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Current Affairs Today – December 22 2016

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INDIAN AFFAIRS

Union Cabinet Approvals & Announcement – December 22 2016
i. The Centre approved a draft ordinance on December 21, 2016, to empower states and enable industries to pay wages by cheque or by direct credit into bank accounts of workers earning up to Rs. 18,000 a month, without taking their explicit consent.
ii. The Union Cabinet approved the ordinance to amend the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, to allow employers of certain industries to make payment through the electronic mode and cheques.
iii. The cabinet committee on economic affairs (CCEA) gave its approval for doubling of Rajpura-Bhatinda railway line at an estimated cost of Rs. 1,251.25 crore.
iv.  approved the sale of part of surplus and vacant land of 87.70 acres at Pimpri in Pune, Maharashtra to meet Rs. 821.17 crore net liabilities of Hindustan Antibiotics Ltd (HAL).
v. The union government will soon set up a toll-free number 10588 to provide relevant information and guidance directly to the pregnant women.
vi. The elite counter-terror force, National Security guard (NSG) may participate in the Republic Day celebrations on January 26, 2017 at Rajpath for the first time in the history.

Gujarat govt announces Aerospace and Defence Policy-2016
Vijay Rupani lead Gujarat government announced Aerospace and Defence Policy-2016 on December 21, 2016.
♦ Aim: To attract investment into fields of aerospace and defence design, development and manufacturing in Gujarat.
About Aerospace and Defence Policy-2016
i. Investors entitled to get 100 per cent reimbursement on stamp duty and registration charges paid for purchase, lease or mortgage of land meant for setting up the facility in the Defence Policyareas of Aerospace and Defence(A&D) as per the policy
ii. All A&D units would be provided 100 per cent exemption on electricity duty for a period of five years from the date of commencement of production.
iii. In case a government land is available then 50 per of prevailing jantri rates
iv. To conduct tests and trials of defence equipment manufactured in the state, government will provide all the required assistance to develop the infrastructure on PPP model.
v. Cash subsidy of 25 per cent on capital investment made by MSME units to set up their facility in the A&D sector
vi. Large A&D projects will be entitled to get 2 per cent interest subsidy on external borrowings.

CBSE Class X board exams to be made mandatory from 2018
i. CBSE’s governing body has unanimously approved a proposal on December 20, 2016, to make Board exams for Class X compulsory for all CBSE schools from the academic session 2017-18.
ii. Currently, it is optional for CBSE students to choose either the Board exam or a school-based examination.
iii. Class X Board exams were made optional in 2011 after educationists objected to the stress associated with it. This was replaced with Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation or CCE. Students, however, could opt for board exams if they wanted.
iv. In another key decision, the CBSE has also decided to recommend to the HRD Ministry that the three-language formula, under which Hindi, English and modern Indian language (listed in schedule VIII of the Constitution) are taught to the students of Class VI to VIII should also be extended for class IX and X.
v. CBSE’s highest decision-making body also decided to introduce an eligibility test for principals of all CBSE schools. CBSE will design a test on the lines of the Central Teacher Eligibility Test for principals in which they will have to pass.
vi. CBSE chairman R K Chaturvedi informed that all the three decisions need the final stamp of approval from the HRD Ministry before implementation.
CBSE
♦ The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is a Board of Education for public and private schools, under the Union Government of India.
Chairman‎: ‎Rakesh Kumar Chaturvedi
♦ Headquarters‎: ‎New Delhi, India
♦ Formation‎: ‎3 November 1962

Maharashtra Government announces Separate Ministry for OBC
i. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis while addressing the concluding-session of Kunbi Mahotsav at Shahapur in the Thane district of the state on December 20, announced that a separate ministry would be created for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) which would be headed by an independent minister.
ii. CM also announced to allocate Rs 200 crore funds for gravity-based water supply projects to fulfil the need of the town and surrounding areas.
iii. For this the government  would prepare a policy under which villages giving land for dam projects would be entitled to get water from that particular project.
iv. Fadnavis also directed Thane Zilla Parishad to prepare a tourist circuit plan for Shahapur and Murbad talukas and assured maximum funds for development.
v. Besides, the state government has also come up with a target of planting 50 crore saplings in next three years (July 2019) in order to increase the green cover across the state.

