Top 15 Current Affairs 15th December 2016

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15 December 2016

Two-time academy award winner AR Rahman is in the Oscar race again for his work in the American biographical film ‘Pele: Birth of a Legend’. The film directed and written by Jeff and Michael Zimbalist is based on the early life of the legendary Brazilian footballer Pele. The film’s score is entirely composed by the Indian music maestro Rahman. According to the initial list of Oscar nominations released by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the singer is in contention for the Academy Award nomination in two categories- Best Original Score and Original Song category. The list was released on the body’s official website on 13 December 2016. While there are 145 original scores competing to win a nomination spot in the Best Original Score Category, the initial list of nominations in the Original Song category comprises 91 songs. Rahman’s acclaimed number from the film, Ginga, is among the 91 songs. The song was initially shot as a promotional track and wasn’t supposed to be a part of the screenplay, but since Rahman used the word ‘Ginga’, which is a style of playing football that Pele had mastered, it got included gradually. If selected, Rahman stands the chance of winning double awards once again. His last double Oscar win was for his music in Slumdog Millionaire in the year 2009. The movie’s title track ‘Jai Ho’ had picked up the Oscar for Best Original Score. The final nominations for the upcoming 89th annual Academy Awards will be announced on 24 January 2017, much ahead of the actual presentation, which is scheduled to take place on 26 February 2017 at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Centre in Hollywood.

15 December 2016

The Union Cabinet has approved MoU signed between ISRO and United States Geological Survey (USGS) for Cooperation in t exchange and use of US Land Remote Sensing Satellite Data.  This MoU signed in July 2016 will enable ISRO to receive USGS’s Landsat-7 and 8 in India. It will also allow USGS to receive ISRO’s Resourcesat-2 (AWiFS and LISS III) data of US region. ISRO is actively pursuing civilian space cooperation with many US organisations including National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), United States Geological Survey (USGS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for its interest.  ISRO had received data from Landsat series of satellites operated by USGS during 1984 to 2001 through its ground station at Shadnagar.  The data received from Landsat series of satellites was used by Indian scientists during the inception of Indian remote sensing programme. Recently in February 2013, USGS has launched Landsat -8 satellite. ISRO expressed interest in direct reception of Landsat-8 data in India, while USGS expressed interest in obtaining data from ISRO’s RESOURCESAT-2 satellite.

15 December 2016

The Union Cabinet approved India’s approach to Climate Change Negotiations at the 22 Conference of Parties (COP) to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Marrakesh, Morocco in November 2016.  The approval aims to safeguard interest of poor and vulnerable groups by laying stress on adaptation, damage and loss while protecting the development space. Growth and development of a country are linked with Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. The development space for India and developing countries needs to be preserved while combating the ill-effects of climate change.  It seeks to address the adaptation needs of the country to combat the ill-effects of climate change and also enables the achievement of developmental goal. The approach incorporates the interest of all strata of society in the country. India in the 22 COP to UNFCCC had participated constructively to ensure that actions are based on the principles of equity and climate justice. India in along with other developing countries was able to ensure that climate actions are based on the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) and climate justice.

15 December 2016

The Union Cabinet has approved MoU between Ministry of Rural Development and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to improve effectiveness of rural development programmes in country.  The Inter-Governmental MoU on Joint Technical and South-South Cooperation will provide for collaboration on activities of common interest to support an integrated approach to rural poverty reduction through activities. These activities will aim to promote economic empowerment of rural women, access of rural poor to natural resources. The MoU aims to improve effectiveness of rural development programmes in India and facilitate knowledge sharing by exchange of visits and dialogue for knowledge and experience sharing. It will facilitate South-South cooperation mechanisms around Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM)’s experience.  It will strengthen vertical upscaling of livelihoods of rural populations supported by DAY-NRLM, develop inclusive and sustainable value chains for key crops and agro-industrial products. It will also facilitate employment diversification, skills development for rural youth, strengthen social protection, risk management mechanisms.  It will also provide collaboration to support an integrated approach to rural poverty reduction through activities aimed to promote economic empowerment of rural women, access of rural poor to natural resources and their sustainable use and social protection.

