers, entrepreneurs, banks and financial institutions and also contribute to achievement of the initiative taken under parent project.
IBRD :
India & IBRD♦ The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development is an international financial institution that offers loans to middle-income developing countries.
♦ Headquarters: Washington, D.C.
♦ Founded: 1944
♦ Leader: Jim Yong Kim

BUSINESS

Paytm partners with NHAI for digital payments at toll plazas
i. Indian e-commerce website Paytm has announced partnership with National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to enable cashless payments at all national and city toll plazas.
ii. Travellers can pay their toll charges instantly with Paytm app by scanning the QR code placed at toll payment counters.
Paytm :
♦ Founder & CEO : Vijay Shekhar Sharma
♦ Founded: 2010
♦ Headquarters: Noida

Vodafone launches e-wallet M Pesa Pay for retailers
i. Vodafone India launched Vodafone M Pesa Pay to enable merchants and retailers to receive payments from their customers on December 13, 2016. It will also enable to M Pesa customers.Vodafone M Pesa
ii. M Pesa Pay replaces the need for point of sale (PoS) machine.
RBI Limits  :
♦ e-wallets to Rs20,000
♦ Merchants the limit stands at Rs50,000.
♦ Consumers  – Rs1 lakh(With KYC)

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Rajiv Gandhi International Airport Achieves Carbon Neutral Status
i. The Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA), Hyderabad operated by GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd (GHIAL), has achieved neutral status with regards to carbon emission.
ii. Hyderabad Airport has become the first airport in Asia-Pacific region under the 5-15 Million Passengers Per Annum category and second among all categories in the Asia-Pacific region to achieve the Carbon Neutral status.
iii .Earlier in September, 2016 GMR Group-led Delhi Airport became the first airport in Asia-Pacific to achieve carbon neutral status among all categories.
iv. Hyderabad International Airport has been credited with Level 3+, Neutrality under Airport Carbon Accreditation programme by the Airports Council International (ACI). Accreditation programme is assessment standard of airports’ efforts to manage and reduce carbon emissions and a significant achievement.

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

Malaysia enthrones 15th king, Sultan Muhammad V
i. Malaysia government has been installed its 15th king Sultan Muhammad V in the Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur(KL) on December 14, 2016.
ii. Muhammad succeeds Sultan Abdul Halim of Kedah who was king previously in the 1970s and he was the first person to hold the position twice.Malaysia enthrones 15th king, Sultan Muhammad V
iii. He was elected to ascend the throne for a five-year reign by the Conference of Rulers in October, 2016
Malaysia :
♦ Capital: Kuala Lumpur
♦ Currency: Malaysian ringgit

Kannan takes charge as new Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) chief
i. V G Kannan took charge as Chief Executive of the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) on December 14, 2016. He replaced M V Tanksale.
ii. Kannan had working as Managing Director & Group Executive (Associates & Subsidiaries) of State Bank of India till July 31, 2016.
Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) :
♦ Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) is a representative body of management of banking in India
♦ Founded; 26 September 1946
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai.
♦ Chairman: Rajeev Rishi

SPORTS

Sochi, Russia won’t host 2017 Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Championships
i. The International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) announced that Russia will not host the 2017 Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Championships. The reason cited by IBSF for this was that Russia is accused of state-sponsored doping and IBSF wants to focus on sport rather than accusations.
ii. Earlier 2017 Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Championships was scheduled to be held at Sochi, Russia. Now the new host city will be decided by IBSF and will be announced in February 2017.
iii. The reason for change of spot is also that many countries and players had warned of boycotting the Championship if it was held in Russia. Latvia was first nation to say they would boycott the World Championships.
International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation
♦ Headquarter: Laussane, Switzerland
♦ President : Ivo ferriani 

Shiva Thapa and Manoj Kumar wins gold in 1st Elite Senior Men’s Nationals held in guwahati
i.  Shiva Thapa  won Gold Medal in lightweight (60kg) National Boxing Championships held on 13 December 2016 in Guwahati. He defeated Ankush Dahiya. Manoj Kumar also won a Gold medal in 69 Kg category. He represented  Railways Sports Promotion Board (RSPB)
ii. This was the 1st Elite Senior Men’s Nationals Boxing Championship and was held at the Nabin Chandra Bordoloi Indoor Stadium, Sarusajai in Guwahati.  The event organized by Boxing Federation of India (BFI) saw the participants of more than 300 boxers. The event started from 8 December and continued till 13 december 2016.
iii. The overall title was won by the Services Sports Control Board (SSCB), the team won four gold, one silver and three bronze medals.
iv. Commonwealth Games silver-medallist L Devendro Singh (52kg) lost to Deepak Singh of Chandigarh in the flyweight (52kg) category and had to settle for silver.

Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber named 2016 ITF World Champions
i. The International Tennis Federation(ITF) named Andy Murray of Great Britain and Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber named 2016 ITF World ChampionsAngelique Kerber of Germany as the 2016 ITF World Champions. They will receive the award at the 2017 ITF World Champions Dinner on  6 June 2017  in Paris.
ii. This is for the first time that either of them has received this award. Gordon Reid of Britain has been named as the 2016 ITF Wheelchair World Champion.
iii. Earlier this year Andy Murray sealed his spot of No. 1 ranking in the final match of the season after defeating his Novak Djokovic to win the ATP World Tour Finals.

OBITUARY

Legendary Horse Trainer and Jockey Swinburn dies at 55
i. Renowned English jockey and horse trainer Walter Swinburn, passed away on December 12, 2016, in London suffering from epilepsy at the age of 55.
ii. Swinburn won the Britain’s richest horse race ‘Epsom Derby’ three times in his career including the legendary Shergar Derby at the age of 19 in 1981.
iii. Swinburn won the other Derby’s on Shahrastani in 1986 and Lammtarra in 1995

BOOKS & AUTHORS

‘Courts of India – Past to Present’ by Supreme Court of India – Bar & Bench
i. The book titled  ‘Courts of India – Past to Present’ released by the Supreme Court of India.
ii. The book is a comprehensive history of courts and judicial system in India. It was authored by the Editorial Board comprises members of both the Bench and the Bar.
iii. This board includes Justices SA Bobde, Rohinton Fali Nariman and UU Lalit and one judge from the Delhi High Court, Justice Ravindra S Bhat. There are five members from the Bar – Senior Advocates Raju Ramachandran, Indu Malhotra and Sanjay Hegde and advocates K Parameshwar and Gautam Bhatia.

IMPORTANT DAYS

World Energy Conservation Day – December 14, 2016
World Energy Conservation Dayi. World Energy Conservation Day is celebrated on 14th December across the world to highlight the importance of energy consumption and its use in our day-to-day life.
ii. Aim : To highlight awareness about impact of energy on sustainability of global eco system.
iii. It focuses our concentration to reduce the energy usage and motivate the people to use the renewable energy sources.