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Current Affairs Today – December 9 2016

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Govt announces several incentives on payments through digital modes
i. To promote digital transaction in the country, Union Government announced various incentives on December 8, 2016, in New Delhi which will be effective from January 1, 2017.
ii. The incentives which was announced by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley were related mostly with the services provided by the Central public sector undertakings and the Railways.
iii. Aim: to lower cash transactions in the economy and promote digital economy.
iv. 11 incentive measures were announced by the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley

The India-UK Conference on Ease of Doing Business inaugurated in New Delhi
i. Two days meet of The India-UK Conference on Ease of Doing Business began at New Delhi on 8 December 2016.India & UK
ii. The conference was jointly inaugurated by Shri Ramesh Abhishek(Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion) , Sir Dominic Asquith(British High Commissioner).
iii. The conference will act as a platform for experts from both the country to meet and share best practices that will increase and foster collaboration between the two countries.
iv. Various issues like regulatory and inspection reforms, tax administration, trade facilitation, insolvency, electricity, land registry and standards will be discussed at the conference.
v. The conference will allow India to learn from the UK as UK ranks 7th in Doing Business Report, 2017 while India ranks 130th in the same ranking.

Uttarakhnad High Court to Ban Liquor in State from next Fiscal Year
i. Uttarakhand High Court on December 8, 2016 directed the State Government to impose complete ban on liquor in three districts namely, Uttarkashi, Rudraprayag, Chamoli, where Chardham is located, from next financial year.
ii. Aim: to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living in the society
iii. A bench of Judges, Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Alok Singh gave these orders after a petion was signed against a bar which was operating without licence in Haridwar district.
iv. The High Court also ordered ban on liquor and tobacco products within 5 kms of Sikh shrines located in Uttarakhand namely Nanakmata, Reetha Sahib and Hemkund Sahib.
v. High Court also ordered to ensure no liquor shop operated within one kilometer from all the educational institutions, hospitals and religious places in the State from next fiscal year.
vi .The state government has been directed to issue a notification regarding the ban within one week.
♦ Chief Minister: Harish Rawat
♦ Governor: K. K. Paul

Gita Jayanti Express Train inaugurated at Kurukshetra Railway Station
i. Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar flagged off a special train, ‘Gita Jayanti’ train from Kurukshetra Railway Station as a part of Gita Mahotsav which is being held in the state.
ii. The is scheduled to run five days in week except Saturday and Sunday between Kurukshetra and Mathura.
iii. Kurukshetra-Mathura Express Train would depart Mathura at 6 am and reach Kurukshetra at 12pm from where it would leave Kurukshetra at 2pm and reach Mathura at 8 pm via Delhi.
iv .Besides the ministers also announced to provide complete modern facilities for the Kurukshetra railway station such as and capsule lift, VIP lounge and lodging facility.
v. The Gita Mahotsav will be concluded on December 10, 2016 and Union Home Minister, Mr. Rajnath Singh, will attend ‘Maha Aarti’ at Brahma Sarovar on this occasion.

FSSAI bans use of newspapers for Packing and Wrapping food items
i. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on December 7, 2016 announced its decision to ban the use of newspapers for wrapping or packing of food items.
ii. Printing inks used in newspaper contains bioactive materials, harmful colors and other hazardous items that may affect the health of common people.
iii. FSSAI has directed the commissioners of food safety of all states and Union territories to take necessary steps regarding the order to restrict the use of newspapers for packing, serving and storing of food items.
iv. However, the food safety regulator is yet to declare the penalty to be imposed for non-compliance of the order.
♦ The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is an autonomous body established under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety.
♦ Founded: August 2011
♦ Headquarter: New Delhi
♦ Chairman: Ashish Bahuguna
♦ Chief Executive Officer: Pawan Kumar Agarwal

Samata Express renamed to promote brand Vizag Steel
i. The Hazrat Nizamuddin-Visakhapatnam train is renamed as Vizag Steel Samta Samata Express renamed to promote brand Vizag SteelExpress to promote its brand Vizag Steel which was flagged off at Nizamuddin station by Mr. Prabhu and Mr. Singh in the presence of RINL Chairman-cum-Managing Director P. Madhusudan.
ii. The Samata Express or Samta Express is a Super Fast Express train plying between Visakhapatnamand Hazrat Nizamuddin near New Delhi

iii. Vizag Steel is the brand name of the state-owned RINL with an annual capacity of 6.3 million tonnes of long steel products and is one of the leading domestic long steel producers, supplying wire-rods, re-bars, structural, squares and rounds catering to construction and infrastructure sectors.


India ranked 7 in the Global terrorism Index 2016
i. According to the Global Terrorism Index (GTI), 2016,released by a Sydney-based think-tank, Institute for Economics & Peace, India has been ranked 7th among top 10 countries which were most impacted by terrorism in 2015.The 2016 index features top 50 countries ranked by the global terrorism index.
ii. India experienced about 797 terrorist attacks in 2015 which was almost 4% higher as compared to 2014. 80% of 2015 attacks were non-lethal (death causing purpose). India recorded 289 terrorism-related deaths in 2015, which was 45 per cent less than in 2014.
List of Top 5 countries most impacted by terrorism in 2016


L&T bags contract to convert Sardar Patel Stadium to world’s biggest cricket stadium
i. Larsen & Turbo (L&T) has bagged a contract from Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) to make Sardar Patel Cricket Stadium of Gujarat the world’s biggest cricket stadium in terms of seating capacity.Gujarat Sports Stadium
ii. Sardar Patel Cricket Stadium is situated in Motera, Ahmadabad in Gujarat. After the renovation it will take over the Melbourne Cricket Ground of Australia in terms of seating capacity.
iii. Melbourne Cricket Ground has a seating capacity of 100,024 people while the renovated Sardar Patel Stadium will have 1,10,000 seats as against 54,000 seats.
iv. The vice-president of Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) Parimal Nathwani handed over the letter of acceptance to M.V. Satish  Whole-Time Director of  L&T.


NABARD to spend Rs 228 Crore to encourage digital transaction in rural area
i. To promote digital transaction in rural areas of the country, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) made an announcement on December 8, 2016 to provide monetary support of Rs 228 Crore to the responsible banks to install PoS Machines and EMV based Debit Cards for Farmers.
ii. The move is aimed at encouraging rural India to moe towards cashless payment systems
iii. Nabard will grant a support of Rs. 120 Crore to banks for deployment of two Point of Sales (PoS) devices per village in one lakh villages having a population of up to 10,000.
iv. Besides, Nabard will provide Rs 108 crore to Rural Regional Banks and Cooperative Banks to issue enable the EMV chip and PIN-based RuPay Kisan Cards to about 4.32 lakh farmers who are already on Rupay Kisan Cedit Card platform to enable them in carrying out digital transaction.
♦ Chairperson: Harsh Kumar Bhanwala
♦ Headquarters: Mumbai
♦ Founded: July 12, 1982


India steps closer to become the ‘Major Defence Partner’ of US
i. US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter along with Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar finalised the “Major Defence Partner” status to India.
ii. The Major Defence Partner status will allow India to buy more advanced and India & USsensitive technologies from the U.S. This was Parrikars 7th meeting with Carter since the fromer became the Defence Minister.
iii. However the joint statement needs to be formally passed by the two chambers of the Congress i.e the House of Representatives and Senate. After that US President Barack Obama can sign it into law.
iv. India’s Major Defense Partner status is a part of India Amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act, 2017 (NDAA).  While present US President Barack Obama was very cooperative with the Act, there were concerns that the new Trump administration could do away with these India-specific provisions. The passage of the India Amendment will make it obligatory for the Trump administration to adhere to these commitments.
v. India and US exchanged views on regional security and threat posed by terrorism. Both the countries will also strengthen the bilateral counter terrorism cooperation.


Adwaita Gadanayak to head National Gallery of Modern Art
i. Odisha-based acclaimed sculptor Adwaita Gadanayak has been appointed as the new director of National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA). He will replace Rajeev Lochan.
ii. Prior o this, Adwaita is working as the director of the Bhubaneshwar-based KIIT School of Fine Art.
National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) :
♦ The National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) is the premier art gallery under Ministry of Culture.
♦ The main museum at Jaipur House in New Delhi. The Delhi branch is one of the world’s largest modern art museums.
♦ Established: 1954

IDFC Bank appoints Veena Mankar as Non-Executive Chairperson
i. Veena Mankar was appointed as Non-Executive Chairperson of Mumbai based IDFC Bank with effect from December 9, 2016 up to July 26, 2018.
ii. She replaced Anil Baijal who is retired from the board on December 8, 2016.
About Veena Mankar :IDFC Bank appoints Veena Mankar as Non-Executive Chairperson
♦ Mankar started her career in 1975 with ICICI, then she has been  moved to commercial banking experience in Dubai.
♦ She is an independent director of IDFC Bank since July 27, 2015.
IDFC Bank :
Headquarters: Mumbai
CEO: Rajiv Lall
Founded: 2015


Strides Shasun to acquire Perrigo API India for Rs 100 crore  
i. Bengaluru based Strides Shasun Ltd has announced to acquire the US-based Perrigo’s APIs manufacturing facility in Ambernath, Maharashtra for Rs 100 crore.
ii. Strides Shasun will use this plant for captive consumption and will augment the company’s resources to handle high velocity of new product development and commercial launches in the formulation portfolio.
iii. With this acquisition, both the companies joined together to handle multipurpose small batch productions and accelerates our time to market.


