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Government achieves target of distributing 1.5 Crore LPG Connection within 8 months to BPL Families
i. According to data released by the Ministry for Petroleum & Natural Gas on December 29, 2016, Government has achieved its target of providing 1.5 crore free LPG connections under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) to the BPL households in less than 8 months.
ii. The Government had made a provision of Rs 2,000 crore in the Budget for providing LPG connection free of cost to Rs. 1.5 crore poor BPL households in 2016-17. However, the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas informed that the effort to provide clean energy was met within 8 months.
iii. The implementation of PMUY has led to an increase in the national LPG coverage from 61% (as on January 1) to 70% (as on December 12, 2016).
iv. The top five states which experienced the maximum LPG connections are UP (46 lakh), West Bengal (19 lakh), Bihar (19 lakh), Madhya Pradesh (17 lakh) and Rajasthan (14 lakh). These states constituted nearly 75% of the total connections
Suresh Prabhu Inaugurates Series of Railway Projects in Andhra Pradesh
i. The State Government of Andhra Pradesh signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Indian Railways on December 30, 2016, for setting up a Joint Venture for taking up major Rail Projects in the state.
ii. The programme was attended by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu through a video link from New Delhi while Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Union Civil Aviation Minister P Ashok Gajapati Raju and others.
iii. As a part of the occasion, the Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu laid the foundation stone for the railway project Nadikudi-Srikalahasti line via Video conference.
iv. The Railways has decided to extend, for six months, the 10% rebate in basic fare on the vacant berths or seats in the reserved class of all other trains after preparation of the first chart.
Centre Sanctions Rs 200 crore for Tirupur Dyeing Industry
i. The Centre has sanctioned Rs. 200 crores to the Tirupur Dyeing Industry in Tamil Nadu on December 28, 2016, which was on the verge of closure due to severe financial crisis as a result of their huge investments in the first ever Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) projects in the country.
ii. The Ministry of Finance decided to grant Rs. 200 crore as an interest free loan to the state Government of Tamil Nadu on recommendation of the Ministry of Textiles for the 18 Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETPs).
iii. The move will help the suffering CETPs and 450 dyeing units to recover from the financial crisis and help them to a complete the project to achieve 100 percent capacity utilization.
iv. More than 450 dyeing units in Tirupur Dyeing Industry had collectively set up 18 ZLD enabled Common Effluent plants with a total cost of Rs 1013.00 cr.
v. Tirupur is a hub of the textile processing and knitting industry providing employment to over 5 lakh persons and contributes 22 percent of the total garment export of the country. Closure of processing industry could have hit the entire garmenting sector in the region.
Tuting Advanced Landing Ground Becomes Operational After 54 years
i. The Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) of IAF at Tuting, which had been abandoned after the 1962-India-China war has once again become operational.
ii. The ALG at Tuting, a small town in the Upper Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh, was inaugurated by Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu in the presence of Air Marshal C Hari Kumar, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Air Command (EAC) on December 28, 2016.
iii. In 2008, the Cabinet Committee on Security gave approval for the revival of the Tuting ALG, after which the IAF started over the ambitious reconstruction plan to upgrade Tuting ALG along with other ALGs in the area and acquired the land of Tuting ALG in 2010.
Benefits of Tuting ALG
♦ It will facilitate air connectivity with rest of the country. It would also help the Indian Air Force in ensuring better supplies in the hour of need.
♦ Besides, it will be used to bring in vital supplies from cities in Assam via fixed wing aircraft and helicopters besides meeting challenges during natural calamities.
♦ The strategic location of Tuting ALG will serve as the launching pad for the IAF operations and help in managing the India-China border areas.
♦ The natural beauty of the area will boost tourism in Arunachal Pradesh.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh chairs Southern Zonal Council meet at Thiruvananthapuram
i. The 27th meeting of the Southern Zonal Council was chaired by the Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh at Thiruvananthapuram on December 28, 2016.
ii. The conclusion of the meeting marks the end of the three Zonal Councils (Eastern, Western and Southern) meeting. The meetings of the remaining two Zonal Councils (Central and Northern) are also expected to be held soon with the next meet to be held in Karnataka.
iii. The aim of the Zonal Councils is to provide a common meeting ground for the States to promote and facilitate coordinated efforts for fostering economic and social development.
iv.The meetings of five Zonal Councils and their Standing Committees were held in 2015 after a long gap. Earlier, the five Zonal Council meetings were held in one year only in the years of 1972 and 2005.
Issues Undertaken by Council
♦ During the meeting the Council reviewed the progress of implementation of various recommendations made in the last meeting.
