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Current Affairs Today – December 23 2016

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Center reconstitutes Committee assisting Krishna River Management Board
i. The Centre has reconstituted a committee that was tasked with assisting the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB).
ii. The new committee will be headed by A.K. Bajaj, former chairman of the Central Water Commission. Other board members include Gopala Krishnan, R.P. Pandey, Pradeep Kumar Shukla and N.N. Rai.
iii. The objective of the committee will be to assist the Krishna River Management Board in preparing a manual on how projects, common to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, needs to be handled.
iv. It would also deal with how the Godavari waters ought to be transferred to the Krishna Basin in accordance with the Godavari Water Disputes Tribunal Award.
v. The need to reconstitute the committee was required as the earlier Board ruled that Krishna water should be divided 70:30 between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana for the coming month. The Telangana government has strongly objected to this.
vi. The Water Resources Ministry constituted the first committee of irrigation, hydrology and hydel power experts in September 2016 to suggest a mechanism for facilitating the effective functioning of the KRMB as per the provisions of the A.P. Reorganisation Act, 2014.

Textile Ministry to launch Bunkar Mitra-Handloom Helpline Centre for weavers
i. The Ministry of Textiles has planned to set up a “Bunkar Mitra-Handloom Helpline Centre” where professional experts would solve the queries of the weavers.
ii. The helpline center would function from 10.00 a.m. to 6 p.m. and initially it will be provided in 7 languages including Hindi, English, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada Bengali & Assamese.
iii. Currently 28 Weavers’ Service Centres (WSCs) are functioning across the country to provide technical assistance to handloom weavers in improving their skills. For seeking assistance, weavers have to personally visit the WSCs.
iv. However, till date, there is no single point of contact where weavers can seek solutions for their technical issues/problems. The helpline aims to overcome these problems.
v. To set up this helpline, M/s. MSD (I) P. Ltd., Bhopal has been selected as an agency for providing Handloom Helpline Centre. The call centre would start operating within a month.

Indo Tibetan Border Police to procure local yaks and ponies to sustain troops at Indo-China Frontier
i. To strengthen India’s positions along the Indo-China frontier, the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) has launched a drive to procure local varieties of tough mules and yak to carry supplies for the troops at snow-hit posts.
ii. The border guarding force, which secures 3,488 km of this icy frontier from the Karakoram Pass in Ladakh to Jachep La in Arunachal Pradesh, has launched an aggressive drive to purchase sturdy livestock like horses, mules, ponies, yak and dogs from the locals living in these areas.
iii. Purchasing local born and reared animals will enable the force to get trained and tough four-legged companions who are habitual to the Himalayan climate and would be more reliable. They would need less care and rarely get ill.
iv. With local procurement the force gets a chance to make some good friends with the local population as it gives money and financially empowers the locals by procuring these animals from them at government rates which are quite handsome.
v. The new initiative is being conducted under the modified strategy of the Border Area Development Programme (BADP) of the Union Home Ministry which also aims to get the participation of the local border population while securing country’s borders. A good number of yaks and ponies have been procured.
vi. The force is also hiring over 70 personnel for working as handlers and caretakers in the AT wing of ITBP.
vii. Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) is one of the five Central Armed Police Forces of India, raised on 24 October 1962, under the CRPF Act. The ITBP was intended for deployment along India’s border with China’s Tibet Autonomous Region for ensuring the security of the borders of India and for matters connected therewith.

UP Government to include 17 sub-castes of OBCs into SC category
i. In an attempt to seek the favour of the backward castes ahead of Assembly polls in 2017, UP Chief Ministerthe Uttar Pradesh state cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav passed a resolution to include 17 sub-castes of Other Backward Castes (OBCs) into the Scheduled Castes (SC) category.
ii. These sub-castes include Kahaar, Kashyap, Kewat, Nishad, Bind, Bhar, Prajapati, Rajbhar, Batham, Gaur, Tura, Majhi, Mallah, Kumhar, Dheemar and Machua.
iii. However, the final decision to declare any caste as ‘Scheduled Caste’ rests with the Centre.
iv. It is the third time that the SP government has made an attempt to include 17 OBC castes into the SC bracket. The first attempt was made by Mulayam Singh Yadav’s regime when it brought a resolution in 2004. But, the Allahabad High Court later rejected the decision declaring the move unconstitutional and void.
v. The second attempt was made in 2012 – when Akhilesh Yadav came to power. In 2013, just before the Lok Sabh polls, the Samajwadi Party had launched Samajik Nyaya Yatra demanding that these 17 OBCs be included in the SC bracket.
vi. The move is directed at strengthening the SP’s weakening hold over a section of the OBCs. It will also benefit the party in getting the votes of both the OBCs who finds place in SC category.
Uttar Pradesh
♦ Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state in the Republic of India created on 1 April 1937. It is the fourth largest Indian state by area and the third largest Indian state by economy, with a GDP of Rs. 9,763 billion (US$150 billion). Agriculture and service industries are the largest parts of the state’s economy. Hindi is the official widely spoken language in its 75 districts.
♦ State animal: Swamp deer             ♦  State bird: Sarus crane
♦ State dance: Kathak                       ♦  State sport: Field hockey

