Top 15 Current Affairs 8th December 2016

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8 December 2016

Senior judge of the Supreme Court Justice Mian Saqib Nisar has been appointed as the next Chief Justice of Pakistan. A notification issued by the Law Ministry on Wednesday said that Justice Nisar will take charge as chief justice of the apex court on December 31, reports the Express Tribune. According to sources, the notification has been issued after approval from President Mamnoon Hussain. Justice Nisar will replace Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, who is set to retire on December 30. In April this year, the senior SC judge took oath as the acting Chief Justice of Pakistan in Islamabad, on the account of CJP Anwar Zaheer Jamali's seven-day official visit to Turkey. Justice Nisar who joined the legal profession as an advocate in 1980 was enrolled as advocate of the High Court in 1982 and as advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 1994. He was elevated as the judge of the High Court in 1998 and of the SC in 2010.

8 December 2016

The Union Cabinet has approved Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Afghanistan on cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.  The MoU envisages cooperation between both countries for application of space technologies in various sectors. It will cover agriculture, education, weather forecasting, rural health, telecommunications, urban development, sanitation, resource mapping navigation, remote sensing and any other areas mutually agreed upon.  Benefits : Develop space sector in Afghanistan and making it self-reliant in space sector Burnish India’s credentials as a nation with advanced space technology which can assist other countries. Deepen bilateral ties and mutual understanding and trust between both countries.  Provide India foothold in Afghanistan’s strategic space and communication sector. Boost high-tech jobs in both countries in both core Science & Technology and R&D fields, and also the field of implementation.

8 December 2016

The Union Cabinet has approved Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Vietnam on Cooperation in the field of Information Technology.  The MoU aims to develop sustainable and a long-term cooperation between both countries on the basis of equality and mutual interest in the areas of IT. The MoU will be implemented by establishing a Joint Working Group on IT having representatives from both the countries. It will remain in force for a period of 5 years and will be renewable by mutual written consent between India and Vietnam.  Its implementation will result in institutional and capacity-building in the field of IT and Human Resource Development, mutually benefiting IT sector of both countries.

8 December 2016

The Union Cabinet has approved the development of Phase – 1 of the Pune Metro Rail Corridor Project. It will be covering a length of 31.254 km comprising with two corridors Corridor-1 (Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation to Swargate) and Corriodor-2 (Vanaz to Ramwadi). Highlights : Corridor-1 will be covering length of 16.589 km of which h11.57 km elevated and 5.019 km underground. Corriodor-2 will be covering 14.665 km and will be fully elevated. The project is scheduled to be completed in five years from the date of start of work as per the Detailed Project Report (DPR).  The Project will be implemented by Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MAHA-METRO). The total completion cost of the metro rail corridor will be Rs.11,420 crore. MAHA-METRO will be a 50:50 jointly owned company of Union Government and Maharashtra Government. The project will be covered under the legal framework of the Metro Railways (Operation and Maintenance) Act, 2002; the Metro Railways (Construction of Works) Act, 1978; and the Railways Act, 1989.  The metro corridor will benefit approximately 50 lakh population of Pune Metropolitan Area. It will provide much needed connectivity to the commuters to traverse through some of the densest and traffic congested routes of the city.   It will considerably reduce the traffic congestion and will bring in fast, safe, comfortable, pollution-free and affordable mass transportation system in the city.

8 December 2016

The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) Committee has recommended limiting bat size edges and depths along with many other suggestions. The recommendations were made by the MCC’s World Cricket Committee, headed by former England captain Mike Brearley, to bring about a balance between bat and ball. The suggestions were made during a two-day meeting of the committee in Mumbai, which hosts the fourth Test between India and England from 8 December 2016. The recommendations will be sent to the main MCC Committee. If approved, these changes will be implemented into the new code of the Laws of Cricket, which will be introduced on 1 October 2017. The committee has come up with a radical proposal of introducing a football-hockey-like red card as punishment for violent acts on the cricket field. It deliberated on the ball-tampering laws, which it felt will remain unaltered. The committee was split vertically on the possibility of reducing Test cricket from a five-day affair to a four-day one. It urged the International Cricket Council (ICC) to continue to work towards introducing a World Test Championship and presenting the case for cricket at the Olympic Games and changing the law on ball striking a fielder’s helmet. It was announced that 60% of the world’s professional players supported the decision to limit the bat size to 40 mm on edges and 67 mm for depths, including 7 mm for curvature. Also, umpires will be given the power to expel cricketers from a game for serious disciplinary breaches. The player can be ejected for threatening an umpire, physically assaulting another player, official or spectator or for any other act of violence on the field of play. Marylebone Cricket Club : MCC is a cricket club based in London. It was founded in 1787. It was formerly the governing body of cricket both in England and Wales as well as worldwide. In 1788, it revised the Laws of Cricket and continues to reissue them, and remains the copyright holder. In 1993, many of its global functions were transferred to the International Cricket Council.

