Today Current Affairs 31st December 2016

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Most Significant India Events in 2016 The 2016 Pathankot attack was a terrorist attack committed on 2 January 2016 . The 2016 Assembly polls in West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry ended on May 19 with the vote counting.  Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched 20 satellites through a single rocket, breaking its 2008 record of launching 10 satellites in a single mission.  An Indian Air Force AN-32 transport plane carrying 29 people, mostly military personnel disappeared while flying over the Bay of Bengal. While female wrestler Sakshi Malik delivered India its first medal of the 2016 Rio Games on August 18, PV Sindhu became India’s first woman to win an Olympics silver medal .Mariyappan Thangavelu won gold medal at 2016 Summer Paralympic games India decided to boycott Pakistan and cancelled Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Islamabad for Saarc Summit. The Indian Army conducted surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the Line of Control in a fitting response to Pakistan for the Uri attacks conducted by the country.  Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes to check corruption.  Fourteen coaches of the Indore-Patna Express had derailed at Pukhrayan in Kanpur Dehat district of Uttar Pradesh, killing at least 150 people and injured over 200.  Chief minister of Tamil Nadu, leader to many Tamils and 'Amma' to millions, J Jayalalithaa died after undergoing treatment at Apollo Hospitals in Chennai for 75 days. She was 68.  Tropical cyclone Vardah made landfall in Chennai that killed at least 7 people. Vardah moved ashore just north of Chennai as the equivalent of a Category 1 tropical cyclone.    Creating history, the first batch of three female pilots — Avani Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh were inducted in Indian Air Force fighter squadron. 2016 Top 5 financial events in India : The year 2016 is finally coming to its end with leaving a long list of financial happenings that brought tremors in the nation from time to time. Whether it was willful defaulter business tycoon Vijay Mallya’s escape to the UK, ousting of Cyrus Mistry from Tata Sons, politics over Goods and Services Tax, appointment of new RBI Governor, impact of Brexit or demonetisation of two high-value currencies announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the second last month of the year Demonetisation : The November 8 evening brought goose bumps to all the Indians when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes after that midnight. Reliance Jio’s ‘4G-only’ network launch : Mukesh Ambani brought big smiles on the faces of netizens by launching its 4G network-Reliance Jio Income declaration scheme : The scheme was announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Budget 2016 with an aim to fish out black money from the Indian economy. Most Significant World Events in 2016 :  Colombia, FARC rebels strike new peace deal South Korean lawmakers vote to impeach President Park Geun As Aleppo Falls, Iran Rises  Turkey coup attempt Rodrigo Duterte Becomes President of the Philippines Pat Toomey's shifting stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership North Korea Conducts Missile and Nuclear Tests Britain Votes to Leave the European Union Russia Interferes in the U.S. Presidential Election Donald Trump Wins the U.S. Presidency Other Information :  In January, Iran severed diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia after the Saudis executed Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.  In February, Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill met in Cuba, the first time the heads of the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches sat down together in nearly 1,000 years. South Africa, Gambia, and Burundi, announced that they intend to withdraw from the International Criminal Court. Terrorists launched major attacks in Nice, Belgium, Pakistan, and Orlando. South Sudan’s civil war intensified. The release of the Panama Papers in  April exposed how some wealthy people hide their money offshore. The Zika virus emerged as a major global health threat.  In October, Iraqi forces, aided by Kurdish troops and guided by U.S. Special Forces, launched an offensive to reclaim Mosul.  Matteo Renzi, who burst onto the political scene back in 2014 as Italy’s youngest prime minister, resigned in December after voters decisively rejected his plan to revamp Italy’s political

General Bipin Rawat on 31 December 2016 has taken charge as the new Chief of Army Staff.  General Rawat has tremendous hands on experience of serving in combat areas, and at various functional levels in the Indian Army over the last three decades.  He has handled various operational responsibilities in many areas, including along the LoC with Pakistan, the LAC with China, and in the North-East.   

