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Current Affairs Today – January 13 2016

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Current Affairs Today 13 January 2016

INDIAN AFFAIRS

IMD: Changes made in Weather Forecasting Language

With an aim to make the interface more audience friendly and fill the communication with civil administration, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has changed the languages and also redefined many of its terms.

Following are some of the major changes introduced by the department:

Normal: ± 10 percent of the long period average (lpa).
Below normal: Rainfall lowers than 10% below average of the lpa.
Above normal: Rainfall greater than 10% above average of the lpa.
Deficient year: Rainfall deficit between 10 and 20% up to 40% of India’s spatial area.
Large deficient year: Rainfall deficit of over 10% across more than 40% of India’s area.

Arvind Panagariya panel to fast-track bullet trains

To accelerate the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail Corridor, meant for bullet trains between the two cities, Prime Minister’s Office has constituted a committee the vice-chairman of the NITI Aayog, Arvind Panagariya that will interact with the Japanese counterpart for taking the next step in implementation.

  • The committee will comprise of Railway Board chairman, secretary in the department of expenditure, foreign secretary and secretary (industrial policy).

BSF starts ‘Operation Cold’ along international border

Covering Sriganganagar, Bikaner, Barmer and Jaisalmer in Rajasthan Border Security Force has launched ‘Operation Cold’ along the international border. It will continue till January 30.

  • Aim: To contain any infiltration or intrusion from Pakistan in fog and cold wave weather conditions in the western desert.

Highlights:

  • It was scheduled for January 17 has been preponed in view of the Pathankot terror attack and the high security alert in the country ahead of the Republic Day.
  • Extra BSF jawans have been deployed at sensitive places and their round-the-clock drill has also begun in the border area.

Keys BSF:

  • HQ: New Delhi, India
  • Minister responsible: Rajnath Singh, Minister of Home Affairs
  • BSF DIG: Ravi Gandhi

14th Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas held in New Delhi

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) Conference 2016 that is an annual gathering of overseas Indians held at the Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra in Delhi.

  • Aim: To bring together Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) and Persons of Indian origin (PIOs) and help shape stronger links between them and India. Also, Developing a new paradigm for engagement with the diaspora over the next decade.
  • Organised by: External Affairs Ministry (MEA)

Highlights of the event:

  • Consideration to give Aadhaar cards to NRIs
  • Women workers will be allowed to go to Gulf countries for employment only through government agencies not to be duped by recruiting agents.
  • Development Fund is being revamped to ensure that overseas Indians can contribute towards development of their villages and schools and in other spheres.
  • UK’s Minister of State for Employment Preeti Patel also addressed the event
  • 13th edition of the PBD was held in Gujarat
  • Individuals are honoured with Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award

Nitin Gadkari-led Road Ministry announces Rs 11,000 crore corpus to curb fatalities

Nitin Gadkari-led Road Ministry announced Rs 11,000 crore for a plan to reduce the number of road fatalities and to fix 726 black spots on which people have lost their lives across the country where frequent accidents occur due to road engineering faults.

Major Highlights:

  • A mobile application– citizens will be able to upload photographs and details of black spots
  • Proposal to impose penalties on companies and engineers responsible for faulty road designs.
  • Good Samaritan policy will be revealed soon as part of which a crash fund will be set up to help such victims that will be used for emergency medical care.
  • Sound device that can alert passersby and people around an accident site. The horn automatically honks when a vehicle meets with an accident.
  • All two-wheelers in India need to have the automatic headlamps on (AHO) similar to daytime running lamps in cars.

Earlier Facts: India has the highest number of roads fatalities in the world and one person being killed in a road mishap every four minutes. More than half of the road fatalities in India involve two-wheeler riders.

SC stays Centre’s notification lifting ban on Jallikattu

Supreme Court stayed the Centre’s notification lifting ban on controversial bull taming sport Jallikattu during the festival of Pongal in Tamil Nadu.

  • The Centre’s notification lifting ban on Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu was challenged in the Supreme Court by AWBI, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India and a Bangalore-based NGO.

About Jallikattu: It also known as Eruthazhuvuthal, is a bull taming sport played in Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations on Mattu Pongal day.

Notification:

  • Bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers, lions and bulls shall not be exhibited or trained as performing animals.
  • Bulls may be continued to be exhibited or trained as a performing animal, at events such as Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu and bullock cart races in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, Kerala and Gujarat.
  • Bullock cart race shall be organised on a proper track not exceeding 2km.
  • In Jallikattu it should also be ensured that bulls are in good physical condition to participate in the event.
  • Performance enhancement drugs are not to be administered to the bulls
  • The use of bulls in performances was banned by the UPA government in 2011 on the ground that the sport ended in cruelty to the animals.