8 December 2016

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has released the fifth Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement 2016-17, the first policy review post-demonetisation. The key announcement under the policy was that the policy Repo Rate under the Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF) was kept unchanged at 6.25 percent. This decision was taken on the basis of an assessment of the current and evolving macroeconomic situation. Reverse Repo Rate: Consequently, the Reverse Repo Rate under the LAF remains unchanged at 5.75 percent. Marginal standing facility (MSF) Rate: The MSF rate was also kept unchanged at 6.75 percent. Bank Rate: The Bank Rate also stands at 6.75 percent. The policy decision was taken by Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of Reserve Bank of India. Global growth picked up modestly in the second half of 2016. Activity in Advanced Economies (AEs) improved following the recovery in the US economy. In the Emerging Market Economies (EMEs), growth was moderate, but policy stimulus in China shored up momentum. International financial markets were strongly impacted by the result of the US presidential elections 2016 and incoming data raised the probability of the Federal Reserve tightening monetary policy. Following the election results, the surge of the US dollar from late October intensified and resulted in considerable depreciations in currencies around the world. Gold lost its safe place to the increasing US dollar. Crude prices firmed after the OPEC’s decision to cut output. On the domestic front, the growth of real Gross Value Added (GVA) in Q2 of 2016-17 turned out to be lower due to the slowdown in industrial activity. Manufacturing slowed down consecutively. Gross fixed capital formation contracted for the third consecutive quarter. In Q3, the Committee felt that the assessment is impacted by the withdrawal of specified bank notes (SBNs) under the demonetisation plan. The agriculture sector showed the robust performance in Q2. By contrast, industrial activity remained weak. Among the core industries in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), the output of coal contracted in October due to less demand, while the production of crude oil and natural gas contracted under the binding constraint of structural impediments. The production of cement, fertilisers and electricity continued to slow down. On the other hand, steel output recorded nonstop expansion following the application of countervailing duties. The demonetisation plan could momentarily interrupt some part of industrial activity in November-December due to delays in payments of wages and purchases of inputs. In the services sector, the outlook is mixed with construction, trade, transport, hotels and communication impacted by demonetisation effects. While public administration, defence and other services would continue to be sustain by the 7th Central Pay Commission (CPC) award and one rank one pension (OROP). Retail inflation measured by Consumer Price Index (CPI) eased more than expected for the third consecutive month in October, driven down by a sharper than anticipated deflation in the prices of vegetables. The elevated prices of sugar and protein-rich items, along with a turning up of prices of cereals, pulses and processed foods pushed up the momentum of food prices. In the fuel category, inflation eased with the decline in LPG prices on an annual basis and a fall in electricity prices from a month ago. Inflation excluding food and fuel continues to show strong persistence. Although housing and personal care inflation diminished marginally, the steady rise in inflation in respect of education, medical and health services, transport and communication imparted stickiness to inflation. Liquidity conditions underwent large shifts in Q3 so far. Surplus conditions in October and early November were overwhelmed by the impact of demonetisation from 8 November 2016. Currency in circulation fell by Rs 7.4 trillion up to 2 December 2016. Consecutively, deposits surged into the banking system leading to a massive increase in its excess reserves. The RBI scaled up its liquidity operations through variable rate reverse repo auctions of a wide range of tenors from overnight to 91 days, absorbing liquidity of Rs 5.2 trillion. In the external sector, India’s merchandise exports rebounded in September and October. After a prolonged fall for 22 months, imports rose in October on the back of a sharp rise in the volume of gold imports and higher payments for POL imports. Net Foreign Direct Investment remained reasonably good with more than half going to manufacturing, communication and financial services. The level of foreign exchange reserves was 364 billion USD on 2 December 2016.