Odisha Government launches Biju Sishu Surakshya Yojana for HIV+ orphan children
i. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on December 22, launched “Biju Sishu Surakshya Yojana” for care and protection of HIV positive orphan children in the state.
Important aspects of the scheme
ii. Under the scheme, the children would get financial support from the state
government for their studies till higher secondary along with Rs. 20,000 reward after passing higher secondary.
iii. State government would provide Rs. 7,000 to Rs 40,000 for technical education to the beneficiary to meet the expenses like admission and tution fee, study material and other related expenses
iv. The scheme also includes scholarship to 3 meritorious students every year in each district.
v. The state will bear the cost of marriage in case the beneficiary is a girl. Rs 1,000 per year would also be deposited in the Sukanya Samridhi Account of the girl child till she attains the age of 18 years.
vi. Apart from this, the scheme provides for one time token assistance of Rs 50,000 for girls and Rs 40,000 for boys on completion of 18 and 21 years respectively to facilitate marriage ceremony.

Odisha CM Adds 25 Lakh new Beneficiaries under the Mamata Yojana
i. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, on December 22, addressed a meeting at the Jayadev Bhawan to mark five years of completion of the Mamata Yojana.
ii. The state government added 25 lakh new beneficiaries under the Mamata Yojana and electronically transferred Rs 1,100 crore to the bank accounts of these beneficiaries.
iii. The Chief Minister also announced a onetime incentive of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 for Anganwadi workers, Anganwadi assistants and Asha workers respectively to promote the scheme.
iv. This incentive will benefit 70,000 Anganwadi workers, 60,000 Anganwadi assistants and 48,000 Asha workers.
v. He also inaugurated the Mamata software that will transfer Rs 3,000 to enrolled pregnant women in the first phase at six months of pregnancy and Rs 2,000 in the second phase at the tenth month of pregnancy.
vi. This has become the largest Direct Benefit Transfer programme in the country aimed at pregnant and expectant mothers.
Mamata Yojana
♦ It is a scheme which aims to provide monetary support to the pregnant and lactating women tom enable them to seek improved nutrition and promote health seeking behavior.
♦ It was launched by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in October 2011. Under the Mamata Scheme, the government provides Rs. 5,000 to pregnant and lactating women in rural areas.
♦ The Mamata scheme has been very helpful in making sure that the mothers are not only healthy, but also self-dependent and empowered.

PM Narendra Modi lays foundation stone of Pt Mohan Malviya Cancer Centre in Varanasi
i. Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid foundation stone for Pt Mohan Malviya Cancer Centre and a 150-bed ESIC super speciality hospital in his Lok Sabha constituency, Varanasi on December 22, 2016Modi in Varanasi
ii. He visits Kabir Nagar area to inspect laying of underground cables, installation of heritage streetlights and lighting of heritage buildings
iii. He also Inaugurated new Trade Facilitation Centre and Crafts Museum
Varanasi :
♦ Varanasi also known as Benares, Banaras or Kashi
♦ It is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world.
♦ Kashi Vishvanath Temple or Golden Temple is one of the most famous Hindu temples and is dedicated to Lord Shiva.


Global Wage Report shows India to be among the worst levels of gender wage disparity
i. According to the Global Wage Report 2016-17 released by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), India is among one of the World’s worst gender gaps in wages.The report showed that men earned more than women in similar jobs, with the gap exceeding 30 percent. Women are paid 33% less than men in hourly wages in India.
ii. The report showed that, in India, women represented 63 percent of the lowest paid wage labor while only 15 percent of the highest wage-earners were female.
iii. Among the major economies, Singapore had among the lowest, at 3 per cent while South Korea fared worse than India, with a gap of 37 per cent.
iv. The report also found that the share of women among wage earners was among the lowest in South Asia. Compared to a global average of 40 per cent, and an Asia-Pacific average of 38 per cent, in South Asia (whose dominant economy is India), only 20 per cent of wage earners were women.