RDL inks MoU with AP Government to set up naval facility at Visakhapatnam

Reliance Defence Ltd has signed an MOU with Andhra Pradesh government to set up a naval facility along the country’s eastern coast with an initial investment of Rs.5,000 crore. It will be located 70 km south of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

  • Reliance Defence plans to build submarines and aircraft carriers as well as to provide services including maintenance and refitting of ships at the facility.
  • Indian navy could spend nearly 20,000 crore annually over the next 15 years

Previous facts: In November 2015, Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Defence has received conditional approval for 12 industrial licenses for eight of its subsidiaries for making defence equipment including aircraft, helicopters, missiles, night vision gear and naval and land systems.

Cabinet approves Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana

In a bid to provide a social security to farmers, Union Cabinet has approved a new crop insurance scheme, having premiums as low as 1.5% of the sum insured.

  • Dubbed as Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (Prime Minister’s Crop Insurance Scheme), it will charge a uniform premium 2% of the sum insured from farmers for all kharif crops and 1.5% for rabi crops. For horticulture crops, the annual premium will be 5% of the sum insured.
  • The balance premium would be paid by the government to the insurance companies. This would be shared equally by the Centre and state governments.

PMFBY will replace the existing two schemes National Agricultural Insurance Scheme as well as Modified NAIS which have had some inherent drawbacks.

  • PMFBY will increase the insurance coverage to 50% of the total crop area of 194.40 million hectare from the existing level of about 25 – 27% crop area.
  • The expenditure is expected to be around Rs 9,500 crore

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

China reshuffles military headquarters in major revamp

Chinese President Xi Jinping reorganised four army headquarters by replacing them with 15 new agencies under the Central Military Commission(CMC) headed by him.

  • Reform includes five more divisions, administration, auditing, international cooperation, reform, organisational structure and strategic planning.
  • Six new departments, joint staff, political work, logistical support, equipment development, training, and national defence.
  • Currently China has four army headquarters — staff, politics, logistics and armaments.
  • Part of major reforms initiated by Xi to revamp the 2.3 million-strong and the world largest military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
  • First time integrated area commands looking after India and Pakistan.
  • Chengdu and Lanzhou gets integrated into strategic command region

Xi Jinping is regarded as the most powerful Chinese leaders in recent decades after Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping as he consolidated his power base heading the troika of President, CPC General Secretary and Chief of Military.

US, Jordan signed JAP on cooperation to counter Nuclear Smuggling

United States and Jordan signed a Joint Action Plan (JAP) to improve efforts against nuclear and radiological smuggling. The partnership will help in enhancing the efforts to combat nuclear terrorism.

  • The JAP was signed by Secretary of State John Kerry and Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh in Washington.

The measure strengthens US-Jordanian efforts to work to detect and prevent nuclear and radiological smuggling incidents. The US has similar agreements with 13 other countries, including Iraq, Ukraine and Lithuania.

  • The plan is the fourteenth such arrangement the State Department has concluded worldwide and Jordan’s third with a Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region partner.

BANKING & FINANCE

MF exposure limits reduced by SEBI

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) tightened the rules on mutual fund exposure to corporate bonds by capping the investment limit in debt securities issued by a single company at 10% down from 15% of the net asset value of a scheme. The changes followed the crisis at JP Morgan Mutual Fund because of its exposure to the debt securities of Amtek Auto.

  • The sector-specific exposure limit has also been reduced from the current 30% of the NAV to 25%.
  • In the case of housing finance companies, the additional exposure cap has been cut to 5% from 10%.

Import cover increases to 9.8 months: RBI

RBI announced in its Half Yearly Report on Management of Foreign Exchange Reserves which were $350.4 billion as on September 2015, were able to support imports for 9.8 months. Import cover was 8.1 per cent in September 2014.

  • Foreign exchange reserves were at $350.4 billion as on January 1, 2016, the same level seen on September end.
  • Aim: Curbing volatility in the currency market ahead of the crucial US Fed meet which eventually decided to increase interest rate for the first time almost in a decade – as expected by the market participants.
  • Import cover: Indicator of the stability of the currency

Foreign exchanges reserves: Foreign currency assets (FCA), though there is also gold, special drawing rights and reserve tranche position in International Monetary Fund, in the basket.

  • Earlier Facts: During the currency crisis of 2013, when foreign exchange reserves fell to around $275 billion, import cover dipped to around seven months. According to currency experts, eight to ten months of import cover is essential for the stability of the currency.

 IndiaFirst Life enters pension space, launches retirement plan

IndiaFirst Life Insurance, a joint venture between Bank of Baroda, Andhra Bank and Legal and General of the UK entered into pension sector with launch of a 9% guaranteed retirement plan.

  • For: Customers who are conscious to plan for their retirement and want to remain financially young.
  • Offers: A customer can choose to pay one time, under the single premium mode, or pay for a limited period of 5 to 10 years for a plan term of 10 to 35 years, or select a payment and plan term of 10 years to anytime between 15 or 35 years.

The policyholder, who has option to receive the funds between 40-80 years, will also get a tax benefit on the premiums paid, as per Income Tax Act.

  • IndiaFirst Life Insurance Managing Director and CEO: R M Vishakha

ADB to fund $840-m corridor between Vizag, Chennai

Asian Development Bank will extend a $625 million loan to the proposed $840 million Visakhapatnam-Chennai Industrial Corridor.

  • Industrial corridor: To boost manufacturing activity and help economic growth of the hinterland
  • Four nodes: Visakhapatnam, Kakinada, Gannavaram-Kankipadu, and Yerpedu-Srikalahasti.
  • VCIC was fixed on nearly 800 km of National Highway 16, highly congested VCIC would be part of the proposed East Coast Economic Corridor, from Kolkata in West Bengal to Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu.
  • M Venkaiah Naidu, Union Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Minister announced Housing and Urban Development Corporation would help build Andhra Pradesh’s capital at Amaravati with an assistance of 7,500 crore.
  • Metro rail was under consideration for Visakhapatnam, while tenders would be invited for one in Vijayawada.

Inclusive growth – Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu admitted that in his earlier stint as Chief Minister of the undivided State, he had focused only on growth in the belief that it would have a trick-e down effect.

  • Aim: To take Andhra Pradesh among the top three States by 2022, the number one by 2029 and the preferred destination by 2050.

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Kullu folk dance in Guinness Book

The colourful Kullu folk dance “Nati” which saw participation of 20,000 dancers during Kullu Dussehra festival on October 26 2015 has entered the Guinness book of world records.

  • In the Nati, 10,000 men and women attired in traditional Kullu dress performed at Dhalpur Ground during Kullu Dussehra festival.
  • The jamboree of over 20,000 people danced to spread the message of “Beti Hai Anmol” (Girl child is precious).

The Guinness Book authorities were informed about the show and the entire programme which lasted about an hour was monitored.

  • Similar folk dance was performed in 2014 in which 8,600 dancers participated and it was recorded in Limca book of World records.

Amitabh Bachchan made honorary life member of Mohammedan Sporting

Amitabh Bachchan made honorary life member of Mohammedan SportingBollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan bestowed honorary life membership of Kolkata’s famed soccer outfit Mohammedan Sporting which is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year.

About Mohammedan Sporting club

  • Founded in 1891 at Kolkata, it is one of the oldest and leading football clubs in India.
  • At present, the club plays in the I-League 2nd Division and premier division of Calcutta Football League(CFL).
  • It was the first Indian club to win CFL in 1934 and continued their run till 1938 season.
  • The club also became the first Indian club to win the Durand Cup in 1940.
  • After Independence, the club also became the first Indian club to win on foreign soil by lifting the Aga Khan Gold Cup in 1960.

Mohammedan Sporting along with Mohun Bagan A.C. and East Bengal F.C. are tagged as the Big Three.

APPOINTMENTS

Ashish Saraf appointed as Airbus Group’s vice president

Ashish Saraf appointed as Airbus Group’s vice presidentEuropean aircraft maker Airbus Group designated Ashish Saraf as its Vice-President of Industry Development, Strategic Partnerships and Offsets.

  • Saraf will look over the Group’s existing Make in India initiatives and conceive new ones for all the businesses of Airbus Group India with the aim to increase their industrial footprint in the country.

About Ashish Saraf:

  • Prior to joining Airbus Group, he was the India head of the Tata Sikorsky joint venture since 2010. He led Sikorsky’s industrialisation and strategic partnerships in India.
  • He started his career with Dassault Systems and Deloitte Consulting.
  • He is an alumnus of the Symbiosis Institute of Business Management (SIBM), Pune and the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Nagpur.

