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Current Affairs Today – December 25 2016

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India’s first 2G Ethanol Bio-refinery set up in Punjab
i. The Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL), a Central Government Public Sector Undertaking, is setting up India’s first 2G (Second Generation) ethanol bio-refinery at village Tarkhanwala in Bathinda, Punjab.
ii. The foundation stone laying ceremony for the project was held on December 25, 2016 by the Minister of Food Processing Industries, Smt. Harsimarat Kaur Badal jointly with the Minister of State (I/C) Petroleum & Natural Gas, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, and Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab, Sardar Sukhbir Singh Badal.
iii. The purpose of the bio-refinery is to encourage production of Second Generation (2G) Ethanol from agricultural residues.
iv. The approximate investment of the project is estimated to be Rs 600 Crores.

Centre & Maharashtra Inked Agreements For New Railway Projects
i. The union government and  Devendra Fadnavis lead Maharashtra government signed agreement for new railway projects worth Rs 45,000 crore in Maharashtra said by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu
ii. The ministry of railway planning to increasing connectivity in Maharashtra with an outlay of Rs 22,000 crore.
iii. It will be used for laying of new railway lines, increasing capacity of railway stations and converting some single line to double line.
Maharashtra :
♦ The Mumbai Suburban Railway is the first railway built by the British in India and it is the oldest railway system in Asia.

Centre sanctions action plan for three year under AMRUT
i. The Centre has decided to step down the usual practice of annually sanctioning the action plans under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and has given a one go clearance for the scheduled plans for the remaining three years of the five-year scheme.
ii. AMRUT was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June 2015. It focuses on ensuring water supply and improving the sewerage network and drainage systems in cities for urban transformation.
iii. The new practice was launched to enable states to plan projects in a “comprehensive and holistic manner”, and for the timely execution of work.
iv. However,  the plans for the scheme’s final three years were being approved after verifying the progress of plans cleared during the last and current financial years.

MEA Launches Twitter Seva for speedy redressal of citizen’s querry
i. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on December 23 launched a live customer service resolution platform, ‘Twitter Seva’, to provide speedy resolution to visa and MEA Launches Twitter Seva for speedy redressal of citizen’s querrypassport queries of the customers.
ii. The service launched by the Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh will enable timely, transparent and large scale response to citizen’s Tweets in real-time and enhance scalability and speed the process of dealing with requests by Indian and global citizens.
iii. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj with 6.8 million followers has been extremely active on Twitter to extend help and support to Indian and global citizens. With the deployment of Twitter Seva, the Ministry aims to ensure public service redressal in the most effective manner.
iv. The Seva service will be supported by 198 Twitter accounts of Missions and High Commissions across the world and 29 Regional Passport Offices (RPOs) in India and eight other handles such as @MEAIndia, @Indiandiplomacy and @MEAQuery.
v. Both Indians and non-Indians can simply tweet with their query relevant to any of these handles which will go to the Twitter Seva platform.
vi. The request will activate the concerned office nationally or across the world and address a various range of issues under the MEA, enabling the quick resolution of grievances.
vii. Earlier, the Telecom Ministry launched Twitter Seva in August 2016 while the Commerce and Industry Ministry, too, launched a Twitter Seva service in April.

Amazon India Report Indicates Delhi as most well-read city in India.
i. As per a survey conducted by Amazon India the national capital, Delhi, has emerged as the most well-read city in India for the fourth consecutive year followed by Bengaluru and Mumbai taking the second and third spot, respectively.
ii. According to the ‘Annual Reading Trends Report for 2016’ conducted by, Karnal, Vadodara and Patna are first-time entrants in the Top 20 list having bought more books than cities like Coimbatore, Visakhapatnam and Lucknow in 2016.
iii. conducted a readers poll on its website where it invited people to vote for their favourite book across eight categories. Each category had the top 5 best-sellers of the respective genre and readers were asked to vote for their favorite among these. The poll ran for 8 days (from 5th – 12th December 2016).
iv. Among the most sold books, Chetan Bhagat’s One Indian Girl emerged as the highest selling book of 2016 followed by JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts I and II. The third spot was taken by exam preparation book Word Power Made Easy written by Norman Lewis.
♦ The marketplace is operated by Amazon Seller Services Private Limited, an affiliate of, Inc.
♦ seeks to build the most customer-centric online destination for customers to find and discover virtually anything they want to buy online by giving them more of what they want – vast selection, low prices, fast and reliable delivery, and a trusted and convenient experience.

