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Current Affairs Today – December 20 2016

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Chhattisgarh CM dedicates country’s first cashless bazaar to people in Raipur
i. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh launched India’s first cashless bazaar in Raipur on December 19, 2016
ii. This ‘Smart’ bazaar consist of nearly Over 900 shops which are providing the facilities of cashless payments using POS, UPI and other digital systems to its customers.
iii. Chhattisgarh is currently leading in the nation in training its people in digital transactions.
Chhattisgarh :
♦ The highest peak of the state is Bailadila range in Dantewada district
♦ The Bhoramdeo temple located in Kabirdham district
First Cashless Villages in India :
♦ Jhatipur village in Panipat district became the first village in Haryana
♦ Dhasai village is the first cashless village in Maharashtra
♦ Lanura in Budgam district is the first village in Jammu and Kashmir
♦ Telangana’s Ibrahimpur becomes first cashless village in south India

Tamil poet-saint Thiruvalluvar Statue gets Place at Haridwar’s Mela Bhawan
i. The 12-foot-tall stone statue of renowned Tamil poet and philosopher-saint Thiruvalluvar was inaugurated at Mela Bhawan premises in Haridwar, Uttarakhand by Chief minister Harish Rawat on December 19, 2016.Thiruvalluvar Statue
ii. Former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Uttarakhand Tarun Vijay had initiated the process of introducing Thiruvalluvar in Uttarakhand which was initially decided to be installated on the banks of the Ganga in Haridwar in June 2016.
iii. However, the priests and saints raised objections to place Thiruvalluvar’s statue on either bank of the Ganga at Har ki Pauri, or near the statue of the Adi Sankara in Haridwar’s Shankaracharya Chowk which led to the delay in the installation process by 6 months.
About Thiruvalluvar 
♦ Thiruvalluvar is a renowned Tamil poet and philosopher, is believed to be born either in Thiru Mylai (Mylapore) Chennai in Tamil Nadu or in ThirunainarKuruchi, a village in Kanyakumari District of Tamil Nadu sometime between the 4th century BC and the 1st century BC.
♦ This estimate is based on linguistic analysis of his writings, as there is no historical evidence for when and where he lived.
♦ He is known for his contribution of the book Tirukkural (also known as the Kural), a work on ethics. The book is also called as the fifth Veda or ‘Bible of the Tamil Land’.
♦ Thiruvalluvar 133 foot tall statute is installed at Kanyakumari (Tamil Nadu), at southern tip of Indian Peninsula. There is also his statue outside the School of Oriental and African studies in Russell Square, London (United Kingdom).

Madras High Court Bans Sharia Courts Functioning in Tamil Nadu
i. The Madras High Court on December 19, 2016 declared a ban on all unauthorised ‘Sharia’ courts functioning on premises of mosques in Tamil Nadu, to safeguard the interests of a large number of innocent Muslims whose fate was being decided by such illegal Sharia courts and councils in the state.
ii. A two bench of Chief Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M Sundar ordered the ban of all such unauthorised courts in the state and asked for a status report from the police within four weeks.
iii. The court passed the order after hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by an NRI Abdul Rahman, a 29-year-old sales engineer employed in the Gulf. He approached ‘Sharia council’ to reunite with his wife but was forced to divorce her.
iv.The ‘Sharia court’ on the premises of Makka Masjid Shariat Council was dealing with matrimonial disputes, summoning parties and passing divorce orders like a regular court.
Tamil Nadu :
♦ Governor: C. Vidyasagar Rao (Addl. charge)
♦ Chief Minister: O. Panneerselvam
♦ Animal: Nilgiri tahr                           ♦  Bird: Emerald dove
♦ Tree: Palm tree                                ♦  Flower: Gloriosa lily
♦ Dance: Bharathanattiyam                 ♦  Sports: Kabaddi

