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Current Affairs Today – December 8 2016

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Various MoUs and Schemes Approved by Union Cabinet on December 7, 2016
i. The Cabinet Committee headed by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on December 7, 2016, gave the approval for the development of the Phase-I of the Rs 11,420 crore Pune metro rail project.The project will cover a length of 31.254 km and consist of two corridors.
ii. The Union Cabinet on December 7, 2016, approved MoU between India and Vietnam on Cooperation in the field of IT.
iii. The Union Cabinet approved the MoU between India and Afghanistan on cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.
iv. The Union Cabinet gave the approval to the reforms to boost employment generation and exports in the Made-ups Sector.
v. Cabinet approved the MoU signed between India and United Kingdom (UK) in area of Ease of Doing Business in India.
vi. Government on December 8, 2016, announced the Zero Effect Zero Defect (ZED)certification scheme which will guide and assist MSMEs across the country in Make in India sectors through quality control cells and rate them after carrying out assessment of their products.

Training on Election Management for SAARC Nations Organized at IIIDEM
i. A training program has been organized by Election Commission of India on Election Management of SAARC Countries, at the India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management (IIIDEM) under the sponsorship of Union Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.
ii. Aim: to conduct free, fair, peaceful and inclusive elections in the country.
iii. The training program started on December 5, 2016 and will continue till December 15, 2016.
iv. The training program is being attended by 28 delegates of Election Management Bodies (EMBs) from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives, Bhutan and Afghanistan.
v. The program aims to train officials on various aspects of election management like capacity building of stakeholders, code of conduct, voter inclusion and registration etc.
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) :
♦ SAARC was founded in Dhaka in 1985 and has it’s headquarter in Kathmandu.
♦ SAARC is the regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union of nations in South Asia.
♦ Its member states include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Triple Talaq is unconstitutional and no personal law board is above the Constitution: Allahabad High Court
i. The Allahabad high court on December 7, 2016, passed an order, over the Islamic practice of divorcing a woman by saying the word ‘talaq’ three successive times, that it is completely “unconstitutional” and violates the rights of Muslim Women.
ii. The High Court Judge, Justice Suneet Kumar gave the judgment while hearing a petition filed by a woman who claimed that her husband divorced her without mutual consent.
iii. Justice Kumar added, no personal law board is above the Constitution.However, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board has questioned against the order, saying that constitution has no right to question the practices of any religion.
iv. Even in Supreme Court, several women have filed a petition to abolish the tripletalaq practice.

Haritha Keralam Mission launched by Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan
i. Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on launched Haritha Keralam Mission in Thiruvananthapuram on December 8, 2016.
Haritha Keralam Missionii. Aim: To clear and remove waste from all the water bodies in the state, ensure disposal of solid waste and removal of waste water and measures to increase the area of land under cultivation
iii. It is a comprehensive program for creating new development perspectives by maximum utilization of opportunities through waste management, water resources and agricultural development using organic farming.
iv. Renowned singer KJ Yesudas and actor Manju Warrier are brand ambassadors of this proeject

Himachal become 18th State To Join UDAY(Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana)
i. Virbhadra Singh lead Himachal Pradesh government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Government of India for operational and financial turnaround of the DISCOM under the Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY)
ii. HP has become the 18th state to join UDAY, a central scheme for revival of debt stressed power distribution companies, availing a net benefit of about Rs 823 crore.
Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) :
♦ Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) is the financial turnaround and revival package for electricity distribution companies of India (DISCOMs) initiated by Shri Piyush Goyal in November 2015.
♦  Jharkhand was the first state to join UDAY
The scheme comprises four initiatives :
1.Improving operational efficiencies of discoms
2.Reduction of cost of power
3.Reduction in interest cost of discoms and
4.Enforcing financial discipline on discoms through alignment with state finances.