In Tamil Nadu, V K Sasikala has taken charge as  the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) general secretary.  She is the sixth person and the second woman to hold the post.  Sasikala Natarajan is a close confidante of Jayalalithaa, the late Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.  AIADMK : AIADMK is an Indian political party in the states of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. It is currently in power in Tamil Nadu and is the third largest party in the Indian Parliament. It is a Dravidian party and was founded by M. G. Ramachandran (popularly known as MGR) on 17 October 1972 as a breakaway faction of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). From 1989 to 2016, AIADMK was led by Late J. Jayalalithaa, who served as the Ex. Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu on several occasions.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has extended the period of enhanced Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPI) limit of Rs 20,000 as part of efforts to promote digital payments.  The limit has been extended till the completion of review of the PPI guidelines.  However, the balance in such PPIs cannot exceed Rs 20,000 at any point of time and the merchants can transfer funds from such PPIs to their own linked bank accounts up to Rs 50,000 per month, without any limit per transaction. PPIs are methods that facilitate purchase of goods and services against the value stored on such prepaid instruments.  These instruments can be issued as online wallets, mobile accounts, mobile wallets, smart cards, magnetic stripe cards, internet accounts, paper vouchers and any such instruments used to access the prepaid amount.  The value stored on such instruments represents the value paid for by the holder, by debit, by cash to a bank account or by credit card.At present, 47 non-bank entities and 45 banks are operating payment systems for PPI.  

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has extended the last date for availing the Direct Tax Dispute Resolution Scheme to January 31, 2017 from the earlier deadline of December 31, 2016. This extension aims to give companies one more month to accept its offer to settle retro tax disputes with Government. It comes against the backdrop of tepid response from companies to the scheme. Direct Tax Dispute Resolution Scheme :  The scheme was announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the 2016-17 Budget and came into force on June 1, 2016. It provides for waiving interest and penalties if the principal amount involved in retrospective tax cases is paid. It aims at releasing about Rs. 5.16 lakh crore, which is locked in about 2.6 lakh pending direct tax cases.  Under it, a disputed tax amount of up to Rs 10 lakh and the penalty will be forgone. However, in cases where the disputed tax amount is above Rs 10 lakh, a penalty of 25% will be levied. It waives of the interest and penalty for retrospective tax cases only if the company in question withdraws all appeals against the government at all judicial forums.  Through the scheme, the government hopes to settle major retrospective tax cases facing Cairn Energy of UK and Vodafone Group. It also expects a third of the other tax disputes to be settled.  

The Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) has delivered ICGS AYUSH, the 20th Fast Patrol Vessel (FPV) to the Indian Coast Guard.  With this, CSL has completed construction of 20 FPVs for the Indian Coast Guard. ICGS Ayush will be operated from the Coast Guard Station at Krishnapatanam.  It is last in the series (CSL Yard No BY 520) and was delivered three months ahead of schedule.Cochin Shipyard Limited was awarded the contract of constructing 20 FPVs in October 2010.  CSL had delivered the first vessel in September 2013 and subsequently delivered vessels at about two months interval.  CSL started delivering vessels ahead of schedule from the 13th vessel onwards. These vessels are 50 metre length and 7.6 metre beam. They are small in size compared to the large vessels that CSL had been building. The FPVs will help to secure Indian waters by patrolling within Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), coastal patrol. They will be used to carry out anti-smuggling, anti-piracy, search and rescue operations and for fisheries protection and monitoring. They will also play a secondary role of providing a communication link and escort coastal convoys in times of hostilities and war.

India and Singapore have signed a Third Protocol to amend DTAA (Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement) for the avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income. It was signed in line with India’s treaty policy to prevent double non-taxation, curb revenue loss and check the menace of black money through automatic exchange of information. The Third Protocol amends DTAA to provide for source based taxation of capital gains arising on transfer of shares in a company. It will come into effect from April 1, 2017 to provide for source based taxation of capital gains arising on transfer of shares in a company.  It also inserts provisions to facilitate relieving of economic double taxation in transfer pricing cases. It also enables application of domestic law and measures concerning prevention of tax avoidance or tax evasion.  This is a taxpayer friendly measure and is in line with India’s commitments under Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Action Plan to meet minimum standard of providing MAP access in transfer pricing cases.  Two year transition period from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2019 has been provided during which capital gains on shares will be taxed in source country at half of normal tax rate.

