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President Pranab Mukherjee Inaugurates International Gita Mahotsav in Kurukshetra
President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated the first ever International Gita Mahotsav at The Brahma Sarovar in Kurukshetra, Haryana on December 6, 2016.
♦ The festival which is scheduled to be held from December 6 to December 10 will focus on spreading the message of Gita to the world community.
Important Events of the Mahotsav
i. President will lay the foundation stone of Krishna circuit on the occasion and inaugurate a seminar at Shrimad Bhagwat Geeta Auditorium.
ii. The urban and rural areas of Kurukshetra district would be declared “open defecation free” the same day.
iii. In a five day mega event, many spiritual leaders from different religions, scholars and artists from various countries will participate.
iv. The Mahotsav will set a world record with the recitation of Ashtadash Shaloki Gita by as many as 18 thousand students at one go.
v. Besides, it is for the first time that it would be simultaneously chanted by hundreds of people in many countries of the world.
vi. During Mahotsav, youths from 574 districts of the country will reach Kurukshetra, showcasing one Shloka each scripted on their traditional dresses.
vii. They would also bring along sand from their respective districts which would be utilised to make an idol of Lord Krishna to symbolise unity and integrity of the country.
viii. To spread eternal message of Gita to the world community, global chanting of Srimadbhagvad Gita would also be held on Gita Jayanti Day before the final deepdaan ceremony at Brahmsarovar in Kurukshetra.
ix. Eighteen selected verses of Gita from as many chapters would be recited on this occasion.
x. The countries where global chanting would be held include India, Australia (Canberra ), Bahrain, Canada (Vancouver), Paris in France, Hong Kong, Jakarta in Indonesia, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nepal, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri lanka, Switzerland, UAE, Britain, California, Arizona, Chicago and New York in the US.
♦ Capital city: Chandigarh
♦ Governor: Kaptan Singh Solanki
♦ Chief Minister: Manohar Lal Khattar
Haryana CM approves implementation of Rs. 50-crore National Hydrology Project
i. Chief Minister of Haryana Manohar Lal Khattar has given administrative approval for implementation of the Rs 50-crore National Hydrology Project to be set up in the state with 100 per cent assistance from the Centre.
ii. The project aimed at improving the extent, quality and accessibility of information about water resources, and strengthening the capacity of water resource management institutions in the country.
iii. The project would also develop and demonstrate tools for water resources assessment, hydrologic and flood inundation forecasting, water infrastructure operations, groundwater modelling, and river basin and investment planning.
iv. The direct beneficiaries of the project include central and state implementing agencies responsible for surface and/or ground water planning and management.
v. The ultimate beneficiaries would be farm communities selected for pilot projects, rural and urban water and power users and people affected by floods and droughts, and such families may benefit from improved irrigation water supply and management.
vi. Besides, stakeholders across the energy, inland waterways, environment and agriculture ministries, research and educational institutions, students and researchers, non-governmental organisations, civil society organisations and the private sector would also stand to gain.
Haryana Government Announces Ban on Carrying Arms At Wedding Function
i. The Haryana government made an official announcement on December 5, 2016 to ban carrying of arms at wedding functions.
ii. The ban was announced after several incidents of celebratory firing were reported, including the death of an orchestra dancer in Bhatinda.
iii. The ban was imposed under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code and as per an official release firing in the air is also an offence, which is punishable by six months’ imprisonment.
iv. Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Ram Niwas said that the Police Department has been directed to put a check on carrying of arms at wedding functions, it will be done in the coordination of the concerned district magistrate.
BRICS Heads of Revenue and Experts on Tax Matters, Meet held in Mumbai
The BRICS countries Heads of Revenue, namely the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, the Republic of India, the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa held a meeting on December 5-6, 2016 in Mumbai.
♦ The meeting aimed to discuss the potential areas of cooperation and exchange opinions and views based on their existing commitment to openness, solidarity, equality, mutual understanding, inclusiveness and mutually beneficial cooperation.
The BRICS Experts discussed matters such as:
i. Sharing of best practices in BRICS countries on improving compliance through non intrusive means
ii. Progress and issues arising out of implementation of BEPS action point 13 relating to Country by Country reporting and
iii. The role of United Nations in becoming the voice of developing and emerging economies in setting international tax rules.
iv. The Heads of Revenue expressed their continued support to all international initiatives towards reaching a globally fair and universally transparent tax system.
v. They reiterated their commitment to actions taken to ensure the fairness of the international tax system particularly towards prevention of base erosion and shifting of profits, exchange of tax information and capacity building of developing countries.
