Current Affairs 1st December 2016

1st December Current Affairs 2016: Instantly obtain Latest Current Affairs December 1, 2016 with all essential info, Be the first to know all the Current affairs December 1, 2016 top news, Major Issues, Current happenings, Important events in National as well as International level with clear explanation. For all competitive exams and Interviews, equip yourself with the Latest Current Affairs December 1, 2016 granted here.

The Central Statistical Office (CSO) has announced that India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) accelerated to 7.3 percent in the second quarter (July-September) of 2016-17 financial year from a provisional 7.1 percent expansion in the previous quarter. On the other hand, the Gross Value Added (GVA) increased to 7.1 percent. While GDP growth accelerated in the second quarter from the 7.1 percent seen in the April-June quarter, GVA growth slowed from the 7.3 percent registered in that period. Both GDP and GVA growth were slower in Q2 of this financial year as compared with the Q2 of 2015-16. The Q2 of 2015-16 showed a GDP growth of 7.6 percent and GVA growth of 7.3 percent. Highlights : The agriculture sector maintained the overall growth by registering a 3.3 percent GVA growth rate in Q2 of this financial year in comparison with 2 percent in Q2 of 2015-16.  The manufacturing sector saw a significant slowdown as it registered a GVA growth of 7.1 per cent in Q2 of this financial year as compared with 9.2 percent in Q2 of 2015-16. The mining and quarrying sector slowed down by 1.5 percent in Q2 compared with the contraction of 0.4 percent in the first quarter and a growth of 5 percent in Q2 of 2015-16. Output in sectors such as manufacturing, electricity, mining, services and others show a fall in the September quarter because they are not supported by demand.There was a drop in outputs across all sectors except for agriculture, construction and public administration. Gross fixed capital formation was only 29 percent of GDP in Q2 of this financial year as compared with 32.9 percent in Q2 of 2015-16. On the other hand, Government final consumption expenditure was 13 percent of GDP in the second quarter of this financial year compared with 12.1 percent in the previous year.Government final consumption expenditure (GFCE) grew 18.8 percent in Q1 of FY 2016-17 and 15.2 percent in Q2 of FY 2016-17. Union Government’s Capital Expenditure (Plan and non-Plan) declined 12.81 percent to Rs 124959 crore in the quarter against Rs 143329 crore in the year-ago period.  

Magnus Carlsen won the 2016 World Chess Championship  in New York City, USA. Carlsen defeated Sergey Karjakin to retain the World Chess Champion title. It’s the third time that Carlsen has won the championship. He has reigned as world champion since 2013. Magnus Carlsen : Magnus Carlsen is a Norwegian chess grandmaster. He became a chess Grandmaster in 2004, at the age of 13 years. This made him the third-youngest grandmaster in history. In November 2013, he became World Champion by defeating Viswanathan Anand in the World Chess Championship. On the May 2014 FIDE rating list, he reached his peak rating of 2882, which is the highest in history. He successfully defended his title in November 2014 by defeating Anand once again. In 2014, he also won the World Rapid Championship and the World Blitz Championship, thus holding all three world championship titles. World Chess Championship : The World Chess Championship is played to determine the World Champion in chess.  It is generally regarded to have commenced in 1886. From 1948 to 1993, the championship was administered by the World Chess Federation (FIDE).  In 1993, the reigning champion (Garry Kasparov) broke away from FIDE, which led to the creation of the rival PCA championship. The titles were unified at the World Chess Championship 2006.

The Supreme Court has ordered status quo on land acquired for the construction of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal’s stretch in Punjab.  Moreover, the court also appointed Union Home Secretary, Chief Secretary of Punjab and the Director General of Punjab Police as receivers in the dispute between Punjab and Haryana and sought a report from them by 15 December on the present status of land. A bench comprising Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Justice Amitava Roy also made it clear that receivers cannot take over the possession of the land meant for the SYL canal project. They have been appointed only for the purpose of submitting a report on the ground situation. Earlier in November 2016, a five-judge bench had set aside the Punjab Termination of Agreement Act, 2004, which unilaterally terminated the 1981 water-sharing pact with Haryana. Following this, Punjab government denotified the land acquired for the SYL canal project with immediate effect and returned it to the owners free of charge.  The controversial 1981 water-sharing agreement came into force after Haryana was removed out of Punjab in 1966. For effective allocation of water, the SYL canal link was planned and both the states were required to construct their portions in their territory.  Haryana had already constructed the portion of the SYL canal in its territory. However, Punjab stopped the construction. In 2004, the Congress government formulated Punjab Termination of Agreement Act with an intention to terminate the 1981 agreement relating to sharing of waters of rivers Ravi and Beas.