France launches world’s first road made of solar panels
i. The world’s first solar panel road was inaugurated in a small town of Normandy village of France on December 22, 2016 by the French Environment Minister, Segolene Royal.
ii. The 1-km (0.6 mile) project was funded by the French Ministry of the Environment to World first solar worldtest whether solar panels can be implemented effectively at a large scale.
iii. The project aims to power the streetlights in the French town of Tourouvre-au-Perche.
iv. French Environment Minister has a plan to install solar panels on one in every 1,000 km of French highway.
v. Solar panels have become increasingly popular in recent years as the cost of operating them has come down significantly, making it cost competitive with traditional energy sources in certain places.
vi. It cost €5m (£4.2m) to construct and will be used by about 2,000 motorists a day during a two-year test period to establish if it can generate enough energy to power street lighting in the village of 3,400 residents.
vii. In 2014, a solar-powered cycle path was opened in Krommenie in the Netherlands and generated 3,000kWh of energy that was enough to power an average family home for a year.

France to launched first drone based postal service
i .France’s airspace regulator, General Directorate for Civil Aviation, has approved the plan to launch drone delivery program, making France the world’s first national postal service to use drones regularly.
ii. The French postal service announced that France is setting up a drone delivery program to deliver parcels on a nine-mile route once a week.
iii. Initially the drones will only be flying in the southern region of Provence, as a feasibility test for the technology and regulations. The drones would pick up packages from Saint-Maximin-La-Sainte-Beaume and take them to Pourrières in the Var department, a region that hosts some start-up companies, including a dozen specializing in technology.
iv. The program is a new way of addressing the issue of last-mile deliveries, especially in areas that are difficult to access.
v. The drones have a range of 19 km and a top speed of 30.5 kmph. They also have parachutes for safe emergency landing and will help reach mountainous regions.
vi. The trial is being run by a group called DPDgroup, which has been working on the project with French drone startup Atechsys for the last two years.
vii. DPDgroup, an international subsidiary of French national postal service Le Groupe La Poste.


ICICI Bank Launches EazyPay app for Merchants
i. ICICI Bank has launched a mobile application, eazypay, for merchants, which includes all modes of payments, including digital wallets, Unified Payments Interface (UPI), QR code, and credit & debit cards.
ii. The app is first of its kind that introduces an all-in-one acceptance platform for Easy Pay appmerchants. Eazypay is a one-stop solution for all merchants to collect payments from their customers.
iii. It is designed for business to allow multiple users to connect to the same account. This makes it possible to be used for cash-on-delivery payments.
iv. It is a mobile based application which allows to quickly raise an invoice so that customers can pay immediately through any convenient payment mode including Unified Payment Interface (UPI), Credit Card, Debit Card, Internet Banking or Pockets wallet.
v. ICICI Bank will be selling this to merchants in 2,300 towns and cities where it is present.
ICICI Bank :
♦ ICICI Bank (Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India) is
an Indian multinational banking and financial services company with its registered office in Vadodara. In 2014, it was the second largest bank in India in terms of assets and third in term of market capitalisation.
Headquarter: Mumbai, Maharashtra
♦ MD & CEO: Mrs. Chanda Kochhar
♦ Founded: 1994


Amul to set up Rs 200 crore milk processing plant in West Bengal 
i. Gujarat based Indian dairy cooperative comapnay, Amul to set up its ‘Centralised Milk Processing Plant’ at Sankrail Food Park in Howrah, West Bengal
Outlay: Rs.200 Cr
ii. The plant work will be started in 2017 and is expected to be completed by 2018-end.
iii. The proposed plant will manufacture UHT milk, yoghurt and ghee besides normal milk.
Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. (GCMMF) :
♦ The GCMMF is the largest food products marketing organisation of India.It is the apex organisation of the dairy cooperatives of Gujarat.
♦ It is the exclusive marketing organisation for products under the brand name of Amul and Sagar.


