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Current Affairs Today – December 26 2016

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Centre gives Rs 1,982 crore for Andhra Pradesh’s Polavaram project through NABARD
i. The Centre released Rs 1,982 crore for the multipurpose Polavaram irrigation project in Andhra Pradesh on December 26, 2016.The funding is being done through NABARD, which has now started funding irrigation projects. NABARD sanctioned the long term irrigation fund under Prime Minister Krishi Sinchayee Yojana.
ii. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley handed over the cheque to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu at a function in New Delhi. Mr Jaitley also handed over cheques for Rs 463 crore rupees to Gujarat and Rs 756 crore rupees to Maharashtra for state projects.
iii. National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) on December 26 revealed that so far it has sanctioned loans worth Rs 35,322 crore under Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF)
iv. LITF initiative would ensure doubling of farmers’ income by 2022 under the ambitious Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY).

Assam Launches Health Insurance Scheme ‘Atal-Amrit Abhiyan’
i. The state government of Assam on December 25 launched an ambitious health insurance scheme ‘Atal-Amrit Abhiyan’ which will provide coverage against several critical illnesses.
ii. The scheme was launched by Assam’ Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal at a function Assamin Guwahati, to mark the 92nd birthday of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
iii. The Health Assurance Scheme initiatives will offer coverage against 437 illnesses in six disease groups, namely, cardiovascular, cancer, kidney, neo-natal, neurological conditions and burns.
iv. Atal-Amrit Abhiyan is an attempt of the government to make quality health care affordable to every individual member of a family.
v. Both Below Poverty Line (BPL) and Above Poverty Line (APL) families, with annual income below Rs 5 lakh, are eligible for the scheme.
vi. The total financial outlay of the scheme is around Rs 200 crore and would entitle the poor to receive coverage of Rs. 2 Lakh annually. In order to avail the facilities, a laminated health card with unique identification number will be given to all the members of an eligible family and the assurance will be cashless at the point of delivery.
vii. A separate society will also be set up under the Department of Health and Family Welfare which will be responsible for administration of the scheme.

Centre releases special stamp on freedom fighters &  Hardayal Municipal Heritage Public Library
Minister of State for Health & Family Welfare Smt Anupriya Patel released the few new postage stamps in New Delhi on December 26, 2016
The New Postage stamps were
i. Special Cover on freedom fighter “Shri Gaya Prasad Katiyar
ii. A set of eight Commemorative Postage Stamps on “Personalities Series: Bihar” . The eight personalities are Dr. Sachchidananda Sinha, Karpoori Thakur, Dashrath Manjhi, Vidyapati , Kailashpati Mishra, Kunwar Singh, Phanishwar Nath Renu and Sri Krishna Sinha
iii. Stamp on “Hardayal Municipal Heritage Public Library.

Registration of Pakistani Hindus as Indian Citizen reduced from Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 100
i. The registration fees for Hindus and other minority community people from three neighboring countries comprising Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, to register as Indian citizens have been reduced drastically to Rs 100 from Rs 15,000.
ii. The changes have been made after amending various provisions of the Citizenship Rules 2009.
iii. The new rules will be applicable to minority communities including Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh and living in India on long term visa.
iv. But for minority community people from countries other than the three, the fees will be Rs 10,000 for registration in India and Rs 15,000 if registered elsewhere.
v. The new rules will allow the minority members from the neighbouring countries to take oath of allegiance as an Indian citizen in front of sub-divisional magistrate, in case of absence of collector, deputy commissioner or district magistrate.