Anil Baijal took oath as new Lieutenant Governor of Delhi on 31 December 2016. His oath of the office and secrecy was administered by President Pranab Mukherjee in a ceremony held at Raj Niwas. Earlier, President Pranab Mukherjee approved his appointment. Baijal has succeeded Najeeb Jung, who earlier on 22 December resigned from the post of Delhi LG. He resigned 18 months short of his tenure. 70-year-old Baijal had served as Union Home Secretary under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. His appointment came after the sudden resignation of Najeeb Jung from the post. Anil Baijal : The former IAS officer of 1969 batch of Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram and Union Territory (AGMUT) cadre is associated with the Vivekananda International Foundation. During his tenure as Home Secretary, Kiran Bedi was removed from her post of the head of jails. Bedi was accused of breaking jail manuals.He served Delhi Development Authority (DDA) as its Vice-Chairman. He has served Indian Airlines as its Managing Director, Chief Secretary of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, CEO of Prasar Bharati, and Development Commissioner of Goa among others.In 2006, he retired as the Secretary of the Urban Development Ministry. He was also associated with the planning and implementation of Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) that was launched by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.   

Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has expelled his son, Akhilesh Yadav, who is also the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, from the party for six years. Mulayam also said that soon a new Chief Minister will be designated to will replace Akhilesh Yadav as the next Chief Minister. This expulsion was announced by Mulayam Singh Yadav at a hurriedly called press conference in Lucknow. In addition to this, Ram Gopal Yadav, who is a cousin of Mulayam Singh Yadav, the general secretary of the party, was also expelled for six years by the party chief. He was also stripped of all posts in the party. Prior to the expulsion, both, Akhilesh and Ram Gopal were served a show cause notice asking why a disciplinary action should not be taken against them. The notice was issued for releasing the list of candidates without Mulayam Yadav’s consent. Soon after his expulsion from Samajwadi Party, Ram Gopal has called an emergency meet on 1 January 2017 at the Ram Manohar Lohia University to chalk out a path for future. However, Shivpal Yadav, the younger brother of Samajwadi Party President Mulayam Singh Yadav, asked the party workers not to participate in the programme called by Ram Gopal Yadav. He said that strict action would be taken against anyone who attends the meet. Besides, Mulayam termed this call of the meeting as sheer indiscipline and said that that Ram Gopal has no power to call such meeting without the consent of national president of the party. After taking the action, Mulayam said that he had taken the action against Akhilesh and Ram Gopal to save the [arty, which was built through hard efforts.  

State Bank of India, the country’s largest bank has tied up with online classifieds portal, to conduct joint marketing activites and help rejuvenate the real estate sector.  To kick start the MOU, SBI and Magicbricks are launching the “Seal the Deal” campaign. Under Seal The Deal, SBI and Magicbricks will be hosting a mega online property show for SBI Approved Projects. This will be the first housing carnival in the industry at this scale.  Seal The Deal will showcase SBI Approved Projects on the Magicbricks platform. Builders are expected to provide great deals for the same which will in turn provide the much needed fillip to the real estate sector.  Magicbricks has been in this business since a decade. We understand this business. Seal The Deal is a mega event and SBIs strength and reach will only magnify the impact further .  

The government has sanctioned Rs 200 crore to Tirupur dyeing industry which was on the verge of closure due to severe financial crisis.  The industry was facing problems on account of their huge investments in the first ever Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) projects in the country . The government has taken cognizance of this problem of the dyeing industry in Tirupur and on recommendation of the Ministry of Textiles, Finance Ministry has sanctioned Rs 200 crore to Tamil Nadu for the 18 CETPs (Common Effluent Treatment Plants) as an interest free loan to be converted into grant based on the performance of the CETPs . The move will help ailing CETPs and 450 dyeing units to recover from the financial crisis and help them to complete the project to achieve 100 per cent capacity utilization . More than 450 dyeing units in Tirupur had collectively set up 18 ZLD enabled CETPs with a total cost of Rs 1,013 crore.  However, being the first project of its kind it had several technical challenges and cost overrun which put them into financial crisis due to outstanding Bank loans and incomplete projects . Tirupur is a hub of the textile processing and knitting industry providing employment to over 5 lakh persons and contributes 22 per cent of the total garment export of the country.   

 The State Government of Andhra Pradesh signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Indian Railways on December 30, 2016, for setting up a Joint Venture for taking up major Rail Projects in the state. The programme was attended by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu through a video link from New Delhi while Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, Union Civil Aviation Minister P Ashok Gajapati Raju and others. As a part of the occasion, the Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu laid the foundation stone for the railway project Nadikudi-Srikalahasti line via Video conference. The Nadikudi–Srikalahasti section falls under the administration of Guntur and Guntakal railway divisions of South Central Railway zone.