Haryana Issues Petro Card to Drivers for Cashless Payment of Fuel
i. To promote cashless transaction in the state, the Haryana government on December 21, 2016, issued petro cards to drivers working with the state government for cashless payments of fuel.
ii. The government has shortlisted two companies for this purpose: Indian Oil Corporation and Bharat Petroleum.
iii. Further to educate the citizens about digital payments, banks have organised camps in their branches at many locations. Nearly 932 such camps have been organised in 4648 bank branches where 21083 persons participated.
iv. Similarly, training was also imparted to 803 employees of 30 government departments. For this, five teams having two members each were formed to impart training to employees of state government departments or organisations to use various cashless modes.
v. The State Bank of India has also signed an agreement to install 3000 Point of Sale (POS) machines at various state government offices across the state without any charges.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Japan Approves Record $43.6 billion Increase in Military Spending to Counter North Korea and China
i. The government of Japan headed by Shinzo Abe approved a 1.4 percent increase in military spending on December 22, 2016 in order to counter the military power of North Korea and China. With this the total military budget of Japan has now reached a record level of $43.6 billion or 5.13 trillion Japanese Yen for the year starting April 1.
ii. Japan is planning to strengthen its presence in the East China Sea along with making preparations to improve its ballistic missile defense.
iii. The military might of China and North Korea’s progress in its missile and nuclear program has created great concerns for Japan. Large military budget will help Japan to counter other regional military powers.
iv .The defence forces of Japan have shifted their attention from the nation’s northern border to the East China Sea in order to reinforce the 1,400 km long island chain.
v. Now the Japanese military is focusing more on a more mobile force equipped with ships, amphibious vehicles, mobile missile batteries and tilt-rotor Osprey carriers.
vi. In order to counter the constant advancements in North Korea’s nuclear program Japan has decided to invest in the upgrading of its own ballistic missile defence system.
Japan
Capital: Tokyo
♦ Currency: Japanese yen
♦ Prime minister: Shinzo Abe

Nepal to hold first ever military exercise with China
i. Nepal has announced to hold its first ever joint military exercise with China on February 10, 2017 to begin a new level of bilateral military engagement with China.
ii. The focus of the military exercise, named Pratikar-1, will be on training Nepali forces in dealing with hostage scenarios involving international terror groups.
iii. Nepal’s Chief of Army Staff General Rajendra Chhetri visited Beijing in March when both sides had resolved to strengthen military ties.
iv. Nepal has earlier conducted similar exercise with India.
v. Analysts say that though the military drill with China does not violate the 1950 India-Nepal China - Nepaltreaty of peace and friendship, but it does not stand well enough for India as well due to strained relations with China.
Nepal
♦ Capital: Kathmandu
♦ Prime minister: Pushpa Kamal Dahal
♦ Currency: Nepalese rupee
♦ President: Bidhya Devi Bhandari

UK and Argentina Signs Deal to Identify 123 Argentine soldiers buried on the Falkland Islands.
i. The UK and Argentina have signed a deal to identify 123 Argentine soldiers buried on the Falkland Islands.
ii. Britain and Argentina have signed an agreement on December 20, 2016, to identify the bodies of more than 100 unknown Argentinian soldiers buried on the Falklands Islands after the 1982 war. The move will strengthen the relation between the two countries.
iii. The 74-day war began when Argentina seized the islands and Britain sent a taskforce to retake them. In the war 649 Argentinian and 255 British soldiers as well as three Falkland islanders lost their lives.
iv. Under the agreement, the Red Cross will assemble a team of forensic experts, including two Argentinians, who will retrieve DNA samples from 123 unidentified Argentinian combatants buried at at Darwin Cemetery on East Falkland.
v. The samples will then be compared against the samples taken from the volunteer Argentinian families. Work on identifying the remains will begin early 2017.
vi. The two countries also agreed to increase the number of flights between Argentina and the islands, which they claim as the Malvinas.

