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Current Affairs Today – December 31 2015

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Current Affairs Today 31 December 2015


National Biotechnology Development Strategy 2015-2020

Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Harsh Vardhan has unveiled a National Biotechnology Development Strategy -2015-2020.

Aim – To establish India as a world-class bio-manufacturing hub

Mission – Creation of new biotech products, to create a strong infrastructure for R&D and commercialization and empower India’s human resources scientifically and technologically.

MoU between India and Jordan for promoting cooperation In the field of Information Technology and Electronics

The Cabinet has given nod to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Jordan for promoting cooperation in the field of Information Technology(IT) and Electronics.

  • Purpose: It will strengthen industrial, technological and commercial cooperation between the two countries in the field of Information Technology and Electronics (IT&E) sector.
  • Zones of co-operation: Identifying capacity building areas and specific needs of Jordanian IT sector, Design, Plan and implement IT Capacity Building Programmes.

Keys Jordan:

  • Capital & Currency: Amman, Jordanian dinar
  • King: Abdullah II of Jordan
  • Prime minister: Abdullah Ensour

Government approves MOU for conservation of birds

Government gave approval for signing a MoU(Raptor MoU) for conservation of migratory birds of prey in Africa and Eurasia.

  • Benefit: It will help India gain knowledge in managing habitats of 76 species of birds of prey of which 46 species, comprising vultures, falcons, eagles, owls, hawks, kites and harrier, are also found in India. India will become the 54th signatory to the MoU.

The knowledge will be helpful in effectively managing the habitats of these raptors, including concerted trans-boundary efforts for conservation through interaction with other range countries by signing of the MoU with the CMS.

Other neighbours who are signatories to this MoU: Pakistan and Nepal

The government recently banned multi-dose vials of human formulations of diclofenac, a painkilling drug death of vultures.

Points to remember: CMS (Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals) aims to conserve terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their range. It is an intergovernmental treaty, concluded under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme.

India is a party to the CMS since November 1, 1983.

Union Cabinet gives nod for India-Australia Civil Nuclear Cooperation deal

The Indo-Australian civil nuclear cooperation agreement received approval of the Union Cabinet.

Benefit: It will boost energy security by supporting the expansion of nuclear power in India.

Signed last year, the deal follows similar agreements with the U.S. and France. It is a step toward India achieving international acceptability for its nuclear programme.

  • India will be the first country to buy Australian uranium without being a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
  • India has less than two dozen small reactors at six sites with a capacity of 4,780 MW, or 2 per cent of its total power capacity.

Current: India has nuclear energy agreements with 11 countries and imports uranium from France, Russia and Kazakhstan.

Keys Australia:

  • Capital & Currency: Canberra, Australian dollar
  • Prime Minister: Malcolm Turnbull
  • Largest city: Sydney

Union Cabinet approves construction of 69 bridges on Trilateral Highway in Myanmar

Cabinet approved the construction of 69 bridges including approach roads on a road section of the Trilateral Highway in Myanmar.

  • Worth: Rs.371 crore
  • Completed by: Mid-2019
  • Monitored by: Indian Embassy in Yangon, PMC and the Ministry of External Affairs.
  • Purpose: The project will report all weather usability to the Tamu-Kyigone-Kalewa road section, part of the route for the proposed Imphal-Mandalay bus service.

Keys Myanmar:

  • Capital & Currency: Naypyidaw, Burmese kyat
  • President: Thein Sein
  • Largest city: Yangon (Rangoon)

MoU between SINTEF, Norway and Central Public Works Department in the field of Recycling of Construction and Demolition Waste

Union Cabinet led by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between SINTEF, Norway and Central Public Works Department (CPWD)

Purpose: Cooperation in the development of human resource capacity building and scientific research in the field of Recycling of Construction and Demolition (C&D) Waste in India.

  • Construction industry of India generates about 10-12 million tonnes of waste annually.
  • Concrete and masonry, constituting about 50 percent of the construction and demolition waste, is not currently recycled in the country.

Key: SINTEF “The Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research”, is the largest independent research organisation in Scandinavia.

HQ: Trondheim, Norway,

Agreement between India and Maldives for the exchange of information with respect to taxes

Cabinet approved the signing of an agreement between India and Maldives for exchange of information aimed at curbing tax evasion and avoidance.

  • Other agreement: Cabinet approved signing of a Protocol amending the Convention between India and Slovenia for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to taxes on income.

Keys Maldives:

  • Capital & Currency: Malé, Maldivian rufiyaa
  • President: Abdulla Yameen

Renewal of MoU between India and Canada in Higher Education

Union Cabinet led by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for renewal of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Canada for cooperation in Higher Education.

Earlier MOU:

MOU between India and Canada about cooperation in Higher Education was signed in 2010 for a period of five years. At the end of the five years, the MoU was to be renewed for a possible renewal for a further five year period.

By acknowledging its immense potential and to further develop the existing bilateral relations it has been proposed to further bolster the educational ties between India and Canada by renewing the MoU.