NITI Aayog, under the banner of the Union Government, on 30 November 2016 constituted a 13-member committee to promote cashless economy. The committee will be headed by Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu. The committee will be formed by Chief Ministers of various states representing different political parties to examine and promote the use of digital payment systems across the country.  Chandrababu Naidu (Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh)  : Convener Naveen Patnaik (Chief Minister of Odisha) : Member Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh)  : Member Pawan Kumar Chamling (Chief Minister of Sikkim)  : Member V. Narayanasamy (Chief Minister of Puducherry)  : Member Devendra Fadnavis (Chief Minister of Maharashtra)  : Member Arvind Panagariya (Vice- Chairman of NITI Aayog)  : Member Amitabh Kant (CEO of NITI Aayog)   : Member Secretary Nandan Nilekani (Former Chairman, UIDAI) : Special invitee Janmejaya Sinha (Chairman, Boston Consulting Group) : Special invitee Rajesh Jain (Managing Director, netCORE)  : Special invitee Sharad Sharma (Co-founder, iSPIRIT)  : Special invitee Jayant Varma (Professor (Finance) at IIM Ahmedabad) : Special invitee The Committee will identify the best global practices for implementing an economy primarily based on digital payment. It will identify and outline measures for rapid expansion and adoption of the system of digital payments like cards (Debit, Credit and pre-paid), Digital-wallets, internet banking, Unified Payments Interface (UPI), banking apps, etc. It will develop an action plan to reach out to the public at large with the objective to create awareness and help them understand the benefits of switching over to digital economy. It will prepare a roadmap for the administrative machineries in the States to facilitate adoption of digital modes of financial transactions.  It will identify and address problems and indicate solutions pertaining to adoption of the steps required to move towards a digital economy. It will associate with the key stakeholders for implementation of the suggested steps. It will examine and address any other associated issues which are not specifically mentioned and will devise its own procedures for conducting business, meetings or even constitution of sub-groups.

In Columbia’s worst air disaster in nearly two decades, Chartered British aircraft - Flight 2933 carrying most of the Brazilian football team Chapecoense to one of their biggest games, crashed near Medellin on 28 November 2016.  The team was traveling from Santa Cruz to Medellin to play the first leg of the two-game Copa Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional. The second leg was scheduled to be hosted by Chapecoense at Esatdio Couto Pereira in Curitiba on 7 December 2016.   Amoung the 77 passengers on board, 22 were Chapecoense players and 21 were journalists, who were accompanying the team for their final match. Only six people were pulled out alive, three of whom were players, one journalist and two crew members. Names of the players who died in the crash Cleber Santana: The former Atletico Madrid star was the team captain. He posted a haunting final picture of himself on the dreaded flight before its crash with a captain that read, “In how many lives I live, in all, I will love you.” Marcos Danilo Padilha: Though the 31-year-old goalkeeper was pulled out alive from the crash site, he succumbed to his injuries shortly after. Bruno Rangel: The 34-year-old was a star striker of the club and its leading goal-scorer during the 2016 season. Ananias: The young attacker was often compared to Spain’s Andres Iniesta by fans who had even created a pen name for him, ‘Ananiesta’. Everton Kempes: He joined his 13th club, Chapecoense as an Attacker in December 2015.  Lucas Gomes: The 26-year-old played as an attacker on the Chapecoense. He also joined the club in 2015.  Tiaguinho: The young 22-year-old attacker found out that he was going to be a dad just one week before the crash. Arthur Maia: The 24-year-old winger or attacking midfielder joined the  Chapecoense team in 2016. He was loaned to the club by Vitoria.  Other players who did not survive the crash include attacker Ailton Canela (22), defenders Filipe Machado (32), Marcelo (25), Willian Thiego (30) and Dener (25), Gimenez (20), Matthew Caramel (22), Josimar (30), Matheus Biteco (21), Gil (29) and Sergio Manoel (27). Those who survived Jackson Follman ( reserve goalkeeper): He had to get his right leg amputated Helio Neto (defender): He has suffered severe trauma in his skull, thorax and lungs. Alan Ruschel (defender): He had to undergo a spinal surgery Nivaldo: The Chapecoense goalkeeper did not travel with the team for its first leg of the finals. He was supposed to make his 300th appearance in the team’s home match. He announced his retirement 24 hours after the crash. Alejandro Martinuccio: The 28-year-old was supposed to be the 23rd player aboard the fatal flight but he had to stay back due to an injury. The eight other Chapecoense players who did not travel with the team were midfielders Andrei, Moises, Hyoram and Nenem, defenders Rafael Lima and Demerson and goalkeeper Marcelo Boeck. Boeck had stayed back to celebrate his birthday on 28 November. Matheus Saroli :The son of Chapecoense's coach Caio Junior who passed away in the tragedy was also supposed to board the flight. He stayed back because he had forgotten his passport. The finals have been suspended following the crash. Opponent team Atletico Nacional has requested Conmebol, the South American football association to hand over the cup to Chapecoense. If the South American football association (Conmebol) agrees to it then the Chapecoense would automatically qualify for the next year’s competition.  Many Brazilian clubs have come forward to offer support to Chapecoense and are willing to loan them some of their top players completely free of cost. They have also requested that the club should not be lowered to the second division of three years, giving it time to recover from the disaster.  To pay further respect to the players, the Brazilian champion Palmeiras has requested the Brazilian Football Confederation to permit them to wear the Chapecoense's jersey in its final match of the season.  