BANKING & FINANCE

Government reduces transaction fee on IMPS, NEFT transfer of over Rs 1,000
i. The Finance Ministry on December 21, 2016 directed the state-owned banks to reduce fees on payments made through Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) and Unified Payments Interface (UPI) in order to further promote digital and card payments.
ii. Transaction fee on these payment modes would be restricted to the extent that is applicable for NEFT fund transfer of over Rs 1,000. This direction will apply for all transactions made up to March 31, 2017.
iii. As per RBI norms, NEFT transfers of up to Rs 10,000 charge Rs 2.5 fee. From Rs 10,000-1 lakh the fee is Rs 5; on Rs 1-2 lakh it is Rs 15, and beyond Rs 2 lakh it is Rs 25. Service tax is charged in addition to this.
iv. For Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) transactions above Rs 1,000 a further discount of 50 paise on these rates shall apply. The USSD fee is Rs 1.50, which has been waived till December 30, 2016.
v. Transactions using RuPay, USSD, UPI and Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS) will be covered under this scheme while payments made through credit cards and e-wallets would not be covered.
vi. USSD is mobile short code message and used mainly for banking services on feature phone.
vii. IMPS is an interbank electronic instant mobile money transfer service through mobile phones.
viii. The UPI app enables customers to make online as well as offline payment to merchants from their bank accounts, without typing card or net banking/wallet details and IFSC code.

RBI imposes penalty on 5 foreign banks for violating FEMA rules
i. The Reserve Bank of India imposed penalty on five foreign banks on December 21, 2016, for violating the instructions of RBI on reporting requirements of the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA).
ii. The bank including Deutsche Bank has been imposed a fine of Rs. 20,000 while other banks including Standard Chartered Bank, Bank of America, Bank of Tokyo RBI imposes penalty on 5 foreign banks for violating FEMA rules
Mitsubishi and The Royal Bank of Scotland have been fined Rs. 10,000 each.

iii. The penalties have been imposed by RBI by exercising its powers under the provisions of Section 11(3) of FEMA 1999, taking into account, the violations of the instructions/directions/guidelines issued by the Reserve Bank of India, from time to time.
iv. RBI had issued show cause notices to all the banks, in response to which the banks submitted written replies and also made oral submissions thereon. After considering the facts of the cases and the banks’ replies in the matter, Reserve Bank came to the conclusion that the violations were substantiated and warranted imposition of penalty.
FEMA:
♦ The Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA) is an Act of the Parliament of India to consolidate and amend the law relating to foreign exchange with the objective of facilitating external trade and payments and for promoting the orderly development and maintenance of foreign exchange market in India.
RBI
♦ The Reserve Bank of India 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

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Jerry Pinto, Nasira Sharma and Vannadhasan among 2016 Sahitya Akademi Award winners
i. Mumbai-based writer Jerry Pinto, Tamil author Vannadhasan, Hindi writer Nasira Sharma are among 24 writers named for the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Awards 2016.
ii. The books that have won the award includes eight books of poetry, seven of short stories, five novels, two books of criticism, one book of essays and one of play. The books were chosen on the basis of recommendations made by a jury of three in the languages concerned.

Ravichandran Ashwin wins Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy after being named ICC Cricketer of the Year and Test cricketer of the Year
i. Ravichandran Ashwin, the Indian offspinner, was named the Cricketer of the Year and the ICC Test Cricketer of the Year 2016 by the International Cricket Council (ICC) on December 22.
ii.  Ashwin has become the third India player after Rahul Dravid (2004) and Sachin Tendulkar (2010) and 12th player overall to win the prestigious Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy. ICC Awards
iii. The Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy is a cricket trophy awarded annually by the International Cricket Council to its chosen world player of the Year.
iv. The player awards were judged by a voting academy, which was entirely independent of the ICC and in which members of the media from all the 10 Test playing countries were eligible to vote. The voting period ran from 14 September 2015 to 20 September 2016.
v. During the voting period, the 30-year-old player from Chennai played eight Tests in which he took 48 wickets and scored 336 runs. Ashwin also claimed 27 wickets in 19 T20Is.
List of Awards by ICC

ICC Cricketer of the Year (Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy)  Ravichandran Ashwin (India).
ICC Test Cricketer of the Year  Ravichandran Ashwin (India).
ICC ODI Cricketer of the Year  Quinton de Kock (South Africa).
ICC Women’s ODI Cricketer of the Year  Suzie Bates (New Zealand)
ICC Women’s T20I Cricketer of the Year  Suzie Bates (New Zealand)
ICC T20I Performance of the Year  Carlos Brathwaite (West Indies )
ICC Emerging Cricketer of the Year  Mustafizur Rahman (Bangladesh)
ICC Associate/Affiliate Cricketer of the Year  Mohammad Shahzad (Afghanistan)
ICC Spirit of Cricket Award  Misbah-ul-Haq (Pakistan)
ICC Umpire of the Year (David Shepherd Trophy)  Marais Erasmus