Govt launch mobile App ‘Smart Consumer’ & OCMC to provide speedy redressal of consumer grievances
i. The Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan launched a mobile App ‘Smart Consumer’ and an ‘Online Consumer Mediation Centre (OCMC)’ to provide speedy redressal of consumer grievances in New Delhi on the occasion of National Consumer Day on December 24, 2016
ii. The mobile app of the Consumer Helpline and the Smart Consumer App for accessing product information and online communities will benefit the consumers in the digital world
iii. He also launched the Microsite based on the theme Digitally Safe Consumer Campaign to help consumers for being vigilant and not falling prey to cyber frauds.


India’s GVA is likely to grow at 6.6 per cent in 2016-17: ICRA
i. The domestic rating agency ICRA has forecasted India’s gross value added (GVA) growth to be at 6.6 per cent in 2016-17. This is because the economic activity would take more time to normalise due to the government’s move to demonetise high-value notes.
ii. The report said that the currency liquidity is likely to improve significantly by the end of January 2017, however, the economic activity may take longer to normalize.
iii. According to the report, the loss of income in some sectors and deferral of consumption is likely to weigh on capacity utilisation in the second half of 2016-17, delaying capacity expansion plans of the private sector.
iv. It predicted that the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST)  before September 16, 2017, would dominate the economic landscape.

IRDAI grants final license to 5 global reinsurers, including RGA, Swiss Re
i. The insurance regulator IRDAI has approved the R3 application and granted certificate of registration to five global reinsurers to opens shops in India.
ii. The R3 is the final approval from the regulator to begin branch operations.
iii. The five global reinsurers that were granted final approval by the regulator are:
1.US-based reinsurer Reinsurance Group of America (RGA)
2.Munich Re from Germany
3.Hannover Germany
4.Swiss Re from Switzerland and
5.French reinsurance major Scor
iv. Another Swiss reinsurer XL Catlin and London-based specialised reinsurer Lloyd’s are expected to get R2 soon, whereas Gen Re (part of Berkshire Hathaway of Warren Buffet) is set to receive R1 approval shortly.
v. ITI Reinsurance, promoted by a domestic firm controlled by Sudhir Valia, has already received R2 licence and is waiting the final approval to kick off its operations.
vi. Currently, state-owned GIC Re is the sole reinsurer in the country. The reinsurance market is estimated to be at around USD 2.5 billion.
♦ The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) is an autonomous, statutory agency tasked with regulating and promoting the insurance and re-insurance industries in India.
♦ It was constituted by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 1999.
♦ Headquarter: Hyderabad, Telangana
♦ Chairman: T.S Vijayan


Google India Collaborates Ministry of Consumer Affairs for Online Consumer Protection
iGoogle India in collaboration with Ministry of Consumer Affairs has announced a nationwide ‘Digitally Safe Consumer’ campaign on December 24, 2016.
ii. Aim: the main aim of the campaign is to raise awareness about online safety and Google is shutting down Google Compareprotect the interest of the consumers against online fraud.
iii. Under the collaboration, Google and Consumer Affair Ministry would undertake a year-long campaign which would focus on building capacities of consumer organisations, personnel of consumer affairs department and counsellors of National Consumer Helpline on Internet safety and related issues.
iv. Besides, Google would conduct ‘Digital Literacy, Safety & Security’ workshops with the help of partner agencies to provide training and information on online safety tools.
v. For this, Google will use ‘Train the Trainer’ model comprising of approximately 500 people including 250 consumer organisations across the country. These trainers will further train the local community to spread awareness about the need for Internet safety.
vi. The campaign is expected to begin in January, 2017 and provide training materials to over 1,200 consumer organisations as well as consumer affairs department of every state and Union Territories.