India Agrees to train Vietnam’s Sukhoi fighter pilots
i. In order to further boost to its growing defence ties with Vietnam, India has agreed to train the southeast nation’s Sukhoi-30 fighter pilots.
ii. The agreement regarding the same was signed during bilateral discussions between Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his Vietnamese counterpart, General Ngo Xuan Lich, in New Delhi on December 5, 2016.
iii. During the discussion an MoU was also signed for cooperation between the Air Forces covering including training of pilots and exchange of experts.
iv. A memorandum of understanding was also signed on peacekeeping as well as exchange of delegations.
v. India already trains Vietnamese sailors in operating Kilo class submarines, which Hanoi had begun inducting since January 2014. India operates over 200 Su-30MKI fighters and nine Kilo-class diesel electric submarines.
♦ Capital: Hanoi
♦ Currency: Vietnamese dong
♦ President: Tran Dại Quang
♦ Prime minister: Nguyen Xuan Phuc
Railway Ministry Mandates Aadhaar-based ticketing system for senior citizens from April 1
i. Railway Ministry has come up with a decison to implement Aadhaar-based ticketing system for senior citizens.The programme will be implemented in a two-phased manner.
ii. Phase 1: From January 1 to March 31, 2017, requirement of Aadhaar verification for getting concessional tickets for senior citizens will be on a voluntary basis.
iii. Phase 2: From April 1, 2017, reservation of rail tickets for senior citizens will be directly linked to Aadhaar or Unique Identification (UID) cards on a mandatory basis for availing concessions at both counter and e-tickets.
iv. Passengers in the senior citizen category will need to carry any of the original documents, including Aadhaar card, for the purpose of identity proof
Benefits of the Programme
♦ Bring in transparency in rail ticket reservations for senior citizens, making the verification process easy and convenient.
♦ Stop touts and unauthorized agents from booking tickets in fake names and then selling these at a higher price
British and Indian Navy Exercise ‘KONKAN-2016’ begin at Mumbai
The 12 day annual bilateral maritime exercise between the Indian Navy and the Royal Navy KONKAN 16 began on December 5, 2016 at Mumbai. The exercise will be conducted in two phases at Mumbai and Goa.
i. Phase 1 : 05 – 09 Dec 16 at Mumbai
It would be a Command Planning exercise involving the two navies
ii. Phase 2:12 – 16 Dec 16 at Goa
It is a LIVE EXERCISE (LIVEX),which involves interaction between the IN Marine Commandos (MARCOs) and the Royal Marines.
iii. This excercise will provide valuable opportunity for both navies to interact and cooperate in the field of Maritime Security Operations.
BANKING & FINANCE
RBI Authorize RXIL for 1st trade receivables exchange platform
i.The Reserve Bank of India, on December 1, 2016, authorised the Receivables Exchange of India (RXIL), promoted by SIDBI and NSE, to launch the country’s first trade receivables exchange platform, TReDS, for MSMEs, buyers and financiers.
ii. The trade receivables discounting systems (TReDS), an automated system driven platform is expected to benefit MSMEs by facilitating them to auction their trade receivables at competitive market rates through transparent bidding process on the platform by multiple financiers.
iii. The TReDS will be the first attempt in the country to introduce factoring without recourse and will help not only in quick realisation of receivables but also in appropriate price discovery.
iv. Promoted by SIDBI, the apex financial institution for promotion and financing of MSMEs and the National Stock Exchange,RXILhas SBI, ICICI Bank, Yes Bank, SBI Caps, and ICIC Securities as other investors.
v. The Receivables Exchange is an auction based marketplace connecting large sellers of trade receivables to a broad network of institutional buyers.
♦ Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) is an independent financial institution aimed to aid the growth and development of micro, small and medium-scale enterprises.