2016 SASTRA-Ramanujan award jointly shared by Radziwill & Matomaki
i. The 2016 SASTRA-Ramanujan award for mathematics was presented jointly to Maksym Radziwill of McGill University, Canada and Kaisa Matomaki of University of Turku, Finland at the inauguration of the International Conference on Number Theory at SASTRA University at Kumbakonam.
ii. The two were facilitated for their revolutionary collaborative work on short intervals in number theory.
iii. The two mathematicians worked with Fields medallist Terence Tao in making a breakthrough on the Chowla conjecture.
iv. The shared award comprising of a citation and prize money of $5,000 to each was presented by Prof. Steven Weintraub from Lehigh University who is also the Associate Secretary of the American Mathematical Society.
v. Kaisa Matomaki  is the second woman to receive the prize since it was instituted in 2005. Kathrin Bringmann, University of Cologne  was first lady to receive the award in 2009.
vi. SASTRA University presents the Ramanujan award since 2005, to a leading mathematician under 32 years who have done outstanding work in Ramanujan’s fields of interest.

APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS

Deepak Agarwal appointed Noida CEO Authority
i. IAS officer Deepak Agarwal, CEO of Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority Noida Authority(GNIDA) was appointed as the CEO of Noida Authority by the Uttar Pradesh government. He succeeds P K Agarwal  who will be the additional CEO of Noida Authority.
ii. Deepak is familiar with Gautam Buddh Nagar district. He has been the GNIDA chief since September 2015.
iii. He was also posted as the district magistrate of GB Nagar from February 2009 to March 2013.

Girija Vaidyanathan appointed as new Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu  
i. Senior IAS Officer Girija Vaidyanathan was appointed as the new Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu.She replaced P. Rama Mohana Rao
ii. Vaidyanathan is curently working as the Additional Chief Secretary and Commissioner of Land Reforms.
iii. She will also hold additional charge of Vigilance Commissioner and Commissioner for Administrative Reforms.
Tamil Nadu :
♦ Tamilnadu is shared its bordered with Andhra Pradesh on north and Karnataka on west by Kerala, on east by the Bay of Bengal and on south by the Indian Ocean.
♦ Tamilnadu was one of the first of British settlements in India.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Satellite TanSat launched by China to monitor global carbon emission
i. A global carbon dioxide monitoring satellite, TanSat, was launched by China on December 22, 2016, to understand climate change in the country.
ii. The 620-kg satellite TanSat was put into orbit by Long March-2D rocket from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwest China’s Gobi Desert.
iii. This was the 243rd mission of the Long March series rockets. Besides TanSat, the rocket also carried a high-resolution micro-nano satellite and two spectrum micro-nano satellites for agricultural and forestry monitoring.
iv. The satellite was sent into a sun synchronous orbit about 700 kms above the earth and will monitor the concentration, distribution and flow of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.
v. On a three-year mission, TanSat will thoroughly examine global carbon dioxide levels every 16 days, accurate to at least 4 ppm (parts per million).
vi. The new satellite will enable China to obtain emissions data first-hand and share it with researchers worldwide.
vii. TanSat means a louder voice for China on climate change, carbon reduction and in negotiations with a bigger say on carbon trading. China is the third country after Japan and the US to monitor greenhouse gases through its own satellite.

Birth of atmospheric ice clouds observed for the first time
i. US-based scientists for the first time have witnessed at the sub-micrometer scale, the birth of crystals that come up together to form atmospheric ice clouds in the laboratory.
ii. The researchers replicated the stages of ice formation in the lab to show what happens moment by moment.
iii. By replicating the atmospheric temperature, pressure and humidity conditions in a chamber, scientists witnessed water vapor forming ice onto a tiny mineral particle, a Ice cloudprocess known as heterogeneous ice nucleation.
iv. They witnessed formation of ice crystals in highly confined climate-controlled chamber in which atmospheric temperature, pressure and humidity conditions were maintained similar in atmosphere.
v. For recreation of ice nucleation, researchers used extremely small particles of a clay mineral
called kaolinite. These particles were just 2–3 microns in size, or less than one-tenth width of a human hair.
vi. The kaolinite was then placed in a highly confined climate-controlled chamber of very small size, which was photographed by an environmental scanning electron microscope.
vii. It was found that nucleation occurred at temperatures as low as minus 68 degrees Celsius with relative humidity from about 70 to 80%.
viii. The work was funded by the Department of Energy Office of Science and PNNL’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development program.

