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Current Affairs Today – December 18 2016

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Union Cabinet Approves Rs 40 Crore Drinking Water Project in Puducherry
i. Union Environment Ministry has approved Rs. 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.
ii. Informing about the approval of the proposal on December 17, the Chief Minister of Puducherry, V Narayanasamy  said that the project to utilise 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.
iii. 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.
♦ Animal: Squirrel
♦ Bird: Koel
♦ Flower: Cannonball tree’s flower
♦ Tree: Bael fruit tree

Supreme Court Rejects J&K’s Claim, Saysno vestige of sovereignty outside the Constitution of India
i .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”.
ii. A bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and Rohinton Nariman also rejected the J&K High Court’s view that the J&K Constitution was equal to the Constitution of India.
iii. The bench pointed the Section 3 of the Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir, which stated that the State of Jammu & Kashmir is 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.
iv. 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% Aadhaar, becomes sixth state to do so
iHimachal Pradesh has 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.
ii. The five states which already have achieved 100 percent Aadhar saturation are Delhi, Telangana, Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh. 
iii. 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.Aadhar Bill 2016
iv. About 240 Permanent Enrolment Centres 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.
Himachal Pradesh
♦ Animal: Snow leopard
♦ Bird: Jujurana
♦ Flower: Rhododendron
♦ Tree: Deodar

Government to Lauch Toll-Free Helpline Number 14444 for digital literacy
i. After launching free-to-air channel DigiShala and ‘CashlessIndia’ website, the government is now set to launch a Cash Mukt Bharat Abhiyan Helpine number to educate people about digital transactions.
ii. A nationwide toll-free helpline number ‘14444’ will be launched soon to educate people and provide support related to cashless mode of transactions.
iii. Government had sought the help of NASSCOM in providing support for implementing the service on a mass scale to people.
iv. 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.
♦ The National Association of Software and Services Companies, a non-profit organization, is a trade association of Indian Information Technology and Business Process Outsourcing industry.
♦ Chairperson: C. P. Gurnani
♦ Founded: March 1, 1988
♦ Motto: Transform Business, Transform India
♦ Headquarters: Chanakyapuri, New Delhi

Judima Festival begins in Assam
i. The three-day ‘Judima Festival’ begin 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.
ii. Aim : To promote and nurturing of ethnic culture, music, dance, craft and folk-art of Dimasa tribals living in Dima Hasao district of the state
iii. Cycling, hiking, angling, local sight-seeing, heritage walk and night trekking are part of this festival which is being undertaken to promote tourism.
iv. 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.
Assam State Festival :
Magh or Bhogali Bihu, Dehing Patkai Festival, Elephant Festival, Pragjyothi International Dance Festival, Bohag Bihu, Bihu.

‘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:
i. To organize Swasthya Rakshan OPDs, Swasthya Parikshan Camps and Health/Hygiene awareness programme
Swasthya Raksha Programmeii. Awareness about cleanliness of domestic surroundings and environment.
iii. Provide medical aid/incidental support in the adopted Colonies/villages.
iv. Documentation of demographic information, food habits, hygiene conditions, seasons, lifestyle etc., incidence/prevalence of disease and their relation to the incidence of disease.
v. Assessment of health status and propagation of Ayurvedic concept of pathya-apathya and extension of health care services.
Ministry of AYUSH :
♦ The Ministry of AYUSH was formed on 9th November 2014 to ensure the optimal development and propagation of AYUSH systems of health care
♦ Earlier, AAYUSH was a department under the health ministry.

First Cyber Crime Police Station inaugurated in Himachal Pradesh 
i. Himachal Pradesh CM Virbhadra Singh inaugurated the state’s first Cyber Crime Police Station was inaugurated at the state police headquarters, Shimla.
ii. Objective: To deal with increasing incidents of crime in cyberspace.
iii. It will register and probe cyber crimes such as hacking of government web sites and its data, online fraud and cyber terrorism.
♦ India’s first cyber crime police station was inaugurated at the cod headquarters in Bangalore
♦ Maharashtra become first  state to launch cyber police stations in all districts


World’s Largest Ice Rink inaugurated in Paris
Largest Ice Rinki. 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.
ii. 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.
iii. Over 100 workers constructed the ice rink, which will remain open until January 2, 2017.


RBI opposes Digital Payment Committee proposal to set up separate payments regulator
i. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has opposed the view of Digital Payment Committee to establish a separate entity to regulate payments and settlements.
ii. 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.
iii. 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.
iv. 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.
v. The RBI has suggested a monetary-policy-committee-style structure for the PRB, where outcomes are decided independently, but implementation remains with the banking regulator.
♦ The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is India’s central banking institution, which controls the monetary policy of the Indian rupee.
Governor: Urjit Patel
♦ Founded: 1 April 1935
♦ Headquarter: Mumbai, Maharashtra

SBI Launches ‘State Bank MobiCash’ App
i. 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.
ii. The app was jointly launched by the Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs, Arun Jaitley and Minister of State for Communications (Independent charge) and Minster of State for Railways Manoj Sinha.
iii. The MobiCash app will allow users with Feature phone as well as Smartphone to deposit cash and withdraw funds from their account through BSNL retail outlets.
iv. 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.
v. State Bank MobiCash comprise of both customer initiated and retail assisted features.
vi. 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.
♦ State Bank of India (SBI) is an Indian government-owned multinational, public sector banking and financial services company.SBI app
♦ Founded: June 2, 1806
♦ Headquarter: Mumbai, Maharashtra
♦ Chairperson: Arundhati Bhattacharya
♦ Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited is an Indian state-owned telecommunications company.
♦ CEO: Shri Anupam Shrivastava
♦ Headquarters: New Delhi
♦ Founded: September 15, 2000

Foreign Exchange Reserve of India Declines by 887.2 million dollars to 362.987 billion dollars
i. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on December 16, 2016, announced that the Foreign exchange reserves of India has declined by 887.2 million dollars to 362.987 billion dollars in a week from December 9 due to fall in foreign currency assets.
ii. In the previous week, the reserves had declined by $1.431 billion to $363.874 billion.
iii .Foreign currency assets (FCAs), a major component of the overall reserves, reduced by $873 million to $339.258 billion.
iv. 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.


