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Union Cabinet has approved the “Stand Up India Scheme” to promote entrepreneurship among SC/ST and Women entrepreneurs. Under this, the government aims to achieve the target of at least 2.5 lakh approvals in three years from the launch of the scheme.
- It envisages reaching out to under-served sectors of the population by facilitating bank loans repayable up to 7 years and between 10 lakh to Rs. 1 crore for Greenfield enterprises in the non-farm sector set up by such SC, ST and Women borrowers.
Rs.1000 crores allocated to LWE affected states
The Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh approved the State wise allocation of Additional Central Assistance (ACA) of Rs.1000 crores to 35 worst Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected districts in 7 states.
- Out of 35 districts, there are 16 affected districts in Jharkhand, 8 in Chhattisgarh, 6 in Bihar, 2 in Odisha and one each in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has allocated fund at the rate of Rs.28.57 crores per district.
- Thus, Jharkhand is allocated 457.12 crore, Chhattisgarh Rs. 228.56 crore, Bihar Rs. 171.42 crore, Odisha Rs. 57.14 crore and Rs.28.57 crore each to Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Union Cabinet gives nod to MoU with Bangladesh for operation of traditional haats
The Union cabinet has given its ex-post-facto approval to MoU with Bangladesh for Mode of Operation of Border haats on India-Bangladesh Border signed in 2010.
- The Border Haats are common marketplace which will promote the well-being of the people dwelling in remote areas across the borders of the two countries.
- It intends to establish traditional system of marketing the local produce through local markets in local currency or barter basis.
Border Haats those are already operational:
- Kalaichar (Meghalaya-Bangladesh border)
- Balat (Meghalaya-Bangladesh border)
- Kamlasagar (Tripura-Bangladesh border)
- Srinagar (Tripura-Bangladesh border)
In addition, both the Government agreed to further establish two Border Haats in Tripura and four Border Haats in Meghalaya on the Bangladesh border.
Nitin Gadkari inaugurated the first River Information System of India
Union Minister of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways Shri Nitin Gadkari inaugurated the River Information System (RIS) at a function in New Delhi.
- It will facilitate safe and accurate navigation on National Waterway – 1 on the Ganges River.
- RIS is being implemented under the overall responsibility of Inland Waterway Authority of India.
- Phase-II of the system from Farakka to Patna and Phase-III from Patna to Varanasi will be undertaken on priority,
What is River Information Services (RIS)?
RIS are combination of modern tracking equipment related hardware and software designed to optimize traffic and transport processes in inland navigation.
- The system enhances swift electronic data transfer between mobile vessels and shore (Base stations) through advance and real-time exchange of information.
- RIS enables achievement of safe and efficient inland water transport by avoiding the risks like Ship – to – Ship collisions, Ship – Bridge collisions and Groundings.
Government decides to directly shift from BS-IV to BS-VI Emission norms
Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has decided to directly shift from BS-IV to BS-VI Emission norms directly by 01.04.2020 to address the issue of vehicular pollution.
- A unanimous decision was taken in a meeting chaired by Minister of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping Shri Nitin Gadkari.
In BS-V, vehicles have to be fitted with a diesel particulate filter, which needs to be optimised for Indian road conditions. In stage VI, selective catalytic reduction technology has to be optimised.
About Bharat stage emission standards
Bharat stage emission standards are emission standards based on European regulations instituted by GOI in 2000 to regulate the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engine equipment, including motor vehicles.
- The standards and the timeline for implementation are set by the Central Pollution Control Board under the Ministry of Environment & Forests and climate change.
- Since October 2010, Bharat stage III norms have been enforced across the country.
- In 13 major cities, Bharat stage IV emission norms have been in place since April 2010.
China admits first same sex marriage rights lawsuit
China’s first lawsuit on same-sex marriage rights has been accepted by a court, marking a milestone for gay, bisexual and transgender rights.
- Court has accepted the suit of Plaintiff Sun Wenlin (name changed), a homosexual against the civil affairs bureau in Changsha’s Furong district for not accepting his marriage registration application.