♦ Founded: April 2, 1990
♦ CEO: Dr. Kshatrapati Shivaji
HDFC Life launched two micro insurance products, Jeevan Suraksha and Credit Suraksha
i. Life insurance provider HDFC Life has launched two micro-insurance scheme named Jeevan Suraksha and Credit Suraksha to provide financial security to its customers
ii. Aim : To address the needs of the Employees of Micro Finance Institutions, Co-operatives and Members / Employees of other homogenous groups to provide financial security at a nominal cost in the event of unfortunate death of a Member / Employee.
iii. Jeevan Suraksha :
♦ It will provides insurance cover maximum 2 lakhs against untimely death.
♦ 3 premium payment options – Yearly renewable, Single pay & Regular pay.
iv. Credit Suraksha :
♦ It will provides insurance protection against outstanding loan liability up to Rs 2 lakhs in the event of untimely demise of the insured member.
♦ 5% discount on premium of the younger life assured.
HDFC life is a joint venture between Housing Development Finance Corporation Ltd (HDFC), and Standard Life plc.
CEO: Amitabh Chaudhry
Vijayawada Parliamentary constituency becomes first to have health insurance for all
i. AP government with Tata Trusts has launched a health insurance scheme, Swatha Kutumbam in Vijayawada which became India’s first constituency to have health insurance for all people include new born for a year from December 1, 2016 to November 30, 2017.
ii. Under this insurance scheme every individual has to pay Rs 1 per day or Rs 120 per month per family as premium.
iii. It covered medicines, diagnostics, and post-surgery care will be covered.
iv. Tata Trusts has roped in Star Health Insurance as the insurance partner for Swastha Kutumbam.
Drug Technical Advisory Panel suggests one-time licensing for drugs
i. The drugs technical advisory board has recently recommended one-time licensing for manufacture and sales of drugs, with a condition that there should be at least one annual inspection and in cases where risk is high, more inspection should be conducted.
ii. At present, the renewal of licenses is controlled by state regulators and is around three years.
iii. The board has also asked for separate rules for manufacturing, import, sale and distribution of cosmetics. It has suggested the European Union’s model.
iv. It has proposed making influenza drugs Oseltamivir and Zanamvir available widely at all pharmacies, by putting it in the Schedule H1 list. The two drugs have been treated as Schedule X drugs, available at select pharmacies.
v. Schedule X is a class of prescription drugs in India covered under the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules introduced in 1945.These are drugs which cannot be purchased over the counter without the prescription of a qualified doctor.
Benefits of new licensing program
♦ It will help in ‘ease of doing business’ and the government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative at a time when the country is slipping in the competitiveness index.
♦ It will give a boost to industry and give comfort to our customers.
9 Indian Companies listed in least empathetic companies in the world
The latest 2016 Empathy Global Index lists nine Indian companies at the bottom 10 among 170 companies of the world.None of the Indian companies were ever listed in the least empathetic companies till date.
The list of Least Empathetic Companies of India
|6.Larsen & Toubro
|11.State Bank of India
|24.Aditya Birla Group
The List of top Most Empathetic Companies of the World
1.Facebook 2. Alphabet (Google) and 3.LinkedIn
About Empathy Global Index 2016
i. Empathy Global Index is published by The Empathy Business, a UK-based firm “Committed to bringing empathy to business”. This is the 3rd year they have published the Empathy Global Index.
ii. The 2016 index rates the companies by dividing empathy into categories: ethics, leadership, company culture, brand perception, and public messaging through social media.
iii. The index also has publicly available metrics including CEO approval ratings from staff, ratio of women on boards, and number of accounting infractions and scandals.
iv. This year a sample of Young Global Leaders from The World Economic Forum were asked to rate the companies on a moral basis and carbon metric was also included for rating.
Government Further extends MIP on select steel products till February 4
i. To protect Domestic Steel Industry from cheaper imports, the government on December 4, 2016 extended the Minimum Import Price (MIP) on 19 products further for two months, till February 4, 2017.
ii. The MIP ranges between USD $643-$752 per tonne.The 19 products include semi-finished products of iron or non-alloyed steel, flat-rolled products of different widths, bars and rods.
iii. To guard domestic steel producers against in-bound shipments the government in February 2016 had imposed MIP, ranging between $341 to $752 per tonne, on 173 steel products for six months. The government in August decided to extend the minimum import price (MIP) on 66 steel products for a period of two months as against 173 items earlier. This was further extended for two months in October, December 4, 2016.
♦ MIP (Minimum Import Price) is theminimum priceper tonne that Indian firms have to pay while importing products in India.