ACQUISITIONS & MERGERS

Abraaj Group to acquire majority stake in CARE Hospitals

Private equity investor the Abraaj Group is set to acquire a majority stake in Quality CARE India Ltd, the entity behind Care Hospitals, from PE firm Advent International.

  • The Group will pick up the 72% held by Advent.
  • The deal is estimated to be around 2,000 crore.
  • Abraaj and CARE’s management team will focus on expanding CARE’s integrated healthcare delivery system, especially in the under-penetrated regions of India.

About CARE:

  • Founded in 1997 by Dr. B.Soma Raju and others, the Hyderabad-headquartered multi-specialty healthcare provider CARE operates 2,600 beds across 16 hospitals in nine cities.

About Abraaj Group:

  • Formed in 2002, operates in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Turkey. It has over 20 offices spread across five regional hubs in Dubai, Istanbul, Mexico City, Nairobi and Singapore.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

E-track management system initiated by Railway Ministry

To bring efficiency and effectiveness in management practices, Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu inaugurated implementation of E-enabled Track Management System (TMS) and Mobile Application of TMS on Indian Railway at Rail Bhawan, New Delhi.

  • Along with these two initiatives, the minister also inaugurated pilot implementation of Track Inventory Management System on Northern Railway to track materials inventory, construction and track machines organization in entire 225 units of Northern Railway.

Illumina, Bill Gates & Jeff Bezos launched startup GRAIL

Illumina, the world’s largest DNA sequencing company announced the launch of the startup named GRAIL to develop blood-based cancer tests.

  • The company was launched in association with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezo’s venture fund Bezos Expeditions and Arch Venture Partners.

Key Highlights

  • GRAIL will operate from San Diego in California, USA.
  • The company will develop blood tests that cost $1000 or less for detecting many types of cancer before symptoms arise.
  • The test, which is also called as liquid biopsy, will use high-speed DNA sequencing machines.
  • All the partners in the startup raised around 100 million US dollars among themselves, in which Illumina will have the majority stake holder.
  • The newly developed tests are expected to reach the market by 2019.

SPORTS

World Record by Sania-Martina as they win 29th match on trot

World Record by Sania-Martina as they win 29th match on trotIndia’s Sania Mirza and her Swiss partner Martina Hingis broke a 22 year old world record by winning their 29th women’s doubles match in a row en route to their entry into the women’s doubles final of the WTA Sydney International, in Sydney.

  • The World No 1 pair defeated the pair of Romanian Raluca Olaru and Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shvedova by 4-6, 6-3 and 10-8.
  • They now surpassed the pair of Puerto Rican Gigi Fernandez and Belarus’ Natasha Zvereva, who won 28 matches in 1994.

Starting last year, Mirza and Hingis have won 10 WTA doubles titles together – Indian Wells, Miami, Charleston, Wimbledon, US Open, Guangzhou, Wuhan, Beijing and WTA Finals in 2015 and 2016 Brisbane International.

  • Their 28-match winning run is the longest since Italians Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci won 25 in a row in 2012. Sara and Roberta had won five titles in a row at Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, the French Open and Hertogenbosch.

Colin Munro hits 2nd-fastest 50 in T-20

The Auckland Aces shot maker Colin Munro hit a 14-ball 50 to send the Black Caps to a comfortable nine-wicket win over Sri Lanka. His knock was second in speed only to Indian Yuvraj Singh, who took just 12 balls against England at Durban in 2007.

  • Munro, who has been elevated to No 3 in the absence of skipper Brendon McCullum, has played 20 T20 internationals for the Black Caps at an average of 76 and a strike rate 153.33.

Murno has replaced New Zealand’s Martin Guptill (63 from 25 balls).

Rene Holten Poulsen named Denmark’s sportsperson of 2015

Rene Holten Poulsen named Denmark’s sportsperson of 2015The Sports Confederation of Denmark and Danish Jyllands-Posten newspaper voted Rene Holten Poulsen the prize, which is known as Sports Name of the Year and is among the country’s top sports prizes.

  • The 27-year-old kayaker from Maribo Kayak Club won a total of six medals in international championships in 2015, including two World Cup medals, three European Championship medals and one European Games bronze medal.

Danish football star Christian Eriksen grabbed the prize of Footballer of the Year for the third time in three consecutive years.

Keys Denmark:

  • Capital – Copenhagen
  • Currency – Danish krone
  • PM – Lars Lokke Rasmussen