Points to remember: Canada

  • Capital & Currency: Ottawa, Canadian dollar
  • Monarch: Elizabeth II
  • Prime Minister: Justin Trudeau
  • Largest city: Toronto


India ranked at 3rd in issuing passports

India has ranked 3rd in the world after China and the US for issuing 12 million passports in 2015. It was announced during the function of inauguration of Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) in Agartala by Muktesh Kumar Pardeshi who is the chief passport officer & MEA joint secretary.

  • In 2015-16, 12 million passports either have been issued or ready to issue against the last fiscal’s (2014-15) number of 10 million. Five years ago the number was only 16 lakh.
  • China issued about 16 million passports in the same term while the US issued 14 million.

The Ministry of External Affairs has earned Rs. 2,400 crore this year against Rs. 2, 100 crore last year. India has now around 65 million passport holders.

WB offers $50 mn loan for minority education

Government of India and the World Bank signed a USD 50 million agreement for the Nai Manzil: The Education and Skills Training for Minorities Project.

  • Credit by: World Bank’s concessionary lending arm, International Development Association (IDA).
  • Signed by: Raj Kumar(joint secretary, Economic Affairs in the Finance Ministry) and World Bank’s Michael Haney, the operations advisor in India.
  • Objective: To help young people from minority communities complete education and gain from market-driven training programmes with the aim of improving their employment outcome.

Key point: The project will approach the disadvantaged youth from minority communities and upkeep their enrolment in open schooling as well as provide vocational training. Moreover, it will also provide post-placement support to assist them in finding sustainable employment


Cabinet approves Amended Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme for Textiles industry

Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the Amended Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (ATUFS) replacing the Revised Restructured Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (RR-TUFS).

  • Aim: To help the industry upgrade operational technology and provides fixed subsidies to entrepreneurs who invest in this regard.

The new scheme will be implemented across two broad categories.

  • Sub sectors of apparel, garment and technical textiles: Upto 15% subsidy on capital investment.
  • Remaining sub-sectors: Subsidy at a rate of 10%.

Main beneficiary: Medium and small scale players with total investments worth Rs.2, 71,480 crore being generated along with nearly 48 lakh new jobs.

The new amended scheme aims to plug the loopholes in the earlier scheme and improve Ease of Doing Business.

Key point:

  • Textile industry: It is India’s largest employer after agriculture, accounting for 14% of India’s exports, but has currently lost ground to Bangladesh and Vietnam in the global market as the preferred supplier for readymade garments.


Airtel launches microsite for ‘Project Leap’

Bharti Airtel launched a special website allowing customers to know everything about how Project Leap(60,000-crore network transformation program) is progressing in their respective localities.


  • Customers will get a transparent view of coverage of voice and high speed broadband services.
  • They will also be able to see sites planned in their localities, seek help on hosting sites and share site upgradation plans for every site and sites that have been forcibly shut down in their locality.
  • The microsite allows customers to see the network coverage for voice, basic data services (2G) and high speed data services (3G/ 4G) in their regions.

Points to remember: Bharti Airtel is the country’s No 1 carrier

Bharti Airtel (India and South Asia) MD & CEO: Gopal Vittal


Harpal Singh – A cancer researcher knighted by Queen Elizabeth II

An Indian-origin cancer research expert Harpal Singh Kumar has been presented with a Knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for his influential work on prevention and treatment of cancer.

  • Harpal Singh, the chief executive of Cancer Research UK (CRUK) has been honoured for being influential in promoting research into the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of cancer, and cancer care.
  • He chaired the Independent Cancer Taskforce and authored the NHS Cancer Strategy “Achieving World Class Cancer Outcomes. A Strategy for England 2015-20”.
  • He has pushed for measures to reduce smoking and ban sun-beds for under-18s.
  • He has been actively involved in setting up the Francis Crick Institute as a world-leading centre of biomedical research and innovation.

Sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik’s Santa Claus sculpture features in Limca Book of Records

Sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik’s Santa Claus sculpture features in Limca Book of Records

Sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik’s Santa Claus sculpture has got a place in the Limca Book of Records as the world’s largest sand sculpture with 45-ft-tall announced by Limca Book senior editor Arthy Muthanna Singh

  • Pattnaik, who was assisted by 20 of his students from the Sudarsan Sand Art Institute of Puri, took 22 hours to build the mammoth structure and also sculptures of Jesus and Mary. The display is on till January 1st .


Bjorn Isberg named as Tournament Director of 2016 Hockey India League

Bjorn Isberg named as Tournament Director of 2016 Hockey India LeagueSweden’s Bjorn Isberg was named the tournament director of the fourth edition of the Hockey India League (HIL) that will be held in India from January 18 to February 21.
Six franchises:

Jaypee Punjab Warriors, Delhi Waveriders, Kalinga Lancers, Uttar Pradesh Wizards, Dabang Mumbai and defending champions Ranchi Rays – battling for supremacy.