15 December 2016

Union Cabinet has approved signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Kyrgyzstan on cooperation in the field of agriculture and food related industry. The agreement was proposed by the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. Highlights of the agreement : It covers various activities in the field of agriculture including exchange of information, animal breeding, Avian Influenza and Food & Mouth Disease (FMD), veterinary medicine, plant growing, production and certification of seed and information technology on efficient use of food processing. It provides for cooperation in the field of protection of plant variety rights, agricultural research & education, food safety, agricultural, food trade and horticulture, aquaculture and fisheries, etc.  It provides for setting up of a Joint Working Group of representatives from both the countries which will prepare plans of cooperation and will provide solutions to the problems arising during the implementation of this MoU.  The agreement will enter into force on the date of its signing and it will remain in force for five years. The time duration of the agreement can also be automatically extended for a subsequent period of five years unless and until any of the side gives written notice to terminate the agreement at least six months before its expiration.

15 December 2016

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was placed at 9th position among 74 of the world’s most powerful people list released by the Forbes Magazine. The list gives the annual ranking of the World’s Most Powerful People on the basis of their financial resources, scope and use of power and the number of people they impact. 2016 edition of the list was topped by Russian President Vladimir Putin. This is for fourth consecutive year Putin has topped the list. The first billionaire President of the United States was ranked second in the list. In the 2015 edition of the list he was placed 72. Outgoing US President Barack Obama dropped from 2 to 48. German Chancellor and backbone of the European Union Angela Merkel was ranked 3rd. She continues her reign as the most powerful woman on the planet for consecutive 11 years. New names in list: Theresa May (#13), Travis Kalanick (#64), Bob Iger (#67), Mike Pence (#69); Rodrigo Duterte (#70), Sheldon Adelson (#72), Antonio Guterres (#36) and Recep Erdogan (#56). Other Indian’s in the list: Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani (#38), Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (#51).

15 December 2016

The agreement was signed by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parilla and EU Foreign Affairs Chief Federica Mogherini. Significance  :  It seeks to normalise ties between the 28-nation European Union and Cuba. Under its policy since 1996, the EU declined to continue ties with Cuba due to its poor record on human rights front.  The agreement facilitates EU’s continuous support for the economic and political modernization efforts in Cuba. It also enables greater cooperation between the two entities to face common challenges such as terrorism, climate change, WTO trade negotiations including the Doha Development Agenda, etc.

15 December 2016

Pulkit Trivedi was appointed as Industry Director of Facebook India for e-commerce, retail, travel and financial services verticals. Trivedi will lead in building and maintaining strategic relationships with clients in India. Pulkit Trivedi : Recently, Pulkit held the position of Head of Industry and e-commerce at Google India. He has over 18 years of extensive industry experience covering sales, business development and partnerships in companies such as Google, Intel, Microsoft IBM and HCL. He had been in Google since April 2012 and was responsible for driving a large business for Google India. His first big break came in 2003 at IBM where he was given charge of a multi-million-dollar project.He also taught Consumer Behaviour at IIT Roorkee for four years. He is an MBA from BITS Mesra and was featured in the Hottest Young Business Leaders under 40 in India by Business Today in 2015.

15 December 2016

Punjab Chief Electoral Officer VK Singh has announced that the State electoral machinery has formulated a special action plan to contain the drug menace during the upcoming State Legislative Assembly elections. The elections are expected to be held in early 2017 for 117 assembly segments. The plan will be prepared by the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) with the help of state and national agencies. The focus of the plan is to stop the use of drugs to influence the voters during elections. For its effective implementation, coordinating and monitoring committees will be set up at the district level. These committees will be headed by the Deputy Commissioners of the respective district. A Senior Superintendent of Police officer, a representative from Narcotic Control Bureau, a civil surgeon and representatives from the direct and indirect tax agencies will be the members of the committee. The committee will follow a two-pronged strategy viz., monitoring of law enforcement processes and intensive public awareness campaigns. The committee will be given powers to raise any issue related to implementation and coordination with higher-level committees and the election authority. What are the causes for Punjab drug problem? The distress in the agrarian sector coupled with growing unemployment and lack of alternative jobs for the youth pushing them towards consumption of alcohol and use of drugs. Nexus between the politicians, businessmen and bureaucrats is greatly contributing to the problem. Its proximity to Afghanistan which produces around 90 percent of the world’s opium is also an important reason for the spread of drug menace in the state.