Odisha Governemnt Launches Malaria control programme DAMAN
i. The State Government of Odisha has decided to launch a new malaria control programme, Durgama Anchalare Malaria Nirakaran (DAMAN), to control malaria in inaccessible areas, with a total spending of 120 crore rupees for five years.
ii. The programme will be implemented in 8000 villages of all 79 blocks of eight high malaria endemic southern districts – Koraput, Malkangiri, Nabarangapur, Kalahandi, Rayagada, Health Ministry initiated “National Framework for Malaria Elimination”Gajapati, Nuapada and Kandhamal with an annual expenditure of 24 crore rupees.
iii. These districts contributed around 60% cases and 56% death to the state malaria burden in 2015 – 16.
iv. DAMAN will deal with the routine malaria control activities and bridge the gaps in case findings and treatment among the high risk population of inaccessible villages of high endemic areas.
v. This programme includes mass screening for malaria with treatment of positive cases along with intensified surveillance, mosquito control measures and regular health education activities throughout the year.
vi. The government has already sanctioned Rs 10 crore to role out the programme. Under this programme, around 80 lakh high-risk populations will benefit.
vii .An estimation shows that the State contributes around 38 per cent of the reported malaria cases and 28 per cent of malaria total malaria deaths in the country.

Odisha Names Mega Lift Irrigation Scheme after the freedom fighter Parbati Giri
i. The State Cabinet of Odisha on December 24 named the Mega Lift Irrigation Scheme worth Rs. 7,600 crore, after the noted freedom fighter and social reformer Parbati Giri as a mark of respect for her immense contribution to the freedom movement and service to the poor and needy.
ii. The scheme was named after Parbati Giri by the Chief Minister of state, Naveen Patnaik at a cabinet meeting.
iii. The State Cabinet has approved tender for 13 mega lift irrigation schemes with a total command area of 19,400 hectares in Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar districts.
iv.The Cabinet meeting approved the lowest bid of Rs. 517.77 crore by GVPR Engineers Limited.
v. 102 mega lift irrigation schemes in eight clusters are now under construction since August, 2013 in a phased manner in 17 districts. The state has planned to take up 174 schemes in 15 clusters in 22 districts to create an additional irrigation potential of 2,14,270 hectares.
About Parbati Giri
i. Parbati Giri was one of the freedom fighters who devoted her life for the welfare of orphans and the downtrodden for which she is fondly remembered as Mother Teresa of Odisha.
ii. Born in Bargarh district, Giri established herself as a symbol of women empowerment by her strong commitment and determination. From the age of 11 as a little girl, she was inspired to join the freedom movement. Giri joined Quit India Movement in 1942 and had led many rallies against the British Rule.
♦ Odisha is one of the 29 states of India, located in the eastern coast. It is surrounded by the states of West Bengal to the north-east, Jharkhand to the north, Chhattisgarh to the west and north-west, Andhra Pradesh and Telengana to the south and south-west.
♦ It is the 9th largest state by area, and the 11th largest by population. Odia (formerly known as Oriya) is the official.


China Passes Environment Tax Law to Curb Pollution
China on December 25, 2016, passed a new law to levy environment tax on polluters, especially on heavy industries.
♦ The environment tax law was adopted by the legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC) standing committee at a meeting in Beijing. The law will be implemented on January 1, 2018.
Important Points of the Law
i. The tax rate will be 1.2 yuan ($0.17) per unit of atmospheric pollution, 1.4 yuan per unit of water pollution, 5 yuan per tonne of coal waste and 1,000 yuan per tonne of China“hazardous waste”.
ii. Industrial noise polluters will be levied 350 yuan per month if they exceed limits by 1-3 decibels, 700 yuan for 4-6 decibels and 11,200 yuan per month for 16 decibels and more.
iii. Under the new law, provincial-level governments can raise the rates for air and water pollution by up to ten times after approval by the people’s congresses. Lower rates may also be applicable if emission is less than national standards.
iv. The law only targets enterprises and public institutions that discharge listed pollutants directly into the environment. However, carbon dioxide, one of the major contributors to global warming, is not included in the levying list.
v. Punishment for any fraud has not been specified, but offenders will be held liable under the
law on administration of taxation and the environmental law.
vi. The new law will reduce interference from government. Besides, it will also improve tax payers’ environmental awareness, forcing companies to upgrade technology and shift to cleaner production.
China :
♦ China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, due to its heavy reliance on coal to provide electricity to its population of 1.37 billion.
♦ CapitalBeijing
♦ Currency: Renminbi
♦ President: Xi Jinping