Venkaiah Naidu launch Google toilet locator
Information and Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu launched google map toilet locator on December 22, 2016 to help people find access to clean public restrooms in New Delhi.
♦ Google toilet locator will providing access to a toilet facility every 500 meters in cities.
Other Initiatives :
i. Venkaiah Naidu released the Government of India calendar 2017 with the theme theme of this calendar is Mera Desh Badal Raha Hai, Aage Badh Raha Hai 
ii. He also released the annual report on Print Media – Press in India 2015-16.
1.Indian print industry continues its growth story at a steady rate of 5.13 per cent over the previous year and a total of 5 thousand 4 hundred 23 new publications has been registered during the year 2015-16.
2.The largest circulated Daily is Ananda Bazar Patrika in Bengali
3.The largest circulated multi-edition daily is Dainik Bhaskar in Hindi and&lt
4.The largest circulated Periodical is The Sunday Times of India in English.

ENVIRONMENT

NGT Imposes fine of Rs. 50,000 on aircrafts empting Human Wastes in Air
i. National Green Tribunal (NGT) passed an order on December 20, 2016, directing the country’s aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), to issue instructions to all airlines, whose aircraft empties toilet tanks on air, to pay Rs 50,000 as environmental compensation.
ii. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Swatanter Kumar passed a slew of directions while hearing a plea of a retired army officer, Lt Gen (Retd) Satwant Singh Dahiya , alleging dumping of human NGTexcreta by aircraft over residential areas near the IGI Airport.
iii. Normally, the waste in the aircraft tanks are disposed of by ground handling personnel once the plane lands. However, there are cases where lavatory leaks occur in the air.
iv. The tribunal asked the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to issue circular to all ground handling services and airlines to ensure that they do not release waste from human waste tanks while landing or anywhere near the terminals of the IGI Airport.
v. DGCA was also directed to issue notification that aircraft on landing shall be subjected to surprise inspection to see that human waste tanks are not empty. If any aircraft is found to be violating such circular or (their) tanks are found empty on landing, they shall be subjected to environment compensation of Rs. 50,000 per default.

Too hot to handle — alarming rise in forest fires this year:Parliamentary committee report 
Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology headed by Rajya Sabha MP Renuka Choudhary, submitted its report recently to Parliament.
♦ The committee was formed after a series of devastating forest fires and the prolonged one that charred 4,000 hectares of forest land across 13 districts of Uttarakhand.
Highlights of Report :
i. Focus: Prevent the fires in the Himalayan forests spread across Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir.
ii. Fires raging across forests has risen by a drastic 55 per cent in the past year.The number has increased to 24,817 from around 15,937 fires in 2015.
iii. Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh contribute a third of the total forest fires.
Recommendations:
♦ The committee recommends a national policy on managing blazes
♦ The procurement of sweeping machines to clear roadsides of Chir pine needles, while advocating large-scale incentives and programmes to collect pines for use as fuel, and other incineration

OBITUARY

Former Bihar Minister S P Tarun Passes Away
i. Former Bihar Minister and veteran Congress leader Surendra Prasad Tarun passed away in Patna on December 21, 2016. He was 88.
ii. Tarun was a former MLA from Atri in Gaya and Hilsa in Nalanda district and he was the minister of state for education from 1985-1988.
iii. He also worked in Press Trust of India(PTI)

IMPORTANT DAYS

National Mathematics Day  Observed on December 22, 2016
December 22 is celebrated as National Mathematics Day annually in India to mark the birth anniversary of Srinivasa Ramanujan.
♦ In 2011, Dr Manmohan Singh declared that December 2 is observed as National Mathematics Day and  the year 2012 CE would be celebrated as the National Mathematics Year.
Srinivasa Ramanujan :
i. Srinivasa Ramanujan Iyengar was one of the great Indian mathematician and autodidact
Ramanujanii. He made substantial contributions to the analytical theory of numbers and worked on continued fractions, and infinite series.
iii.  Ramanujan independently compiled nearly 3,900 results
iv. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, the second Indian admitted to the Royal Society, following Ardaseer Cursetjee in 1841.