Bollywood veteran Rishi Kapoor's autobiography titled "Khullam Khulla" will hit the stands on January 15 next year.  The book's title has been borrowed from the 64-year-old actor's famous song "Khullam Khulla Pyar Karenge Hum Dono". The 64-year-old tweeted: “My autobiography – Rishi Kapoor-uncensored ‘Khullam Khulla’ releases 15th January. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 30 December 2016 launched an Aadhaar-based mobile app, Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM). The app is named after the main architect of Constitution of India, Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar. The app BHIM will facilitate digital cash transactions with a thumbprint after the bank account is linked with Aadhaar gateway. It was launched at Digi Dhan Mela at Talkatora stadium in New Delhi. While addressing Digi Dhan Mela PM Modi said, the power of technology will help in empowering and uplifting the poor, which was the mantra of Dr Ambedkar. He also said that once an illiterate was associated with the thumb but with the launch of this app the thumb has turned up to be an identity of people as well as the bank. The Prime Minister also said that the government is working to empower BHIM and its security is being worked on. Apart from this, the Prime Minister who on this occasion also felicitated winners of Lucky Grahak Yojana had urged citizens to adopt digital currency from the New Year that is January 2017. The app that will allow people to go digital in terms of payment was the need of this hour, at least when the whole country is feeling the heat of demonetisation of India’s biggest banknotes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000. This Aadhaar-based mobile payment application will allow people to make digital payments directly from their bank accounts.

The 27th meeting of the Southern Zonal Council held was held on 28 December 2016 in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. The meeting was chaired by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. The Southern Zonal Council consists of Kerala, Karnataka, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry (UT) and Andhra Pradesh. Highlights of the meeting : In the meeting, several important issues were discussed. The council resolved 16 out of 22 items on agenda. The Council assessed the progress of implementation of various recommendations made in last meeting relating to Extension of High Speed Rail Corridor between Thiruvananthapuram up to Mangalore and Udupi. They also discussed on Peninsular Region Industrial Development Corridor, issues of fishermen, introduction of peninsular tourism trains in zone and Amendments to New Road Transport & Road Safety Bill. The council took up issues related to uniformity in allocation of funds for scholarships in proportion of population of SC/ST for all courses, revision of ceiling on profession tax by Union Government, prevention of communicable diseases, Naxalism, promotion of oilseeds and oil palm cultivation and development of Puducherry Airport.  Zonal Councils : Zonal Councils are advisory councils.These councils are made up of the states of India. They have been grouped into six zones to foster cooperation among them. Five Zonal Councils were set up under Part-III of the States Reorganisation Act, 1956. The North Eastern States' special problems are addressed by another statutory body known as The North Eastern Council. It was created by the North Eastern Council Act, 1971.

Social-democrat Sorin Grindeanu was on  named as the Prime Minister of Romania. Romania's President Klaus Iohannis signed the official decree naming Grindeanu as the new Prime Minister. By doing so, Iohannis turned down the appointment of Sevil Shhaideh, an economist who could have become the first female Muslim PM of Romania. He will now face a confidence vote in the Romanian Parliament on his programme and cabinet nominees. Once his appointment is approved, he will be given 10 days to name the government ministers. Sorin Grindeanu : Grindeanu is a member of the Social Democratic Party that won the December 2016 elections. He is also the Chairman of the Timis county council.  Grindeanu is seen in Romania as a disciplined soldier within the Social Democratic Party ranks and had joined the party when he was very young to prove his leftist convictions. He graduated from the Faculty of Mathematics of Timisoara West University in 1997.  He also served as Minister of Telecommunications and Information Society in Victor Ponta's cabinet. The appointment of Sorin Grindeanu as the Prime Minister will now put an end to a political crisis that was sparked by the Iohannis's rejection of Sevil Shhaideh as the Prime Minister. The president offered no reasons for his rejection of Shhaideh.  However, there was speculation that it was due to her Syrian husband's background. He worked in the Syrian Agriculture Ministry for 20 years before emigrating to Romania in 2011. Shhaideh's name was proposed by the Social Democratic Party after its thumping poll victory on in December 2016 elections when it won 45 percent of the vote that was enough to form a majority coalition with its partners The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE).