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Tajikistan President’s 5 Day Visit to India to Strengthen bilateral relation.
i. President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon was on a five-day visit to India from December 14-18, 2016 to hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mr Rahmon landed in Cochin, Kerala on December 14. He arrived New Delhi on December 16, 2016.
ii. This was the sixth visit of President Rahmon to India. During his last visit to India in 2012, the two countries elevated their bilateral relations to the level of a long-term strategic partnership. Bilateral relations include cooperation in areas like political, economic, health, human resources development, defence, science and technology, culture and tourism among others.
iii. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon witnessed the exchange of 4 MoUs in New Delhi on December 17, following delegation level talks.
iv. The MoU was exchanged between MoS for External Affairs M J Akbar and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tajikistan Sirojiddin Aslov.
PM Modi Launched Major Skill Development Projects at Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh
i. To conform with the concept of Skill India Campaign, and make India the Skill Capital of the World, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid down the foundation stone of the first ever “Indian Institute of Skills” at Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh on December 19, 2016, which would empower the youths to be more employable and self-sustainable.
ii. Besides, the PM also launched a number of programmes for promoting skill development among the youths of the country, ahead of the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh in 2017.
iii. As a part of the programme, the PM distributed skill certificates to Street Food Vendors, Leather industry Workers and felicitated skilled candidates trained under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana.
iv. PM Modi also addressed his sixth Parivartan Rally in Kanpur as a part of BJP’s election campaign for the ensuing assembly elections in the state.
Centre Plans Setting up Single Tribunal to Adjudicate Inter-state Water Disputes
i. The Centre has planned to set up a single, permanent Tribunal to adjudicate all Inter-State River Water Disputes, subsuming existing tribunals, to resolve grievances of states in a speedy manner.
ii. A retired Supreme Court judge will act as the chairperson of the Tribunal. The government has also proposed to amend the Inter-State Water Disputes Act, 1956. It directs to form benches to look into disputes as and when required which would cease to exist once the disputes are resolved.
iii. At present, there are eight Tribunals including those on Cauvery, Mahadayi, Ravi and Beas, Vansadhara and Krishna rivers.
iv. Earlier water tribunals took ages to deliver final solution into disputes, where as the proposed Tribunal is expected to deliver its verdict during a span of three years.
v. Besides, the amendment also proposes to set up Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC) comprising experts and policy-makers to handle disputes prior to the Tribunal.
Government Considers Merging Cyber and Telecom Appellate Tribunal
i. The Center is planning to merge Cyber Appellate Tribunal (CyAT) with the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) to avoid identical functions.
ii. There are 36 tribunals functioning in the country dealing with subjects such as income tax, electricity, consumer protection, company laws and railway accidents. The government is seeking to reduce the number of tribunals from 36 to 18 as most of these bodies perform “identical functions”.
iii. The Department of Legal Affairs in the Law ministry will be the nodal agency for administration of various tribunals. Currently, the tribunals are handled by various ministries.
iv. CyAT settles matters related to information technology. TDSAT resolves disputes and dispose of appeals with a view to protect the interests of service providers and consumers of the telecom sector to promote and ensure orderly growth of the telecom sector.
India-Nepal Folk Crafts Festival kicks off in Kathmandu
i. The five day India-Nepal Folk Crafts Festival (INCF-2016) begins in Kathmandu, Nepal on December 19, 2016 to promote cultural exchanges between the two countries
ii. Aim: To promote crafts based bilateral relations and enhance cultural exchanges between the artisans of India and Nepal
iii. The INCF-2016 will highlights more than 70 theme based pavilion with focus on folk crafts of India and Nepal, cultural events, live demonstration by crafts-persons and design workshops to be conducted as a part of this festival.
iv. The festival is sponsored by Ministry of Textiles, Government of India and is organised by South Asia Foundation and SAF-Nepal in association with Council of Handicrafts Development Corporations (COHANDS) and supported by Embassy of India, Kathmandu, Embassy of Nepal, New Delhi, B P Koirala India-Nepal Foundation (BPKF), Federation of Handicraft Associations of Nepal (FHAN) and Nepal Tourism Board.