The World AIDS Day was on 1 December 2016 observed across the world with the theme Hands up for #HIVprevention. The campaign #HIVprevention explores different aspects of HIV prevention and how they relate to specific groups of people, such as adolescent girls and young women, key populations and people living with HIV. On the 2016 World AIDS Day, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) hosted a special event on 30 November 2016 to commemorate the day and to reinforce the commitment to move forward together to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. A report titled Get on the Fast-Track: the life-cycle approach to HIV by UNAIDS shows that countries are getting on the Fast-Track, with an additional one million people accessing treatment in just six months i.e. from January to June 2016. The report was launched on 21 November 2016 in Windhoek, Namibia, by the President of Namibia, Hage Geingob and the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé. The report showed that by June 2016, around 18.2 million people had access to the life-saving medicines, including 910000 children. If these efforts are continued and amplified, the world will be on track to achieve the target of 30 million people on treatment by 2020. Global statistics on HIV 18.2 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy (June 2016) 36.7 million people globally were living with HIV (end 2015) 2.1 million people became newly infected with HIV (end 2015) million people died from AIDS-related illnesses (end 2015) 78 million people have become infected with HIV since the start of the epidemic (end 2015) 35 million people have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic (end 2015)

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on has added Cuba’s rumba dance and Belgian beer to its coveted list of “intangible” heritage. In addition, the UN body also included Portuguese pottery and Ugandan traditional music into the list at the meeting in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. The Cuban delegation dedicated the rumba’s selection to Fidel Castro, who passed away recently. The UNESCO stated that the rumba evokes “grace, sensuality and joy”. As the rumba sprang from poor communities in Cuba, the dance is an enduring “expression of resistance and self-esteem”. While for the Belgian beer, it said “making and appreciating beer is part of the living heritage... throughout Belgium”. The body stated that as Ugandan traditional music is dying out partly, it requires materials from endangered species, as intangible heritage “in urgent need of safeguarding”. For the Portuguese pottery, the UNESCO stated that the pottery is suffering from “waning interest from younger generations and popular demand for industrial alternatives”. UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage : UNESCO lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage aims at ensuring the better protection of important intangible cultural heritages worldwide and the awareness of their significance. The list was established in 2008 when the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage took effect. The list now comprises 814 cultural sites, 203 natural ones and 35 with both natural and cultural qualities. As of 2010, the programme compiles two lists. The longer is the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, which includes cultural "practices and expressions that help demonstrate the diversity of this heritage and raise awareness about its importance." The shorter one is the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, which comprises cultural elements that concerned communities and countries consider require urgent measures to keep them alive. Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in India Koodiyattam, Sanskrit Theatre, Kerala Traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, Punjab Mudiyett: a ritual theatre of Kerala Sankirtana, ritual singing, drumming and dancing of Manipur The Tradition of Vedic Chanting Buddhist chanting of Ladakh: recitation of sacred Buddhist texts in the trans-Himalayan Ladakh region, Jammu and Kashmir, India  Ramlila: the Traditional Performance of the Ramayana Chhau dance: a tradition from eastern India Ramman: religious festival and ritual theatre of the Garhwal HimalayasKalbelia: folk songs and dances of Rajasthan  