World Confluence of Humanity, Power and Spirituality Held in New Delhi
i. The ninth edition of World Confluence of Humanity, Power and Spirituality, organised by ASSOCHAM in association with Srei Foundation and Times Foundation was held in New Delhi from December 16- December 17, 2016.
ii. The theme of the convention was “Sach Bharat: Spirituality at Work”
iii. Aim of the confluence was to spread an idea and principles of Humanity, Power and Spirituality among the people to inculcate the right sense of attitude, devotion to work, unified cooperation in work, faith in self and others, peace and harmony, fearlessness.
iv. The Confluence was inaugurated in the presence of Hon’ble President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee, ASSOCHAM President Mr. Sunil Kanoria,  Srei Foundation Chairman Dr. Hari Prasad Kanoria and Chairman, Times Foundation, Smt. Indu Jain,.
v .Distinguished industrialists, business leaders, noted politicians and achievers from various walks of society came together on this platform.
About World Confluence of Humanity, Power and Spirituality
♦ World Confluence of Humanity, Power and Spirituality is being conducted annually since 2010 to spread the message of inter-faith peace and harmony, to ignite the human spirit, and to harness the potential of human beings towards selfless service.
♦ The Confluence of Humanity, first of its kind in the world, seeks to spread the words of Lord Krishna to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, the words of Jesus Christ, and also the sayings of Islam through the speeches by the different enlightened leaders. This Confluence seeks in believing unity in diversity.


India Achieves 4th rank in Global Wind Power Installed Capacity Index
i. India has been ranked 4th in the Global Wind Power Installed Capacity index after China, USA and Germany with cumulative installed wind power generation capacity of 28,279 MW in 2016.
ii. The Government is aiming to increase share of clean energy through massive development and deployment of new and renewable energy in India to meet Energy security, Electricity shortages, Energy access and Climate change among others.
iii. India achieved the largest-ever wind power capacity addition of 3,423 MW in 2015-16, exceeding the target by 43 per cent. During 2016-17, a total of 1,502 MW capacity has been added till 31 October 2016, making cumulative achievement 28,279 MW.

India Signs Open Skies Agreement with Six Countries at ICAN 2016
i. India has signed an Open Skies Agreement with six countries at the International Civil Aviation Negotiations (ICAN), 2016 which were held in Nassau, Bahamas from December 5-9, 2016.
ii. Open Skies Agreement was signed with Jamaica, Guyana, Czech Republic, Finland, Spain and Sri Lanka to allows unlimited number of flights to six metro airports namely Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Chennai.ICAO 2016
iii. The Conference was attended by 106 countries out of ICAO membership of 191 countries. India held negotiations with 17 countries and Memorandum of Understanding was signed with 12 countries.
iv. Shri R.N. Choubey, Secretary, Civil Aviation led the Indian Delegations at the negotiation.
Other major issues resolved at the negotiations were:
♦ India renegotiated traffic rights with Oman to increase the entitlements with 6,258 seats effective from Summer 2017 as the existing entitlements were nearly exhausted. However, no additional destinations were added to which Oman Air will fly in India.
♦ India agreed with Saudi Arabia to increase the capacity by 8000 seats per week. This was in response to the needs of increasing traffic between the two countries where Indian carriers have been utilising open sky in Damman to mount more flights than the Saudi Arabian side.
♦ India also agreed with Ghana to increase the present allocation of 2 frequencies to 7 frequencies per week to encourage connectivity between the two countries.
♦ India also signed New Air Service Agreement with the Jamaica and Guyana belonging.
♦ As per National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP 2016), code shares are to be encouraged and keeping this in view, negotiations were completed with 9 countries to enable the legal framework between the governments of these countries to make possible code shares between the airlines of two sides. The negotiations have enabled domestic code shares with Czech Republic, Portugal and Malaysia.
♦ Resolution of other issues relating to Air Services Agreement was also completed with Ghana, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Portugal, Hong Kong, Ethiopia and Bangladesh.