15 December 2016

The Punjab Government has launched country’s first amphibious bus project at the Harike wetland near Amritsar. The project was launched nearly two years after it was announced. The water bus, Punjab Harike Water Cruise, will enter the Harike Pattan wetland after transversing on-road and off-road terrains. The project has cost the state government over Rs 11 crore. This amphibious bus project was launched by Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal. After launching the project, Badal took the inaugural ride of the bus with officials and media on Satluj-Beas confluence. He informed that this amphibious bus can travel on land as well as water. Details of the Amphibious Bus : These amphibious busses will be run by the Punjab Tourism department. IT has a seating capacity of 34 people and is equipped with life jackets for everyone. At present, the route of the bus includes a 13-kilometer ride from Amritsar to the Harike wetlands, which the bus is expected to traverse over 45 minutes. It will then traverse 4km on water. It seems that these amphibious buses, dual mode of transport i.e. water and land, will help in boosting tourism sector of the state. Harike wetland :  Also known as Hari-ke-Pattan, Harike wetland is the largest wetland in north India It is a house of Harike Lake. The lake and wetlands were formed in 1953 by constructing head works across the Sutlej River. These head works are located on the downstream of the confluence of Beas and Sutlej rivers.It is located along the border of Tarn Taran Sahib and Firozpur districts Due to its rich biodiversity and vast concentration of migratory fauna of waterfowls including a number of globally threatened species, it was as a wetland by the Ramsar Convention in 1990. It is one of the Ramsar sites in India for conservation, development and preservation of the ecosystem.  

15 December 2016

India and Indonesia has released a joint statement in New Delhi. The statement was released after extensive talks between the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the President of Indonesia Joko Widodo. Joko Widodo is on a two-day visit to India on the invitation of Narendra Modi. This is the first bilateral visit to India by the Indonesian President. Strategic Engagement: Both the leaders agreed to hold annual summit meetings, including on the margins of multilateral events. They also welcomed the submission of a Vision Document 2025 by the India-Indonesia Eminent Persons Group (EPG).  The group had begun their work in early 2016 to suggest ways and means to deepen the strategic engagement up to 2025 and beyond.  Defence and Security Cooperation: They directed the two Defence Ministers to explore collaboration between defence industries for the joint production of equipment including capacity building cooperation. The Leaders highlighted the importance of the maritime domain to their respective countries, the surrounding regions, and the world.  Comprehensive Economic Partnership: The Indian Prime Minister briefed the visiting President about the business opportunities provided by the initiatives such as Make in India, Digital India, Skill India, Smart City, Swachh Bharat and Start-Up India.  President Widodo welcomed Prime Minister Modi’s initiatives in the area of renewable energy, particularly the establishment of the International Solar Alliance. They welcomed the signing of the MoU between the Indonesian National Standardization Agency (BSN) and Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) on Standardization Cooperation. Cultural and People-to-People Links: Both sides agreed to enhance cooperation on youth affairs and sports and in this regard welcomed the signing of an MOU on Cooperation in Youth Affairs and Sports. Cooperation in Responding to Common Challenges: The two leaders agreed to cooperate on common challenges such as terrorism, the threat to freedom of navigation, an early conclusion of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations, UNSC reforms, etc.  

15 December 2016

The seventh edition of India, Maldives bilateral EKUVERIN Exercise 2016 began at Kadhdhoo, Laamu Atoll, Maldives. The aim of 14 day platoon level joint military exercise is to conduct military training between armies of both countries with emphasis on amphibious & counter insurgency, counter terrorism operations.  In this edition of exercise, Indian contingent is represented by BIHAR Regiment and a similar contingent strength of the Maldivian National Defence Force.  It will cover varied military training activities in order to enhance interoperability between the two defence forces. It will conclude with tactical exercises. The sixth edition of the exercise was held in India at Pangode Military Station in Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala.  