Lifeline Express gets two new Coaches cancer, family health services
i. The Lifeline Express, world’s first hospital train was equipped with two new coaches in addition to the existing five on December 8, 2016.
ii. The new coaches were inaugurated by the Union health minister JP Nadda and railways minister Suresh Prabhu.
iii. One coach will be used for detecting and controlling oral, breast and cervical cancer while other will be used for preventing stroked and providing family health services.
iv. With the installment of the new coaches, Lifeline Express will start its operation at Satna in Madhya Pradesh from December 15, 2016 to January 5, 2017.
v. Other projects is scheduled in 2017 for Telangana, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, and Gujarat.
Lifeline Express
♦  Lifeline Express started 25 years ago in 1991, with three wooden coaches to give medical care to the remotest parts of the country. Now it has seven steel coaches.Lifeline Express
♦ Impact India Foundation initiated the Lifeline Express project that has treated around one million poor people in rural parts of the country free of cost. Nearly 2,00,000 medical professionals from around the world provide their services.
♦ The seven coaches of the Lifeline Express have operation theatres, a pathology lab, a mammography unit, a gynecology examination room, a dental unit, a pharmacy, consultation cubicles, X-Ray services, among others.
♦ The train is Wi-Fi enabled which, for example, helps a doctor sitting in a city examine a patient’s X-ray report and other images.

Minister of Railways Launched Website of National Rail Plan, 2030
i. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu launched a website of National Rail Plan, 2030 (NRP-2030) on December 8, 2016 Rail Bhawan, New Delhi.
ii. Aim: to develop the Indian Railways in terms of service in travelling and freight across the country.
iii. The website is available for access at
iv. Ministry of Railways have decided to develop National Rail Plan (NRP 2030) to have a concrete strategic planning for Railway, in consultation with all the stakeholders including State Governments, public representatives and other relevant Central Ministries.
v. NRP-2030 will make an attempt to integrate the rail network with other modes of transport and create synergy for achieving seamless multi modal transportation network across the country.


Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-661 crashed
i. Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), PK-661 flight which was carrying 48 passengers including 5 crew member and one ground engineer, crashed on the way to Islamabad from Chitral on December 7, 2016.
ii. According to the report of the Civil Aviation Authority confirmed there are no survivors from crash. 46 bodies out of 48 have been recovered.
iii. Pakistani pop star, actor and TV presenter Junaid Jamshed was among those who perished when the plane crashed.
iv. The PK-661 Flight which was an ATR-42 aircraft departed from Chitral around 3:30pm and was
expected to land at Islamabad’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport at around 4:40pm but crashed in Havelian near Abbottabad within few minutes after a danger call was sent to the control tower.


Two Banks of Abu Dhabi to Merge as the Biggest Bank in Gulf Nation
i. Stockholders of the National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank on December 7, 2016, approved to merge into the biggest bank of all Gulf Countries with an asset of $ 178 billion.
ii. After the merger the combined company will be named as NBAD.
iii. The FGB shareholders will receive 1.254 NBAD shares for each FGB share they hold and FGB stockholders will own 52% of the new bank.
iv. According to Moody, this merger would make the new NBAD the largest bank across Gulf Arab nations, with some $170 billion in assets.

Coverfox inks pact with Uber for car insurance
i. An online insurance broking portal has inked an partnership with Uber in India to facilitate car insurance solutions for the latter’s driver partners on December 8, 2016
ii. Under this partnership, Coverfox car insurance services will be available to Uber cars across 11 cities in India includes Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Kochi, Guwahati and Coimbatore.
Coverfoxiii. The insurance cover is offered as part of UberCLUB’s rewards programme.
iv. Recently Uber launches app UberFLEET to help drivers achieve maximum performance and run fleets more efficiently
Coverfox  :
♦ Founded: 2013
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai


Pakistan Lifts Undeclared Ban on Import of Ginned Cotton from India
i. Pakistan has removed an “undeclared” ban on import of ginned cotton from India.
ii. Earlier from November 23, The Department of Plant Protection (DPP) of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research had banned the cotton imports from India through Wagah and Karachi port as the shipments did not fulfil phyto- sanitary conditions.
iii. Due to the rising border tensions between the two neighbours, Islamabad imposed a ban on 10,000 bales of cotton worth USD 3.3 million from India.
iv. However the DPP has agreed to issue permits for importing cotton from India via Wagah but the DPP has also made it clear to importers that only seed free cotton will be accepted and allowed into the country.