8 December 2016

Allahabad High Court has declared‘Triple Talaq’ as unconstitutional. The single judge bench of Justice Sunit Kumar observed that no Personal Law Board is above the Constitution. SC sought Union Government view on petition challenging Triple Talaq & Polygamy practices The verdict was pronounced while deciding two separate writ petitions that the ‘Triple Talaq’ practice, sanctioned under Muslim personal law that governs marriage, property and divorce - violated the rights of Muslim women. Incidentally, the practice of ‘Triple Talaq’ has been challenged in the Supreme Court of India by several women. The Union Government has told the top court that it is against gender justice, equality and the Constitution. It had said that the issue of the validity of triple talaq, polygamy and nikah halala should be considered in accordance with the principles of gender justice as well as dignity and equality. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board has slammed Allahabad Court’s order stating that it is against Shariat. The board said that the order will be studied by its legal committee and challenged in the Supreme Court. Triple Talaq is an Islamic practice of divorcing a woman in which the male counterpart of the woman pronounces the word talaq, three successive times. This judgement can be termed as a major boost for women right.

8 December 2016

In the PETROTECH-2016, 11 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) were signed among various companies. The PETROTECH meet was held in the month of December 2016. Among these 11 MoUs, a consortium agreement was signed between IOCL, BPCL and HPCL to set up India’s biggest oil refinery cum petrochemical complex with around 60 MMTPA capacity along the western Coast of India in Maharashtra. List of the MoUs MoU signed between MoU Title Purpose IOCL, BPCL and HPCL Consortium Agreement  between Indian Oil Corporation as Lead Member and HPCL & BPCL in relation to pre-project activities for establishment of West Coast Refinery and Petrochemicals Project through creating a joint venture company amongst the Parties This intends to set up India’s biggest oil refinery cum petrochemical complex with around 60 MMTPA capacity along the western Coast of India in Maharashtra. The parties will enter into a Consortium Agreement with Indian Oil as Lead Member and HPCL & BPCL as other partners. Oil India Limited and Technology Incubation Centre, IIT Guwahati MoU with IIT, Guwahati for supporting OIL’s start up initiative Under this MoU, Technology Incubation Centre (TIC) of IIT-G will serve as an incubator with respect to housing and mentoring start-ups as per Oil India Limited Start-Up Initiative. ONGC and IIT Mumbai MoU with IIT, Mumbai for supporting ONGC’s Start-Up Initiative This MoU intends to prepare a Roadmap for ONGC’s Start Up Initiative which will work on problems related to the energy sector and for enhancing the operational capabilities of ONGC. ONGC and Halliburton SoU between ONGC and Halliburton The purpose of this Summary of Understanding (SoU) is for Production Enhancement Contract in Kalol field in Gujarat. ONGC and Schlumberger SoU between ONGC and Schlumberger The purpose of this SoU is for Production Enhancement Contract in Geleki field in Assam. The terms are primarily governed by suggested Hydrocarbon Vision 2030 for North East India. IOCL and Praj Industries Ltd Binding MOU for development of Ligno-Cellulosic Ethanol Plants.   This is a Cost Sharing Agreement between IOCL and Praj Industries Ltd. IOCL is planning to set up a 2G biomass to ethanol plant at Dahej, Gujarat with a capacity of 100 KL/day. IOCL and Praj Industries Ltd Binding MOU() for development of Ligno-Cellulosic Ethanol Plants. This is also a Cost sharing Agreement between IOCL and Praj Industries Ltd. Under this, IOCL is planning to set up a 2G Biomass to Ethanol plant at Panipat, Haryana of 100 KL per day capacity. BPCL and Institute of Chemical Technology MoU for Technology Transfer for setting up of 2G Biomass Ethanol Bio-refinery at Bina, M.P. BPCL is setting-up 2G Biomass Ethanol Bio-refinery in Bina, MP with a capacity to process 400 tonnes/day of Biomass. The plant will provide an indirect employment to 1000 people and the plant is expected to be commissioned in December 2018. BPCL and Praj Industries Ltd MoU for Technology Transfer for setting up of 2G Biomass Ethanol Bio-refinery at Bargarh, Odisha   BPCL is setting-up 2G Biomass Ethanol Bio-refinery in Bargarh, Odisha with a capacity to process 400 tonnes/day of Biomass. The plant is expected to be commissioned in December 2018. HPCL and Department of Investment Promotion, Govt. of Punjab MoU for setting up 2ndGeneration Ethanol Bio-refinery A 100 KL per day capacity Second Generation Ethanol plant is proposed to be set up by HPCL in Bhatinda, Punjab. The plant will help in abatement of environmental concerns due to burning of Biomass in state. HPCL and Institute of Chemical Technology MoU with Technology provider for 2nd Generation Ethanol Bio-refinery This purpose of this MoU is to explore technology tie-up for the proposed  Second Generation Ethanol plant at Bhatinda.    

