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Current Affairs Today – January 15 2016

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Current Affairs Today 15 January 2016INDIAN AFFAIRS

“Sikkim” crowned as India’s First “Fully Organic State”

Sikkim has turned out to be the India’s first fully organic state by implementing organic practices. As per the guidelines laid down in National Programme for Organic Production, 75,000 hectares of agricultural land was gradually converted to certified organic land by implementing organic principles.

  • The formal announcement regarding this will be made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at sustainable agriculture conference in Gangtok on January 18.

IISER campus inaugurated in Thiruvananthapuram

Union Human Resource Development Minister Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani inaugurated the permanent campus (Phase I) of Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) at Vithura near Thiruvananthapuram.

  • As a part of Global Initiative of Academic Network (GIAN), the Department of Higher Education will allow the new IISER Centre to recruit five foreign faculties to improve research and international exposure to the students.

Govt sets up panel on 7th Pay panel’s advice

Government decided to set up a high-powered panel headed by cabinet secretary P K Sinha to process the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission which will have bearing on the remuneration of 47 lakh central government employees and 52 lakh pensioners.

  • The implementation of the new pay scales is estimated to put an additional burden of Rs 1.02 lakh crore on the exchequer in 2016-17.

The Empowered Committee of Secretaries will function as a Screening Committee to process the recommendations with regard to all relevant factors of the Commission in an expeditious detailed and holistic fashion.

India’s Grid-linked solar generation capacity crosses 5,000 MW mark

India’s grid-connected solar power generation capacity has crossed the 5,000 MW mark with total grid-connected solar power generation capacity in the country is 5,129.81 MW.

  • Rajasthan (1,264.35 MW) has the maximum grid-connected capacity, followed by Gujarat (1,024.15 MW) and Madhya Pradesh (678.58 MW).
  • The major states which are lagging behind are West Bengal (7.21 MW), Uttarakhand (5 MW) and Haryana (12.8 MW).

Government has an ambitious plan to have 175 GW of power generation capacity from renewable sources, including 100 GW from solar and 60 GW from wind by 2022.

  • Under the National Solar Mission, the government increased the solar power generation capacity addition target by 5 times to 100 GW last year.

Jharkhand to set up fast track courts for trial of witchcraft-related attacks

Jharkhand government is ready to set up fast track courts in five districts for speedy trial of cases relating to witchcraft incidents.

  • The decision has been taken by Cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Raghubar Das for setting up of courts in Ranchi, Chaibasa, Khunti, Palamau and Simdega districts.

Due to prevailing superstition among a section of the rural populace, witchcraft-related attacks are sometimes reported in the state.

Keys Jharkhand:

  • Capital – Ranchi
  • Governor – Draupadi Murmu

President gave nod to Sugar Cess (Amendment) Bill, 2015

President Pranab Mukherjee has given his assent to the Sugar Cess (Amendment) Bill, 2015, raising the ceiling of the impost from Rs 25 to Rs 200 per quintal, a measure that will help sugarcane growers and cash-starved mills.

  • It will amend the Sugar Cess Act, 1982.

The hike in sugar cess would lead to increase in the accruals to the Sugar Development Fund, which facilitates rehabilitation and modernization of sugar mills, thereby helping cane growers.

  • The rate of sugar cess is notified by the central government from time to time.

Sahayog – Kaijin 2016: India and Japan joint Coast Guard exercise

Sahayog – Kaijin 2016: India and Japan joint Coast Guard exercise

The 15th edition of bilateral exercise between India and Japan titled “Sahayog-Kaijin 2016” has begun off the coast of Chennai, Tamil Nadu in the Bay of Bengal.

  • The focus of bilateral training would be Anti-piracy procedures, search and rescue operations and interoperability between the two forces and other areas of common professional interest.

Participants:

  • Japanese Coast Guard ship Echigo along with its integral helicopter is participating.
  • Indian coast guard ships like Samudra Pahredar, Rajkamal, Vishwast, Rajtarang, Hovercraft, C-415, C-417, one Dornier and one Chetak helicopter.

About Sahayog-Kaijin Exercise:
It is a part of the cooperative arrangements between two Coast Guards for the last 15 years. It is also as part of the memorandum on cooperation (MoC) signed between the two countries in 2006.

  • It is biennial bilateral exercise held once in two years.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

4-member EPG suggested by Nepal to review accords with India

Ahead of Nepalese Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli maiden visit to India next month, the Nepal government has proposed formation of a four-member Eminent Persons Group to review the existing bilateral agreements with India including the strategic Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1950.

  • The names proposed to be included in EPG are – Former finance minister and former Nepalese Ambassador to India Bhesh Bahadur Thapa, former chief of the Commission for Investigation Authority Suyra Nath Upadhyaya, former UN assistant secretary general Kul Chandra Gautam and CPN-UML lawmaker Rajan Bhattarai.
  • The next cabinet meeting will take a formal decision in this regard.

