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Current Affairs Today – December 5 2016

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cat-december-5-2016INDIAN AFFAIRS

6th Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference held in Amristar
i. The 6th Heart of Asia Ministerial Conference was jointly inaugurated by the Prime Minister Narendra Modiand Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Amritsar, Punjab on December 4, 2016.
ii. The theme for this year’s conference is ‘Addressing Challenges, Achieving Prosperity’.
iii. The Sixth Ministerial Conference on Heart of Asia- Istanbul process of Afghanistan adopted the Amritsar declaration, on December 4, 2016, which puts focus on the concerned countries to address terrorism and enhancing regional economic cooperation.

Goa Launches Yuva Sanchar Yojana for Free Internet data, talktime for Goa Youth
i. The Government of Goa is set to launch its ambitious scheme “Goa Yuva Sanchar Yojana” on December 5, 2016, providing Limited Free Talktime and Internet Data to the youth in the state to comply with the central government’s Digital India initiative.
ii. The scheme will provide free 100 minutes talk time and 3 GB Internet data with a SIM card (every month) for youths aged between 16-30 years.Goa CM
iii. The state government has tied up with private mobile services provider Vodafone for the scheme which will benefit nearly 1.25 lakh youth.
iv. The government has also made a provision to discontinue with the scheme if a beneficiary is found to be misusing it.
The Digital India initiative
♦ The Digital India initiative, launched in july 2015, is a flagship programme of the Modi Government that seeks to transform the country into a digitally-empowered society and knowledge economy.
♦ The activities aimed under the programme covers areas like broadband highways, universal access to mobile connectivity, public Internet access programme and e-Governance.

Finance Ministry Mandates All Government Departments to Make Electronic Payments above Rs 5000
i. The Finance Ministry made it mandatory on December 5, 2016 for all Government Departments to make Electronic Payments to suppliers, contractors or institutions if the order value exceeds Rs 5,000, to give a boost to Digital Payment System.
ii. To attain the goal of complete digitization of government payments, the ministry has lowered the amount for making such payments from Rs 10,000 to Rs 5,000.
iii. Ministry of Finance has directed all the ministries and departments to ensure implementation of the same with immediate effect.
iv. The Finance Ministry has instructed PSU and private banks to waive the transaction cost for all payments made through debit cards.

NITI Aayog to Provide Rs. 5 Lakh to each district to Promote Digital Payment
i. To encourage each district in the country to encourage digital payments for day to day financial transactions without fear, the NITI Aayog has taken an initiative to transfer Rs.5 lakh to each district to implement the move.
ii. Aim: to give a boost to cashless digital payment systems across districts, talukas and panchayats.
iii. The central government has taken number of measures such as incentives for digital payments for day to day financial transactions like buying or selling goods/services, and transferring money to promote the transition to the cashless digital payment systems.
iv. For availing the incentive, district administration will have to use the funds to increase the number of mobile and Aadhar cards linked to bank accounts, issue of Rupay cards and PIN numbers and download of apps.
v. The district collector, commissioner or magistrates would have ensure that individuals niti-aayogtransiting to digital payment mode should do at least two successful transactions by any of the given five methods:
1.Unified payment interface (UPI),
2.Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD),
3.AadhaarEnabled Payments,
4.E-wallets and
5.Rupaydebit/credit/prepaid cards.
vi. The top 10 best performing districts of India will be awarded the Digital Payment Champions of India Award by NITI Aayog.
vii. The 50 panchayats which go cashless will be awarded digital payment award of honour.


Venezuela Suspended from Mercosur Trade Bloc
i .The South American nations has suspended Venezuela on December 2, 2016 from the Mercosur trade bloc for violating the bloc’s democratic principles and failing to meet its basic standards.
ii. The Foreign Ministers of the four founding members of Mercosur-Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay- reached the decision to revoke the Mercosur membership of Venezuela, which is in the mid of an economic collapse despite holding the world’s largest oil reserves.
About Mercosur Trade bloc
Mercosur is a sub-regional bloc of South American countries established in 1991 to promote free trade and the flexible movement of goods, people, and currency and its headquarters are located at Montevideo (Uruguay).Its full members are Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Venezuela’s suspension
Venezuela had been a full member since 2012 in Mercosur.Venezuela failed to comply with its commitments made at the time of joining the group in 2012.
♦ It also failed to meet December 1, 2016 deadline to adopt certain standards and rules required for membership of the bloc.
♦ It is also suffering from broken economic system with world’s highest inflation and crumbling currency, corruption problem and is close to civil unrest.
v. Tensions between Venezuela and its Mercosur partners had worsened since 2015. Earlier in 2016, the bloc had stopped Venezuela from assuming the rotating presidency.