♦ Capital: Kathmandu
♦ Currency: Nepalese rupee
♦ Prime minister: Pushpa Kamal Dahal
4000 early printed Bengali books to be Digitized by the British Library
i. The British Library is set to digitise 4,000 early printed Bengali books amounting to more than 800,000 pages as a part of a project under the UK India Year of Culture plans for 2017.
ii. The digitisation project is part of “Two Centuries of Indian Print” project, an international partnership between India and UK, led by the British Library to digitize unique material from its South Asian printed books collection. The books are in high demand and span at least 22 South Asian languages. The project has received an additional funding of nearly 500,000 pounds from the Newton Fund.
iii. The project will explore how digital research methods and tools can be applied to unique digitised collection. It will deliver digital skills workshops and training sessions at Indian institutions to support innovative research within South Asian studies.
iv. The British Library is also collaborating with partner institutions in India to share knowledge and skills, helping to stimulate digital scholarship and build research capacity.
v. This exciting project will make South Asia’s rich and vibrant printed heritage accessible to everyone around the world.
About British Library
♦ The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and the second largest library in the world by number of items catalogued.
♦ The library is a major research library, holding well over 150 million items from many countries, and receives a copy of every publication produced in the UK and Ireland.
♦ The Library’s collections include around 14 million books, along with substantial holdings of manuscripts and historical items dating back as far as 2000 BC.
BANKING & FINANCE
EPFO Cuts Interest Rate from 8.8 percent to 8.65 percent
i. Retirement fund body, Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) on December 19, 2016, reduced interest rate on employee provident fund (EPF) deposits to 8.65 per cent for 2016-17 from the current 8.8 per cent.
ii. EPFO’s apex decision making body, the Central Board of Trustees (CBT), headed by the Labour Minister took the decision to reduce the interest rate by 0.15 per cent.
iii. As per the EPFO, retaining 8.8 per cent rate of interest for the current fiscal would have left a deficit of Rs. 383 crore on projected income. EPFO has projected income of Rs. 39,084 crore for the current fiscal.
iv. However, the body could have retained the same rate of return for the current fiscal by utilising about Rs. 409 crore surplus it has, which was accrued after providing 8.8 per cent rate of interest for 2015—16.
v. A surplus of about Rs. 69.34 crore was stipulated if interest rate was lowered to 8.7 per cent.
About EPFO :
♦ Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) is an organization tasked to assist the Central Board of Trustees.
♦ It assists the Central Board in administering a compulsory contributory Provident Fund Scheme, a Pension Scheme and an Insurance Scheme for the workforce engaged in the organized sector in India.
♦ Employee’s Provident Fund (EPF) is a retirement benefit scheme that’s available to all salaried employees. This fund is maintained and overseen by the Employees Provident Fund Organisation of India. It’s a savings platform that helps employees save a fraction of their salary every month that can be used in the event that you are rendered unable to work, or upon retirement.
YES Bank, Ola tie up to provide cash at your doorstep
i. Maharashtra based YES Bank has partnered with Indian online transportation network company Ola to provide cash-on-demand at customer’s doorstep.
ii. Customers can use the Ola app to book a cab for ‘cash at their doorsteps’. A special “YES Bank” icon will be visible on the Ola App from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
iii. Customers can swipe their debit cards to withdraw an amount of up to Rs.2,000 per card.Customers no need to book the cab ride to avail this service.
iv. This service will be available across 10 cities includes Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Pune, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Jaipur.
Yes Bank :
♦ YES BANK and PhonePe was partnered to launch India’s first UPI (unified payments interface) based mobile payment app
♦ ‘Yes Grace’ – an all-women branch in Bengalore
♦ Apps: Yes Mobile 2.0, SIMsePAY, Yes Pay(Wallet), YES TRANSACT , iSPIRIT (start-up)
Amazon launches e-wallet ‘ Amazon Pay Balance’
i. US based Amazon India launched the wallet Amazon Pay Balance in a bid to increase cashless orders and it is limited to Amazon-based transactions.
ii. Amazon Pay Balance will helps customers store balances for essential items and solves the pain point of tendering exact amount of cash at the time of delivery.
iii. The balance amount will be refunds to the user’s bank account or credit card.