After 25 years, Saudi Embassy officially reopens in Baghdad

Saudi Arabia has reopened its embassy in Baghdad after a closure that lasted 25 years.

  • The kingdom closed the embassy in 1990, after Saddam Hussein ordered an invasion of Saudi ally Kuwait.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari accepted the credentials of Ambassador Thamir al-Sabhan. Both diplomats underlined the necessity for their countries to boost bilateral relations in all fields.

WHO declares world’s worst ever Ebola outbreak over

World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for two years was over after Liberia, the last affected country, received the all-clear.

  • One of the most feared diseases in the world, Ebola killed more than 11,000 people across West-Africa after it surfaced in Southern Guinea in December 2013.

Liberia, the country worst hit by the outbreak with 4,800 deaths, discharged its last two patients from hospital, the father and younger brother of a 15-year-old victim.

Keys Liberia:

  • Capital – Monrovia
  • Currency – Liberian dollar
  • President – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

BANKING & FINANCE

SBI launches dedicated branch for start-ups in Bengaluru

State Bank of India launched its wealth management offering and inaugurated a dedicated branch for start-ups Bengaluru.

About Exclusif :

The wealth management service ‘Exclusif’ is targeted at the fast-growing affluent segment in the country, ‘SBI InCube‘ the branch for start-ups would offer advisory services to the budding entrepreneurs under one roof.

  • Initially, SBI InCube would not be providing loans, but give start-ups financial management services.
  • It proposes tobring to customers a completely different and new approach to interacting with the Bank.
  • The customers will have access to a dedicated Relationship Manager to take care of all theirbanking and investment needs.
  • Further, customers will have access to the best products across categories from market leading institutions as the bank has introduced an open platform.

Key points :

  • SBI HQ : Mumbai
  • SBI Tagline : The Banker to every Indian
  • SBI Chairman : Arundhati Bhattacharya

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Danny Kaye Humanitarian Leadership Award conferred upon David Beckham

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and retired football professional David Beckham has been bestowed with the Danny Kaye Humanitarian Leadership Award at the 6th biennial UNICEF Ball in Los Angeles for recognizing his tireless work to save and improve the lives of children around the world.

  • He was presented with the award by Sir Elton John and David Furnish at the black-tie gala event.

Subhashini Vasanth honoured with Neerja Bhanot Award

 

Bollywood actor Sonam Kapoor presented the Neerja Bhanot Award to Bangalore-based Subhashini Vasanth.

About Subhashini Vasanth :

  • Subhashini Vasanth is the founder-trustee of Vasantharatna Foundation, which she formed in memory of her late husband, Ashok Chakra Col. Vasanth V, in 2008, for his sacrifice on the border while fighting terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The foundation empowers women and educates them and their children, besides providing emotional, legal, and financial counselling. It acts as a bridge between the larger society, government agencies, and the families of martyrs.

About Neerja Bhanot Award :

  • The annual award was instituted in 1990 in the memory of flight purser Neerja Bhanot, who had sacrificed her life when a Pan Am plane was hijacked at Karachi Airport in September 1986, to save others.
  • The Neerja Bhanot Award consists of Rs1.50 lakh, a citation, and a trophy.

Indian designer wins International Woolmark Prize

Indian designer wins International Woolmark Prize

City-based fashion designer Suket Dhir won the Rs 48.5 lakh (A$100,000) worth prestigious International Woolmark Prize.The announcement was made overnight in Florence by the Organiser.

  • Dhir beat five other international designers, with a menswear collection that fused classic western tailoring with traditional techniques, including Ikat (hand-tying and dyeing yarn) and Kasui (traditional hand embroidery).
  • Rahul Mishra took the prize in the womenswear category two years ago.He was the first Indian to won the Woolmark prize.

About Woolmark :

Woolmark is a trademark owned by Australian Wool Innovation Limited (AWI).AWI licenses this trademark to be used by affiliated vendors on their products as an assurance that the product conforms to a set of standards laid by the organization.

APPOINTMENTS

Bhaskar Bhat takes over as new Vistara chairman

Bhaskar Bhat has taken over as the new chairman of Tata-SIA joint venture Vistara, the airline .

  • Bhat was serving as the Managing Director of Titan Company Limited since 2002, has replaced Prasad Menon, who retired from the airline on January 13.

About Vistara:

Vistara is the third full service carrier after Air India and Jet Airways, had launched its operations on January 9, last year and now operates 307 weekly flights to 12 destinations with a fleet of nine Airbus A320s. 

Ronaldinho announced as Brand Ambassador of Nagjee International Club Football Tournament

Ronaldinho announced as Brand Ambassador of Nagjee International Club Football Tournament

Brazilian star Ronaldinho was appointed as Brand Ambassador of Nagjee International Club Football Tournament will be played in Kozhikode in February 5, 2016 to February 21, 2016.