Centre to Implement Public Financial Management System to Cut Cost
i. The Central Government is planning for the speedy implementation of Public Financial Management System (PFMS) in the country.
ii. There are about Rs.1-1.5 lakh crore of idle funds lying with the government.
iii. The system will enable the government to monitor and access the more than Rs.1 lakh crore of idle funds lying with it under various heads.
iv. This will save the government from borrowing money from external source thus saving interest costs of at least Rs.7,000 crore at 7% interest.
About Public Financial Management System:
♦ PFMS s a web based application administered by the department of expenditure.It is an end-to-end solution for processing payments, tracking, monitoring, accounting, reconciliation and reporting. It is a web based application.
♦ The PFMS compiles, collates and makes available in real-time, information regarding all government schemes, and provides the government real-time information on resource availability and utilization across schemes
♦ The platform will allow government expenditure to adopt a Just-in- Time (JIT) approach, with payments made only when they are needed.

India crosses $300 billion FDI, becomes safe investment destination
i. India has achieved the status of being a safe and dynamic investment destination in the world after it crossed the $ 300 billion Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) between April 2000 and September 2016
ii. 33% of the FDI came through the Mauritius route, because the investors wanted to take advantage of India’s double taxation avoidance treaty with the island nation.
iii. India received $101.76 billion from Mauritius between April 2000 and September 2016. The cumulative FDI inflows during the period amounted to $310.26 billion. 
iv. According to data compiled by the Department of Industrial Policyand Promotion, the inflows in the first half of the FY17 was $21.62 billion.
v. The other big investors have been from Singapore, the US, UK and the Netherlands.
vi. The liberalisation of the FDI policy framework, major national development programmes such as Make in India, Digital India and Skill India, besides increasing competitiveness, have made India the preferred choice for investors globally
vii. India’s services sector topped the FDI list, receiving 18 per cent of the cumulative equity FDI inflows followed by construction development, computer software & hardware, telecommunication and automobile.
viii. FDI:foreign direct investment (FDI) is an investment in the form of a controlling ownership in a business in one country by an entity based in another country.

MMTC to tie-up with SBI to sell govt minted ‘Indian Gold Coin’
i. India’s largest public sector trading body MMTC(Metals and Minerals Trading goldCorporation ) tie-up with the State Bank of India (SBI) to sell government-minted Indian Gold Coin(24 Karat)which will be available in denominations of 5gm, 10gm and 20 gm bar.
ii. It has set a target of selling 5 lakhs units in the next few years under Gold Monetisation Scheme which was launched in 2015 by PM Modi
iii. The coin will be manufactured by Security Printing and Minting Corp and it is made from the yellow metal under Gold Monetisation Scheme of the Central government.
About Gold Coin :
♦ The Gold coin is India’s first-ever sovereign gold offering and the only one to be hallmarked by Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) for purity.
♦ It is aligns with the ‘Make in India’ priority of the government.
♦ The coin has the national emblem Ashoka Chakra engraved on one side and Mahatma Gandhi on the other side.

Yes Bank Partners Ola To Set Up 30 Mobile ATMs In 10 Cities
i. Maharashtra based Yes Bank has partnered with India’s smartest cab service Ola to set up mobile ATMs across 30 locations across 10 cities including Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Jaipur.
ii. The Point of Sale (PoS) enabled ATMs will be stationed in Ola cabs from where customers of any bank can withdraw up to Rs 2,000 per card.
Yes Bank apps :
SIMsePAY, Yes Mobile 2.0, Yes Pay


Yappily, India’s First Social Aided Ecommerce Platform
i.India has come up with its first online flea market, Yappily.Bangalore based start-up Yappily was co-founded by Rohit Kumar, Kamonasish Aayush Mazumdar and Rashmi Ranjan Padhy in 2016.
ii. It is India’s first social aided ecommerce platform, for both new unique products as well as pre-loved used products, which is available both offline and online and lets a buyer and seller interact and transacts in 10 seconds literally and over 17,000 users are already using it.Yappily
iii. Yappily has currently occupied the space with over 1,200 unique sellers – both online and offline – and more than 500,000 products on board.
iv. It recently raised $35 million in funding from marquee investors, including Sequoia India.
v. Yappily offers a wide range of products from clothes to accessories to home décor to artisanal and handcrafted products.
vi. Yappily is planning to expand to cities like Delhi and Mumbai, as well as towns, in the next three to six months.