The following is the complete list of officials for 2016 HIL:

  • Umpire’s manager: Isberg, Scottish Andy Mair
  • Assistant : Muthukumar Balakrisnan
  • Tournament Director: Bjorn Isberg (SWE)
  • Lead Umpires Manager: Craig Gribble (NZL)
  • Umpires Manager: Andy Mair (SCO)
  • Assistant Tournament Director: Muthukumar Balakrisnan (MAS), Gavin Hawke (NZL)
  • Technical Officers: Claudius de Sales (IND), Davinder Bhatia (IND), Ashutosh Verma (IND)
  • Judges: Milind Narwekar (IND), Anjali Sharma (IND), Sonia Bathla (IND)
  • International Umpires: German Montes de Oca (ARG), Marcin Grochal (POL), Martin Madden (SCO), David Tomlinson (NZL), Jakub Mejzlik (CZE), Ben GAntgen (GER)

Indian Umpires: R.V. Raghuprasad, G.S. Sangha, Ripudaman Sharma, Deepak Joshi, Dhaval Prajapti, Anil Kumar.

Dr Gyanendra D Bandgaiyan appointed DG of National Centre for Good Governance

Economist and former IAS officer Gyanendra D Bandgaiyan was appointed  as Director General of National Centre for Good Governance (NCGG).

About  Gyanendra D Bandgaiyan

  • Bandgaiyan(54) a former IAS officer of union territories cadre hails from Madhya Pradesh.
  • Bandgaiyan , ex-chief economist of United Nations Development Programme has been appointed for a period of three years which is extendable by another two years or up to 60 years of age annpounced by Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) .

What is NCGG ?

  • The NCGG is an autonomous institution under the administrative control of the DoPT.
  • It is the apex think tank of the country that guides and helps implement good governance reforms through research, policy analysis, advocacy, and capacity building in order to strengthen institutions that deliver good governance and foster democracy.


Reliance Capital buys 6.8% stake in Saregama

Financial services company Reliance Capital acquired 6.83 per cent stake in music company Saregama India for Rs 43 crore. 

  • The company has purchased 11,88,000 equity shares constituting 6.83 per cent of the equity share capital of Saregama India Limited on December 28.

Reliance Capital : It is a financial services companies in India. It is ranked among the top private sector financial services and banking groups in terms of net worth in India. The company is a constituent of MSCI India and CNX Junior Nifty.

  • Reliance Capital Chairman : Anil Ambani

Saregama India : Saregama India Ltd. is a renowned Indian music label and a leading content producer for Indian television.It is known for its music catalogue which consists of more than 117,000 songs in 14 languages built over a period of more than 100 years.

  • Saregama India CMD : Vikram Mehra


BCCI Cricketer of the Year title bestowed upon Virat Kohli

India’s Test captain Virat Kohli will be presented with Polly Umrigar Award for BCCI cricketer of the year and Mithali Raj will be conferred with M.A. Chidambaram Trophy for Best Woman Cricketer of 2014-15 in the senior category while Devika Vaidya will be awarded from the junior category.

  • This is the second time that Kohli will be honoured with the Polly Umrigar Award, after winning it in 2011-12. In his 20 ODI outings this year, Kohli managed 623 runs at an average of 36.65.
  • Under Kohli, the Indian team ended a 22-year wait for a series win on Sri Lankan soil before battering South Africa to give them their first overseas loss in nine years.
  • Mithali, on the other hand, became the first Indian woman and second overall to complete 5,000 runs in ODI format this year.

Laxmi Ratan Shukla announced retirement from all forms of cricket

Laxmi Ratan Shukla announced retirement from all forms of cricketFormer captain and all-rounder Laxmi Ratan Shukla announced his retirement from all forms of cricket after he was named in the Bengal squad.Shukla  two days’ ago circulated a copy of his letter to Cricket Association of Bengal president Sourav Ganguly.

About Laxmi Ratan Shukla :

  • Shukla had played three ODIs for India scoring 18 runs and picking up a wicket, was named Sunday in Bengal’s 16-member squad for the upcoming Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
  • Shukla, who played 137 first-class matches and scored 6217 at an average of 36.93 including nine centuries and 37 fifties, however denied that he was forced to call it quits and termed it a personal decision.

China to Bid for 2023 AFC Asian Cup

China is preparing to bid for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup which is held every four years announced by the country’s top soccer authority .
Host requirement :

The bid will require at least six cities and eight stadiums to host a total of 51 competitions in the month-long contest.

Highlights :

  • China is in 84th place in theFifa world rankings, and it is on the verge of elimination for Russia 2018 after a 0-0 draw with Hong Kong in November.
  • China hosted theAsian Cup in 2004 and reached the final, but lost 3-1 to neighbour and rival Japan, triggering a riot by fans.

Key points :

  • 2015 :Australia
  • 2019: UAE
  • 2023 : China


Former Newcastle United goalkeeper Pavel Srnicek died

Former Newcastle United goalkeeper Pavel Srnicek diedFormer Czech international footballer and English club Newcastle United goalkeeper Pavel Srnicek has died at the age of 47 in the Czech Republic. Srnicek collapsed while jogging on Dec. 20.

  • He represented the Czech Republic in 49 matches between 1994 and 2001. He was Newcastle’s custodian between 1991 and 1998 and then again was in the club for a brief stint in 2006-07.
  • He made 150 appearances for Newcastle between 1991 and 1998, helping them win promotion to the top flight during the 1992-93 season.