Prices of essential drugs including HIV, diabetes, anxiety disorders lowered
i. To make essential drugs more affordable for the public, prices of over 50 essential drugs has been lowered by NPPA, leading to a price cut in the range of 5 per cent to 44 per cent.
ii. The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) under Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers has also fixed the retail prices of 29 formulations.
iii. The essential drugs for which the prices have been capped include those used for treatment of HIV infection, diabetes, anxiety disorders, bacterial infections, angina and acid reflux.
iv. NPPA fixes ceiling price of essential medicines of Schedule I under the Drugs (Prices Control) Order (DPCO) 2013. In respect of medicines not under price control, manufacturers are allowed to increase the maximum retail price by 10 per cent annually.
v. The calculation for essential drugs is based on the simple average of all medicines in a particular therapeutic segment with sales of more than 1 per cent.
About NPPA
NPPA, set up in 1997, is responsible with the task of fixation/revision of prices of pharmaceutical products, enforcement of provisions of DPCO and monitoring of prices of controlled and decontrolled drugs.
♦ Headquarters:  New Delhi, India
♦ Agency executive: Bhupendra Singh, IAS


Tata Motors shareholders remove Nusli Wadia from Board of Directors
i. Indian multinational automotive manufacturing company Tata Motors shareholders are Tata Motors shareholders remove Nusli Wadia from Board of Directorsvoted to remove Industrialist Nusli Wadia as an Independent Director of the company at an extra-ordinary general meeting (EGM)
ii. Tata Sons board recently removed Cyrus Mistry and appointed Ratan Tata as the Interim Chairman
Tata Motors:
♦ Tata Motors Limited is the largest manufacturer in Indian automotive industry.
♦ It is headquartered in Mumbai, India, and a member of the Tata Group.


Scientists discovers world’s most heat resistant material
i. Scientists from Imperial College London, UK have identified materials that can withstand temperatures of nearly 4,000 degrees Celsius.
ii. The two materials, Tantalum carbide (TaC) and hafnium carbide (HfC) are refractory ceramics, meaning they are extraordinarily resistant to heat.
iii. Their ability to withstand extremely harsh environments means that refractory ceramics could be used in thermal protection systems on high-speed vehicles and as fuel cladding in the super-heated environments of nuclear reactors.
iv. Researchers discovered that hafnium carbide has a melting point which is highest ever recorded for any material.
v. The findings may find the way for the next generation of hypersonic vehicles, meaning spacecraft could become faster than ever. These materials may enable spacecraft to withstand the extreme heat generated from leaving and re-entering the atmosphere

Scientists develops First Biological Pacemaker using Human Stem Cells
i. Scientists from the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine, at Toronto, Canada have developed the very first functional pacemaker cells using human stem cells.
ii. As per the findings published in the Nature Biotechnology, the scientists generated Scientists develops First Biological Pacemaker using Human Stem Cellssinoatrial node (SAN) cardiomyocytes, the biological pacemaker from human pluripotent cells.
iii. The human pluripotent stem cells are known to be capable of generating about 200 different cell types including every tissue and organ of a human body. These biological pacemaker cells were successfully tested on rats.
iv. Currently, electronic pacemakers are used to regulate heartbeat disorders of a human heart. The sinoatrial node (SAN) pacemaker cells are known to be the chief heartbeat controllers. A fault in its working can lead to irregular heartbeats and the treatment requires implantation of electronic pacemaker machines.
v. A pacemaker is a device which is placed in the chest or abdomen to help control abnormal heartbeats using low-energy electrical impulses.