♦ It included issues of fishermen, Peninsular Region Industrial Development Corridor, Extension of High Speed Rail Corridor between Thiruvananthapuram up to Mangalore and Udupi, introduction of peninsular tourism trains in the zone and Amendments to the New Road Transport & Road Safety Bill.
♦ The Council also focused on issues related to uniformity in allocation of funds for scholarships in population of SC/ST for all courses, revision of ceiling on profession tax by Government of India, prevention of communicable diseases, Naxalism, promotion of oilseeds and oil palm cultivation and development of Puducherry Airport. Out of the 22 items discussed today, 16 were resolved in the meeting.
About Zonal Councils
i. The five Zonal Councils were set up under the States’ Reorganization Act, 1956 to encourage Inter-State cooperation and coordination among the States.
ii. The Councils are responsible to discuss and make recommendations on the matters of economic and social planning, border disputes, linguistic minorities and inter-State transport etc.
iii. They look after the interest of the respective zone and focus on regional issues while keeping national perspective in view.
Government to set up Financial Data Management Centre
i. A Committee appointed by the Government has suggested the Union Government to set up a Financial Data Management Centre (FDMC) for managing the repository of financial regulatory data to ensure stability in the economy.
ii. The head of the Committee, Ajay Tyagi (additional secretary in finance ministry), submitted the report and a draft bill titled ‘The Financial Data Management Centre Bill 2016’ in this regard.
iii. Finance minister Arun Jaitley in budget speech 2016-17 had announced setting up of Financial Data Management Centre under the aegis of the Financial Stability And Development Council (FSDC) to facilitate integrated data aggregation and analysis in the financial sector.
iv. The Committee has also introduced an Act regarding the establishment of the Data Centre to manage repository of financial regulatory data, enable standardisation of data across the financial sector and provide analytical support
v .As per the Act the main functions of the centre will be to establish an electronic database for financial regulatory information.
vi .It would be in-charge of the day to day operations, maintenance and updating the electronic database, analyse the data submitted in the database and provide analytical support to FSDC.
vii. To ensure secrecy and avoid conflict of interest, the member, employee or officer of the centre having access to confidential data will be not be allowed to render advice or accept any employment with a financial service provider for a period specified in the act until the person has taken approval of the centre.
Cetral government forms 10 member committee to review Institutionalization of Arbitration Mechanism in India
i. Central government has formed a high level committee under the Ministry of Law and Justice to make arbitration a preferred mode for settlement of commercial disputes and review the present system of arbitration mechanism in India and make it strong.
ii. The 10 member committee includes Justice BN Srikrishna, Justice RV Raveendran , retired Delhi High Court Judge S Ravindra Bhatt senior lawyer Indu Malhotra and eminent senior lawyer KK Venugopal.
iii. The aim of this arbitration system is to ensure speedy redressal of commercial disputes and to facilitate international and domestic arbitrations raised under various agreements.
iv. The committee has been asked to submit its report in 90 days. Some of the points that the committee will cover are analysis of present arbitration mechanism, review working of institutions funded by the GOI for arbitration purposes, assess skill gaps in Alternative Dispute Redressal (ADR) .
v. Arbitration is a system in which an independent body can settle the disputes without involving courts.
World’s highest bridge in China opens for traffic.
i. The Beipanjiang Bridge of China is now open for public travel. The height of the bridge is 1,854 feet(565 metres) above the sea level. It overtook the Si Du River Bridge of Hubei to become the world’s highest bridge.
ii. The Beipanjiang Bridge connects the two mountainous provinces of Yunnan and Guizhou in China and has tremendously reduced the travel time between the two places.
iii. The cost involved in the building of the bridge is about 1 billion yuan ($144 million).
iv. It must be noted that the world’s tallest bridge in terms of its own structure is Millau viaduct of France with a height of 343 meters.
♦ Capital: Beijing
♦ Currency: Renminbi
♦ President: Xi Jinping
Colombia Congress Amnesty Law for FARC Rebels
i. The Colombia’s Congress headed by President Juan Manuel Santos, in an historical move, passed a law on December 28 to grant amnesty to FARC rebels as part of the country’s peace deal.
ii. The Senate passed the bill 69-0, after the House of Representatives approved it 121-0. The amnesty bill is part of the November 24 pact aimed at ending five decades of conflict.
iii. The measure grants special legal treatment, amnesty and pardon to members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) accused of political and related crimes. Under the deal, the FARC must demobilize and surrender their weapons within six months.
iv. Launched in 1964, FARC is about to begin handing over its weapons under a UN-monitored demobilization process.
v. The new amnesty law does not apply to FARC rebels accused of offenses such as war crimes, rape, torture and extrajudicial killings.
vi. Those who confess to their crimes before a special court may avoid prison and instead receive alternative sentences. Others who do not confess and are convicted in court will receive sentences of eight to 20 years.