Russian Plane Tu-154 Crashes into Black Sea
i. A Russian plane on its way to Syria with 92 people onboard, including members of the world-famous Russian army choir, crashed into the Black Sea on December 25, minutes after taking off. There appeared to be no survivors
ii. The Tu-154 plane crashed shortly after taking off from the southern city of Adler, south of the Black Sea resort city of Sochi. The plane was conducting a routine flight to Russia’s Hmeimim airbase outside the coastal Syrian city of Latakia.
iii. There were also eight crew members onboard. Among its 84 passengers were Russian servicemen as well as members of the Alexandrov Ensemble, nine members of the media and three staff of state-run channel Pervy Kanal.
iv. The plane, which belongs to the Russian Defense Ministry, was carrying 64 members of the Russian army’s official choir, also known as the Alexandrov Ensemble, to a military base in Syria for a New Year’s concert.
v. Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a day of mourning.
Key Facts
♦ Capital: Moscow
♦ Currency: Russian ruble


Karnataka Vikas Grameen Bank Launches Bank Sakhi Scheme
i. To ensure greater participation in financial inclusion in rural areas, the Karnataka Vikas Grameen Bank (KVGB) has come out with an innovative method of employing women in villages to promote and popularize cashless transaction.
ii. The bank launched a scheme named ‘Bank Sakhi’ at a programme held at Adavi Somapura village in Gadag district of Karanataka. Under the initiative, the bank would Karnataka Vikas Grameen Bank Launches Bank Sakhi Schemeappoint women business correspondents called “Bank Sakhi” in select villages where this scheme would be implemented.
iii. Bank chairman S. Ravindran said that the bank has already hired 11 “Bank Sakhis” and had plans to appoint a minimum of 50 such women in different districts.
iv. A “Bank Sakhi” is someone who has been a member of a self-help group involved in conducting banking and book-keeping activities of the group.
v. Bank Sakhi will be responsible to provide a range of financial services on behalf of the bank to her community. She will be supported by the local self-help group which provides capacity enhancement, training and financial awareness in the community. She would be paid a commission by the bank for different services.
Karnataka Vikas Grameena Bank (KVGB) :
♦ The Karnataka Vikas Grameena Bank (KVGB), a Regional Rural Bank, was constituted on 12 September 2005.
♦ The Bank has its head office at Dharwad under the sponsorship of Syndicate Bank.
♦ KVGB has 614 branches in Dharwad, Haveri, Gadag, Vijayapura, Bagalkot, Belagavi, Uttara Kannada, Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts of Karnataka.


Salman Khan Ranks Top in 2016 Forbes India Celebrity 100 List
i. Based on the 2016 Forbes India Celebrity 100 list released by Forbes, Salman Khan has bagged the top position in the coveted list leaving behind Shah Rukh Khan at second place. Player Virat Kohli was placed third.
ii. The ranking was based on two parameters: estimates of entertainment related earnings and estimates of fame. The period under consideration was 1 October 2015 to 30 September 2016.
iii. The 50-year-old Salman (with fame rank 2) was ranked as the top celebrity with the highest revenue for the year of Rs 270.33 crore. Salman’s strong year was led by the commercial success of the Sooraj Barjatya-directed Prem Ratan Dhan Payo in late 2015 and then Sultan in 2016. His estimated total earnings constituted 9.84 percent of the total wealth of Rs 2,745 crore of all top 100 celebrities for the year.
iv. Shah Rukh Khan had estimated earnings of Rs 221.75 crore with fame rank 3. India’s Test cricket captain Virat Kohli had Rs 134.44 crore estimated earnings.
Top 5 Celebrity in the list

Rank   NameEarning
1Salman Khan270.33
2Shah Rukh Khan221.75
3Virat Kohli134.44
4Akshay Kumar203.03
5M.S Dhoni122.48

v. The list also featured 14 newcomers, including celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor (at No. 73), Twenty one-year-old badminton player PV Sindhu debuts on the list at No. 62, and Rapper Badshah at No. 81.