WHO Finds African Nations More Prone To Develop Lifestyle Diseases:
As per a study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) survey of 33 countries, the developing African nation is developing a deadly lifestyle disease owing to modern city life and bad habits.
♦ These deadly disease are normally caused due to smoking, harmful use of alcohol, a poor diet which does not include fruit and vegetables, and low levels of physical activity.
Important Highlights of the study
i. The study showed that African nations will see more die of chronic illness than infectious diseases by 2030 since most adults in Africa have at least one risk factor such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, increasing their chance of developing deadly lifestyle diseases.
ii. Most people were not eating enough fruits and vegetables, and depends on junk food and unhealthy diets leading to burden of under nutrition and obesity.
iii. The survey showed an average of 35 per cent of people were overweight and that the average time spent in moderate or high intensity physical activity ranged from 21 minutes per day in Mauritania to 386 minutes per day in Mozambique. Women were more likely to be inactive and overweight.
iv. The report showed that some four million people will die from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Africa by 2020, and the figure will surpass those of infectious diseases by 2030.
v. The WHO study found that daily tobacco use ranges from 5 to 26 per cent in Africa, and is only growing.
♦ The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health.
Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland
♦ Founded: April 7, 1948
♦ Head: Margaret Chan


India Surpasses United Kingdom to become Fifth Largest Economy
i. According to a report published in Forbes magazine, India has overtaken United Kingdom in terms of the size of the economy, first time in 150 years.
ii. With this major shift in world economy, India has now become the fifth largest country in terms of the size of the economy after the United States, China, Japan and Germany. 
iii. The recent shift took place because of India’s continuous economic growth in the last 25 years as well as Britain’s recent economic issues after the Brexit decision over the last 12 months.
iv. India was expected to overtake UK GDP in 2020, but the almost 20% drop in the value of the pound in the last one year made it possible in 2017.
v. Economic think-tank Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) in December 2011, forecasted that India would become the “fifth largest by 2020”.

Ukraine Nationalized Nations Largest Private Bank ‘PrivateBank’
i. PrivatBank, Ukraine’s largest private bank, was nationalized by the Government of Ukriane on December 18, after being declared insolvent by the National Bank of Ukraine.
ii. The Ukrainian government will now acquire the 100 per cent ownership of PrivatBank and will allocate funds to stabilise the bank to guarante uninterrupted functioning of the institution and the safety of its clients’ money.
iii. Ukraine’s former finance minister Oleksandr Shlapak will take over as president of the bank.
iv. The National Bank of Ukraine stated that the bank saw a capital shortfall of about $5.65bn brought by irresponsible lending and related capital losses and about 97% of its corporate loans had gone to companies linked to its shareholders. The bank’s major shareholder, Ihor Kolomoyskyi, agreed with the nationalizing.
v. The takeover of the nation’s largest bank marks a crucial move in ensuring stability for the country’s future, as a crisis in Privat Bank would have had far-reaching implications to Ukraine’s already struggling economy.
National Bank of Ukraine :
♦ National Bank of Ukraine is the central bank of Ukraine constructed between 1902 and 1934.
♦ Founded: 1992
♦ President: Valeriya Hontareva
♦ Capital: Kiev & Currency: Ukrainian hryvnia

Pakistan Resolves to Demonitize high denomination Rs 5,000 currency notes
i. Weeks after demonetization of high currency notes in India, Pakistan’s Senate on December 19, 2016, passed a resolution to withdraw high denomination Rs 5,000 currency notes to curb the flow of black money in the country.
ii. The Senator Usman Saif Ullah Khan of the Pakistan Muslim League tabled the resolution that was endorsed by the majority of law makers in the upper house of Parliament.
iii. According to the resolution, the currency ban will be implemented in phased manner over the next three to five years to clean the market of this high-value note.
iv. The country’s lawmakers believe the currency ban will encourage people to use bank accounts and restrict the circulation of black money.
v. However, Law Minister Zahid Hamid said that the withdrawal of the notes will create crises in the market and the people will resort to foreign currencies in absence of Rs 5,000 notes. He said that currently 3.4 trillion notes are in circulation in country of which 1.02 trillion notes are of Rs 5,000 denominations.
vi. Pakistan is the third country after India and Venezuela to demonetise high-value notes in 2016. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetization on November 8 to curb the circulation of black money, end terror funding and weed out corruption.
vii. On December 14, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro had announced that it would withdraw 100-bolivar bills, the biggest denomination currency notes in the country, to stop “mafias” from hoarding it abroad however the move was put on hold after violent protests Pakistan Rs.5000across the country
♦ Capital: Islamabad
♦ Currency: Pakistani rupee
♦ Prime minister: Nawaz Sharif
♦ PresidentMamnoon Hussain