Sun filed the case on December 16 after his marriage registration application was turned down on the words “one man and one woman” can be registered as married. The court is expected to hand down a ruling on the case within six months.
- Capital – Beijing
- Currency – Renminbi
- Premier – Li Keqiang
- President – Xi Jinping
Signing of MoU between India and Singapore in the field of Civil Aviation
The Union Cabinet has approved the MoU between India and Singapore on cooperation in the field of civil aviation.
- The MoU was signed in November 2015 between the Airports Authority of India and the Singapore Cooperation Enterprise during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Singapore.
- Objective – To cooperate in the field of civil aviation.
The collaboration will focus on master-planning and design, traffic development, maintenance, repair and overhaul, commercial development, service improvement and cargo handling among others.
BANKING & FINANCE
According to the World Bank‘s latest Global Economic Prospect (GEP) report, India will continue to be the bright spot of the global economy and is projected to grow at a robust 7.8% in fiscal 2016-17.
- World Bank marginally reduced India‘s growth rate 2% in 2015 and 0.1% in both 2016 and 2017 but still continues to be the bright spot of the global economy.
- China is estimated to grow at 7% in 2016 and 6.5% each in 2017 and 2018.
- Russia and Brazil are expected to remain in recession in 2016.
Bank of India allots shares worth Rs 264 crore to LIC
Mumbai headquartered Bank of India has allotted 2 crore shares to LIC valued at Rs 264.12 crore.
- The bank has allotted 2 crore equity shares to Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) on preferential basis at the price of Rs 132.06 per share.
Keys Bank of India:
CEO – Vijayalakshmi R. Iyer
Tagline – Relationship beyond banking
Govt. decided to shut 3 HMT units
Government decided to shut three units of HMT including HMT Watches, HMT Chinar Watches and HMT Bearings by offering an attractive voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) to the employees as per 2007 pay scales scales to mitigate the hardships being faced by the employees of HMT Watches, HMT Chinar Watches and HMT Bearings and close their operations.
- Decision by: Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
- Cabinet had earlier given in-principle approval for shutting down 5 PSUs under the Heavy Industries Ministry including the three units of HMT, Tungabhadra Steel and Hindustan Cables. It approved the individual closure proposal of Tungabhadra Steel.
About HMT: Hindustan Machine Tools Limited is a manufacturing company under the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises in India. The company manufactures tractors, watches under its watch division and industrial machines and tools mainly under its Praga division.
- CMD: S.G. Sridhar
- Headquarters: Bengaluru
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
Pentagon award to recognise US drone operators
To recognise U.S. troops who have directly affected battles as drone pilots or in cyber operations, the Defense Department has awarded them with Pentagon Award.
- New award for drone pilots will be a letter “R” device to be affixed to existing service medals.
- Drones have been President Barack Obama’s counterterrorism weapon of choice. These are used in the U.S. pursuit of militant groups in Somalia, Nigeria, Yemen, Syria, Pakistan, and elsewhere.
Defense officials are looking at recommendations for Silver Star and Service Cross medals made since September11, 2001 during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- US Defense Secretary: Ashton Carter
Vedanta appoints Cairie as head for Metals business in India
Vedanta Ltd appointed Samir Cairae as CEO of the Metals division in India.
- Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Diversified Metals (India)
- Member of the Vedanta Executive Committee team, the firm led by Anil Agarwal(NRI billionaire).
- Samir will provide leadership for the performance of Vedanta Ltd’s Aluminium, India Copper, Power, Iron Ore divisions in addition to Commercial and Asset optimisation functions
- Recently, Vedanta Resources had appointed Cynthia Carroll as the Chair of Vedanta Resources Holdings Ltd.
- An electrical engineer from IIT-Kanpur
- Served various leadership positions at Lafarge and Schlumberger in the past
ACQUISITIONS & MERGERS
Quikr to acquire Commonfloor
Quikr has finalised deal to acquire CommonFloor.com(real estate portal) for $200 million i.e. Rs.1,300 crore to strengthen its newly launched vertical, QuikrHomes.