The Union Cabinet approved the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) Phase-III. The estimated cost of project is Rs 8679 crore with completion cost of Rs 10947 crore. The project is expected to be completed in the next 5 years during 13th Plan period.  Western Railway is running suburban services on the existing busy double line between Virar-Dahanu Road which is a part of main line Mumbai–Ahmedabad or Mumbai–Delhi route.  Main line is already congested and there is no scope for supplementing suburban services on this line.  Construction of additional double line between Virar-Dahanu Road will address the demand of commuters in this region. This will provide extension of suburban services from Churchgate to Dahanu Road.  While, Panvel-Karjat double line suburban corridor will cater to the significant urbanization and population growth.  This will also provide alternate route from Karjat to CSTM via Panvel which will be shorter by 23 Km than the existing route via Kalyan and will reduce travel time by 35 to 40 minutes. Presently, passengers commuting from Kalyan to Panvel or in reverse direction, have to get down at Thane and take Trans Harbour link. This results in congestion at Thane.  Airoli-Kalwa corridor will reduce congestion at Thane station and will also save time as these passengers can travel bypassing Thane.  Procurement of new coaches will enhance the quality of service and reduce congestion. The works proposed under trespass control at 22 locations will reduce trespass and will provide safer environment for the public.  The areas covered by this project are Thane, Palghar, Raigad and Mumbai districts of Maharashtra.   

The Union Cabinet has approved the rehabilitation package of Rs 2000 crore for around 36384 displaced families from Pakistan occupied Jammu & Kashmir (POJK) and Chhamb under Prime Minister's Development Package for Jammu & Kashmir 2015.  The refugees from West Pakistan, mostly from PoK, are settled in different areas of Jammu, Kathua and Rajouri districts. However, they are not permanent residents of the state in terms of Jammu & Kashmir constitution. Under the package of Rs 2000 crore, Rs 5.5 lakh cash benefit will be disbursed to each displaced families to enable them to earn an income and subsist their livelihood.  The amount will be initially released to the State Government of Jammu & Kashmir to be disbursed to eligible families through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT).  In the aftermath of Indian partition in 1947, thousands of families from Pakistan occupied areas of Jammu & Kashmir migrated to the Jammu & Kashmir. Later, during Indo-Pak Wars of 1965 and 1971, a large number of families were displaced from Chhamb Niabat area of Jammu & Kashmir.  Consequently, from time to time, series of relief and rehabilitation packages have been extended by the Union Government and Jammu & Kashmir government to lessen the hardship of displaced persons from PoJK and Chhamb areas. In January 2015, the Modi government approved certain concessions for the refugees from West Pakistan settled in Jammu & Kashmir after considering the problems being faced by them. The concessions included special recruitment drives for induction into paramilitary forces, equal employment opportunities in the state, admission for the children of refugees in Kendriya Vidyalayas, among others. QUICK DIGEST