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
Sachin and Binny Bansal co-Founders of Flipkart named Asians of the Year
i. Flipkart founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal have been chosen for the 2016 ‘Asian of the Year’ by Straits Times of Singapore as part of a group called the ‘The Disruptors’.
ii. The other names included in the ‘disruptors’ group are the founders of Tencent, Go-Jek, Razer and Grab.
iii. Flipkart’s innovative steps, aimed at transforming commerce in India through technology, have truly disrupted the market. According to the award citation, “The Disruptors” have made the inevitable march of technology easier to understand and accepted by millions of people.
APPOINTMENTS & RESIGNS
O Panneerselvam sworn in as new Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
i. AIADMK leader O. Panneerselvam was sworn in as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu following death of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.
ii. 65 year old Panneerselvam was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao at a solemn ceremony held in the Raj Bhavan, Chennai. He will have remaining four years term of the Jayalalithaa Government
iii. Besides, all 31 members of the outgoing Ministry from the Jayalalithaa’s council of Ministers were sworn in.
iv. This is for third time he has sworn in as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Earlier he had served CM for two brief periods from 2001-02 and 2014-15 after Jayalalithaa was unseated from the post by the courts on various grounds.
v. Panneerselvam has been a trusted aide of AIADMK supremo. In Jayalalithaa’s government he was Minister for Finance and Public Works Departments since May 2016.
About O Panneerselvam
♦ He was born on January 14, 1951 in Periyakulam, Tamil Nadu. He started his political career as chairman of Periyakulam Municipality.
♦ Previously in Jayalalithaa’s government he had served as Minister of Revenue Department (March 2002 to December 2002), Minister for Public Works (December 2002 to May 2006) and Finance Minister (May 2011 to September 2014).
Shavkat Mirziyoyev Wins Uzbekistan Presidential Election, replaces Islam Karimov
i. Interim leader Shavkat Mirziyoyev become the new President of Uzbekistan after he has secured 88.6 percent of the votes in the presidential election.
ii. Shavkat will replace Islam Karimov who became Uzbekistan’s Communist party chief in 1989 and ruled as President after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, tolerated little dissent and eliminated almost all political opposition.
♦ Capital: Tashkent
♦ Currency: Uzbekistani som
AirAsia India appoints Amar Abrol as Managing Director
i. Amar Abrol was Managing Director of Chennai based AirAsia India during the company’s board meeting held on 29 November 2016
ii. Abrol was appointed as CEO of the airline in April 2016.
AirAsia India :
♦ Headquarters: Chennai :
♦ Slogan : Now Everyone Can Fly
♦ Founder: Tony Fernandes
Alexander Van Der Bellen Sworn in as Austrian president
i. Ex-leader of the Greens, Alexander Van Der Bellen has won the Austrian presidential election, gaining 7.6 percent of votes more than his opponent Norbert Hofer.
ii. On December 4, 2016, Austria held a presidential re-run between Green candidate Van der Bellen and far-right Freedom Party (FPO) candidate Norbert Hofer in which Bellen was declared a winner with 60.4 percent of ballots against 39.6 percent received by his rival.
iii. The Austrian Election Commission finished counting the votes on December 6, 2016 and confirmed Van der Bellen’s victory.
iv. A total of 2,472,892 people (53.8 percent) voted for Van der Bellen, while 2,124,661 people (46.2 percent) voted for Hofer.
v. Hofer and Van der Bellen already faced each other in the second round of presidential elections in May, 2016, that brought the Green candidate a victory by a minimum margin of 50.3 against 47.7 percent for FPO nominee.
vi. When sworn in, Van der Bellen will become the first nationally elected European head of state with a green background. Van der Bellen will be sworn in as the president on 26 January 2017.
v. Alexander Van der Bellen is an Austrian politician and economist. In May 2004, Van der Bellen received the Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold with Star for services to the Austrian republic.
BS Bhullar appointed chief of aviation regulator DGCA
i. Senior bureaucrat BS Bhullar has been appointed as the chief of aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on December 5, 2016. He is the succeedor of M Sathiyavathy, first woman chief of the aviation regulator.
ii. Prior to this, Bhullar is working as additional secretary in civil aviation ministry and was also holding additional charge of the DGCA.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Google launches app ‘Trusted Contacts’
i. Search engine giant Google has launched a personal safety app ‘Trusted Contacts’ to give your nearest location to your selected contacts
ii. Concerned contacts can request location data to the users. Users can respond to the request and signal that they are safe to their contacts by denying the location data request.
iii. If there is no response, then the location is shared automatically even if the phone is offline, the last known location is shared with the contact.