India to set up center of excellence at Al-Azhar University, Egypt
i. In order to enhance cooperation in education sector between India and Egypt, Center has decided to set up a center of Excellence in Information Technology at the Al-Azhar University which is the oldest and most prestigious University of Egypt.
ii. Regarding the establishment of the excellence Center, a meeting was held between Indian ambassador to Cairo, Sanjay Bhattacharyya and Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, on December 5, 2016 to discuss various ways to enhance cooperation.Al-Azhar University
iii. The Government of India will pay completely for the project which will be set up in the engineering department of the Al-Azhar University and start operating early next year.
Egypt :
♦ Capital: Cairo
♦ Currency: Egyptian pound
♦ President: Abdel Fattah el-Sisi


Donald Trump Named as TIME’s Person of the Year 2016
i. US President elect Donald Trump was chosen as the TIME’s Person of the Year 2016 on December 7, 2016, for his outstanding victory in the US election.
ii. According to the Time magazine’s editors, the Republican president-elect had more global impact, “for better or worse,” than any other individual across the past 12 months.
iii. Trump defeated five other contenders, including his election rival Hillary Clinton, musician Beyonce, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to be named “the person who had the greatest influence, for better or worse, on the events of the year

Alphabet Named Company of the year by Fortune
Google parent Company, Alphabet has been named as the Company Of The Year by Fortune magazine in its annual Blue Ribbon ranking.
Blue Ribbon List
i. The list recognizes the best among the best companies that have been appeared on four or more out of the seven Fortune lists including Fortune 500, ­Global 500, Best Companies to Work For, Change the World list, World’s Most Admired Companies, 100 Fastest-Growing Companies, and Businessperson of the Year in a particular year.
ii. For the year 2016, Alphabet has topped the Blue Ribbon List by appearing on 5 of Google Alphabetthese lists.
1.Fortune 500: 36
2.Global 500: 94
3.Best Companies to Work For: 100
4.Businessperson of the Year: 100
World’s Most Admired Companies

RankCompanyNumber of List
2Gilead Sciences5

About Alphabet
♦ Alphabet Inc. is an American multinational conglomerate founded on October 2, 2015, by the two founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
♦ It is the parent company of Google and several other companies previously owned by them.
♦ CEO: Larry Page
♦ President: Sergey Brin
♦ Headquarters: Mountain View, California, United States

BEML Honored with CII National Quality Award
i. Bharat Earth Movers Limited Ltd (BEML) Ltd has been awarded the ‘CII National Quality 2016 Award’ for practicing various EFQM Models (European Foundation for Quality Management).
ii. The award was received by Deepak Kumar Hota, Chairman & Managing Director, BEML, at a function held at Bengaluru.
iii. The award is jointly instituted by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and Export Import Bank (EXIM).
Bharat Earth Movers Limited
♦ BEML Limited (Bharat Earth Movers Limited), a Miniratna-Category-1’ firm, was established in May 1964 as a Public Sector Undertaking and operates under three major Business: Mining & Construction, Defence and Rail & Metro.
The Confederation of Indian Industry
♦ The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) works to create and sustain an environment which suitable for the development of India and civil society through advisory and consultative processes.
EXIM Bank :
Export–Import Bank of India is the premier export finance institution in India, established under Export-Import Bank of India Act 1981.
♦ Founded: 1982
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai
♦ Chairman & Managing Director: Yaduvendra Mathur

Michael Jordan Ranked Top among Highest Paid Athletes by Forbes
i. Michael Jordan, former basketball player, has been named as the highest-paid athlete of all times by Forbes, with $1.7 billion total wealth.Michael Jordan Ranked Top among Highest Paid Athletes by Forbes
ii. His overall salary over the 15 seasons was counted to be $93 million, while the earning from endorsing various brands also paid him huge sum.
iii. Jordan was paid about $100 million from Nike for endorsing the Jordan brand in 2016. Apart from this Jordan also endorsed Coca-Cola, Gatorade, McDonald’s, Hanes among others.
iv Forbes publishes a large range of lists each year.The list of the highest-paid athletes in the world is calculated based on earnings derived from salaries, bonuses, prize money, endorsements and licensing income each year and does not deduct taxes or agents’ fees.
Top 10 Athletes in the List

RankNameTotal earning
1Michael Jordan$1.7 billion
2Tiger Woods$1.67 billion
3Arnold   Palmer$1.35 billion
4Jack Nicklaus$1.15 billion
5Michael Schumacher$1 billion


Vistaar appoints ex-Sebi chief C B Bhave as non-exec Chairman
i. Former Sebi chairman C B Bhave was appointed as non-executive Chairman and Independent Director of Vistaar Financial Services on December 8, 2016
ii. Prior to SEBI, he has worked as the Chairman and Managing Director of National Securities Depositories Ltd (NSDL).


Researchers at TIFR made discovery that challenges theory of superconductivity
i. A team of researchers at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai, have discovered that bismuth semi-metal in bulk form becomes a superconductor when the temperature is lowered to 530 microKelvin (about -273 degree C).
ii. With this discovery, the researcher’s team, lead by Dr. S. Ramakrishnan of the Department of Condensed Matter Physics and Material Sciences at TIFR have challenged the conventional understanding of superconductivity.
iii. A superconductor is a material that can conduct electricity with no resistance. This means no heat, sound or any other form of energy would be released from the material when it has reached “critical temperature” (Tc), or the temperature at which the material becomes superconductive.
iv. Till now the theory of superconductivity was based on Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer (BCS) theory that explains superconductivity in most low Tc (critical temperature) superconductors.
v. However, BCS theory even at 10 milliKelvin, did not find superconductivity in bismuth, and thus fails to explain the superconductivity seen in bismuth.
vi. The discovery has led to the formulation of a new theory and mechanism to understand superconductivity in bismuth.
vii. The discovery also provides an alternative path for the discovery of new superconducting materials totally different from the conventional superconductors.


PR Sreejesh Appointed as Goalkeeping Mentor of Indian Junior Hockey Team
i. Captain of the senior National Men’s Hockey Team and one of the finest hockey goal-PR Sreejeshkeeper in the world, PR Sreejesh has been roped in as the Goalkeeping Mentor of the India Under-21 Hockey Team from December 8, 2016.
ii. India is seen as one of the powerful contenders to win the Junior World Cup to be held from December 8 to 18 at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium in Lucknow.  India will play its first match against Canada on December 8, 2016.
iii. Sreejesh will replace South African Dave Staniforth, who was appointed by Hockey India to train the junior goalkeepers for a short term period of three-week for the World Cup.
iv. According to Harendra Singh, India junior team head coach, Sree is currently one of the finest goalkeepers in the world. He is also a great motivator and fun loving guy.
v. Sreejesh is known for his sound technical knowledge and is also considered a great motivator in and out of the field. He has also been nominated for FIH Goalkeeper of the Year 2016.


Plastic-free day observed on December 8 in Kochi
Plastic Free Dayi. Plastic Free Day is observed on December 8, 2016 by the Kochi Corporation as a part of the Haritha Keralam Mission.
ii. Objective:  Cleanliness and water conservation
iii. People were instructed not to use plastic carry bags on December 8(Plastic free day)  and shop-keepers are supported to this initiative programme