Andhra Pradesh Finds Place in Guinness World Records for Largest Kuchipudi Dance Performance
i. The state dance of Andhra Pradesh, ‘Kuchipudi’ has found a place in the Guinness World Records once again when a record 6,117 dancers came together to present a show at the IGMC Stadium in Vijaywada on December 25, 2016.
ii. Guinness judge Rishinath declared “Jayamu Jayamu” presented in unison by the participants created a new record and handed over a certificate to Andhra Pradesh Chief Largest Kuchipudi Dance PerformanceMinister N Chandrababu Naidu.
iii. This 12-minute item was chosen for the year’s group dance at the event. Dancers from across the countries like US, UAE, UK, Russia, Hong Kong and Mauritius took part in it. Jayamu Jayamu is considered a rich example of Kuchipudi, choreographed by the legendary Vempati China Satyam.
iv. The “Maha Brunda Natyam” (grand group dance) was organized as a part of the ‘5th International Kuchipudi Dance Convention’ which was organised by the state Department of Language and Culture.
v. Earlier, in 2010, over 2,500 ‘Kuchipudi’ artistes had achieved a similar feat in Hyderabad.


Dr Barbara Jatta becomes first ever female director of Vatican Museums 
i. Dr Barbara Jatta(54) was appointed as the first female director of Vatican Museums by Pope Francis. It will be effective from January 1, 2017
ii. Jatta is currently working as the Deputy Director of the museums Since June 2016
iii. With this appointments she will become the “highest-ranking female administrator in the Vatican
Vatican Museums:
♦ The Vatican Museums were founded by Pope Julius II in the 16th century.
♦ There are a total of 54 museums,1400 rooms, chapels, and galleries

Actor Mithun Chakraborty resigns from Rajya Sabha citing health reasons
i. West Bengal hailed Mithun Chakraborty has resigned from Rajya Sabha due to his health problems.He has submitted his resignation to Vice President Mohammad Hamid Actor Mithun Chakraborty resigns from Rajya SabhaAnsari on December 26, 2016
ii. Mithus is  an Indian actor, singer, producer, writer, social worker, entrepreneur and Politician
iii. He was elected to the West Bengal Rajya Sabha Assembly by Trinamool Congress(TMC) in 2014
Rajya Sabha :
♦ Rajya Sabha is the upper house of the Parliament of India.
♦ Article 80 of the Constitution lays down the maximum strength of Rajya Sabha as 250
♦ The Vice President of India is the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha


India Successfully Test-Fired ICBM Missile Agni V in Odisha
i. India successfully test-fired its nuclear-capable, Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), the Agni V, on December 26, from Dr Abdul Kalam island, formerly known as Wheeler Island, off the coast of Odisha.
ii. The three-stage, solid propellant surface-to-surface missile was test-fired from a mobile launcher from launch complex-4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at 11:05 am in Balasore district.
iii. This was the fourth and final test of the missile. With the success of the final development test, Agni-V is now ready for the induction into the strategic arsenal (collection of weapons) of India.
iv.  The successful induction of Agni V will give India long-range strike capability.

