Current Affairs 27th December 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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Actor Salman Khan on Twitter announced the launch of his app, 'BeingInTouch', on his 51st birthday 27 December 2016. The app BeingInTouch gives an access to Salman’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram posts at one place. Also, the app will have interesting videos and never seen before photos of Dabangg Khan. And if this seems less, Bollywood’s bhaijaan’s fans can rejoice as now Salman will directly address them giving them a sneak peek into his personal life.  

In an effort to reduce pollution caused by diesel buses, Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) has launched 25 bio-diesel buses in the state.  These eco-friendly buses will ply on four routes, including Tirupati and Chennai. Costing around ₹90 lakh each, bio-diesel buses eject 60-70% less emissions than diesel buses and would reportedly save the Corporation ₹80 lakh each year.

China has successfully tested the latest version of its fifth-generation stealth fighter jet J-31 (now renamed the FC-31 Gyrfalcon). The newest version of twin-engine FC-31 took to the air for the first time recently. It is considered as China’s answer to the US F-35, the world’s most technically advanced fighter. The newest FC-31 has better stealth capabilities, improved electronic equipment and a larger payload capacity than the previous version which debuted in October 2012 It is manufactured by Shenyang Aircraft Corp., a subsidiary of the Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC).  FC-31 has a maximum take-off weight of 28 metric tons, flight radius of 1,250 km, and top speed of Mach 1.8 (i.e. 1.8 times the speed of sound).  It can easily carry 8 tons of weapons, hold six missiles in its internal weapons bay, plus another six under its wings. It also has been equipped with an electro-optical targeting system and helmet-mounted display. Some analysts say the FC-31 bears a close resemblance to the US’s F-35. China by introducing this fighter jet is trying to end the West’s monopoly on the world’s most advanced warplanes especially 5th generation fighter jet. When completed, the FC-31 will become the China’s second 5th-generation fighter after the J-20, which was put on its first public performance at the Zhuhai Air Show in November 2016.

Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari inaugurated Sagarmala Development Company’s (SDC) office in New Delhi to promote port-led development in the country.  The SDC has been incorporated under the Companies Act, 2013. The Union Cabinet in July 2016 had approved formation of the SDC under the administrative control of the Union Ministry of Shipping. The main objective SDC is to identify port-led development projects under the ambitious Sagarmala programme. It will provide equity support for project Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) set up by the Ports, State, Central Ministries and funding window.  It will implement only those residual projects which cannot be funded by any other means mode. It will mainly help in structuring activities, bidding out projects for private sector participation, identifying suitable risk management measures for strategic projects across multiple States, regions and obtaining requisite approvals and clearances.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has laid the foundation stone of Char Dham highway development project or Chardham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojna in Dehradun, Uttarakhand.  The Chardham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojna is an ambitious initiative to improve connectivity to the Char Dham pilgrimage centres in the Himalayas. The project’s main objective is to develop around 900 km of national highways.  These highways will be built at an approximate cost of Rs 12,000 crore. It will allow uninterrupted access for pilgrims to the four Himalayan shrines of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri in Uttarakhand. The all-weather roads will have tunnels, bridges and fly-overs to enhance road safety and uninterrupted access. It will have proper slope stabilisation to ensure protection against landslides.  It will benefit people visiting holy shrines in Uttarakhand. It will generate additional employment for the local population and will change the economy of the State as it will give strong boost to connectivity and tourism.  

The government of Haryana has connected 100 villages in the state with Wi-Fi services. It also decided to rename all common service centres (CSC), which have been opened in urban and rural areas, and E-disha centres as ‘Atal Seva Kendras’ at district headquarters. This decision was announced by the state’s Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar during the launch of 53 new IT services concerning six departments on the occasion of ‘Good Governance Day’, which is celebrated every year to mark the birthday of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The minister also conducted a lucky draw of the digital transaction award scheme, which was. aimed at promoting cashless transactions in the state. A total of 65 people were declared winners with five winning a cash prize of Rs 10000 each, 10 winning a prize of Rs 5000 each and 50 winning a cash prize of Rs 1000 each. All were rewarded for actively using cashless transactions. Highlights : With the introduction of the new IT services, the residents of the villages would be able to access 170 e-services through the ‘Atal Seva Kendras’.  All the CSCs in rural areas would be shifted to Gram Sachivalyas so that all facilities are made available to the people under one roof. With this, facilities available at CSCs will also be made available at E-disha centres. Apart from this, the state’s Chief Minister also stated that from now on, students passing class 10 and 12 from Haryana School Education Board would be getting their certificates through digital locker. Manohar Lal Khattar also launched a set up called ‘Knowledge Warehouse’ through video conference in Gurgaon. The warehouse, which is a result of joint efforts put in by Nasscom and Hartron, aims to serve as a platform that can help promote start-ups. Initially, only 40 start-ups would be able to avail its services but later the number will be increased to 80.

Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, former Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, passed away on 27 December 2016 in Colombo. He was 83. Wickremanayake served as the Prime Minister in the Mahinda Rajapaksa Government in the year 2005. Wickremanayake earlier held the position of Prime Minister from August 2000 to December 2001, succeeding the then Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike. Ratnasiri Wickremanayake : Ratnasiri Wickremanayake was a National List member of the Parliament of Sri Lanka.He entered politics in the year 1960 by winning the Horana seat in the March General Election as a member of the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP). He was appointed Deputy Minister of Justice in 1970. He served as the General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) in 1977. He won the Kalutara District seat in the 1994 General Election. He was then appointed as the Minister of Public Administration, Home Affairs and Plantation Industries and the Leader of the House in President Chandrika Kumaranatunge’s Cabinet.

Dinanath Bhargava, the man who designed the National Emblem, passed away on 24 December 2016 following a prolonged illness. He was 89. He is survived by his wife and two sons. He was the man who sketched and illuminated the National Emblem and extracted its motto 'Satyameva Jayate' (Truth alone triumphs) from Mundaka Upanishad in 1948 after an extensive research. Dinanath Bhargava :  Born in November 1927 at Multai in Betul district of Madhya Pradesh, Bhargava was chosen by noted painter Nandlal Bose in the group for designing the pages of the Indian Constitution’s manuscript.  His work adorned the front page of the original first copy of the Indian Constitution. Later, the country adopted it as the national emblem on 26 January 1950. He ended up making the first 30 pages of the Constitution by the end of 1948. He was also instrumental in weaving the double decker loom and designing new Chanderi saris. He started the carpet-making industry in Gwalior during the time of late Congress leader Madhav Rao Scindia.  He was also a renowned painter. His paintings were displayed in the Europe’s World Art Tour in the 1950s, when he won the gold medal.

The Department of Posts under the Union Ministry of Communications on 26 December 2016 released the special stamp on freedom fighter Gaya Prasad Katiyar. Moreover, the government also released a set of eight Commemorative Postage Stamps on 'Personalities Series: Bihar'. The postal department also launched a Commemorative Postage Stamp on Hardayal Municipal Heritage Public Library to honor it as a one of the few oldest library of the country. Gaya Prasad Katiyar : Gaya Prasad Katiyar was one of the most dedicated soldiers of India’s freedom struggle.  He was born at Jagadishpur, UP and joined Hindustan Socialist Republican Association in 1925. He got connected with Chandra Shekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh during his freedom struggle.  He participated on Lahore Conspiracy Case and was arrested from Saharanpur in 1929.  Later he was transported to Cellular jail in Andaman and again he participated on hunger strike there.He was repatriated in 1937 but again arrested and transported to cellular jail from where he was released in 1946.  

The Delhi government has decided to reduce the fares of Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and cluster buses by almost 75%, starting 1 January 2017. This move has been made in order to encourage more people to opt for public transport. Along with this, the government has also decided to make DTC bus travel completely free for students till the age of 21 years. Highlights : The government’s plan includes introducing a flat fare of Rs 5 for non-AC buses and Rs 10 for AC buses on trial basis for a month.   The new rate will be far cheaper from the current one, which stands between Rs 10-25 for AC buses and Rs 5-15 for non-AC buses. The rates of the monthly and daily bus passes have also been proposed to be brought down.  The daily bus passes, which are currently available for Rs 40 for non-AC service and Rs 50 for AC service will be brought down to Rs 20 for one month.   The monthly bus passes on the other hand, which are currently issued at a rate of Rs 800 for non-AC buses and Rs 1000 for AC buses, will be brought down to Rs 250 per month.  At present, the DTC has around 4355 buses (Red and Green) and there are about 1600 cluster buses (orange). The main aim of the plan is to encourage people to choose public transport over their personal bikes and cars and in turn help bring down vehicular pollution in the city. Though the decision has already been made, it still awaits an official go-ahead from the Cabinet, after which a formal notification will be issued. For the same, the Delhi Transport Minister Satyendar Jain has directed the transport department to submit a draft note on the decision, which will be introduced at the Cabinet meeting. The formal notice is expected to be issued by the end of this week.  

The Prime Minister laid the foundation stone of the statue of 17th century Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj on an island off the Mumbai coast in Arabia Sea.  He also performed Jal pujan for the grand memorial Shiv Smarak of Maratha king.  The statue is expected to be the world’s tallest. It will be 210 metres tall and will be constructed entirely in the sea on an oval-shaped rocky outcrop of 15.96 hectare.  The first phase of the memorial will be completed by 2019 and the entire memorial by 2021. On completion it will surpass the height of the Statue of Liberty in New York (US) and the under construction Statue of Unity of Saradar Vallabhbhai Patel in Gujarat.

Actor-turned politician Mithun Chakraborty has resigned from Rajya Sabha citing health reasons. Mr Chakraborty, whose alleged involvement in the Saradha Ponzi scam made news last year, had attended the Upper House for just three days. Derek O'Brien, senior leader of his party, the Trinamool Congress, said he had earlier informed Chief Minister and party chief Mamata Banerjee.  In April, Mr Chakraborty had sent a letter to Rajya Sabha deputy Chairman PJ Kurien, saying he would be unable to attend the parliament session due to ill health. His absence was questioned by the members of various parties, including the Samajwadi Party and the Janata Dal United. The actor was elected to the Rajya Sabha in April 2014. His term was set to expire in 2020.

Dr Barbara Jatta(54) was appointed as the first female director of Vatican Museums by Pope Francis. It will be effective from January 1, 2017 Jatta is currently working as the Deputy Director of the museums Since June 2016 With this appointments she will become the “highest-ranking female administrator in the Vatican Jatta, 54, who has been serving the museum as the Deputy Director since June 2016, is an Italian art historian and graphic arts expert, whose first tryst with Vatican dates back to 1996 when she headed the Vatican Library's departments of prints, reports catholicnews.co Vatican Museums: The Vatican Museums were founded by Pope Julius II in the 16th century.There are a total of 54 museums,1400 rooms, chapels, and galleries  

To ensure greater participation in financial inclusion in rural areas, the Karnataka Vikas Grameen Bank (KVGB) has come out with an innovative method of employing women in villages to promote and popularize cashless transaction. The bank launched a scheme named ‘Bank Sakhi’ at a programme held at Adavi Somapura village in Gadag district of Karanataka. Under the initiative, the bank wouldappoint women business correspondents called “Bank Sakhi” in select villages where this scheme would be implemented. Bank chairman S. Ravindran said that the bank has already hired 11 “Bank Sakhis” and had plans to appoint a minimum of 50 such women in different districts. A “Bank Sakhi” is someone who has been a member of a self-help group involved in conducting banking and book-keeping activities of the group. Bank Sakhi will be responsible to provide a range of financial services on behalf of the bank to her community. She will be supported by the local self-help group which provides capacity enhancement, training and financial awareness in the community. She would be paid a commission by the bank for different services.

China on December 25, 2016, passed a new law to levy environment tax on polluters, especially on heavy industries. The environment tax law was adopted by the legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC) standing committee at a meeting in Beijing. The law will be implemented on January 1, 2018. The tax rate will be 1.2 yuan ($0.17) per unit of atmospheric pollution, 1.4 yuan per unit of water pollution, 5 yuan per tonne of coal waste and 1,000 yuan per tonne of “hazardous waste”. Industrial noise polluters will be levied 350 yuan per month if they exceed limits by 1-3 decibels, 700 yuan for 4-6 decibels and 11,200 yuan per month for 16 decibels and more. Under the new law, provincial-level governments can raise the rates for air and water pollution by up to ten times after approval by the people’s congresses. Lower rates may also be applicable if emission is less than national standards. The law only targets enterprises and public institutions that discharge listed pollutants directly into the environment. However, carbon dioxide, one of the major contributors to global warming, is not included in the levying list. Punishment for any fraud has not been specified, but offenders will be held liable under the law on administration of taxation and the environmental law. The new law will reduce interference from government. Besides, it will also improve tax payers’ environmental awareness, forcing companies to upgrade technology and shift to cleaner production.  

The State Cabinet of Odisha on December 24 named the Mega Lift Irrigation Scheme worth Rs. 7,600 crore, after the noted freedom fighter and social reformer Parbati Giri as a mark of respect for her immense contribution to the freedom movement and service to the poor and needy. The scheme was named after Parbati Giri by the Chief Minister of state, Naveen Patnaik at a cabinet meeting. The State Cabinet has approved tender for 13 mega lift irrigation schemes with a total command area of 19,400 hectares in Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar districts. The Cabinet meeting approved the lowest bid of Rs. 517.77 crore by GVPR Engineers Limited. 102 mega lift irrigation schemes in eight clusters are now under construction since August, 2013 in a phased manner in 17 districts. The state has planned to take up 174 schemes in 15 clusters in 22 districts to create an additional irrigation potential of 2,14,270 hectares. Parbati Giri : Parbati Giri was one of the freedom fighters who devoted her life for the welfare of orphans and the downtrodden for which she is fondly remembered as Mother Teresa of Odisha. Born in Bargarh district, Giri established herself as a symbol of women empowerment by her strong commitment and determination. From the age of 11 as a little girl, she was inspired to join the freedom movement. Giri joined Quit India Movement in 1942 and had led many rallies against the British Rule.  

The state government of Assam on December 25 launched an ambitious health insurance scheme ‘Atal-Amrit Abhiyan’ which will provide coverage against several critical illnesses. The scheme was launched by Assam’ Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal at a functionin Guwahati, to mark the 92nd birthday of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The Health Assurance Scheme initiatives will offer coverage against 437 illnesses in six disease groups, namely, cardiovascular, cancer, kidney, neo-natal, neurological conditions and burns. Atal-Amrit Abhiyan is an attempt of the government to make quality health care affordable to every individual member of a family. Both Below Poverty Line (BPL) and Above Poverty Line (APL) families, with annual income below Rs 5 lakh, are eligible for the scheme. The total financial outlay of the scheme is around Rs 200 crore and would entitle the poor to receive coverage of Rs. 2 Lakh annually. In order to avail the facilities, a laminated health card with unique identification number will be given to all the members of an eligible family and the assurance will be cashless at the point of delivery. A separate society will also be set up under the Department of Health and Family Welfare which will be responsible for administration of the scheme.

The Centre released Rs 1,982 crore for the multipurpose Polavaram irrigation project in Andhra Pradesh on December 26, 2016. The funding is being done through NABARD, which has now started funding irrigation projects. NABARD sanctioned the long term irrigation fund under Prime Minister Krishi Sinchayee Yojana. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley handed over the cheque to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu at a function in New Delhi.  Mr Jaitley also handed over cheques for Rs 463 crore rupees to Gujarat and Rs 756 crore rupees to Maharashtra for state projects. National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) on December 26 revealed that so far it has sanctioned loans worth Rs 35,322 crore under Long Term Irrigation Fund (LTIF) LITF initiative would ensure doubling of farmers’ income by 2022 under the ambitious Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY).

Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Yadav has inaugurated power projects worth over Rs52,000 crore across the state.  Along with projects covering transmission and distribution of electricity, three thermal power plants with the total capacity of 33,000 MW were also inaugurated.  This is a major thrust to provide 24-hour electricity to all in the state.

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu called the US Ambassador Daniel Shapiro to Israel for a special meeting over the UN’s resolution condemning Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory. Shapiro was summoned on 25 December 2016. Shapiro’s summon came hours after 14 envoys of other United Nations  Security Council (UNSC) member states were asked to appear before the Israel foreign ministry. Shapiro was called in to discuss United States’ decision to abstain from voting, which eventually led to the adoption of the resolution. It demands an immediate end to all Israeli settlement building activities on the occupied Palestinian territory including East Jerusalem.It was initially drafted by Egypt but was withdrawn later, as the country was unsure of its chances of passing, especially after US President-Elect Donald Trump asked the current US administration to veto it. However, it was re-introduced to the UNSC by member states such as Malaysia, New Zealand, Venezuela and Senegal on 23 December 2016. In spite of the intense efforts put in by Israeli Prime Minister and Donald Trump to ensure the United States blocks the resolution, the nation abstained from voting.  The resolution was eventually adopted with 14 out of 15 UNSC members voting in favour.  This is the first resolution that has been adopted by the UNSC on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 1979.  Israel’s Prime Minister called the resolution shameful and rejected it out rightly. Apart from this, Netanyahu has also instructed Israel’s ambassadors to New Zealand and Senegal to return immediately to Israel for consultations in response to the newly passed resolution. Netanyahu also added that Jerusalem will also be re-assessing its ties with the United States. He is hoping that the decision would be reversed once Trump takes over. US’s decision to sit out from the landmark vote can be largely credited to the outgoing Obama administration.

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