8 December 2016

Arunachal Pradesh State Co-operative Apex Bank on 7 December 2016 launched Mobile Banking Service named SIMsePaY. The service was launched in collaboration with the Yes Bank Ltd. The SIMsePaY service was launched by the State Industries and Cooperation Minister Tamiya Taga is aimed at helping bank customers’ in their cash crunch problem. The SIMsePAY mobile service operates on simple phone handset on SMS without the internet. It would be very helpful for rural areas where there is no internet network. While launching the service, the minister also appealed its 1.75 lakh customers to use the mobile banking service for payments of their utility bills, transfer of funds and other services for hassle-free cashless business. He asked the bank management to adopt the technology and provide efficient and effective services to its customers. Besides, he also asked the bank to survey more areas in remote locations for opening new branches. He advised the bank to offer small loans to self-employed people and launch the vigorous drive for loan recovery. Arunachal Pradesh State Co-operative Apex Bank is CBS enabled and extends various services like DBT, ATM, NFF and RuPay Debit cards to its customers. Earlier in the first week of December 2016, Yes Bank announced that it has plans to launch digital banking services in various states, including Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar and Goa. It was supposed to launch the same facility in association with the Taisys Technologies that started its India operation a year ago. Taisys has indigenously developed the banking solution in cooperation with Yes Bank. The SIMsePAY service was launched in Dehradun on 30 November 2016.  

8 December 2016

Indian field hockey player PR Sreejesh  took over as goalkeeping mentor of the India Under-21 team. The decision was taken when the home team is all set to compete in the Junior World Cup title after a prolonged 15-year wait. Sreejesh, who is the captain of the senior national men’s team, will take charge of the role from South African Dave Staniforth. Staniforth was roped in by Hockey India to work with the junior goalkeepers for a short three-week period keeping in mind the World Cup. He is set to leave for his home nation tomorrow. PR Sreejesh : Born on 8 May 1986, Parattu Raveendran Sreejesh is an Indian field hockey player.He plays as a goalkeeper in the Indian national team and is its current captain.He plays for Uttar Pradesh Wizards in the Hockey India League. In 2004, he made into the junior national team in a match against Australia in Perth. He made his debut in the senior national team at South Asian Games in Colombo in 2006. After India's victory at the 2008 Junior Asia Cup, he was awarded the Best Goalkeeper of the Tournament. His second Best Goalkeeper of the Tournament award came at the 2013 Asia Cup, in which India finished second in the tournament. He was the captain of the team that won the silver medal at the Hero Champions Trophy 2016 held at London. On 13 July 2016, he was given the responsibilities of the captain of Indian hockey team.  

8 December 2016

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and United Kingdom (UK) to support Ease of Doing Business in India. The MoU was signed between both countries earlier in November 2016 during the official state visit of UK Prime Minister Theresa May to India. The MoU will facilitate exchange Government officials from both countries to facilitate sharing of best practises, technical assistance and enhanced implementation of reforms. The beneficiaries include the officials from India will include Central Government Ministries / Departments and State Governments.  It will facilitate various agencies of UK government to offer professional courses on capacity-building of frontline inspectors, better regulation drafting for officials, sharing of best practises, etc. The collaboration is expected to expedite adoption of innovative practises by the India leading to easing of regulatory environment in country and fostering of conducive business climate in India. Currently, India is ranks 130th out of 190 economies in Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) as per Doing Business Report, 2017. On the other hand UK has achieved phenomenal improvement in EoDB rankings in recent years. MoU for Cooperation in the Field of Intellectual Property The Union Cabinet also approved to the MoU between India and UK for Cooperation in the Field of Intellectual Property (IP) signed in November 2016.   The MoU seeks to facilitate establishment of wide-ranging and flexible mechanisms for cooperation in the development of automation, new documentation and information systems in the field of IP.   It provides an opportunity for collaboration in training programmes, exchange of experts and technical exchanges and outreach activities. Its implementation will enhance capacity of the Office of Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trademarks (CGPDTM) to examine patent applications, which in turn will impact innovation positively.

8 December 2016

US President-elect Donald Trump was named as Person of the Year 2016 on 7 December 2016 by Time magazine. The magazine cited his role for the stunning victory in the US Presidential election. The Time cover that features a photograph of the President-elect sitting on a chair reads, “Donald Trump – President of the Divided States of America”. Nancy Gibbs who announced the name of Time’s person of the year said that the real baron and casino owner, Trump, who never spent a single day in public office, was elected as the 45th President of the US. His election as President. Trump’s rival in the presidential elections and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was the first runner-up for Person of the Year. Online hackers were judged as the second runner ups. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the 11 candidates shortlisted by Time for its annual honour. Meanwhile, Modi won the online readers' poll conducted by Time magazine for Person of the Year 2016, the second time he emerged winner of the reader's choice poll. Other contenders for the Time Person of the year were The US gymnast Simone Biles UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan CRISPR Scientists who developed a groundbreaking new technology that can edit DNA The Flint Whistleblowers who along with civil-engineering professor Marc Edwards and local paediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha blew the whistle on the lead-poisoned water in Flint, Michigan Singer Beyonce Russian President Vladimir Putin Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

8 December 2016

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has given approval for implementation of the Rs 50-crore National Hydrology Project to be set up in the state with 100 per cent assistance from the Centre.  The project aimed at improving the extent, quality and accessibility of information about water resources, and strengthening the capacity of water resource management institutions in the country. The ultimate beneficiaries would be farm communities selected for pilot projects, rural and urban water and power users and people affected by floods and droughts, and such families may benefit from improved irrigation water supply and management.  Besides, stakeholders across the energy, inland waterways, environment and agriculture ministries, research and educational institutions, students and researchers, non-governmental organisations, civil society organisations and the private sector would also stand to gain. A Memorandum of Agreement and Financial Management under the National Hydrology Project has already been signed between the Principal Secretary, Irrigation and Water Resources Department, Haryana and the Joint Secretary, Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.  Under the project, enhanced use would be made of powerful earth observation systems to provide improved information about water resources.

8 December 2016

President Pranab Mukherjee will be in Kurukshetra has  inaugurated International Gita Jayanti Mahotsav and take part in the Holy Gita Yagya and Brahmasarovar Pooja. The President will attend the event for about an hour. During the visit, he will also inaugurate Shri Krishna Circuit Project and Saraswati River Project. The festival which is scheduled to be held from December 6 to December 10 will focus on spreading the message of Gita to the world community. President will lay the foundation stone of Krishna circuit on the occasion and inaugurate a seminar at Shrimad Bhagwat Geeta Auditorium. The urban and rural areas of Kurukshetra district would be declared “open defecation free” the same day. In a five day mega event, many spiritual leaders from different religions, scholars and artists from various countries will participate. The Mahotsav will set a world record with the recitation of Ashtadash Shaloki Gita by as many as 18 thousand students at one go. Besides, it is for the first time that it would be simultaneously chanted by hundreds of people in many countries of the world. During Mahotsav, youths from 574 districts of the country will reach Kurukshetra, showcasing one Shloka each scripted on their traditional dresses. They would also bring along sand from their respective districts which would be utilised to make an idol of Lord Krishna to symbolise unity and integrity of the country. To spread eternal message of Gita to the world community, global chanting of Srimadbhagvad Gita would also be held on Gita Jayanti Day before the final deepdaan ceremony at Brahmsarovar in Kurukshetra. ix. Eighteen selected verses of Gita from as many chapters would be recited on this occasion. The countries where global chanting would be held include India, Australia (Canberra ), Bahrain, Canada (Vancouver), Paris in France, Hong Kong, Jakarta in Indonesia, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nepal, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri lanka, Switzerland, UAE, Britain, California, Arizona, Chicago and New York in the US.  

8 December 2016

Indian e-commerce website Paytm launched it’s toll-free number 180018001234 to enable transaction through mobile phones without an internetconnection on December 7, 2016. Customers can use basic mobile phones to transact money using this service, before that they need to register with Paytm their mobile number and set a four digit paytm PIN. Paytm is one of the 11 entities have obtained payment bank license from RBI in August 2015.Ahead of the launch of its Payments Bank, merging One97 Communications owns wallet businesswith payments bank operation.  

8 December 2016

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has kept its key policy rate, the Repo Rate (RR), at 6.25 %. This was the second meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) since its formation two months ago.  It was  the second monetary review of Urjit Patel, since his taking over as the Governor of RBI on 6th September this year. The Reserve Bank of India has withdrawn the incremental cash reserve ratio (CRR) of 100%. The incremental ratio was effective from the fortnight beginning November 26 as a temporary measure to absorb excess liquidity in banking system following demonetisation.  The move was estimated to remove around Rs. 3.24 lakh crore of excess liquidity. RBI Policy Rate's: Repo Rate 6.25% Reverse Repo Rate 5.75% Marginal Standing Facility Rate 6.75% Bank Rate 6.75% CRR 4% SLR 20.75%

8 December 2016

PETROTECH-2016, the 12th International Oil & Gas Conference & Exhibition was held at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi from December 4 to 7, 2016. The Petrotech 2016 main Conference was inaugurated by Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi at Vigyan Bhawan on December 5, 2016. Theme of the conference: “Hydrocarbons to fuel the future – Choices & Challenges”. Minister of State (I/C) for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan inaugurated the Petrotech 2016 Exhibition at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi on December 4, 2016. The Petrotech -2016 Exhibition, one of the biggest oil & gas exhibitions was held with participation of top oil & gas companies from across the world and nearly 600 exhibitors from over 50 countries covering 15,000 square metres of exhibition area. Exclusive pavilions were set up to showcase initiatives like ‘Make in India’ and Renewable Energyand several other focus areas of Government policy.

8 December 2016

BEML Ltd has bagged the ‘CII National Quality 2016 Award’. The award has been jointly instituted by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and Export Import Bank (EXIM). Deepak Kumar Hota, Chairman & Managing Director, BEML, received the award at a function held at Bengaluru. BEML won the award for practising various EFQM Models (European Foundation for Quality Management) and achieving results.  

8 December 2016

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has named Hindi language ranked 10th in the top 10 most powerful languages on the planet.  The list features English as the most powerful language followed by Mandarin.  The index applied for the consensus took into account various factors including geography, economy and diplomacy. The WEF further forecasted the list for 2050, with Hindi climbing one spot to ninth.

8 December 2016

Researchers’ team from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) have discovered that bismuth semi-metal in bulk form becomes a superconductor. The team was lead by Dr. S. Ramakrishnan of the Department of Condensed Matter Physics and Material Sciences at TIFR, Mumbai.   What researchers have discovered? They have discovered that when temperature of bismuth semi-metal in bulk form is lowered to 530 microKelvin (about -273 degree C), it becomes a superconductor. It acts as superconductor at temperature three orders of magnitude higher than the theoretical prediction. This landmark discovery challenges the conventional understanding of superconductivity based on Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer (BCS) theory.  It cannot explain the superconductivity seen in bismuth as it only explains superconductivity in most low Tc (critical temperature) superconductors. The discovery demands a new theory and a new mechanism to understand superconductivity in bismuth. It provides an alternative path for discovering new superconducting materials which are very different from the conventional superconductors. Superconductors are materials that conduct electricity with no resistance whatsoever. In order to achieve superconducting state, the element should have mobile electrons, and these electrons should come together to form pairs, known as Cooper pairs. Unlike other elements in the periodic table, bismuth has unusual phenomenon. Bismuth has only one mobile electron per 100,000 atoms. Whereas, the metallic superconductors have one mobile electron per atom. Since carrier density of bismuth is so small, it was believed that bismuth will superconduct. Thus, superconductivity in bismuth is puzzling.

8 December 2016

The India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management (IIIDEM) has conducted training on Election Management of SAARC Countries.  It was conducted by Election Commission of India (ECI) and sponsored by the Union Ministry of External Affairs with aim of promoting free, fair, peaceful and inclusive elections. The training course is attended by delegates consisting of Election Management Bodies (EMBs) from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives, Bhutan and Afghanistan.  The 11 day (5th to 15th December 2016) course encapsulates several sessions on principles and practices for election management.  During the program, the 28 participants from these 6 SAARC countries will share their experiences on election situation in their respective countries. Additionally, it aims to train officials on various aspects of election management like capacity building of stakeholders, code of conduct, voter inclusion and registration etc. It will have participatory sessions on ‘Free, Fair Elections and International Standards,’ ‘Principles of Voter Registration and Type of Voter Registers’ and ‘Electoral Systems and Practices’. India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management (IIIDEM)  : IIDEM is an advanced resource centre of learning, research, training and extension for participatory democracy and election management. It has been developed in collaboration with the Union Government, United Nations, Commonwealth and inter-governmental organisations like Sweden based International Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA).  It is a national and international hub for exchange of good practices in election management. It has four components (i) Training and Capacity Development, (ii) Voter Education and Civic Participation, (iii) Research, Innovation and Documentation and (iv) International Projects and Technical Collaboration.

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