TeamIndus to Carry Along Japan’s Rover for Google Lunar XPRIZE Competition
i. Bengaluru-based TeamIndus has announced an agreement to carry Japanese team Hakuto’s robotic rover in the Google Lunar XPRIZE, to the moon aboard TeamInduss spacecraft in late 2017.
ii. This is a first-of-its-kind collaboration of two private space enterprises competing in the Google Lunar XPRIZE. The TeamIndus spacecraft, in addition to the Japanese rover, will also be carrying its own indigenously designed and developed robotic rover, ECA (Ek Chhoti si Asha).
iii. TeamIndus can carry up to 20kg of payload of which the Japanese rover weighs four kg.
iv. The goal of the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE is to ignite a new era of space exploration by lowering the cost and inspiring the imagination of the next generation.
v. To win the prize, teams must land their spacecraft on the surface of the Moon, travel 500 metres, and broadcast high definition video, images, and data back to Earth.
vi .Both TeamIndus and Hakuto had already demonstrated their technology by winning Milestone Prizes from Google Lunar XPRIZE in 2015.
vii. TeamIndus won $1 million for demonstrating its landing technology and Hakuto won the $500,000 Mobility Prize for the robotic rover it developed.


Whale Call, Western Pacific Biotwang, Dubbed in Mariana Trench
i. Scientists at the OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center have discovered the source of a strange sound recorded near the Mariana Trench. The metallic sound has been dubbed as Western Pacific Biotwang.
ii. The recording released has an unusual booming sound, with deep moans at low Whale Call, Western Pacific Biotwang, Dubbed in Mariana Trenchfrequencies and a metallic finale at extremely high frequencies.
iii. It was recorded by seafaring robots known in the marine world as “Passive Acoustic Ocean Gliders”. As per the report, scientists believe that the sound could be the call of a whole new type of whale known as minke whale.
iv. It is a type of baleen whale that produces sounds that span frequencies that reach as low as 38 hertz and as high as 8,000 hertz. These Minke whales live in the Great Barrier Reef off the northeast coast of Australia.
v. The autonomous seafaring robots that captured the call are known as Passive Acoustic Ocean Gliders. The glider was equipped with a custom-designed and in-built passive acoustic recording system. The glider could dive up to 3,280 feet below surface.


India’s Yuki Bhambri clinches ITF Hong Kong F4 Futures title
i. Indian Tennis Player Yuki Bhambri, clinched $10000 ITF Hong Kong F4 Futures title on 25 December 2016. It was his 11th title on the ITF Pro Circuit.
India’s Yuki Bhambri clinches ITF Hong Kong F4 Futures titleii. He defeated Shintaro Imai of Japan 6-4, 7-5 who has been placed at second position.
iii. Bhambri won 75% of his first service points and broke serve three times to lock victory in one hour and 54 minutes. With the win, the world number 534 takes away $1440 in prize money along with 18 ATP ranking points.
iv. On the other hand, Cheng-Peng Hsieh of Taipei and Pak Long Yeung from Hong Kong defeated Hong Kong’s Karan Rastogi and Jack Wong to win the doubles title 5-7, 6-3, 10-4.
About Yuki Bhambri
♦ Yuki Bhambri is an Indian professional tennis player and former Junior No. 1. He was the winner of the 2009 Australian Open Junior Championship.
♦ He is the first Indian to seal victory in the junior Australian Open title. He is also the fourth Indian ever to capture a junior singles Grand Slam championship title.

Sports Ministry derecognizes Yoga 15 months after being declared a sport
i. 15 months after Yoga was declared as a sport in India in September 2015 with the approval from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the decision has been reversed and has been once again derecognized as a sport.
ii. The sports ministry communicated to all the National Sports Federations and the Sports Authority of India (SAI) that “Yoga can’t be termed as a sport.”
iii. Yoga was added in the list of priority sports but the government has found out that it has many dimensions and it will not be possible to conduct competitions in Yoga.
iv. The sports ministry will no longer look after Yoga and it has now gone back to the AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) ministry.


English Pop superstar George Michael dies at 53
George Michaeli. The famous pop superstar George Michael, died on December 25, 2016, at the age of 53 at his home in Goring, Oxfordshire, England.
ii. The English singer, songwriter, and record producer began his career with the music duo Wham! with Andrew Ridgeley.
iii. He became famous in the 1980s and 1990s with his style of post-disco dance-pop and his best-selling songs such as “Last Christmas” and “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”.