  • The Kozhikode District Football Association and Mondial Sports Management LLP have joined hands to resume and revive the Sait Nagjee Trophy after a 21-year gap.
  • A premier football tournament in India and an event that was very popular in Kerala, it will be renamed and relaunched as the Nagjee International Club Football Tournament.

Participating teams :

Argentina’s U-23 team, Premier League outfit Watford’s U-23 team, La Liga side Levante’s U-23 team, Atletico Paranaense’s U-23 team from Brazil, German team TSV 1860 Munchen’s U-23 side, Romania’s Rapid Bucharest’s first team, Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin’s U-23 team and an I-League team.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Anti-tank missile “Nag” successful test fired

After the multipurpose exercises carried out for improving the system, the indigenously-built third generation anti-tank missile, Nag successfully hit the target 4 km away during a night trial in the Mahajan Field Firing Range, Rajasthan.

  • Thermal Target System (TTS) developed by a defence laboratory at Jodhpur was used as target for the missile, which is in the final user configuration.
  • TTS simulated a target similar to an operational tank as thermal mapping from tank to TTS was carried out for generating thermal signature.
  • The final user trials would be conducted in different conditions in summer and winter this year.

Israel gets fifth German-made nuclear-capable submarine “INS Rahav”

Israel has marked the addition of a fifth German-made submarine to its fleet with a dedication ceremony attended by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

  • The INS Rahav was built in Kiel, Germany.
  • Israel already has 4 similar German-made submarines.
  • All the submarines are capable of carrying nuclear-tipped cruise missiles.

The ship cost nearly $500 million to build, with Berlin providing about a third of the funding.

OBITUARY

British actor Alan Rickman passes away    

British actor Alan Rickman passes away

British actor and Director  Alan Rickman, a classically trained stage star and screen villain in the Harry Potter saga and other films has died. He was 69.

About Alan Rickman :

Born on February 21, 1946 in a working class family. His first major role was as the impetuous Tybalt in a BBC TV adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet” (1978) but came to viewers’ attention with his brief appearance in the BBC adaptation of John le Carre’s “Smiley’s People” (1982) with Alec Guinness and then as the odious, smarmy Reverend Obadiah Slope in the channel adaptation of Anthony Trollope’s ecclesiastical series “Barchester Towers” (1982).

  • In 2001, when Chris Columbus’s film adaptation of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone hit the screens, Rickman was seen in the role of Professor Severus Snape.
  • His distinctive voice was used for Marvin the Paranoid Android in a 2005 adaptation of Douglas Adams’ cult classic “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and as the Caterpillar in Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” (2010).

Awards :

He  recieved the BAFTA, Golden Globe, Emmy and Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Filmmaker Anil Ganguly passed away

Noted filmmaker Anil Ganguly passed away today at his residence here after a brief illness.He was 82.

About Anil Ganguly :

  • Ganguly is a noted director and screenwriter, who worked in Hindi cinema from 1970s to the 90s.
  • He is best known for Jaya Bhaduri starrer “Kora Kagaz” and “Tapasya” both of which won National Award.
  • His other notable films are “Saaheb”, ” Trishna”, “Khandaan”, “Humkadam”, “Pyar Ke Kabil”, “Balidan” (Bolidan -1990, Bengali), “Dushman Devta” among others.

BOOKS & AUTHORS

3rd Version of the book titled Objective Railway Engineering-Track, Works & Others released

The Minister of State (MoS) for Railways Manoj Sinha released a book titled Objective Railway Engineering-Track, Works & Others authored by a well known Civil Engineer MM Agarwal in New Delhi.

About Objective Railway Engineering-Track, Works & Others : 

  • It was originally written in 2007.This is the 3rd revised and enlarged edition of the book, which contains 37 updated chapters which cover the entire spectrum of Railway Engineering.
  • The book is designed for all professionals of Railway, whether in the field or in the office.

The latest edition of the book gives details about High Speed Railway, Dedicated Freight Corridors, Metro Railway, Track Management System & all other new developments taking place on Indian Railways along with the existing details about Track Standards, Track maintenance, Track Modernization, Railway Works Engineering, Bridge Engineering & Modern Signaling Techniques.

IMPORTANT DAYS

Indian Army Day

Army Day

On 15 January 2016 India celebrated 68th Indian Army day in New Delhi. It has been started celebrating to respect the Lieutenant General of India, K. M. Cariappa (Kodandera Madappa Cariappa) who was the first Indian Army’s Commander-in-Chief.

  • It is celebrated every year at all the Army Command headquarters and national capital by organizing army parades including many other military shows.
  • The day is celebrated in the form of parades and other military shows in the national capitalNew Delhi as well as all headquarters. Army Day marks a day to salute the valiant soldiers who sacrificed their lives to protect the country and the people living in it.

Key points :

  • Indian Army Chief: Dalbir Singh Suhag
  • Indian Army HQ:New Delhi