‘Veterans Outreach App’ Launched by Dalbir Singh for Army Veterans
General Dalbir Singh, Chief of the Army Staff, launched a mobile app called “Veterans Outreach App” on December 6, 2016, at Manekshaw Centre, to connect with all Army veterans, and create an interactive mechanism
♦ Objective: to provide certain specific facilities to Army Veterans & Veer Naris on their android based mobiles.
♦ The app was prepared under the guidance of Directorate of Indian Army Veterans (DIAV), which functions under the Adjutant General Branch and runs a web portal specifically meant for veterans and Veer Naris called ‘Indian Army Veterans Portal” (www. ).
Features of the Veterans Outreach App
i. The App has a feature of “Ask a question” and “Locator Services” to enable locating Ex-Serviceman Cells, ECHS Polyclinics, Station Canteens and Sainik Aram Garh’s all across the country
ii. The app also has route guidance on a google map to locate any chosen service facility.
iii. A link has also been provided to a “Pension Calculator” on the PCDA (P) web site called ‘Suvigyai’ which will enables to check the veterans, his/her pension entitlements.
iv. The App features “Findings Coursemates” that will enable registered Indian Army Veterans on the portal to connect with old mates.
v. The app has an additional feature which provides links to various web portals run by Directorate General Recruiting, Directorate General Resettlement, Kendriya Sainik Board, Indian Army, Portal and Principle Controller of Defence Accounts.

Channel DigiShala Launched to Educate Rural India about Cashless Transaction
i. Union Minister of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Ravi Shankar Prasad, launched a TV channel named ‘DigiShala’ on December 9, 2016 to promote cashless transaction in rural areas.
ii. Apart from the channel, the government also initiated ‘Digi Dhan Abhiyan’ to achieve the objective of educating, enabling and informing citizens about cashless economy.
iii. “DigiShala” is a free-to-air channel which is telecasted nationally on DD free-DTH service having a viewership of two crore across the country.
iv. DigiShala will digitally empower millions of Indians in rural areas especially farmers, students, Dalits and women and educate them about how to do digital transactions.
v. DigiShala will inform the citizens about various digital payment options through demos to educate about UPI, USSD, Aadhar-enabled payment systems, e-Wallets and cards.

Researchers Finds Hot Atomic Hydrogen in Earth’s Thermosphere
i. Researchers from University of Illinois, US have discovered the presence of hot atomic hydrogen (H) atoms in the second-highest layer of Earth’s atmosphere known as thermosphere.
ii. Researchers used the data from NASAs TIMED (Thermosphere Ionosphere Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics) satellite to discover the hot atomic H atom.
iii. The result was published in the journal Nature Communications .Theoretically hot hydrogen atoms are considered to exist at very high altitudes (more than thousands of miles). But the new study shows that they exist at around 155 miles in the thermosphere.
iv. Hydrogen atoms are very light. Due to this property they can easily overcome a planet’s gravitational force and hence escape into the outer space. The loss of hydrogen will have an impact on long-term atmospheric evolution. As per studies Mars planet had lost its majority of the water due to escape of hydrogen atoms.


Peter Gilchrist wins the Long Up title of 2016 IBSF World Billiards
i. Peter Gilchrist of Singapore defeated Sourav Kothari to win the 2016 IBSF World Billiards Long Up title on 8 December 2016.
ii. The event was held at Bengaluru, India. Peter defeated Sourav by 883 points with score of 1500-617.Peter Gilchrist wins the Long Up title of 2016 IBSF World Billiards
iii. Rupesh Shah and Dhvaj Haria of India, jointly shared the 3rd position. Earlier in the tournament Sourav Kothari had defeated Dhvaj Haria to enter into the semifinals.
iv. Gilchrist clinched the final in the 29th visit (innings). The match was over for Sourav in the 14th visit itself when Peter scored 354 points taking his overall score to 855 against 205.

Chad le Clos broke his own world record in the 100 meter swimming
i. South African swimmer Chad le Clos broke his own world record in the men’s 100m butterfly final of FINA short course world swimming championships held at Windsor, Ontario.
ii. His new record timing is 48.08 seconds to complete the 100m butterfly race. He beat his earlier best of 48.44 seconds which he set at the 2014 world championships in Doha.
iii. Tom Shields of American won the silver medal by completing the race in 49.04 seconds while David Morgan of Australia settled for bronze by completing the race in 49.31 seconds.
iv. Chad le Clos in the 2016 Summer Olympics had won silver medals in the 200-metre freestyle and 100-metre butterfly event


Famous Astronaut John Glenn Died at 95
Famous Astronaut John Glenn Died at 95i. Famous American astronaut John Glenn, who became the first American to orbit the Earth, passed away on December 8, 2016 at the age of 95.
ii. Glenn was hospitalized at the James Cancer Center at Ohio State University suffering from illness.
iii. Glenn served as a fighter pilot in World War II and the Korean War before becoming an astronaut.
iv. He has spent 24 years in the Senate from Ohio.After 36 years he returned to flight in 1998 at the age of 77, to orbit around Space Shuttle Discovery and became the oldest person to fly in the space.


International Anti-Corruption Day – December 9 2016
i. International Anti-Corruption Day was observed annually on 9th December since 2003 to raise public awareness of corruption and what people can do to fight it.International Anti-Corruption Day
ii. Aim : To engage the general public to effectively fight against corruption and fraud in communities.
iii. The 2016 celebration focuses on corruption as one of the biggest impediments to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
iv. 2016 Theme: United against corruption for development, peace and security