- Reason: CommonFloor failed to raise additional capital to fund its business. So far, the firm has raised $60 million.
- CommonFloor reckons investors such as Accel, Google Capital and Tiger Global.
Recently, it acquired India Realty Exchange (IRX) which is a mobile-first aggregator of real estate agents founded by Vikram Dhawan and Karan Jindal. IRX helps users connect with them to buy and sell property.
- Quikr Founder: Pranay Chulet
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
NASA discovers five ‘superstars’ in other galaxies
For the first time, Five objects in other galaxies have founded which are parallel to Eta Carinae,the most luminous and massive stellar system within 10,000 light years of Earth and that using data from NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes.
What is Eta Carinais?
It is the only object of its kind known in our galaxy that is expanding veil of gas and dust which is still covering Eta Carinae.
- These stars produce and distribute large amounts of the chemical elements vital to life and eventually explode as supernovae.
- The researchers found two candidate Eta twins in the galaxy M83
- One each in NGC 6946, M101, and M51
- Researchers developed a kind of optical and infrared fingerprint for identifying Eta Carinae twins.
NASA: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the United States government agency for civilian space program as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.
- HQ: Washington, D.C
- Administrator: Charles Bolden
Young Indian shooter Apurvi Chandela (23) began her year on a high by winning the Gold with a world record in the 10m Air Rifle at the Swedish Cup Grand Prix. For her outstanding performance in the tournament, she was awarded a Walther rifle, besides being crowned the best shooter (men and women combined).
- World No.7 Chandela had a tally of 211.2 which surpassed the feat of Chinese Olympic gold medallist Yi Siling, who held the record with 211.
- Silver and bronze medal has been clinched by the Swedish shooters Astrid Steffensen (207.6) and Stine Nielsen (185.0) respectively.
- Apurvi is already qualified for 2016 Rio Olympics.
ONGC won 26th Lal Bahadur Shastri Hockey tournament
Oil and Natural Gas Corporation won 26th Lal Bahadur Shastri hockey tournament and defeated Indian Railways 3-0 on penalties at the Shivaji Stadium. Sumit deflecting a Diwakar Ram push off the team’s first penalty corner.
- Top scorer: Diwakar Ram (ONGC)
- Player of the tournament: Simrandeep Singh (Railways)
- Upcoming player of the tournament: Ajit Pandey (Railways)
- Outstanding performance in a match: Vivek Sharma (IOC)
ONGC: It is a Public Sector Undertaking of the Government of India, under the the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and is India’s largest oil and gas exploration and production company.
- CMD: Dinesh Kumar Sarraf
- HQ: Dehradun, Uttarakhand
The 6th Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mufti Mohammad Sayeed passed away at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi due to multiple organ failure. Sayeed (79) was survived by his wife, three daughters including PDP President Mehbooba Mufti and a son.
- The Union government has declared a day of national mourning following his death. National flags across the country flown at half-mast.
- Jammu and Kashmir government has announced a holiday and a seven-day mourning period as a mark of respect to Sayeed.
Noted Gujarati writer Labshankar Thakar passes away
A renowned Gujarati author Labhshankar Thakar(80) passed away. He was a modernist poet, playwright and story writer who was particularly influenced by bizarre theatre.
- Mainly wrote in Gujarati language
- Poetries: Vahi Jati Pachhal Ramya Ghosha, Manasni Vaat, Mara Namne Darwaje , Pravahan, Kalagranthi
- Play: Asatyakumar Ekagrani Dharpakad.
- Novels: Akasmat and Kon?
- Biographical piece on his mother’s life entitled Maari Ba
- Sahitya Akademi award(1991) for Tolan Aawaz Ghunghat.
- Sahitya Gaurav Puraskar(2002) by Gujarati Sahitya Akademi
- Ranjitram Gold Medal(1980)-Highest literary award in Gujarati literature.