In a historic first, Kerala’s Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple decided to ease the dress norms for women devotees, allowing them to wear salwar kameez and churidar while offering their prayers at the shrine. This decision was taken after a woman advocate; Riya Raje issued a petition at the Kerala High Court demanding for women to be allowed to wear salwar kameez inside the temple premises, calling the existing rule discriminatory. Responding to her petition, the High Court had given the temple’s Executive officer, K N Sateesh 30 days to decide on the matter. Highlights : The decision was made official by Sateesh on 29 November 2016. It will come into effective within a few days.   This is not the first instance of someone raising a voice against the temple’s conservative rules. Sateesh revealed that they have previously received several mails and mass petitions from women devotees across the country and also from IAS officers and doctors. The mails and petitions were sent seeking permission for women to wear salwar kameez or churidar inside the temple, pointing out that it too falls under the ‘traditional Indian attire’ category. The much-criticised dress code of the Temple required men to wear dhoti while entering the temple and women to wear a saree, dhoti or Pavada and blouse. This caused a lot of inconvenience to thousands of women devotees who came to the temple to offer their prayers, as some were forced to stay out and others had to wrap a dhoti over their salwar in order to gain entry. While salwar suits have been allowed, modern outfits like jeans, sleeveless tops and dresses will still not be permitted.   The announcement hasn’t gone down well with the Temple’s senior priest, Nedumpilli Tharanalloor Parameshwaran Namboodiripad, who has voiced a strong opposition to the decision, saying it is against the age-old traditions of the shrine. The century-old structure is located in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala.  Featuring high walls and a 16th-century Gopuram, the temple has been built in Dravidian style.  The principal god in the temple is Vishnu, who is enshrined in the ‘Anantha Shayanam’ posture (in eternal yogic sleep on the serpent). Only those who profess Hindu faith are permitted to enter the temple.  A review of the temple’s six unopened vaults in 2010 led to the revealing of rare jewels, solid gold idols studded with precious stones, kilos of gold jewelry, crowns, coins bars and a heavily studded pure golden throne. This makes the temple one of the wealthiest places of worship in the world.

Pankaj Advani won the  bronze medal at the IBSF World Snooker Championship. Fifteen-time world champion Pankaj Advani suffered a 2-7 loss in the semifinals  After a hard-fought four-hour quarterfinal that went down to the wire, defending champion Advani had to return to the table for the crucial semifinal without much of a break. The Indian is the only player in the world to compete at the world championship level in both sports and be successful in all the formats of both billiards and snooker. Pankaj Arjan Advani  : Pankaj Arjan Advani  is an Indian professional player of English billiards and former professional snooker player. In recognition of his achievements, the Government of India has bestowed several awards upon Advani - Arjuna Award in 2004, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2006, and Padma Shri in 2009. He has achieved a hat-trick of hat-tricks in English billiards, holding the World, Asian, and Indian National Championship titles simultaneously, in three different years: 2005, 2008 and 2012. 

India has singed government-to-government deal with the United States (US) to buy 145 M-777 Ultra-Light Howitzers worth $750 million under the Foreign Military Sales programme. The deal was signed at the two-day meeting of the 15th India-US Military Cooperation Group (MCG) held in New Delhi. This is the first defence deal signed by India for purchasing artillery guns since the Bofors scandal in 1980s. It was recently cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. M777 howitzers manufacturer BAE Systems will conclude an offset agreement estimated at about $200 million. 25 guns will come to India in a fly-away condition. Remaining 120 guns will be assembled at the proposed Assembly Integration and Test facility for the weapon system in India. BAE Systems already has selected the Mahindra group as the local offset partner. It is a bilateral forum established to progress Defence Cooperation between HQ Integrated Defence Staff (India) and US Pacific Command at strategic and operational levels. It is manufactured by BAE Systems’ Global Combat Systems division. It is smaller and lighter.  It weighs 4,100 kg and can be easily transported by helicopters. It has effective firing range of 24 km. M777 Ultra-Light Howitzers artillery guns induction will give Indian defence forces a much needed operational advantage and an access to state of art technology. These guns will be deployed in high-altitude areas in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh, bordering China.

A 1946 picture of Mahatma Gandhi with his Charkha (spinning wheel) in the foreground is among the 100 most influential images of all time, according to a compilation by Time magazine of “images that changed the world.” The Time collection includes 100 of the most iconic and history-altering images, dating from the 1820s to 2015 that have remained engrained in the human psyche from the time they were taken.  Among the pictures is the tragic photo of the lifeless body of three-year old Syrian Alan Kurdi lying face down on the shore near the coastal town of Bodrum.