No political party can accept donations in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes: FM Arun Jaitley
i. At the 2016 Economic Times Awards for Corporate Excellence, Mumbai, on December 17, 2016, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley clarified that no political party can accept donations in Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes since they have been rendered illegal tender. Any party doing so would be in violation of law.
ii. He declared that the government has not granted any new exemption to registered political parties either after 8th November demonetization or with the introduction of the Taxation Amendment Act, 2016. He said income and donations of political parties fall in the purview of Section 13A of the Income Tax Act 1961 and there is no change in its provisions.
iii. Just like anyone else, political parties can also deposit their cash held in the old currency in banks till December 30, provided they can satisfactorily explain the source of income and their books of accounts reflect the entries prior to November 8. If there is any discrepancy in the books or records of political parties, they would be liable to be questioned by the income tax authorities.
iv. The clarification was made after Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia said that if the money is a deposit in the account of a political party, it is exempt from paying tax and neither will it face scrutiny.


Government revises North East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy (NEIIP), 2007
i. The Government has revised North East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy (NEIIP), 2007 to stipulate mandatory disbursal of subsidies to all industrial units in northeast through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) mechanism by Chief Controller of Accounts (Industry).
ii. The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) said that the Industrial units which had commenced production on or after December 1, 2014 and on or before March 31, 2017 as well as existing units which go in for substantial expansion and commence commercial production on or before March 2017 will be eligible for incentives as per the revised norms of subsidy.
iii. For this purpose, the industrial units will need to get themselves registered on the e-payment portal by providing required bank details.
iv. The subsidy for the existing and new industrial units going for substantial expansion will be limited Rs 3 crore per industrial unit operating in services sector and Rs 5 crore per industrial unit operating in manufacturing sector.
v. The limit for automatic approval of subsidy at the rate of 30% of the investment in plant and machinery will continue to be upto Rs 1.5 crore per unit. In case of grant for capital investment subsidy higher than Rs 1.5 crore and upto a maximum of Rs 5 crore will be approved by empowered committee, chaired by Ramesh Abhishek, Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP).

Iran Finalizes 100-jet deal with Airbus with first delivery in January
i. Iran has finalized an agreement with Airbus to acquire 100 jetliners. The timing of the first delivery of the Airbus A321 is expected to arrive before the January 20.
ii. Under the agreement, Airbus will supply four types of aircraft including both narrow-body and wide-body aircraft: its medium-haul A320 and A321 aircraft and the long-haul A330 and A350.
Airbus & Iraniii. Iran, which earlier finalised a deal with Boeing for 80 jets, has so far finalized agreements with foreign leasing firms to finance a total of 77 aircraft, including 42 from Airbus and 35 from Boeing. There will be at least two leasing companies.
♦ Capital: Tehran
♦ Currency: Iranian rial
♦ President: Hassan Rouhani


Healthy Ministry wins gold in the Web Ratna Category
i. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare lead by Jagat Prakash Nadda has won gold in the Web Ratna category in the Digital India awards 2016.
ii. Jitendra Arora, Director, e-Governance, at the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare received the award from the Union Minister of Electronics and Information Technology and Law & Justice, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Web Ratna Award :
♦ The Web Ratna Awards, constituted by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, acknowledges exemplary initiatives/practices of various states/UTs in the realm of e-governance.
♦ The Awards have been instituted under the ambit of the National Portal of India.


Flock launches world’s first chat operating system
i. A free instant messaging service for work and business environments, Flock  has launched world’s first chat operating system”FlockOS” by Bhavin Turakhia, Flock CEO on December 20, 2016FlockOS
ii. Developers can build apps  by using Flock OS that provide a tightly integrated experience by using widgets.
iii. This OS provides setup slash commands, providing an additional option for users to interact with the app
Operating Sysytem (OS):
An Operating System (OS) is an interface between a computer user and computer hardware