KPMG, Microsoft join hands to boost digital transformation
i. Netherland based KPMG and US based Microsoft announced a strategic Internet of Things (IoT) Advisory partnership to accelerate the digital transformation of large and mid-market enterprises in the country on December 5, 2016
ii. IoT Advisory will help enterprises deploy solutions that can drive Cloud-based automation, generate operational insights
iii. It will provide better customer relationship management and analytics, improve organisational agility and increase workforce mobility.
iv. KPMG will also extend its services to the entire spectrum of Microsoft productivity tools, intelligent Cloud, blockchain technology and cyber security amongst others in India
Microsoft :
♦ Founders‎: ‎Bill Gates‎ and Paul Allen
♦ Founded‎: ‎April 4, 1975

Amazon Launches Its Startup Program ‘Launchpad’ In India
i. An electronic commerce company Amazon launched it’s startup programme ‘Launchpad‘ in India to support Indian startups and scale up their business.
ii. Launchpad will help startups launch, market, and distribute their products to Amazon customers across India and around the world via a dedicated store.
iii. It will be an exclusive corner for Indian Startups to get access to big consumer markets nationally and internationally.
Amazon : 
♦ CEO: Jeff Bezos
♦ India Head : Amit Agarwal


PM Modi wins reader’s poll for TIME’s Person of the Year
i. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has won the Online Readers’ Poll for TIME Person of the Year 2016, beating off other world leaders like US President-elect Donald Trump, incumbent US leader Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
ii. The prestigious title is presented every year to an individual who has had the most impact on the news and world in the past year, regardless of whether the influence was positive or negative.
iii. Modi won with 18% of the vote when the poll closed midnight December 4, 2016, which was significantly more than his closest contenders.
iv. Obama, Trump and Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange, received 7% of the vote while Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg got 2% vote and US Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton got 4% vote.


Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi Resigns after losing referendum on constitutional reform
i. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has resigned on December 5, 2016, after being defeated in a referendum on constitutional reform over his plan to reform the constitution, throwing the country and the euro zone into confusion.
ii. A constitutional referendum was held in Italy on Sunday December 4, 2016. Voters were asked whether they approve a constitutional law that amends the Italian Constitution to reform the composition and powers of the Parliament of Italy, as well as the division of powers between the State, the Regions, and administrative entities.
iii. The 41-year-old, who was appointed to office in 2014, said he would resign if voters rejected his plans to reform constitution.
iv. Voters had shown a “clear” rejection of his legislative reform measures causing the PM to hand in his resignation to the President Sergio Mattarella, taking full responsibility for the defeat.
Italy :
♦ Capital: Rome
♦ Currency: Euro

New Zealand Prime Minister and National party leader John Key resigns Unexpectedly
i. John Key, the New Zealand Prime Minister and leader of the National party, resigned from the post, ahead of next year’s general election.
ii. Mr Key told he resigned due to a combination of factors, including a desire to spend more time with his family and the need to make room for new political talent.
iii. His resignation will be effective from 12 December, when National MPs will meet to select a new leader.
iv. Mr Key, a 55-year-old former investment banker and foreign exchange trader, has overseen a dramatic turnround in New Zealand’s fortunes since he was elected to power during a recession in 2008 and recently marked his 10-year anniversary as leader of the National party.
v. Key said he would vote for his deputy prime minister, Bill English, for the election in 2017. English briefly led the party to its worst-ever electoral defeat in the 2002 election, but new-zealand-prime-ministerhas since served as a successful finance minister.
vi. Mr Key leaves New Zealand’s economy in good health with gross domestic product growing at an annual rate of 3.6 per cent.
New Zealand :
♦ Capital: Wellington
♦ Currency: New Zealand dollar

Airtel appoints Sunil Taldar as CEO & Director of DTH arm
i. Sunil Taldar, member of the Airtel Management Board is appointed as CEO & Director of Airtel’s DTH arm on December 5, 2016.
ii. Taldar was replaced Shashi Arora  who is moved as MD & CEO of Airtel Payments Bank.
iii. He will be responsible for driving growth and innovation for Airtel Digital TV, which is a key growth driver within the company’s B2C portfolio.
iv. Prior to this, Taldar, who has an experience of over 28 years in the FMCG sector and also had worked with Mondelez .