Researchers Found Novel Route to Drug Discovery
i. According to a report published in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Researchers from the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), Delhi have found a novel route to discover new drug targets and potential drugs for parasites that cause several diseases such as Loa loa nematode (roundworm) and Schistosoma mansoni platyhelminths (flatworm).
ii. Both these parasites cause a major health burden particularly in African countries.
iii. There are limited treatment options and there is the usual threat of drug resistance.
iv. There is little interest in developing drugs for these diseases by pharmaceutical companies; they are hence called neglected tropical diseases.
v. Instead of blindly screening molecules, which takes a long time and is expensive, a team led by Dr. Amit Sharma from the Molecular Medicine Group at ICGEB looked at Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (aaRSs) of the two parasites.
vi. The novel approach of looking at the conserved region of the parasites is direct, quicker and cheaper.
vii. The researchers studied the crystal structure of the enzyme with cladosporin. This revealed how tightly the drug binds within the active site of the enzyme. The researchers could understand the active sites of the enzyme and how the drug inhibits their enzyme activity.
viii. Cladosporin: Cladosporin is a very potent compound that targets the malaria parasite.
MoES Conducts Winter Fog Campaign WIFEX 2016-17 in New Delhi
i. To better understand the science of fog formation over New Delhi, the Ministry of Earth Sciences inaugurated the Winter Fog Campaign at the New Delhi Airport.
ii. The Ministry Of Earth Sciences (MoES) launched an ‘observational’ campaign at Indira Gandhi International Airport on December 6, 2016 to conduct an intensive ground-based measurement campaign in Delhi to understand different physical and chemical features of fog and factors responsible for its genesis, intensity and duration.
iii. In order to make this new forecast model accurate, The three-month long campaign, led by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) Pune, will help scientists test their model of forecasting winter fog on various temporal and spatial scales.
iv. The goal of the Winter Fog Experiment (WIFEX) is to develop methods for forecasting winter fog on various temporal and spatial scales, and help reduce its adverse impact on aviation, transportation and economy, and loss of human life due to accidents.
v. Extensive sets of comprehensive ground-based instrumentation, including remote sensing platforms, have been deployed at IGIA, New Delhi to measure micro meteorological conditions, radiation, fog droplet and aerosol microphysics, aerosol optical properties, and aerosol and fog water chemistry to describe the complete
environmental conditions in which fog develops.
The Ministry of Earth Sciences:
♦ It was formed in 2006 from a merger of the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF), the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune,
♦ Minister of Earth Science: Harsh Vardhan
♦ Headquarter: Prithvi Bhawan, Lodi Road New Delhi
Tamil Nadu CM and AIADMK Supremo Jayalalithaa Passed Away at 68
i. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) Supremo J Jayalalithaapassed away at Apollo Hospital in Chennai on December 5, 2016 at 11:30 pm following cardiac arrest . She was 68.
ii. Jayalalitha was born on 24 February 1948 at Melukote, Pandavapura taluka, Mandya district in Karnataka to Jayaram and Vedavalli in a Tamil Brahmin (Iyengar) family.
iii. She was a leading actress before her entry into politics and had entered into film industry when she was 16 years old.
iv. She served as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for six times: 1991 to 1996, in 2001, from 2002 to 2006, from 2011 to 2014, 2015 to 2016 and May 2016 to December 2016 (sixth time).
Birthday of Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar to be celebrated as Water Day
61th Dr. Ambedkar Mahaparinirvan Diwas is celebrated on December 6, 2016 to commemorate the great contribution of the Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar towards the country.
i. National Seminar on Marching ahead on Dr. Ambedkar’s path of water resources management for inclusive growth organized by Central Water Commission in New Delhi.It was inaugutatred by Uma Bharti.
ii. Cabinet minister for water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation Uma Bharti has announced that his birth day 14th April will be celebrated as “Water Day”.
iii. During the Technical session of the seminar, the contribution of Dr. Ambedkar in the field of water management and way forward for ensuring inclusive growth of all sections of the society was discussed.