15 December 2016

Italy’s Foreign Affairs Minister Paolo Gentiloni was invited by President Sergio Mattarella to form the new government on 11 December 2016. The decision comes in the wake of Matteo Renzi’s resignation following a referendum defeat in the Parliament. Renzi, whose term had almost neared three years, took the decision to resign on 4 December 2016 after voters rejected the constitutional reforms proposed by him. Gentiloni, a close aid of the outgoing PM, will now have to put together his own new centre-left team before the parliamentary confidence vote, which is due on 14 December 2016. He was chosen after the opposition turned down the possibility of a national unity government and the President rejected opposition’s demand for an immediate election. It is vital that Gentiloni succeeds in assembling a government, as Italy has a lot of issues that need immediate attention including international, economic and social issues. The state of the country’s banking sector is also dwindling and instant action is also required to assist the ongoing relief efforts following a series of deadly earthquakes that shook the nation in August and October.  Gentiloni : Prior to entering politics, Gentiloni had made a career in journalism.  It was while serving as the director of an ecologist newspaper that he met Francesco Rutelli, former mayor of Rome and became his close aid.  His official career in politics started with his election as a Member of Parliament in 2001.  He was elected as the Minister for Communications in 2006 under the Romano Prodi Government. His true breakthrough came, when Matteo Renzi appointed him as the Foreign Affairs minister in 2014 despite the fact that he lacked the international experience required for the post.  If elected, he will become Italy’s fifth premier since 2011.  Though next general elections are due only in 2018, chances of Gentiloni surviving in the office till then are very low, as many major opposition parties are demanding early elections as soon as the new electoral law is approved by the Parliament. In fact, one Italian party Five Star Movement has stated that it would boycott the upcoming confidence vote.  

15 December 2016

Nobel Peace Laureate Jose Ramos-Horta strongly urged for peace in Jammu and Kashmir. He made this appeal on 11 December 2016 in New Delhi on the sidelines of a child slavery abolition programme of a non-governmental organisation (NGO). Dialogue is the only viable solution to resolve the decades-long conflict between India and Pakistan.  An impartial military is necessary to achieve tension-free atmosphere in the region. Towards this end, the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) will play a key role. The Government should focus on priority issues in the region and gradually move towards long-pending issues.  An Early solution to the J&K problem is of utmost importance for the South Asia region because its non-resolution may lead to terrorism and extremism. As the Globalisation process makes the borders irrelevant, peaceful resolution of the dispute is necessary for regional development. Jose Ramos-Horta : Jose Ramos-Horta is the UN Special Representative and Head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) since January 2013.He won the Nobel peace prize in 1996 for his role in resolving the violence in East Timor. He shared the honour with Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, who is an East Timorese Roman Catholic bishop.Ramos-Horta is the second president of the Democratic Republic of East Timor.  He succeeded Xana Gusmao for a period of 5 years between 2007 and 2012.Prior to this elevation, he was the Prime Minister of the country for about one year.He founded the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (FRETILIN). FRETILIN played a key role in the resistance movement for over two decades. Ramos-Horta is better known across the world for his role as the exiled spokesperson for the country’s independence movement. He resigned from the FRETILIN in 1998 and became an independent politician.  

15 December 2016

US Secretary of State John Kerry was on honoured as the Officer of the Legion of Honour, the highest French civilian distinction for his contribution in peace effort. Kerry received the award from the French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault following the high level talks on Syria’s war by both the sides. Kerry has visited France countless times as Secretary of State for high-level diplomatic meetings on Syria, Ukraine and other hotspots. French Legion of Honour : The French Legion of Honour is an order of distinction that was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in May 1802. It is the highest decoration bestowed in France and is divided into five categories- Knight, Officer, Commander, Grand Officer and Grand Cross. The highest degree of the Order of the Legion of Honour is that of Grand Master, which is held by the sitting President of the Republic. Foreign nationals, who have served France in one way or the other, are eligible to receive a distinction from the Legion of Honour. Today, there are around 93000 Legion of Honour recipients. Some of the American recipients include Generals Dwight D Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur, Admiral Michael Mullen and the United States Military Academy at West Point.  