Renowned Bengali Poet Shankha Ghosh selected for Jnanpith Award
i. The Jnanpith Selection Board named the eminent modern Bengali poet Shankha Ghosh for the 52nd Jnanpith Award for 2016 on December 23, 2016.His nomination was decided at a meeting of the Jnanpith selection board chaired by writer and scholar Namwar Singh.
ii. Shankha Ghosh is a Bengali Indian poet and critic.He is regarded a leading authority on Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore in addition to being one of the most prolific poet, critic and academician.
iii. He has penned several poems including ‘Adim lata-gulmomay’, ‘Murkha baro, samajik nay’, ‘Kabir abhipray’, ‘Mukh dheke jay bigyapane’ and ‘Babarer prarthana’, that went on to become classic creations.

Warangal Cops Set World Record In Biggest Self-Defence Class
i. Telangana’s Warangal police have set world record by conducting the largest self-defence class at a single venue earlier this week said by Warangal police commissioner G Sudheer Babu
ii. Objective: Safety of women employees
iii. In this class 21,276 college girls, working women and some from foreign countries were took part at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium
iv. The earlier record with 2,212 participants had been set at a Krav Maga lesson organised by the South American Krav Maga Federation at Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on May 29, 2010.


APIS India ropes in badminton sensation PV Sindhu as its brand ambassador
Indian professional badminton player PV Sindhu is roped as brand ambassador of  leading producer, distributor and exporter of honey APIS India on December 23, 2016
♦ Apis India Limited produces and distributes honey, honey related products, and bakery products in India.
♦ The company operates in two segments, Honey and Food likes cookies, tea and preserves.

Najeeb Jung Resigns as Lieutenant Governor of Delhi
i. The Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Najeeb Jung, gave a surprise resignation on December 22, 2016, one-and-a-half years before his tenure ends in 2018.
ii. Lt Governor Shri Najeeb Jung has submitted his resignation to the Government of India. He thanked the Hon’ble Prime Minister, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Delhi and all the people of Delhi for all their support, affection and cooperation he received during his tenure as the Lt. Governor of Delhi.
iii. The 65-year-old former bureaucrat will be going back to his “first love, which is academics”. Jung had taken over as Delhi Lieutenant Governor in July, 2013 ans served as the 20th Lieutenant Governor of Delhi.
iv. He previously served as the 13th Vice-Chancellor of the Jamia Millia Islamia, from 2009 to 2013.

Mahinder Pal Singh becomes first Sikh cricketer in Pakistan to join national cricket academy
i. For the first time, a Pakistani Sikh, Mahinder Pal Singh, has secured a place at Pakistan’s National Cricket Academy.
ii. Mahinder Pal Singh, who hails from Nankana Sahib in Lahore, is among the list of top 30 emerging cricketers in the country.
iii. Pakistan’s cricketing history has only seen 7 non-Muslim cricketers representing the country. Mahinder joins the list as the eighth non-muslim and first Pakistani Sikh to represent Pakistan.


Tata Steel to Acquire 100% equity share of BRPL
i. Tata Steel has announced an agreement on December 23, 2016 to acquire 100 % equity shares of the Brahmani River Pellets Limited (BRPL) from Aryan Mining and Trading Corporation Private Limited (AMTC) and other companies associated with the Moorgate Industries Group (MIG).
ii. Tata steel also announced that the funding for acquiring the complete equity shares in BRPL will be done from Tata Steel’s internal cash flows.
iii. Tata Steel have acquired the 100% equity because of the location of the BRPL assets having significant operating synergies especially to make the Kalinganagar plant of Tata Steel, even more competitive for the future.
iv. The deal, which is subject to regulatory approvals, is expected to close in four months. It
also needs approval from RBI and other regulatory bodies to restructure BRPL’s balance sheet, including shareholders loan and advances.
v. Brahmani River Pellets Ltd (BRPL), which had a turnover of Rs 452 crore in 2015-16, owns a 4 million tons per annum capacity pellet plant in Jajpur and a 4.7 million tons iron ore beneficiation plat in Bardil, Odisha and Jamshedpur steel plant.
vi. The company was originally established by the Moorgate Industries Group (MIG), which continues to hold a significant stake in BRPL through its shareholding in AMTC. MIG was formed on demerger from the Stemcor Group of Companies as part of a UK court-approved restructuring in 2015.
vii. Tata Steel Limited is an Indian multinational steel-making company headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, and a subsidiary of the Tata Group. It was the 10th largest steel producing company in the world in 2015, with an annual crude steel capacity of 25.3 million tonnes, and the second largest steel company in India with an annual capacity of 9.7 million tonnes after SAIL.