♦ Capital: Bogotá
♦ President: Juan Manuel Santos
♦ Currency: Colombian peso
BANKING & FINANCE
State bank of India ties up with Magicbricks.com
i. State Bank of India and real estate portal magicbricks.com on 29 December 2016 entered into a tie-up.
ii. According to the tie-up the projects of those 500 real estate builders whose projects are approved and rated by State Bank of India, will be available for buyer on the portal of magicbricks.com.
iii. The buyers using the portal to buy these properties will get SBIs end-to-end online home loan-approval solutions.
iv. The good part of the deal is that buyers can be confident about the deal as the property has been rated by SBI and also buyers can avail loan facility easily.
♦ State Bank of India is a government-owned Indian multinational, public sector banking and financial services company.
♦ Chairperson: Arundhati Bhattacharya
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai, Maharashtra
♦ Founded: July 1, 1955
CBDT signs 2 unilateral unilateral advance pricing agreements (APAs) with Indian taxpayers
i. The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has signed two new unilateral advance pricing agreements (APAs) with Indian taxpayers on 29 December 2016. With this the total number of APAs entered into by CBDT has increased two 117. This includes 110 unilateral APAs and 7 bilateral APAs.
ii. The two unilateral APAs signed on 29 December includes Information Technology and automobile sectors. The international transactions which are covered under the agreements include software development services, IT enabled services, manufacturing and business support services.
iii. In the current financial year a total of 53 APAs have been entered into by CBDT.
iv. An APA is a contract between a taxpayer and tax authority specifying the pricing method that the taxpayer will apply to its related-company transactions. The APA Scheme was introduced in the Income-tax Act in 2012.
Central Government invites views of general public and stakeholders on the Report of the Financial Redressal Agency
i. Central Government has invited the views of general public and stakeholders on the report on the Report of the Financial Redressal Agency latest by 31st January 2017.
ii. The concept of Financial Redressal Agency (FRA) was introduced in the Budget Speech of 2015-16 by Shri Arun Jaitley from the recommendations of the Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC)of 2013. The role defined for FRA is to address the grievances of retail consumers against all Financial Service Providers (FSPs).
iii. A Task Force for giving recommendations on Financial Redressal Agency (FRA) was formed in June 2015. The task Force submitted its report in June 30, 2016. Now the customers are required to give views on the same.
iv. As per the Task Force under the present system customer has to undergo unnecessary stress as they have to visit various redressal agency. FRA simplifies this process. The Task Force has recommended an initial budget of about Rs.100 crore to operationalise the FRA.
Delhi’s per capita income 3 times national average and highest among all states
i. As per a Statistical Handbook released by Deputy Chief Minister of New Delhi Manish Sisodia, New Delhi registered the highest increase in per capita income among all the states and Union territory of India.
ii. The per capita income of New Delhi is Rs 2,80,142 during 2015-16. The figure is approximately 3 times the national average per capita income for 2015-16 which stands at Rs 93,293 during 2015-16 as per the official statement.
iii. The second position was occupied by Chandigarh, with a per capita income of Rs 2,42,386 while Sikkim with per capita income of Rs 2,27,465 was on the third spot.
iv. Delhi witnessed an increase of Rs 28,131 in per capita income from the previous year of 2014-15 when it was Rs 2,52,011.
NPCIs RuPay Card usage at Merchant Terminals Increases 7 times after demonetisation
i. The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has informed that post demonetization, the usage of RuPay Card has been increased to over 2.1 million from 3 lakh per day, at the PoS terminals, which is seven times more since the announcement of the demonitization.
ii .The payment retail payment gateway is targeting a daily volume of 5 million transactions through RuPay cards by next December.
iii. So far, the corporation has issued 317 million RuPay cards, which include
205 million cards to Jandhan account-holders.
iv. As of the end of December, transaction volume through the technologically more advanced Unified Payment Interface (UPI) jumped to 70,000 a day from about 35,000 per day.
♦ National Payments Corporation of India is the umbrella organisation for all retail payment systems in India, which aims to allow all Indian citizens to have unrestricted access to e-payment services.
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai
♦ Founded: 2008
♦ Chairman: Balachandran M.
♦ RuPay is an Indian domestic card scheme conceived and launched by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). It was created to fulfil the Reserve Bank of India’s desire to have a domestic, open loop, and multilateral system of payments in India.