A R Rahman Nominated for Double Oscar with Sports Biopic on Pele
i. 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”.
ii. The Indian musician has been nominated for the 89th Academy Awards under both Best Original Score and Best Original Song category.
iii. 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.
iv. Similarly, the song “Ginga” which Rahman composed to celebrate Pele’s soccer legacy, A.R.Rahmanis one of the songs among the list of 91 songs, competing for nominations in the Original Song category.
v. 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.
vi. Rahman, 49, will compete with titles like ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’, ‘La La Land’, ‘Moana’ and ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’.
vii. 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
i. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos honoured with the Lampara peace prize or Catholic Nobel for his efforts to reach the FARC deal on December 18, 2016 in Assisi, Italy.
ii. The award recognize his work to end the half-century conflict that has claimed more than 260,000 lives.
♦ Capital: Bogotá
♦ Currency: Colombian peso


Lt. Gen Bipin Rawat to serve as next chief of Army Staff while Air Marshal B.S. Dhanoa as chief of Air Staff
i. Government on December 17, 2016, decided to appoint Lieutenant general Bipin Rawat as the new chief of Army Staff while Air Marshal B.S. Dhanoa as the new chief of Air Staff.
ii. 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
i. 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 RAW. Both the officers will take over on January 1 and will have a tenure of two years.
ii. Jain is at present serving as the Special Director in the IB. He will succeed Dineshwar Sharma who is completing his two-year tenure on December 31.
iii. 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.
iv. Anil Dhasmana will succeed Rajinder Khanna who is also completing his tenure on December 31.
v. 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.
vi. He has served in key capitals, including London and Frankfurt and has also handled SAARC and Europe desks.
About Intelligence Bureau
♦ The Intelligence Bureau (IB) is India’s internal intelligence agency. It was recast as the Central Intelligence Bureau in 1947 under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
♦ The Bureau comprises employees from law enforcement agencies, mostly from the Indian Police Service (IPS) or the IB & RAWIndian Revenue Service (IRS) and the military.
♦  The IB is particularly tasked with intelligence collection in border areas. Understanding of the shadowy workings of the IB is largely speculative.
♦ Moto: Always Alert
♦ Headquarter: New Delhi
♦ Founded: 1887
About RAW
♦ The Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) is the primary foreign intelligence agency of India.
♦ The objectives of RAW is to monitor the political, military, economic and scientific developments in countries which have direct bearing on India’s national security and the formulation of its foreign policy.
♦ It covert operations to safe guard India’s National interests. It is also responsible for Anti – Terror Operations and neutralising terror elements posing a threat to India.
♦ Headquarter: New Delhi
♦ Founded: September 21, 1968
♦ Moto: The law protects when it is protected


Power Ministry to Launch GARV-II Mobile App to Monitor electrification Programme in Villages
i. 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 programme in the villages. The Power Minister Piyush Goyal informed that the app will be launched on December 20, 2016.
ii. 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 lak villages in the country.
iii. GARV-II has the facility to enable the people to participate in the development work. They can give their input about rural electrification programme. 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’.
iv. The progress on various works will be updated by the implementing agencies of the states on day to day basis by the Managing Directors and Superintending Engineers of DISCOMs.
v. GARV-II will have a citizen engagement window ‘SAMVAD’ to enhance participation. They can contribute in the programme by providing their feedback and suggestions which shall be automatically forwarded to the concerned officals through SMS & Email on their dashboard.

Telecom Ministry to Launch Portal ‘Tarang Sanchar’ to test Tower’s radiation Level
i. 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.
ii. In order to get radiation of a particular tower tested, the applicant will have to pay a fee of Rs 5,000.
iii. 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.
iv. Addressing an awareness programme 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.


Vijendra singh Defeats Francis Cheka to Retain WBO-Asia Pacific Super Middleweight Title
i. 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.
ii. Vijender took less than 10 minutes to beat Tanzanian boxer to defend his title at the Vijendra singh becomes first Indian to score pro boxing hatrickThyagraj Stadium. Vijender ended the game by playing the winning blow in the third round which was scheduled to be a 10-round contest.
iii. On July 7, 2016 Singh defeated Australian Kerry Hope to win WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight title
iv. 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.


Former Planning Commission Member and noted Economist Saumitra Chaudhuri Passed away at 63.
i. Noted economist and former Planning Commission member Saumitra Chaudhuri passed away on December 18, 2016, at New Delhi’s Sir Gangaram Hospital, following a brief illness. Saumitra ChaudhuriHe was 63.
ii. 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 onwards.
iii. 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.


International Migrants Day – December 18,2016
i. Every year, International Migrants Day is celebrated on 18th December to recognizes and celebrates the rights of migrants around the world.
ii. This year marks the 26th anniversary of the UN’s International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families which was approved by the UN General Assembly on Dec. 18, 1990.