15 December 2016

Pakistan Army has successfully test fired an enhanced version of an indigenously-designed Babur cruise missile. The missile incorporates advanced aerodynamics and avionics that can strike targets both at land and sea with high accuracy. Babur Missile  : The missile has been named after the first Moghal emperor. It is a low flying, terrain hugging cruise missile. It is part of Babur Weapon System version-2 which is an important force multiplier for Pakistan’s strategic defence. It is an enhanced version of earlier missile. It carries certain stealth features and is capable of carrying various types of warheads Range: It can hit targets located at 700 km with all kinds of warheads. Thus, it brings many Indian cities within its range.  Features: It is equipped with state-of-the-art navigational technologies of Terrain Contour Matching (TERCOM) and all time Digital Scene Matching & Area Co-relation (DSMAC). It enables the missile to engage various types of targets with pinpoint accuracy even in the absence of GPS navigation.  

15 December 2016

Following shareholders’ vote during an extraordinary general meeting (EGM), Cyrus Mistry was removed as director of Tata Industries on 12 December 2016. It is the first such instance in which a besieged executive has been ousted from the board since his removal as Chairman of Tata Group. As per reports, the extraordinary general meeting was called exclusively to remove him from his office. Tata Industries is a subsidiary of Tata Sons. Several Tata companies namely Tata Motors, Tata PowerTata Steel holds equity in the company. Earlier on 24 October 2016, in a sudden and dramatic move, Cyrus Mistry was sacked as the Chairman of India’s largest conglomerate Tata Group. He was replaced by his predecessor Ratan Tata in the interim. Later, a five-member search committee was named, including Tata, to choose a successor within four months. Apart from this, the Tata Power has called an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) on the coming 26 December 2016. At present, Mistry is the Chairman of Tata Power. He joined the board of Tata Sons in 2006 and was appointed as Chairman of its Board in December 2012. Tata Industries in a statement said that with this removal as director, Mistry also ceases to be the chairman of the company.  

15 December 2016

The world’s longest tunnel, Gotthard Base Tunnel (GBT) in Switzerland was opened for regular rail services on 11 December 2016. It got a ceremonial wave off in June this year with top European leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande hopping on to experience the very first ride through the marvel. It will be carrying passengers under the Swiss Alps from Zurich to Lugano. With a length of 57 kilometres and a depth of over 2300 metres, GBT is the world’s longest and deepest tunnel. It is the first flat low-level route through the Alps Mountain and is a part of Swiss government’s New Railway Link through the Alps (NRLA) programme. It has not only outdone the 50.5 kilometre long Channel Tunnel connecting Britain and France but has also beaten Japan’s 53.9 kilometre long Seikan tunnel. It took 17 years to reach completion and its total cost amounts to around US $11.8 billion.  It comprises two single-track tunnels that connect the municipalities of Erstfeld and Bodio in Switzerland.   In comparison to earlier 180, now 260 freight trains would be able to pass through the Gotthard mountain range each day.  The ambitious project is Swiss-funded and was made possible through advanced tunnel-boring machines. The main purpose behind the construction of the tunnel was to do away with the cultural and trading barrier that the Alps posed as in Europe since centuries. Though the opening of the Gotthard road tunnel in 1980 made it possible for goods to be transported by road, fatal accidents and adverse environmental effects led the authorities to come up with the plan of building two base tunnels under the NRLA programme. While GBT is the second tunnel to be built under the programme, the first was the 34.6 kilometres long Lotschberg base tunnel, which was opened for commercial services in December 2007.  

