Current Affairs 7th December 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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The European Union (EU) has approved Microsoft’s USD 26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn Corporation. The Executive Arm of the European Commission stated that it was clearing the deal on the condition that, Microsoft, postmerger, will allow other professional networking sites access to programming commands for its Office applications and cloud-computing services for the next five years. The EU also said that the Microsoft must also grant computer manufacturers the option not to install the LinkedIn shortcut on desktop devices. The EU’s clearance was the final hurdle to closing the deal, following approvals in the U.S., Canada, Brazil and South Africa. Microsoft Corporation : Microsoft Corporation is an American multinational technology company.It is headquartered in Redmond, Washington. The company develops, manufactures, licenses, supports and sells computer software, consumer electronics and personal computers and services. The best known software products of the company are the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems, Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer etc. It was founded by Paul Allen and Bill Gates on 4 April 1975. LinkedIn Corporation : LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking service. It was founded on 14 December 2002 and launched on 5 May 2003. As of 2015, most of the site's revenue came from selling access to information about its users to recruiters and sales professionals. Software giant Microsoft had announced its deal with LinkedIn on 13 June 2016. As per the agreement, Microsoft will acquire LinkedIn for USD 196 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at 26.2 billion dollar, inclusive of LinkedIn’s net cash. As per the deal, LinkedIn will retain its distinct brand, culture and independence.  

Andhra Pradesh Government has launched AP Purse mobile application to promote digital transactions among the people. It was launched by Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu in Vijayawada to solve the cash crunch problem in the state following demonitisaton of high value old currency notes.  The application features 13 mobile banking and 10 mobile wallet options. Using this application people can pay their bills and carry out their cashless transactions. Besides, Government will rope agents named ‘Marpu Nestam’ to improve digital financial literacy among people.  They will be provided with incentives. Engineering students will be encouraged to train people in mobile banking transactions using several wallets. This would help the students to earn while learn. State government introduced cashless transactions at fair price shops and completed 70% of transactions using Aadhaar linkage to provide relief to people suffering from shortage of small currency.

At least 54 people are fear to be dead and several more grievously injured after an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.4 hit the coast of Aceh, a province located at the northern end of Sumatra, Indonesia. It is the same province that was worst-hit by the devastating 2004 earthquake and tsunami, which also tore apart several areas in India, Thailand, and Sri Lanka. A total of around 170,000 people were killed in Aceh alone and around 500 had become homeless at the time. The quake hit in the early hours of the morning. The initial quake was followed up by five aftershocks he district closest to the epicentre, Pidie Jaya has suffered the maximum loss. The regency is about 110 km away from Aceh’s capital city, Banda Aceh. A total of over 200 homes and shops have collapsed. Several mosques have also been severely damaged along with one school and a local hospital. Many people are feared to be trapped inside the rubble, causing frantic rescue efforts. At least 54 people are feared to be dead and 70 or more injured. Several children are reported to be among those who have lost their lives. According to Indonesia’s meteorological agency, there is no risk of a tsunami. Many people left their homes and are now reluctant to go back. Earth movers being deployed to clear rubble and rescue victims trapped beneath the wreckage. Though power is out in several parts of the region, the Aceh International Airport is functioning normally.

Indian Railways has announced that the reservation of rail tickets for senior citizens will be directly linked to Aadhaar or Unique Identification (UID) cards from 1 April 2017 onwards on a mandatory basis for availing concessions at both counter and e-tickets. This Aadhaar-based ticketing system for senior citizens will be implemented in a two-phased manner. Accordingly, from 1 January to 31 March 2017, requirement of Aadhaar verification for getting concessional tickets for senior citizens will be optional. However, from 1 April 2017, such a requirement will become mandatory. Highlights of the system : It is seen as a valuable measure designed to restructure the reservation process for people in 'Senior Citizen' category. This will put an end to fraudulent bookings and curb cases of impersonation. Passengers in the senior citizen category shall carry the original documents including Aadhaar card for the purpose of identity proof. However, there will be no change in procedure with regard to concession to senior citizens in unreserved ticketing. It will stop unauthorised agents from booking tickets in fake names and then selling these at a higher price. Procedure  : The first and foremost task is to log-in using User ID and password on the IRCTC ticketing website. Then, you need to click on 'Master List' under 'My Profile' Menu. While adding new senior citizen passenger in the Master List, one needs to provide correct and complete details like name, date of birth and gender as mentioned in the Aadhaar Card. Thereafter, you need to select Senior Citizen Concession Option as Yes/No, ID card type and provide Aadhaar number. Hence,  passenger will be then added in the Master List by just clicking on the 'Add Passenger' button.

The Supreme Court (SC) has  held that the income earned by erstwhile rulers of a princely state or by their heirs by renting out a portion of the residential palace is not taxable. Moreover, the court also smacked the Income Tax department for registering such case despite their income being exempted under Section 10(19A) of the IT Act, 1961. The ruling was made by a bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Abhay Manohar Sapre. The court was hearing a plea of the ruler of the former princely state of Kota, now a part of Rajasthan, challenging the high court order for bringing his income from rent in the Income Tax net. The ruler owns two residential palaces known as Umed Bhawan Palace and the City Palace. The ruler is using Umed Bhawan Palace for his residence and a portion of it was rented out to the Ministry of Defence in 1976. In 1950, the Union Government declared residential palace of an erstwhile ruler as his inalienable ancestral property to be exempted from levy of income tax. But in 1984, the IT department initiated proceedings for assessment of income earned from renting out a portion of the palace. The IT department contended that IT exemption was given for personal use and income earned from the rent was taxable. However, the Commissioner of Income Tax and Income Tax Appellate Tribunal turned down the plea of the IT department which later moved the Rajasthan High Court. The High Court ruled that as long as the ruler continued to remain in occupation of his official palace for his own use, he will be entitled to claim exemption but if he let out any part of his palace, he becomes disentitled to claim benefit of exemption. Quashing the HC order, the Supreme Court held that Section 10(19A) uses the term 'palace' for considering the grant of exemption to the ruler and income earned from renting out a portion of the palace was also exempted. The government incorporated Section 10(19A) in the IT Act to give exemption to former rulers.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has relaxed the norms for Additional Factor of Authentication (AFA) for online card transactions of up to Rs 2000.  However, only authorised card networks will provide such payment authentication solutions for online CNP (Card Not Present) transactions. Customers opting for this facility will go through a one-time registration process by entering the card details and additional factor authentication by the issuing bank. Thereafter, the registered customers will not be required to re-enter the card details for every transaction at merchant websites or apps. Only authorised card networks can provide such payment authentication solutions with participation of card issuing and acquiring banks. Customer consent shall be taken while making this solution available to them. The relaxation for AFA under such solutions shall be applicable for card not present transactions for a maximum value of Rs 2000 per transaction across all merchant categories. Banks and card networks are free to facilitate their customers to set lower per transaction limits. If the transaction limit goes beyond Rs 2000, then the card not present transaction will be processed as per the extant instructions with mandatory AFA; this goes same for the transaction value of below this limit. Banks and card networks will decide the number of such small value transactions in a day, week or month.There will be no change in the existing chargeback process. Advise for banks and authorised card networks : To make customers aware that this solution is an optional facility for CNP transactions of up to Rs 2000 only and they are free to make payments using other forms of AFA as well. To educate the customers about the use of this means, risk involved in it and the mechanism for customer grievance redressal and how they can report complaints through multiple channels. To indicate the maximum liability that falls in on the customer's part and the responsibility of the customer to report any frauds while transacting. To bear the full liability in the event of any security breach or compromise in the authorised card network.

The Indian Navy’s offshore patrol vessel Sumitra has reached Darwin, Australia. The vessel is on a three day visit to the country and will return to India after participating in the Royal New Zealand Navy International Naval Review 2016. The ship’s visit to Australia is aimed at strengthening bilateral ties and enhancing maritime security cooperation between the two nations. Highlights : During INS Sumitra’s stay in harbour, various activities are planned towards enhancing cooperation and mutual understanding between the two navies. Such activities include professional interactions with Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and discussions towards further enhancing inter-operability. Calls on senior Government and military authorities, sporting and cultural interactions and sharing of best practices would also be undertaken. On departure, the ship would also undertake a Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with RAN ships. INS Sumitra : INS Sumitra is the fourth of the Saryu class ships. It is based on an indigenous design and constructed by M/s Goa Shipyard Ltd, India. It was commissioned in 2014. Since then, the ship has been deployed for multiple operational tasks, the most notable being ‘Operation Rahat.’ The ship has a range of 6500 nautical miles and is competent in embarking one Dhruv/ Chetak helicopter.The ship is commanded by Cdr. KP Shreeshan.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced to issue Rs 100 denomination banknotes in the Mahatma Gandhi Series-2005.The new notes will be printed without inset letter in both the numbering panels. Moreover, the notes will bear the signature of Dr Urjit R. Patel, Governor of Reserve Bank of India. The year of printing, that is '2016', will be printed on the reverse side of the banknote. The design of these banknotes will be similar in all respects to the previous Rs 100 banknotes in Mahatma Gandhi Series- 2005. The previous notes had ascending size of numerals in the number panels, bleed lines and enlarged identification mark on the obverse side. However, the old banknotes in the denomination of Rs 100 issued by the Bank in the past will continue to be the legal tender. Rs 100 denomination banknotes with the ascending size of numerals in the number panels but without bleed lines and enlarged identification mark will also continue to be in circulation along with the banknotes being issued now. Earlier this week, the Reserve Bank of India has also announced to issue new Rs 50 and Rs 20 denomination banknotes as well.  Issuance of these small value currencies will be a big relief for the people who are finding it difficult to meet their daily requirements after the ban on old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes. These small value notes will not only deal with the cash crunch but will also pour in liquidity in the country at the time when almost 86 percent of the cash has been wiped off from the market after the implementation of the demonetisation plan.  

The interior minister of the French Government, Bernard Cazeneuve has been named as the new Prime Minister of the nation, succeeding Manuel Valls. Cazeneuve’s role has been especially significant for the French government, as he oversaw all the operations of the French security forces following the Paris and Nice terror attacks. He will take charge of the Socialist government until the parliamentary elections, which are scheduled to be held in June 2017.  With just five months remaining until the final vote, Cazeneuve is not expected to make many changes in the government. Bernard Cazeneuve : He started his career as a legal adviser in the Groupe Banque Populaire. He first rose to popularity when he was elected as a deputy of the National Assembly representing Manche in 1997 and then as a Mayor of Cherbourg in 2001. His first government position came when he was appointed as the spokesman of the Socialist government in 2012. A Hollande loyalist, Cazeneuve was appointed as the Minister of State for Budget after Jerome Cahuzac was forced to resign following a tax fraud scandal. In 2014, he was made the interior minister, a post similar to that of the Home Minister. His sober and composed way of tackling the terror situation was deeply appreciated by the French public during these last two years. Bruno Le Roux, leader of the Socialists in the National Assembly, has been named as the successor of Cazeneuve as the Interior Minister of France. It will be Roux’s first appointment in a government post. Former Prime Minister Valls exited the office to compete in the French presidential race. If he succeeds in winning the presidential primary in January 2017 then, he would be pitted against Francois Fillon and Marine Le Pen in the first leg of the competition in April next year. Valls’ announcement came after current French President Francois Hollande declined the offer of seeking a second term in office. This is the first time in French history that a president has refused to seek a second term. The Presidential elections will be held in two rounds spanning over the months of April and May followed by legislative elections in June

ISRO successfully launched its own earth observation satellite Resourcesat-2A on 7 December 2016. The observation satellite Resourcesat -2A was launched with PSLV C36/ RESOURCESAT-2A from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. The PSLV-XL variant rocket standing 44.4 meters tall and weighing 321 tonne tore into the morning skies at 10.25am with a reverberating sound breaking free of the earth’s gravitational pull. The Resourcesat-2A weighing 1235 kilograms was injected into an 817 km polar Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO) at around 20 minutes into the destination. RESOURCESAT-2A : Resourcesat-2A is a remote sensing satellite and is intending for resource monitoring. It is a follow-on mission to Resourcesat-1 and Resourcesat-2, which were launched in 2003 and 2011 respectively. This satellite is intended to continue the remote sensing data services to global users provided by its two predecessors. The Resourcesat-2A carries three payloads which are similar to those of the earlier two Resourcesat’s. This mission will provide inputs in avionic science. It carries two solid state recorders with a capacity of 200 Giga Bits each to store the images taken by its cameras. These images can be read out later to ground stations. The data sent by Resource would be analysed at Hyderabad from 15 December 2016. PSLV-C36 is the 38th flight of ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). This flight used the 'XL' version of PSLV with six solid strap-on motors. Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) : The PSLV rockets are a four stage engine rocket that is powered by solid and liquid fuel alternatively. It is a four stage engine rocket powered by solid and liquid fuel alternatively. In this flight, the 'XL' version of PSLV with six solid strap-on motors was used. PSLV is ISRO’s versatile launch vehicle that is used for launch of multiple satellites in polar SSOs, Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO), Low Earth Orbits (LEO) and sub-GTO. It has been used for launching satellites for international customers.  Since 1994, PSLV has been used for launching 121 satellites of which 79 were from other countries and 42 were Indian satellites. Besides, the Director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre Dr Shivan said GSLV MK 3 D1; the heaviest form of the satellite will be launched by 20 January 2017. In addition to this, Director of ISAC Dr M Annadurai said that 12 more satellites will be launched in 2017 and work has been stepped up to launch Chandrayaan 2.  

A weasel-like mammal (fisher) was spotted recently in the thick forest of Mount Rainier National Park, where it had been missing for around 70 years. Ten Pacific fishers, which were trapped in British Columbia, were set free at the park as a part of a multiyear effort to reintroduce the native species to its historical range. Historically, fishers were found throughout much of the forested areas of the West Coast. However, they declined in numbers due to trapping in the 1800s and early 1900s, and also due to the loss of forest habitats. By the mid-1900s, the creatures were eliminated from the state of Washington. The dark-brown member of the weasel family with its lush fur and bushy tail was listed as state endangered species in 1998. Fisher : The fisher is a small carnivorous mammal native to North America. In some regions, the fisher is known as a pekan, derived from its name in the Abenaki language. It is a member of the mustelid family, commonly referred to as the weasel family. The species is a forest-dwelling creature. Its range covers much of the boreal forest in Canada to the northern United States. It feeds on a wide variety of small animals and occasionally on fruits and mushrooms. However, it prefers the snowshoe hare and is one of the few predators of porcupines. Fishers have been trapped since the 18th century for their fur. Their pelts were in such demand that they were wiped out from several parts of the United States in the early part of the 20th century.

Cho Ramaswamy, political commentator, theatre personality and editor of Thuglak, a Tamil magazine known for its withering satire and fearless criticism of political figures, died here early on 7 December 2016.He was 82 . Cho Ramaswamy : Born into a family of lawyers — his grandfather Arunachala Iyer, his father Srinivasa Iyer and uncle Matrhubootham were well-known lawyers — Cho also took up the legal profession with some success. For some time, he was also a legal advisor to the TTK group, before plunging fully into theatre. Later, he ventured into films and finally made his mark as a journalist by launching his own magazine. Even before he entered journalism, his work in the popular theatre was laced with political and social criticism. If the attempts of the Congress government led by M. Bhaktavatsalam in the late 1960s to censor the script of his play Sambavami Yuge Yuge drew popular attention, his political satire Mohamed Bin Thuglak was a runaway success. It struck a chord with the people, as through the story of a whimsical king, it pilloried the vice of floor-crossing that was playing havoc with parliamentary democracy in many States then. Winner of the B.D. Goenka award for excellence in journalism, he was nominated to Rajya Sabha by the BJP government led by A.B. Vajpayee. Besides his plays, some of which were made into successful films, his other writings covered a wide variety of subjects. Well-versed in the Indian epics, Vedas and Puranas, he wrote copiously on religion and culture. Mohamed Bin Thuglak was made into a film despite the then DMK government’s desperate efforts to stop its production. Party cadres sought to disrupt the screening too – in some places the screen was torn by vandals. By the time he launched Thuglak on January 14, 1970, he had already established a name in theatre through his non-conformist approach and sardonic humour. The articles and cartoons in it were a bold challenge to vested interests. Often writing from a common man’s perspective, he seemed to lend his voice to the voiceless, gutless, and generally insulated middle class that tended to commiserate with one other in silence but rarely spoke out in public.

India crossed the $300 billion foreign direct investment (FDI) milestone between April 2000 and September 2016, firmly establishing its credentials as a safe investment destination in the world.  Thirty three per cent of the FDI came through the Mauritius route, apparently because the investors wanted to take advantage of India's double taxation avoidance treaty with the island nation.  India received $ 101.76 billion from Mauritius between April 2000 and September 2016. The cumulative FDI inflows during the period amounted to $ 310.26 billion.  The inflows in the first half of the current financial year was $ 21.62 billion, according to data compiled by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion.  The other big investors have been from Singapore, the US, UK and the Netherlands.  Commenting on the $ 300 billion mark, industry bodies Ficci and CII have said that India is perceived as a safe and dynamic destination by global investors.  Ficci said that the liberalisation of the FDI policy framework, major national development programmes such as Make in India, Digital India and Skill India, besides increasing competitiveness, have made India the preferred choice for investors globally.  India's services sector topped the table, receiving 18 per cent of the cumulative equity FDI inflows followed by construction development, computer software & hardware, telecommunication and automobile.  According to the World Investment Report 2016, global FDI flows rose by 38 per cent to $ 1.76 trillion, the highest level since the global economic and financial crisis began in 2008. However, they still remain some 10 per cent short of the 2007 peak.  The report added that elevated geopolitical risks and regional tensions could further amplify the expected downturn. 

Brazilian football club Chapecoense have been awarded the Copa Sudamericana title by the CONMEBOL, the South American football association.   After 19 members of the team were killed in the Colombia plane crash. The Brazilian football club were flying to face Colombian football club Atlético Nacional, the defending Copa Libertadores champion, in the final of the tournament.  

All India Football Federation President Praful Patel has been appointed as a senior vice president of Asian Football Confederation. Patel, who was serving as the vice president of the South East Region for the Asian Football Confederation, thanked all for their support. Under Patel's tutelage, India won the rights to host the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 and hosted the AFC U-16 Championship in September 2016. The AIFF has won the AFC Developing Member Association of the Year Award at the AFC's Annual Awards . The prestigious award is given to a Member Association in recognition of its professional administration and governance as well its exceptional contribution to the development and promotion of the game at all levels within the country. Member Associations are assessed and awarded points on various areas encompassing the association's activities such as the organisation of courses and seminars, competitions, grassroots and youth development programmes, women's programmes, social responsibility and special projects. Points are also given for an MA's hosting of AFC qualifying and finals tournaments as well as their national and club teams' placing in AFC and FIFA competitions throughout the year.

Dr BR Ambedkar’s birthday, 14 April, will be observed as “Water Day” across India. The day will be observed to mark Ambedkar’s contribution in water resource management of the country. Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Uma Bharti announced the same while addressing a National Seminar on Marching ahead on Dr Ambedkar’s path of water resources management for inclusive growth. She was the Chief Guest of the seminar that was organised by Central Water Commission in New Delhi. The seminar was organised on 6 December 2016 to mark the 61st death anniversary of Dr Ambedkar. The day will be observed with an aim to sensitise people about managing water resources, which is a precious resource for life. Highlights of Uma Bharti's speech : She pitched for bringing reforms in the management of water resources across the nation and also suggested punishment for those who misuse water. It’s time to know whether treated water is required for all purposes and people should know how to use treated and non-treated water She referred to the Dr Mihir Shah report on restructuring of the Central Ground Water Board and the Central Water Commission (CWC) but said that the reforms should be acceptable to all. She highlighted her ministry’s 99 Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) schemes, whose completion would help in irrigating about 80 lakh hectare additional lands. AIBP project will be completed by 2020. She also called for redefining the flood management system of India, which would be taken to a positive direction. During the seminar, the contribution of Dr Ambedkar in the field of water management and the way forward for ensuring the inclusive growth of all sections of the society was discussed. Ambedkar’s role in defining water management in India : During his tenure (1942 to 1946) as Member (Labour) of the Viceroy's Executive Council, Ambedkar was a guide in the formation of the policy for the development of water resources in India. For formation of the policy, he laid the foundation of the Central Waterways, Irrigation and Navigation Commission (CWINC). CWINC later became the present-day CWC.He was an advocate of the concept of River Valley Authority. He was the man behind the existing multi-purpose development of Damodar Valley, Hirakud and other projects

Researchers from the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), Delhi have found a novel route to discover new drug targets and potential drugs.  These new drug targets route and potential drugs are mainly for parasites such as Loa loa nematode (roundworm) and Schistosoma mansoni platyhelminths (flatworm) that cause several diseases. Both these parasites are the major cause of health burden, particularly in African countries. They have limited treatment options and there is the threat of drug resistance.  There also little interest in developing drugs for these diseases by pharmaceutical companies as they do not stand to benefit much commercially. Researchers first looked at Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (aaRSs) of the two parasites instead of blindly screening molecules, which is expensive and takes a long time.  Then they had picked up one of the enzymes that contribute to protein synthesis and validated it as a drugable target. The researchers studied the crystal structure of the enzyme with cladosporin, a very potent compound (drug) that targets these parasites. It revealed how tightly the compound binds within the active site of the enzyme. Thus, this approach of looking at the conserved region of the parasites is direct, quicker and cheaper. These are vital enzymes that decode genetic information and enable protein translation. This enzyme family has 20 members and each one of enzymes contributes to protein synthesis. Even if one of 20 enzymes is missing then protein synthesis cannot happen.  

The Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) recently recommended one-time licensing for manufacture and sales of drugs.  If the recommendation is approved it will change present of the renewal of licences for each formulation which rests with state regulators and takes around three years.  However, the new rule will have a condition that there be at least one annual inspection and in cases where risk is high. Separate rules for manufacturing, import, sale and distribution of cosmetics. It has suggested the European Union’s model. Making of influenza drugs Oseltamivir and Zanamavir must be made available widely at all pharmacies, by putting it in the Schedule H1 list.  These two drugs at present have been treated as Schedule X drugs and available at select pharmacies. Retain the four-year approval threshold for ‘new drugs’.  If the definition of a new drug is extended to 10 years, then innovation will take a back seat and wanting the four-year period to be retained. If these recommendations are approved it will help in ‘ease of doing business’ and give fillip to domestic pharmaceutical sector under Union Government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative at a time when the country is slipping in the competitiveness index. It will also give a boost to pharmaceutical industry and give comfort to our customers. Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) : It is the highest statutory decision-making body under the Union Health ministry on technical matters. It is constituted as per the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.  

The Union Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) has launched Winter Fog Experiment (WIFEX 2016-17) to study presence of extended periods of fog in northern parts of the country. It is an intensive ground-based measurement to understand different physical and chemical features of Fog will be conducted at Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA), Delhi. Fog is a visible mass consisting of cloud water droplets suspended in the air at or near the Earth’s surface.  In India, presence of heavy and extended period fog in the northern region (world’s most densely populated region) is one of the major weather hazards, impacting road, aviation transportation, economy and public life.  Maximum fog occurrence is seen over the Northwest region. In India, due to fog poor visibility (< 1000m) per year mostly occurs during the December-February time period.  Recent studies conducted during the past 10-15 years on fog in India have prompted significant socio-economic concern due to increase in frequency, persistence and intensity of fog occurrence over the northern parts of the country.  The main reasons for growing fog occurrence are land use changes and increasing pollution in the region. WIFEX aims to achieve better understanding of fog life cycle and ultimately improve capability in fog prediction. It will help to develop better now-casting (next 6 hours) and forecasting of winter fog system on various time and spatial scales.  It will also develop mechanism to reduce adverse impact of Fog on aviation, transportation and economy, and loss of human life due to accidents. It will lead to improved understanding to develop reliable forecasting models and observational techniques for accurate prediction of Fog events.  It will help to study physical and chemical characteristics of fog, meteorological factors responsible for its genesis, intensity and dissipation which are poorly understood Similarly, it will also add light to the meteorological conditions like humidity, wind and synoptic conditions which are also not well studied.  

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has clarified that banks will have to bear the full liability in the event of any security breach or compromise in the authorised card network. Banks issuing the cards will offer the ‘payment authentication solutions’ of the respective card networks on an optional basis to their customers. Only authorised card networks will offer such payment authentication solutions with participation of card issuing and acquiring banks. For this purpose customer’s consent must be taken while making this solution available to them.  Customers opting for this facility will go through a one-time registration process. They are required to enter card details and additional factor authentication by issuing bank.  Thereafter, registered customers will not be required to re-enter card details for every transaction at merchant locations that offer this solution, thus save time and effort.  The card details already registered will be the first factor while the credentials used to login to the solution would be the additional factor of authentication. Besides, RBI also has relaxed additional factor authentication (AFA) norms for online transactions up to Rs. 2,000.  This decision was taken in a move to save time for customers amid the government’s push for digitization of payments.

The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries have agreed  to  share tax information automatically as per their commitment to ensure the fairness of the international tax system. Decion in this regard was taken at the meeting of Heads of Revenue of BRICS Countries in Mumbai, Maharashtra. They have reaffirmed their commitment to prevent of base erosion and shifting of profits (BEPS), exchange of tax information and capacity building of developing countries. To eliminate BEPS all member countries agreed to tax profits in those jurisdictions where the activities deriving those profits are performed and where value is created.  BRICS members will exchange tax information, both on request and on automatic basis, and to adopt global standards on tax transparency  They also reiterated their endorsement for global Common Reporting Standard for Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) on a reciprocal basis to prevent cross-border tax evasion. Expressed “deep concern” with the process of erosion of the tax base by aggressive tax practices including incomplete disclosure of information by MNCs. The BRICS nations have faced major tax dodging by big corporate and individuals that diminishes their efforts to reduce societal inequality by taxation.  US based think tank Global Financial Integrity has estimated that BRICS countries have faced huge flows of illicit fund flows in the last decade. BRICS member countries occupy five of the top seven places in the global ranking of countries for illicit outflows. China has been the biggest source of illicit fund outflows followed by Russia during this period.

The Supreme Court has ruled that horse racing per se is not animal cruelty. It held that it is different from Jallikattu, which metes out specific methods of torture to bulls.  This observation was made by a Bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud on a petition challenging a Rajasthan High Court’s order banning tonga races in the State. The Rajasthan High Court had banned tonga races in the state by relying on a Supreme Court judgment of 2014 banning jallikattu.  Against the tonga races ban, a petition was filed in the apex country saying that the 2014 judgment banning jallikattu was confined only to bulls and not horses.  The petition also mentioned SC’s 2014 observations that the horses biologically equipped for racing and their anatomy enables it to make use of speed which can be usefully used for racing, etc, unlike bulls. It also said that tonga races are held all over the world, including North America, Australia, Europe and New Zealand under the name of harness racing Horse racing per se is not cruelty, but tonga races on metal roads leads to animal cruelty. Bulls as “bovine animals” unfit for running, while horses as solid-hoofed quadruped, domesticated for riding.  2014 judgment (banning jallikattu) and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 were against cruelty shown to all animals, whether bull or horse.  The Jallikattu verdict dwelt on specific instances of cruelty shown to bulls like biting and twisting a bull’s tail, poking the bull with sticks and knives, using irritant solutions in the eyes, use of alcoholic liquids and throwing stones.

Multimedia artist Helen Marten won the Turner Prize, which is Britain’s top award for contemporary art on 5 December 2016. The prize comes with a cash award of about USD 31800. The Turner Prize is the second prize in a month for Marten, who also won the inaugural Hepworth Prize. The nominees for the 2016 Turner Prize were Michael Dean, Anthea Hamilton, Helen Marten and Josephine Pryde. Helen Marten : Helen Elizabeth Marten is an English artist based in London. She works in sculpture, video and installation art.She studied at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at the University of Oxford from 2005 to 2008. Thereafter, she went to Central Saint Martins. Her work has been included in the 56th Venice Biennale and the 20th Biennale of Sydney.She is the winner of the 2012 LUMA Award and the 2011 Prix Lafayette, among others. Turner Prize : The Turner Prize is an annual prize presented to a British visual artist under the age of 50. It is named after the English painter J. M. W. Turner. Since its beginnings in 1984, the award has become the United Kingdom’s most publicised art award. In 2015, the award was won by Assemble, which are a collective based in London who work across the fields of art, architecture and design.  

Chief Justice of India TS Thakur has  recommended Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar’s name to be the 44th Chief Justice of India on 6 December 2016. Justice Thakur wrote a letter recommending the name of Justice Khehar, who is the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court to be his successor. Justice Khehar, 64, will be sworn-in as the Chief Justice of India on 4 January 2017. He will retire from his office on 27 August 2017, after serving the nation as Chief Justice of India for over seven months. Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar appointed Executive Chairman of National Legal Services Authority He will be the first Chief Justice of India from the Sikh community and succeed CJI Thakur who will be demitting office on 3 January 2017. Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar : He led the five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court that struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act for the appointment of judges. He also led the bench that in January 2016 set aside the imposition of President’s rule in Arunachal Pradesh. He also headed the bench that passed a verdict of equal pay for equal work for the benefit of people engaged as casual and contractual employees who work like regulars and daily wagers. He was a part of the bench that sent Sahara Chief Subrata Roy to jail after hearing the matter relating to the refund of money invested by people in his two companies.

The Supreme Court in the UK has begun the much-awaited hearing that will decide whether or not Parliament’s consent is required before the government initiates the Brexit negotiations. In a first, the hearing was attended by all 11 Supreme Court justices. It follows an appeal by the British Government after a bench comprising three senior judges of the High Court passed a ruling in November stating that the Theresa May government must seek approval from the parliament before starting the EU exit procedures. The government has a lot of hopes riding on the current hearing, as May had promised that efforts towards Brexit would commence by the end of March 2017 but if they have to gain consent from the parliament, which was largely against the referendum then chances of the process getting delayed are high.  Brexit : Brexit is an acronym for UK opting to exit the European Union (EU). The decision was made following a referendum in June 2016, when almost 52% votes were cast in favour of Britain leaving the EU while only 48% voted to remain. Immediately after the shocking result, Prime Minister David Cameron who was against Brexit resigned from his post and Theresa May took over. In order to formally leave the European Union, UK has to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, according to which both sides will be given two years to decide the terms of the split.   Brexit has had a deep effect on UK’s economy and also on its currency- Pound, which has hit a 30-year low. UK joined the European Economic Community (EEC), the predecessor of European Union in 1973 and became its full-time member in 1975, following a referendum that saw 67% votes cast in favour of the move. UK’s choice to leave the European Union had created ripples of shock all over the world, with many eminent personalities condemning the move. In fact, US President Barack Obama also spoke against Brexit and urged Britons to vote to remain during his three-day visit to the nation right before the referendum.

The Prime Minister and acting President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev was elected the country's president in the presidential election, which was held on 4 December 2016. As per the Central Election Commission of Uzbekistan, Mirziyoyev won the election with an overwhelming vote. He garnered 88.61% of the votes, which is above the required over 50% of valid ballots to become a president. The other three presidential candidates were: the National Revival Democratic Party’s Sarwar Otamuratov, who scored 2.35%, Hotamzhon Ketmonov of the People's Democratic Party scored 3.73% and the Justice Social Democratic Party’s Narimon Umarov scored 3.46% of the votes. Shavkat Mirziyoyev : Born on 24 July 2016, Shavkat Mirziyoyev has been the Prime Minister of Uzbekistan since 2003. He was appointed by the Supreme Assembly as interim President of Uzbekistan on 8 September 2016 following the death of President Islam Karimov.He graduated from the Tashkent Institute of Irrigation and Melioration and also holds a Candidate (PhD) degree in Technological Sciences. From 1996 to September 2001, he served as Governor of Jizzakh Region, then as Governor of Samarqand Region from September 2001 until his appointment as Prime Minister in 2003. On 12 December 2003, he was nominated as Prime Minister by President Islam Karimov.

The Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee announced on 6 December that the state would be setting up a special panel to stop child trafficking.  Chaired by Parliamentary Affairs minister Partha Chatterjee, the committees would constitute a Chief Secretary, Home Secretary, DGP and officers and members of the opposition parties, Congress and CPI (M). The move follows a recent state CID operation, which brought to open a massive newborn trafficking racket carried out by two private nursing homes, Baidya Clinic and Sohon Nursing Home. The nursing homes located in Baduria in North 24 Parganas district, mainly targeted poor families and single mothers and used to sell their unwanted babies to childless couples. There were often cases when the clinic made mothers believe that they had delivered stillborns and then would smuggle their babies.  An NGO called Subodh Memorial Trust was also involved in the racket. Its owner Satyajit Sinha was the one who trapped the childless couples. The Chief Minister called the incident extremely unfortunate and worrisome and assured that strong action had been taken.  At least 20 people including doctors, facilitators, and traffickers have been arrested and licenses of the two nursing homes and the NGO have been suspended.  While three newborns were rescued from biscuit containers in a raid conducted at Baduria in North 24 Parganas district, 10 more newborn baby girls were found in an old age home in Kolkatta.  Mamta Banerjee has directed the panel to meet at least once a month. Her proposal was accepted by the house after a majority raised their hands in support.  Apart from this, the Chief Minister has also stated that humanitarian aid will be provided to the poor who were forced to sell their children in exchange for money. However, those who had done it purely out of greed would be handled strongly.

E-commerce giant Amazon has launched its global startup program named Launchpad in India on 5 December 2016. The Launchpad programme was launched with an aim to enable Indian startups to sell their products overseas.In this regard, Amazon India tied up with Start Up India programme of Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), NASSCOM's 10000 Startups, Indian Angel Network (IAN), NITI Aayog, Governments of Maharashtra, Telangana and TiE.  These tie-ups were made to roll in as many startups as it can.  Highlights of the Programme :  It aims to help startups to sell, market, and deliver their products to gain more visibility.  It will provide an exceptional opportunity for Indian Startups to get access to big consumer markets nationally and internationally.  Through this program, small entrepreneurs and innovators can use Amazon’s online platform to increase scale of their businesses and get easy access to global markets. Amazon : Amazon is an American international electronic commerce company with headquarters in Seattle, Washington, United States.  Founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos, it is the world's largest online retailer. It entered into Indian e-commerce market in 2013 with the launch of its marketplace Amazon.in, offering books, movies and television shows for sale.  

AirAsia has announced the appointment of Amar Abrol as its Managing Director in addition to his role as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) on 5 December 2016. As per AirAsia, “Abrol was appointed as the Managing Director following the company's board meeting held on 29 November 2016.” He was appointed as CEO of the airline in April 2016. Abrol holds over two decades of experience in different markets including Hong Kong, Singapore, the UK and Malaysia. AirAsia : AirAsia India is an Indian low cost carrier. The airline is a joint venture with AirAsia Berhad holding 49 per cent stake in the airline, Tata Sons holding 40.06 per cent stakes and Arun Bhatia holding the remaining 10 per cent through his company, Telestra Tradeplace.It is headquartered in Chennai. Air Asia India commenced operations on 12 June 2014 with Bangalore as its primary hub. It is the first foreign airline to set up a subsidiary in India. It marked Tata's return to the aviation industry after 60 years, having ceded Air India in 1946. As of February 2016, AirAsia India is the fourth largest low cost carrier in India, after IndiGo, GoAir and SpiceJet.  

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