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
Andy Murray Retains BBC Sports Personality of the Year for Record Third Time
i. Andy Murray was honored with the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2016 for a record third time on December 18, 2016. The award was presented by Jessica Ennis Hill and Prince William at a ceremony in Birmingham.
ii. The 29-year-old won the title earlier in 2013 and 2015. Murray represents Great Britain in his sporting activities.
iii. Murray became the first British tennis player to reach No 1 in the world by winning Sports Personality of the Year for a record third time along with Wimbledon in June 2016, the Olympics in August 2016 and replacing Novak Djokovic as Tennis world number one in November 2016.
iv. Two-time Olympic triathlon champion Alistair Brownlee was second and Olympic showjumping gold medallist Nick Skelton was third.
Puerto Rico’s Stephanie Del Valle Crowned Miss World 2016
i. Stephanie Del Valle from Puerto Rico was crowned the Miss World 2016 at the event’s grand finale held at the MGM National Harbor near Washington DC on December 18, 2016.
ii. Miss World 2015 Mireia Lalaguna Royo crowned the 19-year-old Stephanie. She is the second winner from Puerto Rican to hold the title after Wilnelia Merced who won it in 1975.
iii. The first runner-up was Yaritza Miguelina Reyes Ramirez of the Dominican Republic, while Indonesia’s Natasha Mannuela took third place. Kenya and the Philippines were among the top five.
iv. Indian contestant Priyadarshini lost out on the title after making it to the top 20 at the pageant. Earlier, she featured in the top five contestants for the Beauty With a Purpose title, which was eventually won by Miss Indonesia.
v. Contestants from more than 100 countries took part in the beauty pageant.
Puerto Rico :
♦ Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island and unincorporated U.S. territory with a landscape of mountains, waterfalls and the El Yunque tropical rainforest.
♦ Capital: San Juan
♦ Currency: United States Dollar
Varun Bhatt of Rajasthan Patrika and The Week wins IPI-India Award 2016
i. The weekly magazine The Week and Varun Bhatt of daily hindi magazine Rajasthan Patrika have been named for the International Press Institute’s (IPI) India Award for Excellence in Journalism, 2016, for outstanding journalistic work done during 2015.
ii. Bhatt has been awarded for his investigative report exposing the apathy and negligence of the authorities in fulfilling promises to build a memorial for 1500 tribals, killed during freedom struggle in Mangadh, which is called the Jalianwalabagh of Rajasthan.
iii. The Week was selected for an exclusive interview and article by Rabi Banerjee which explained the unknown life and struggles of human rights activist Irom Sharmila. The interview also gave out for the first time the fact that she wanted to give up her prolonged fast and take to political work.
iv. A distinguished jury of Editors and Publishers headed by Justice AS Anand, former Chief Justice of India and former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, chose the awardees.
v. The award comprises a cash prize of Rs. 1 lakh, a trophy and a citation, to each winner. The award will be presented at a function in New Delhi by the end of January 2017.
vi. IPI India instituted the annual award in 2003 to recognise and honour the best work done by an Indian media organisation or journalist working in print, radio, television and Internet mediums, in furtherance of public interest, including safeguarding of freedom of the press and other freedoms such as human rights
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
Actor Priyanka Chopra to be brand ambassador for Assam tourism
i. Sarbananda Sonowal led assam government has roped Bollywood actor Priyanka Chopra as the brand ambassador of the state tourism.
ii. She will be responsible for the campaign, “Awesome Assam” for a period of two years.
♦ Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary
♦ Manas Wildlife Sanctuary
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Harvard researchers create world’s smallest radio reciever
i. Scientists from US based Harvard University‘s John A Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed the world’s smallest radio receiver using atomic-scale defects in pink diamonds.The study was published in the journal Physical Review Applied.
ii. This tiny radio would be able to operate in space, in harsh environments and even the human body and is biocompatible. It uses tiny imperfections in diamonds called nitrogen-vacancy (NV) centres by replace one carbon atom with a nitrogen atom
iii. NV centers can be used to emit electrons or detect very weak magnetic fields.These electrons are sensitive to electromagnetic fields, including the waves used in FM radio.
iv. When NV centre receives radio waves it converts them and emits the audio signal as red light.
China Clones World’s first Goat with superfine wool
i. The world’s first cloned goat with superfine Cashmere wool was born in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
ii. The goat will be raised in a center for animal husbandry research conducted by experts from agricultural universities and academies in southwest China’s Yunnan Province and Inner Mongolia.
iii. Cashmere wool is obtained from Cashmere goats and few other types of goat. The wool fibre is less than 13.8 micrometres thick and is finer and softer than sheep’s wool.
iv. It is much finer than the average of 15.8 micrometres of the famous Erlang Mountain goats in Inner Mongolia.
v. Cloning is a scientific process of creating genetically identical copies of genes, cells, tissues or entire organisms.
Atletico de Kolkata wins 2016 Hero Indian Super League beating Kerala Blasters 5-4
i. Atletico de Kolkata wins 2016 Hero Indian Super League trophy by beating Kerala Blasters in the finals by 5-4. The final match was held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on 18 December 2016.
ii. This is the second time Kolkata has won the league. Atlético de Kolkata was also the winner of the 1st season of ISL when it was started in 2014.
iii. Kerala Blaster could not take the advantage of the lead goal, and at the end of 2nd half and extra time of 30 minutes the score of both teams was 1-1. In the penalty shootout period Kolkata overpowered Kerala by scoring 4-3 and taking the total score to 5-4.
iv. Match Awards:
1.Club award: Atlético de Kolkata
2.ISL Emerging Player of the Match: Lalrindika Ralte (Atlético de Kolkata)
3.Hero of the Match: Henrique Sereno Fonseca (Atlético de Kolkata)
India Beat Belgium 2-1 to Win 2016 FIH Junior Hockey World Cup
i. India beat Belgium 2-1 in the final of the 2016 Junior Hockey World Cup on December 18, 2016, at Lucknow’s Major Dhyan Chand Stadium and reclaimed the crown after 15 long years.
ii. India has become the first nation to win the hockey junior World Cup at home ground.
iii. India won their first title in 2001 in Hobart, Australia. In 1997, India won silver after losing to Australia in the final in Milton Keynes, England.
iv. The team lead by captain Harjeet singh, scored two goals in the first half through Gurjant Singh and Simranjeet Singh.
v. The 2016 Men’s Hockey Junior World Cup was the 11th edition of the Hockey Junior World Cup for men, an international field hockey tournament. It was held in Lucknow, India from 8–18 December 2016.
Karun Nair scores triple century in test, 2nd Indian to do so
i. Indian cricketer Karun Nair scored a triple century in the 5th Test match against England held in MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai, and became the second Indian cricketer to score triple century in Test Cricket after Virendra Sehwag. This was his 3rd test match.
ii. He scored 303 not out in 381 balls when the Indian captain declared the innings on 759-7. This score of 759 is also the highest total of that India has ever made in a single inning in test Cricket.
iii. He became the first Indian cricketer to convert his maiden century into a triple century.
The 25 years and 13 days old Nair also became the youngest Indian to make a triple century overtaking Virendra Sehwag who was 25 years and 160 days when he made his 309 against Pakistan.
iv. Karun Nayar plays for Karnataka in Ranji Trophy.
Highest Score in Test Match: 400*- Brian Lara(West Indies)
Highest Score in test Match by Indian : 319 – Virendra Sehwag
Creator of Heimlich maneuver, Dr Henry Heimlich, died at 96
i. Dr Henry Heimlich, who became famous in the 1970s for creating the technique to save choking victims, passed away at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati on December 17, 2016. He was 96.
ii. He suffered massive heart attack in his home in Hyde Park, Cincinnati on December 12 and died of complications on December 17.
iii. Dr Henry Heimlich was an American thoracic surgeon and medical researcher. He was widely famous as the inventor of the Heimlich maneuver, a first aid procedure used to treat upper airway obstructions (or choking).
iv. He also invented the Micro Trach portable oxygen system for ambulatory patients and the Heimlich Chest Drain Valve which drains blood and air out of the chest cavity.
Renowned Hollywood actress and Socialite Zsa Zsa Gabor dies at 99
i. Zsa Zsa Gabor, Hungarian-American actress and socialite died from a heart attack at 99 at her Los Angeles home on December 18, 2016.
ii. The Hungarian-born actress appeared in over 70 movies. She made her Hollywood film debut in 1952 in Lovely to Look At.
iii. The former Miss Hungary of 1936 rose to fame due to her outlandish personality, extravagant lifestyle and extraordinary series of nine marriages. She married for the first time at the age of 20, and wed for the last time when she was 69-years old.