15 December 2016

For the first time since 2001, non-OPEC countries on 10 December 2016 agreed to join the supply cuts in order to overcome the major obstacle for a global agreement to curb output. The decision was taken during a meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna. These eleven oil-producing countries, who are not members of the OPEC oil cartel, include Azerbaijan, Oman, Mexico, Sudan, South Sudan, Bahrain, Malaysia, Equatorial Guinea, Bolivia, Kazakhstan and Russia. Highlights  : The non-OPEC countries agreed to reduce their oil production by 558000 barrels a day. OPEC members also confirmed their commitment to reduce the oil supply by 1.2 million barrels a day. Together OPEC and non-OPEC countries will cut the oil production by about 1.7-1.8 million barrels a day. The agreement is designed to speed the end of the oil downturn by controlling the excess supplies and boost prices, providing some relief to resource-rich nations.It will accelerate the stabilisation in the markets. A committee was also constituted to monitor producers’ cuts that will start from 1 January 2017 for six months. It will consist of three OPEC members and two non-OPEC countries. Breakdown proposed by non-OPEC countries 1.    Russia to cut 300000 barrels a day 2.    Mexico to cut 100000 barrels a day 3.    Kazakhstan to cut 50000 barrels a day 4.    Oman to cut 45000 barrels a day 5.    Azerbaijan to cut 35000 barrels a day 6.    Malaysia to cut 35000 barrels a day 7.    Bahrain to cut 12000 barrels a day 8.    Equatorial Guinea to cut 12000 barrels a day 9.    South Sudan to cut 8000 barrels a day 10.    Brunei to cut 7000 barrels a day 11.    Bolivia to cut 4000 barrels a day 12.    Sudan to cut 4000 barrels a day OPEC : Formed in 1960, OPEC coordinates the energy policies of member countries who produce about one-third of the world's oil. Its members include Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Gabon, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Venezuela.A number of other major oil-producing nations such as the United States and Russia are not OPEC members.  

15 December 2016

New Zealand’s National party has chosen Bill English as the country’s 39th Prime Minister. He will be succeeding John Key, who announced his surprise resignation last week. English’s name was confirmed for the role during a National Party meeting, which took place early on 12 December 2016. He was formerly serving the nation as the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance (MoF). While Paul Bennett will be replacing English as the new Deputy PM, senior Cabinet minister Steven Joyce has been named as the new finance minister. Bill English : He has been a politician for 26 years. He entered politics in 1990 when he was elected to the Parliament as a National Party candidate. Prior to it, he was a farmer and a public servant with degrees in commerce and literature, He was first appointed as the Finance Minister in 1999 but he couldn’t complete even a year in office, as his party got defeated in the elections held in the same year. He replaced Jenny Shipley as the leader of the National Party in 2001. However, he was replaced by Don Brash in 2003 following the party’s worst election defeat in 2002. In November 2006, he was named deputy under John Key’s leadership and after the party’s 2008 win, he was sworn in as both Deputy PM and MoF, a role which he continued to handle until 2016.Under his leadership, the country saw a commendable growth in its annual GDP and a fall in the unemployment rate. English’s name was suggested for the role by outgoing PM John Key himself, as a result of which he won the nomination unopposed. The two other contenders, Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Corrections Minister Judith Collins, conceded defeat last week itself. In his new role, English will get to decide the date of next year’s general election. An early vote is much expected. Outgoing PM John Key, who was widely expected to win his fourth straight election next year, explained his sudden resignation by saying that he wanted to spend more time with his family and couldn’t have possibly sat through an entire fourth term.  

15 December 2016

Software giant Microsoft India has launched its first full-scale Cybersecurity Engagement Centre (CSEC) in New Delhi. It is Microsoft’s seventh Cybersecurity Centre in the world. It will function as a satellite to the its Redmond Digital Crimes Unit (DCU). Highlights : The first-of-its-kind centre in India will bring together Microsoft capabilities to foster deeper cybersecurity collaborations with public and private sector organisations. It will help to build a trusted and secure computing environment, a critical enabler for India’s digital transformation. It will provide protection across all end-points from sensors to the data centre, detection of attack using targeted signals, machine learning and behavioural monitoring. It will eventually help in closing the gap between discovery and action taken to neutralise the attack. It will enable and empower enterprises to manage modern security threats effectively. It will also expand Microsoft’s public-private partnerships in India. The centre will also enable customers tap into a pool of resources such as security specialists and technologies at Microsoft. Microsoft’s other six cyber security centres are located in Singapore, Tokyo, Beijing, Seoul, Berlin and Washington DC. Earlier it had rolled out nationwide campaign Microsoft Secure to increase awareness on cybersecurity to help organisations understand their security requirements better.  

15 December 2016

Antonio Guterres, who was the Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, was sworn-in as the UN Secretary General on 12 December 2016. He will succeed Ban Ki-moon as the ninth chief of the organisation. President of the UN General Assembly Peter Thomson administered his Oath of Office at a special plenary meeting of the 193-member General Assembly at the United Nations. After the sworn-in ceremony, Guterres, 67, also addressed the General Assembly. Addressing the UN General Assembly, the new UN Secretary-General vowed to reform the 71-year-old world body, making it decentralised and flexible to improve its ability to respond to global crises. He said the organisation is the cornerstone of multilateralism and has contributed to decades of relative peace, but the challenges are now surpassing our ability to respond. Guterres was unanimously appointed by the General Assembly as the successor to Ban, after the 15-nation Security Council had in October 2016 decided by acclamation to send his name to the Assembly for final approval. Guterres will assume his new role for a five-year tenure beginning 1 January 2017. He will serve the organisation till ending 31 December 2021. Antonio Guterres : He served as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015. He was the 10th High Commissioner for Refugees.He was elected to the Portuguese Parliament in 1976, where he served for 17 years. During his seven-year tenure as the Prime Minister of Portugal, he was involved in the international effort to resolve the crisis in East Timor. Born on 30 April 1949, Guterres spent more than 20 years in government and public service. He briefly presided over the European Council in early 2000. He also founded the Portuguese Refugee Council in 1991. He graduated from the Instituto Superior Técnico with a degree in engineering in 1971. Besides, Guterres is the first Secretary-General from Western Europe since Kurt Waldheim who served the organisation from 1972 to 1981. United Nations Secretary-General : The United Nations (UN) Secretary is the head of the UN Secretariat, which is one of the principle organs of the United Nations. He acts as de facto spokesperson and leader of the United Nations. The role of the UN Secretary-General and Secretariat is laid out by Chapter XV (Articles 97 to 101) of the United Nations Charter. The post lasts for five years and is limited to a maximum of two terms.  

15 December 2016

Indian Actress Priyanka Chopra has been appointed as United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) newest Global Goodwill Ambassador. The decision was announced by the world-renowned soccer player David Beckham and British actress Millie Bobby Brown on 12 December 2016 on the eve of UNICEF’s 70th anniversary at United Nations headquarters in New York. Also present at the grand affair were other UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors such as Orlando Bloom, Jackie Chan, Ishmael Beah, Kidjo and Femi Kuti. While accepting the esteemed honour, the actor thanked UNICEF for the experience she had gained through field trips to villages and centers across India and the work they had achieved in the country. She further pledged to become a driver of change and work towards ensuring that every child’s voice is heard and that their rights are protected and respected world over. Priyanka was previously appointed as UNICEF’S National Ambassador in India in 2010 with the responsibility of working on issues related to child rights and adolescence. She has also been associated with several other causes including that of women’s rights, environment, health and education and most importantly gender equality and gender pay gap. Her recent honour comes after her mega success internationally courtesy her American television show Quantico. She will also be making her Hollywood debut with the movie Baywatch, which also stars Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron. Besides this, her work in Bollywood has been nothing less than exemplary.  

15 December 2016

According to the recently released 2016 IHS Jane’s Defence Budgets report, India has become the world’s fourth largest defence spender.  In this edition of report published by US research firm IHS Inc, India has surpassed Russia, France, Japan and Saudi Arabia to become the world’s fourth largest defence spender.  Highlights : United States, China, and the UK remain the top three defence spender in the world. In 2016, the total global defence spending increased to $1.57 trillion. US tops with mammoth defence spending of $622 billion. China is second with defence spending of $191.75 billion