Researchers uses Pregnancy Fluid to strengthen ageing Bones
i. UK-based researchers have found that stem cells harvested from pregnant woman’s amniotic fluid can be used to strengthen weak bones.
ii. Researchers collected stem cells from human amniotic fluid, which is a protective Researchers uses Pregnancy Fluid to strengthen ageing Bonesfluid that surrounds the baby in the uterus and helps it to develop inside the mother’s womb, and used them to treat mice with brittle bone disease.
iii. The study showed that stem cell infusions led to 78% fewer fractures in mice with a brittle bone disease along with actively increasing the strength, plasticity, and structure of the animals’ bones.
iv. The team is now investigating if it will work in humans, particularly astronauts, who can lose 2.5 percent of their bone density for every month in space.

Shri Piyush Goyal launches Coal Mitra portal to facilitate flexibility in utilization of domestic coal
i. Union Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines, Shri Piyush Goyal launched a web portal Coal Mitra on December 21, in New Delhi for allowing flexibility in utilization of domestic Coal.
ii. The Coal Mitra Web Portal aims at optimum utilisation of coal by private as well as public power companies.
iii. It facilitates transfer of the coal reserves to more cost efficient State/Centre owned or Private sector generating stations, leading to lower generation costs and ultimately lesser cost of electricity for the consumers.
iv. The portal allows coal swapping in transparent manner and also helps to reduce operational and logistic costs, bringing power tariffs down for the consumers.
v. It facilitates state/Central Gencos to display information about normative fixed and variable charges of electricity for the previous month.
vi. They can also display margin available for additional generation so as to enable the utilities identify stations for transfer of coal.
vii. It will host data on Quantity and source of supply coal to the power plant, Operational and Financial parameters of each coal based station and Distance of Power plant form the Coal mine.

Japan successfully launches solid fuel rocket Epsilon-2
i. Japan’s space agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully launched a solid fuel rocket named Epsilon-2 on December 20, 2016 from the Uchinoura Space Centre in southern Japan.
ii. The 26-meter-long rocket released Exploration of energization and Radiation in Geospace (ERG) satellite for studying radiation belts around the earth soon after the lift-off.
iii. The Epsilon-2 three-stage rocket is part of a new generation of solid propellant rockets and makes it possible for launch costs to be reduced up to one third.
iv. Curbing costs for rocket launches is important to put more communication and weather satellites in space and Japan faces stiff competition with U.S. and European rivals such as Arianespace.


India beats Korea 3-0 to clinch bronze at 4th Women’s U-18 Hockey Asia Cup
i. India surpassed South Korea 3-0 to finish with the bronze medal at the 4th Women’s U18 Asia Cup 2016 hockey tournament in Bangkok on December 22, 2016
ii. The two teams played out a goalless first half, however, India finally managed to break India beats Korea 3-0 to clinch bronze at 4th Women's U-18 Hockey Asia Cupthe tie via defender Ritu, who put India ahead in the bronze medal clash by converting a penalty corner in the 45th minute while Sangita Kumari scored a couple of field goals later on.
iii. Hockey India announced cash rewards of Rs.1 lakh for each player, and Rs.50,000 for each member of the support staff.
iv. Korea, on the other hand, tried hard to open their scoring, but failed miserably in their efforts.
v. Earlier, the Indian girls were outclassed 2-4 by Japan in a penalty shootout in the semi-final clash of the tournament.

Argentina wins FIFA Team of the 2016 Year title  
i. Argentina topped in the FIFA’s Team of the 2016 Year title with 1634 points.
ii. Argentina won 10 wins out of 15 games this season has earned them 179 points this year, to end 2016 with 1634 points.
Top 5 teams :

1 Argentina
2 Brazil
3 Germany
4 Copa America
5  Belgium

India’s position:
♦ India jumped two places to finish 2016 at 135.This is India’s six-year highest annual ranking after 2009 when India finished at 134.


Kisan Diwas (Farmers Day) – December 23, 2016
Kisan Diwas is observed every year on 23 December across India Since 2001 to celebrate Kisan Diwasthe birth anniversary of the fifth prime minister and kisan leader,Ch. Charan Singh
♦ Kisan Diwan is also known as Farmers Day or Charan Singh Jayanti 2016
About Charan Singh :
i. Chaudhary Charan Singh was served as the Prime Minister of the Republic of India in 1979-80
ii. He is credited for a slew of agrarian reforms and new policies being introduced in India. His peasantry background helped him understand real problems of the farmers.
iii. He also framed and implemented the famous Zamindari Abolition Act.