China Commissions its first 7-tonne Helicopter
i. China on December 20, 2016, commissioned its first seven-tonne helicopter, to mark a new development in the China’s helicopter industry, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).
ii. The new Chinese AC352 civil helicopter is a multi-purpose twin-engine helicopter with a 7.5-tonne maximum take-off weight, and is capable of carrying up to 16 passengers.
iii. The new Chinese helicopter can be used in fields including offshore transportation, search and rescue, law enforcement, general transport and medical assistance.
iv. Lu Weijian, chief designer of the AC352 said that global resources were pooled in research and production of the helicopter which is expected to be delivered to clients in 2018.
♦ Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) is a Chinese state-owned  aerospace  and  defense company. It is ranked 159th place in the Fortune Global 500 lists.
♦ Founded: November 6, 2008
♦ Headquarters: Chaoyang District, Beijing, China
♦ Chairman and CEO: Lin Zuoming


163 New Species Discovered in Greater Mekong
According to a World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature report published on December 19, 2016, scientists have discovered 163 new species in the Greater Mekong.
♦ Of the 163 species discovered, 126 were plants, 14 reptile, 11 fish, nine amphibian and 3 mammal species.
The new species discovered includes:
i. Lizard with dragon-like horns Acanthosaura phuketensis discovered at the Thai tourist island of Phuket.
ii. New frog species Leptolalax isos which can fit on a fingertip was discovered in Cambodia and Vietnam.163 New Species Discovered in Greater Mekong
iii. Parafimbrios lao, a snake with rainbow-like scale colours around its head found in the limestone karsts region of northern Laos.
iv. A gecko in Laoswith pale blue skin
v. A rare banana species discovered in northern Thailand that is critically endangered because of increasing deforestation.
About Greater Mekong
♦ The Greater Mekong is an international region of the Mekong River basin in Southeast Asia.This region includes parts of southwestern China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar.
♦ Though the area is ecologically diverse, wildlife in the area is threatened by dam and road building and the illegal trade of rare and endangered species.
♦ Between 1997 and 2015, 2,409 new species were discovered in the Greater Mekong region, a rate of about two new discoveries per week.

Huge ‘dead zone’ found in Bay of Bengal
i. A 60,000 square kilometres‘ dead zone’ was founded in the Bay of Bengal by Researchers from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research’s National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) in Goa
ii. This zone contains little or no oxygen and supports microbial processes that remove vast amounts of nitrogen from the ocean.
iii. Because this area hosts microbial communities that can remove nitrogen.
What is Dead zones ?
“Dead zone” is a more common term for hypoxia, which refers to a reduced level of oxygen in the water.
Dead zones: western coasts of North and South America, off the coast of Namibia and off the west coast of India in the Arabian Sea.


India Ends 2016 with No 1 Ranked Test Team
i. India has been ranked as the No.1 team in the ICC Test Championship after posting a 4-0 wins over England in the five-match series, which ended with an innings and 75 runs victory in Chennai on December 20, 2016.
ii. The series win helped India gain five points and totaling to 120 points in the last Test team rankings update of 2016 leaving behind Australia at second spot.
iii. In contrast, England, which had started the series tied with Australia on 105 points have slipped from second to fifth position.
iv. Top 5 countries on the ICC Test Championship Ranking

4South Africa102

v. The side at the top of the rankings on April 1, 2017 will receive USD 1 million. The second-placed side will be awarded USD 500,000 while the third and fourth placed sides will receive USD 200,000 and USD 100,000 each.


Veteran Malayalam Actor Jagannatha Varma Passes Away
i. Veteran Malayalam Film and Television actor K N Jagannatha Varma passed away at Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala on December 20, 2016. He was 77.
ii. Varma was well known for his Malayalam films in 1978 with ‘Mattoly‘ and had acted memorable roles in over 500 films.
iii. Among his well known films are, New Delhi, Lelam, Pathram, Nakshatrangale Sakshi, Sughamo Devi, Ee Thanuthe Veluppan Kalathu and No 20 Madras Mail.
iv. Three years ago  he made his ‘arangetram’ as Thayambaka artist


International Human Solidarity Day – December 20 2016
The United Nations’ (UN) International Human Solidarity Day is celebrated on December International Human Solidarity Day20 every year since 2006 to celebrate unity in diversity.
Aim: To remind people on the importance of solidarity in working towards eradicating poverty.
Objectives :
i. To raise public awareness of the importance of solidarity.
ii. To encourage debate on the ways to promote solidarity for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals including poverty eradication.
iii. To encourage new initiatives for poverty eradication.