♦ RuPay facilitates electronic payment at all Indian banks and financial institutions, and competes with MasterCard and Visa in India.
FIPB clears Six FDI proposals worth Rs 1200 crore
i .Inter-ministerial body Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approved six investment proposals out of 17 Foreign Direct Investment(FDI) proposals.
ii. It includes Sanofi Synthelabo India, Star Den Media Services and Idea Cellular Infrastructure Services, envisaging foreign investment of Rs 1,200 crore.
♦ Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) is a national agency of Government of India.
♦ It provides a single window clearance for proposals on FDI in India.
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
Arunachal CM Pema Khandu suspended from PPA
i. Incumbent Chief Minister and former Congress rebel Pema Khandu and six other lawmakers were suspended from the People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA).
ii. The five other MLAs are Zingnu Namchom (Namsai), Passang Dorjee Sona (Mechuka), Chow Tewa Mein (Chowkham), Jambey Tashi (Lumla)and Kamlung Mossang (Miao).
iii. PPA is all set to name Takam Pario, the richest MLA in Arunachal Pradesh with declared assets of Rs 187 crore, as the new chief minister.
About Arunachal Pradesh:
♦ Capitals: Guwahati (Judiciary), Itanagar
♦ Governor: V. Shanmuganathan.
Romanian president designates Grindeanu new prime minister
i. Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has designated veteran leftist Sorin Grindeanu as the new Romanian head of government.
ii. The 43-year-old Grindeanu is a mathematician who has served as deputy mayor of the western city of Timisoara.
♦ Capital: Bucharest
♦ Currency: Romanian leu
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
PM Narendra Modi launches UPI based mobile payment app called “BHIM”
i. Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched UPI based mobile payment application called BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money)
ii. BHIM – a rebranded version of UPI (Unified Payment Interface) and USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data), at the Digi Dhan Mela event in Talkatora stadium in New Delhi.
iii. The app can be downloaded from Android app store. It can be used by a smart phone or feature phone of Rs 1,000-1,200 and there is no need to have Internet connectivity.
iv. PM dedicated the new app to Dr B.R. Ambedkar and at the event Tihar Jail was announced a cashless society.
v. PM also made payment to Khadi using the Bhim mobile application.
Features of the App:
♦ People have to register your bank account with BHIM, and set a UPI PIN for the bank account. Their mobile number is payment address (PA)
♦ Money can also be sent to non UPI supported banks using IFSC and MMID. We can also collect money by sending a request and reverse payments if required.
♦ We can check your bank balance and transactions details on the go and create a custom payment address in addition to your phone number.
♦ We can scan a QR code for faster entry of payment addresses.
♦ Maximum of Rs. 10,000 per transaction and Rs. 20,000 within 24 hours is allowed under this app and it supports Hindi and English and more languages will be added soon.
20th fast patrol vessel delivered to Coast Guard
i. The Cochin Shipyard delivered ICGS AYUSH, the 20th Fast Patrol Vessel, to the Indian Coast Guard.
ii. With this, it has completed construction of 20 Fast Patrol Vessel series for the Coast Guard.
iii. ICGS Ayush will be operated from the Coast Guard Station at Krishnapatanam During the current financial year.
Bradley Wiggins professional cyclist announces retirement
i. Sir Bradley Wiggins a professional road and track racing cyclist has announced retirement from cycling on 27 December 2016.
ii. With this his 16 years of professional career in which he won Tour de France 2012 and total 8 Olympic medals came to an end.
iii. 36 year old Wiggins is from Britain and out of 8 Olympic medal that he has won, 5 are gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze. Apart from this he has won 7 world titles.
iv. Earlier in September 2016, medical record of Wiggins was hacked by a group of Russian hacker. The data revealed the use of a drug which drew widespread criticism. However it was later told that the drugs were taken under medical supervision due to illness of Wiggins.
BOOKS & AUTHORS
Amul’s ‘India 3.0’ book launched
i. Gujarat based dairy cooperative company Amul launched the updated edition of ‘Amul’s India 3.0′ covering topical grounds and popular incidents from the contemporary context and the book takes on fifty years of India’s history.
ii. The book was unveiled by social commentator Santosh Desai, Amul’s Managing Director R.S. Sodhi, and journalists Indrajit Hazra, Rahul Da Cunha and Jai Arjun Singh.
iii. The book has written by Santosh Desai, Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Tharoor, Jug Suraiya, Indrajit Hazra, Jai Arjun Singh, Naresh Fernandes, Agnello Dias, Arnab Goswami and Karan Johar.