Mahindra to acquire Netherlands’s OFD Holding for 5 mn euro
i. Mahindra Agri Solutions Ltd (MASL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the company acquired Netherlands-based OFD Holding BV for 5 million euros .
ii. According to the agreement, MASL holds 60 per cent of the equity share capital of OFD Holding BV.
iii. It is a step towards realising this vision by expanding the distribution base to both Europe and China.
Key People :
♦ MASL MD & CEO: Ashok Sharma
♦ OFD Holding BV Managing Director : Corne van de Klundert


American Scientists Successfully Mapps Human Thought
Brain Mapi. A study published in the journal PNAS revealed that American scientists of US National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, for the first time have successfully tracked human thought by imaging rapidly fluctuating brain activity.
ii. The scientists made use of fast functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI), which measures changes in blood oxygenation associated with higher order brain functions.
iii. The new discovery is a significant step towards mapping human cognitive functions such as perception, attention, and awareness.


10,500 years old ancient camping site discovered in Ladakh
i. A release issued by the culture ministry states that an ancient camping site has been found near Saser La in the Nubra Valley, Ladakh at an altitude of about 4,200 metres that was used by pre-historic man and belonged to circa 8500 BCE.
ii. The site indicates that humans were camping in that area about 10,500 years ago and its 14,000 feet above the sea level.
iii. A camping site is a place where hunter-gatherers stayed temporarily before they moved on to another place.
iv. Charcoal pieces from hearth activity and remains of bones associated with it were found at the site.
v. The charcoal pieces sent for analysis to Beta Analytic, Florida, U.S., revealed that the site belonged to circa 8500 BCE.
vi. The discovery is significant because the site is known as a ‘dry snow desert’, an area where a temperature remains between -30 to -40 degree Celsius and survival is difficult.
About Ladakh
Ladakh is a region in Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, famous for its Himalayan mountain ranges, its spectacular glaciers, passes, valleys and the Buddhist monasteries. But not much archaeological importance was attached to the region.


Steven Smith registers joint-highest score by an Aussie captain
i. Australian captain Steven Smith smashed a career-best 164 (157) in the first ODI against New Zealand on 04th December 2016, to equal Ricky Ponting’s record for the highest individual score by an Aussie skipper. Steven Smith
ii. Ricky Ponting had made 164, against South Africa in the famous ODI at Wanderers in 2005-06. George Bailey is the only other Australia captain to score 150 or more; he struck 156 against India in Nagpurin 2013-14.
iii. Smith scored 164 from 157 balls, including four sixes and 14 boundaries. Australia after losing a wicket in the first over and limping to 92-4 in the 21st over added 101 in the last eight overs to reach 324-8.
iv. Steven Smith also became the second batsman to score 1,000 ODI runs this year. Smith is the third Australian captain to score 150+ in an ODI innings.


Sammy Lee, First Asian-American Man to Win Olympic Gold, Die at 96
i. Two-time Olympic Gold Medal Winning Diver, Sammy Lee died of pneumonia on December 2, 2016 in Newport Beach. He was 96.
ii. He was the first Asian-American to win an Olympic gold medal for the U.S.
iii. Lee became the first man to win consecutive Olympic titles in diving in 1948 and 1952 and was the oldest diver at age 32 to win Olympic gold. He also earned a bronze in 3-meter springboard at the 1948 Games.
iv. He was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1968 and U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1990.


International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development 
i. International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development is observed every year on December 5 since 1985  to show volunteers contributions at the international, national and local levels in order to get the Millennium Development Goals.
ii. It is marked by many non-governmental organizations, including Red Cross, scouts and others. It is also marked and supported by United Nations Volunteers.
iii. 2016 theme :  Global Applause – give volunteers a hand.

World Soil Day – December 5 2016
i. Every year World Soil Day is observed on the 5th of December to celebrate the World Soil Day - December 5 2016importance of soil as a critical component of the natural system and as a vital contributor to human well-being.It is organized by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
ii. FAO dedicates this year’s World Soil Day to pulses. Also, owing to their nutritional benefits, 2016 was declared the International Year of Pulses.
iii. Aim: To connect people with soils and raise awareness on their critical importance in our lives.
iv. 2016 Theme: “Soils and pulses, a symbiosis for life”