Super Typhoon Nock-ten (Nina) Makes Landfall in Philippines
i. Super Typhoon Nock-ten made landfall on the eastern province of Philippines on Christmas Day.
ii. Known in the Philippine  as “Nina”, Nock-Ten hit the coast near Catanduanes island at 18:30 local time with wind speed up to 255km/h (158mph). But there are no reports of damage or casualties yet.
iii. About 100,000 people had been moved from areas at risk in the Bicol region amid fears of widespread flooding and possible landslides.
iv. Dozens of ports have closed, with warnings of two-metre (6.6ft) waves.
♦ Capital: Manila
♦ Currency: Philippine peso
♦ President: Rodrigo Duterte


Virat Kohli topped the Lord’s Cricket Ground 20 best players of 2016 list
i. Lord’s Cricket Ground has released its top 20 players for this calendar year. Indian test skipper Virat Kohli got the number 1 spot in the ranking owing to his marvelous performance in all format of the game.
ii. 4 Indians got place in the ranking. Apart from Virat the other 3 are off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin at 3rd spot, Ajinkya Rahane at 13th and Cheteshwar Pujara at 18th spot.Virat Kohli
iii. The top 5 cricketers are :
1.Virat Kohli (India)
2.Jonny Bairstow (England)
3.Ravichandran Ashwin (India)
4.Rangana Herath (Sri Lanka)
5.Chris Woakes (England)
iv. Lord’s Cricket Ground is located in London and is owned by Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).

SVSP sports stadium of Greater Noida gets ICC accreditation
i. ICC has granted Shaheed Vijay Singh Parthik(SVSP) Sports Stadium in Greater Noida approval for conducting International cricket matches between full time member countries of the game.
ii. The approval came two weeks after officials from ICC and BCCI inspected the stadium.
iii. An intensive inspection was carried out by Jeff Crowe, who is a former New Zealand captain along with Dr M.V Shridhar, member of BCCI and Niranjan Singh Virk, Anti-Corruption Manager, ICC.
iv. The Greater Noida stadium currently has a seating capacity for 8,000 people. By getting the ICC certification, the stadium will be able to host international ODIs and T20s cricket matches.


Co-Artist of national emblem Dinanath Bhargava dies at 89 in Indore
i. Dinanath Bhargava, a co-artist in the team that sketched the national emblem Lion Co-Artist of national emblem Dinanath Bhargava dies at 89 in IndoreCapital of Ashoka and decorated the pages of the Constitutions manuscript, died at the age of 89 in Indore on December 24, 2016
ii. Bhargava was suffering from cardiac ailments since past decade.
iii. He was born on November 1, 1927 at Multai in Betul district of Madhya Pradesh and was chosen by noted painter Nandlal Bose in the group for designing the pages of the Indian Constitution’s

Renowned Kannada Actor Chetan Ramarao dies at 76
i. Veteran Kannada film actor Chetan Ramarao died on December 23, 2016, at a private hospital in Mysuru due to prolonged illness.
ii. The 76-year old actor had acted in more than 350 films in his career spanning almost five decades.
iii. Some of his leading movies include Rajkumar, Vishnuvardhan and Ambarish.


Good Governance day – December 25, 2016
Good Governance Day is observed every year on December 25th across India since 2014 to honor Prime Minister Vajpayee by fostering awareness among the Indian people of accountability in government.
♦ Union Minister of Textiles Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani launched JUTE-SMART’ an online portal to facilitate purchase of Jute bags from the Jute Industry by the State Procurement Agencies and also launched Bunkar Mitra – a Helpline for handholding of Handloom weavers.
♦ The Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr. Jitendra Singh launched six major initiatives of the Department of Personnel and Training(DoPT), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions on the occasion of Good Governance Day.
The 6 initiatives are:
1.Revamped Website of  DoPT
2.Amendment Monitoring System (RRFAMS)
3.e-Service book and automated Human Resource Management System (HRMS)
4.Mandatory online filing of APAR by officers of AIS and Group A Civil Services
5.Introduced Online Filing of Immovable Property Return to be effective from 1.1.2017
6.iOS version of Employees Online App