Seven-year-old Hashim Mansoor from Kashmir's Bandipora district has won a gold medal at the Asian Youth Karate Championships, being held at New Delhi. He clinched the gold in the sub-junior category (below 25kg) after defeating his Sri Lankan opponent in the final. Earlier, eight-year-old Tajamul Islam had become India's first player to clinch a gold in the sub-junior category at the World Kick-boxing Championships.  Mansoor, after this win has now qualified for the World Championship, to be held next year in September.

The United Nations Department of Field Support (DFS) has launched a new strategy to maximize its peace operations' efficiency in the use of natural resources on 29 November 2016. The strategy will also help in minimizing peace operations' risk to people, societies and ecosystems. The step was taken to highlight the significance of environmental protection and management in the work of peacekeeping missions. Highlights of the strategy : The strategy's aim is to reduce overall demand through increased efficiency, increase the proportion of energy from renewable sources such as solar arrays and reduce the level of pollution. Also, the scheme aims at conserving water and reducing the level of risk to personnel, local communities and ecosystems from wastewater management practices. The six-year long strategy is in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It identifies challenges and objectives based on five pillars. These pillars are energy, water and wastewater, solid waste, wider impact and environmental management systems. It also includes key performance indicators for these areas. The first phase of the strategy will be implemented through July 2020. It will focus on improving environmental analytics to effectively monitor progress. The five pillars of the strategy will then be reviewed. Thereafter, specific targets will be set for the second phase of strategy implementation to conclude in June 2023.

Sachin Tendulkar’s autobiography “Playing it my Way” has won the Crossword Book of the Year Award (Autobiography category) The book is penned by renowned cricket historian and Tendulkar’s close friend Boria Majumdar Earlier, it also had entered the Limca Book of World Records for being the best selling adult hardback across both fiction and non-fiction categories. It also holds the record for logging up Rs. 13.51 crore in retail value terms, with its cover price being Rs. 899.

For promoting cooperation and collaboration between Arunachal Pradesh and Thailand, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Surindra Rajabhat University Regional Development Strategies (SRRURDS) Foundation of Surin Province, North East of Thailand and Mahabodhi Lord Buddha College (MLBC) in Arunachal Pradesh.  The MoU was signed yesterday in line with the development of friendly international cooperation with mutual interests in developing programmes of academic exchange and for establishing a long-term mutually beneficial association between the two institutes for fostering cordial relations between the people of Arunachal Pradesh and Thailand. As per the MoU, both the institutes agreed to carry out the activities in academic and research cooperation, cultural activities for international development in educational institutions using international journals, magazines as a stage for academic exchange.  The old routes that links Arunachal Pradesh and North East of Thailand could be re-opened for building better relationships in future, he pointed out.  

An international benchmarking study, Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) released a report on November 29, 2016 that, Singapore students are the world’s best in Mathematics and Science. The test was administered by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, a non-profit research cooperative based in Amsterdam. Published by the  International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), the study is the longest running, large scale international assessment of mathematics and science education in the world

The Union Government has decided to introduce Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) system for fertilizer subsidy payments. Under the proposed system, 100% subsidy on various fertilizer grades will be released to the manufacturers and importers on basis of actual sales made by the retailer to the beneficiaries.  Key facts Initially, the modified subsidy procedure under DBT system will be introduced on pilot basis in 16 select districts. In the second phase, the new payment system will be rolled out in all states only after its due stabilization in first phase. The proposed DBT will address the issues relating to diversion and smuggling of urea. DBT system for fertilizer subsidy is different :  The DBT in fertilizer sector being implemented is slightly different from the normal DBT implemented in LPG subsidy.  Under it, the subsidy will be released to the fertilizer companies instead of the beneficiaries, after the sale is made by the retailers to the beneficiaries. The subsidy will be released on submission of claims generated in the web-based online Integrated Fertilizer Monitoring System (iFMS) by fertilizer companies. It will reduce diversion and smuggling of fertilizers to a large extent. Thus, it will help Government to save subsidy to the some extent. The fertilizers will be available to all on ‘no denial’ basis and release fertilizer subsidy to fertilizer companies has no direct relation with landholding of the farmers.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is using drones to map disasters in north-eastern States by collecting land details and add it to data from remote sensing satellites.  In this regard, ISRO’s Shillong-based North-Eastern Space Applications Centre (NE-SAC) has tested unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to map various problems and disasters. NE-SAC has taken the initiative for design and assembling of UAVs for various applications to assess several regional problems in the northeast region.  UAVs can perform efficient surveys for disaster-prone or physically inaccessible areas. It can undertake quick damage assessment of floods, landslides and earthquakes and enable timely relief measures. These drones providing ground-based details which are generally combined with data from ISRO’s remote sensing satellites.  Recently they were used for to map the area affected by landslides along NH40, Meghalaya’s life line. It also gave the extent of damage caused to pest-infested paddy fields in Naramari village of Assam. North-Eastern Space Applications Centre (NE-SAC) :  NE-SAC is a joint initiative of Department of Space (DoS) and North Eastern Council. It was started in the year 2000. It is located at Umiam (near Shillong), Meghalaya. It aims to provide developmental support to the North Eastern region using Space technology-based communication and technology.  Its mandate is to develop high technology infrastructure support to enable NE states to adopt space technology for their development. NE-SAC provides developmental support by undertaking specific application projects using remote sensing, satellite communication, GIS and conducts space science research.

The Union Water Ministry is planning to impose restrictions on how industries, farmers and various groups can use groundwater by amending to a Bill on groundwater management.  It was announced by the Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti at a seminar organised by the Central Groundwater Board in New Delhi. Earlier in 2016, the Water Ministry had made public a draft Bill that proposed significant changes to the way groundwater will be regulated. The bill seeks to sharply regulate extracting pristine water from aquifiers which is currently the norm in much of the country. Failing to adhere it will invite stringent punishment.  It seeks to guarantee every individual a certain amount of water “for life” and protecting groundwater from undue exploitation and pollution. Industries can only use recycled water, and activities such as gardening must use treated sewage water. It also mandates the use of rainwater harvesting in residential projects. However, this new version of the Bill does not compel companies and other stakeholders to use recycled water. It only demands t users “give priority” to recycling water. Groundwater depletion is among the grave ecological threats that the country faces. It has become serious concern to use groundwater judiciously.  The groundwater is source to around 85 % of drinking water and 65% of water for irrigation. However, water being State subject in the seventh schedule of constitution has stalled previous plans to address the problems. Even existing laws give the owners of a piece of land complete right over its groundwater.  

Raj Bhawan of Himachal Pradesh has adopted the cashless system for all kind of payments. Governor Acharya Devvrat has directed Raj Bhawan’s official in Shimla to use a cashless system or cheque in all kind of payments. The direction was issued after the Prime Minister’s appeal in this regard. As per the reports, the payments of Raj Bhawan would be made online, through cheques or another mode of e-payments.  Apart from this, Governor Devvrat has also appealed students, teachers and NGO are to make common people aware about the cashless system. Possibly, Himachal Rajbhawan is the first in the country to adopt these cashless techniques so promptly. Besides, Andhra Pradesh is also planning to launch a mobile wallet with the name 'AP Purse' to help the public in the adoption of cashless payments. The plan was announced by Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu. He said that his government would be the first state in India to switch to digital transactions.

The opposition parties have won near-majority in Kuwait’s early elections by claiming 24 seats out of the total 50. Most candidates who have won from the opposition’s side belong to Islamist groups that reportedly have links with Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists. The snap polls were called by Emir Sabah al Ahmed al Sabah following a gridlock over economic policies.  Highlights : This is the fourth election since 2012. The previous ones were boycotted by the opposition parties in protest against the voting system put in place by the Emir.   The Shia minority have been reduced to six seats from nine in the previous assembly.  Safa Al Hashem is the only woman to have won a seat in the new assembly. There were 15 other women candidates in the running, all of whom lost subsequently. This is Safa’s third parliamentary victory.  One-third of the new Parliament is filled up with newer and younger members. More than half the members of the outgoing parliament failed to grab a seat in the new assembly.  The elections also saw the highest-ever voter turnout, almost 70%. This result has only increased the chances of political conflict in the state, as the opposition is much greater in strength than before and Kuwait is the only Gulf State that gives the elected parliament powers to hold ministers accountable. So, though the top-most spots in the cabinet are still occupied by the senior members of the ruling family, their position can be threatened by the large strength of the opposition.