My Notes….

 

National

 

Resourcesat-2A launched 

Text Box: Flashpoint
1.	Resourcesat-1 was put in space in October 2003 and Resourcesat-2 in April 2011, each with a planned life of five years.
2.	Once paired with Resourcesat-2 after 150 orbits, it can provide better and more frequent data on resources.
3.	The satellite's three cameras can cover the land below in a unique three-tier manner.
4.	The AWiFS (Advanced Wide Field Sensor) provides images of 56-metre resolution that would be useful at the State level, for example. The LISS-3 (Linear Imaging Self-scanning Sensor) of 23.5-m resolution can take pictures at the district level; and the LISS-4 of 5.6 m can provide taluk level information 
5.	For the current flight, the four-stage rocket was configured in the XL version with six small strap-on motors.
6.	Since 1994, ISRO's old reliable light payload lifter has placed in orbit 121 satellites including 79 foreign ones for a fee.
Remote sensing satellite Resourcesat-2A was launched from Sriharikota on 7 December 2016. The spacecraft was flown aboard a PSLV-C36 rocket. It was the 37th consecutive successful flight of the indigenous light-lifting rocket. The 1,235-kg spacecraft has started orbiting pole-to-pole at 824 km from Earth. The three cameras of different resolution on the spacecraft will give regular micro and macro information on land and water bodies below, farm lands and crop extent, forests, mineral deposits, coastal information, rural and urban spreads besides helping in disaster management.

 

 

New features

1.    The ISRO has put a few specialties into what is otherwise a routine follow-on mission.

2.    The new on-board cameras put for the first time on the launcher showed us the separation of the stages during the flight and the deployment of the solar panels of the satellite.

3.    This was ISRO's ninth launch in 2016, including the more powerful and operational GSLV. A new avionics and flight navigation system was tested.

4.    Resourcesat-2A is follow-on of two predecessor spacecraft for Earth observation from space. For the next five years, it will ensure continuity of remote-sensing data given by the two older ones of these themes.

 

The Major Port Authorities Bill, 2016 approved

The Union cabinet approved a bill that would give more autonomy and flexibility to major ports in the country. The Major Port Authorities Bill, 2016, will replace the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963.

 

 

 

What

1.    The new Major Ports Authority Bill, 2016, would help to impart faster and transparent decision-making, benefiting the stakeholders and better project execution capability.

2.    The bill is aimed at reorienting the governance model in central ports to the landlord port model, in line with successful global practices.

3.    In the landlord port model, the publicly governed port authority acts as a regulatory body and as landlord, while private companies carry out port operations—mainly cargo-handling activities. 

4.    Currently, most major port trusts in India carry out terminal operations as well, resulting in a hybrid model of port governance.

5.    Under the bill, the composition of a port board has been simplified and it will now consist of 10 members, including 3-4 independent members, instead of 17-19 under the current model.

6.    The port authority has been given powers to fix tariff which would act as a reference for purposes of bidding for public-private partnership (PPP) projects. PPP operators will be free to fix tariff based on market conditions.

7.    The board of the port authority has been given the power to fix the scale of rates for other port services and assets, including land. An independent review board has been proposed to be created to look into disputes between ports and PPP concessionaires.

8.    In September, the shipping ministry invited public comments for the proposed bill, put in the public domain for the second time after incorporating feedback received from stakeholders.

9.    The bill intends to give more autonomy to the major ports, but will it actually translate into real autonomy is a matter of question.

Yojana to promote digital payments

The Union Government has launched Lucky Grahak Yojana to encourage consumers and Digi Dhan Vyapar Yojana to encourage merchants for transition to digital payments. These award based schemes were launched by the NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog, government’s policy think-tank.

 

 

What

1.    These schemes aim to give cash awards to consumers and merchants who utilize digital payment instruments for personal consumption expenditures.

2.    They will specially focuses on bringing the poor, lower middle class and small businesses into the digital payment fold.

3.    National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) will be the implementing agency for these schemes.

4.    Transactions using USSD, UPI, RuPay and AEPS will only be covered under these schemes.

5.    Digital payments made through credit cards and e-wallets won’t be covered.

6.    To ensure focus on small transactions incentives will be restricted to transactions within the range of Rs 50 and Rs 3000.

7.    The winners shall be identified through a random draw of eligible Transaction IDs by software to be especially developed by NPCI for this purpose.

 

Lucky Grahak Yojana

1.    Consumers makes payment through digital mode will get chance to win minimum Rs 1000 each every day or Rs 1 lakh per week.

2.    15,000 winners will get cashback prizes of Rs 1000 each every day starting on 25 December 2016 (Christmas) and ending on 14 April 2017 (Babasaheb Ambedkar Jayanthi).

3.    In addition, there will be weekly awards worth Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10,000 and Rs 5,000 for 7000 people.

4.    On last day of scheme mega prize (Rs. 1 crore) winner award will be announced.

 

 

Digi Dhan Vyapar Yojana

1.    This scheme is for the merchants across the country.

2.    Mandatory for merchants to have POS (Point of Sale) machines for undertaking cashless transactions.

3.    Under it, merchants doing business using POS are eligible to win Rs.50000 per week from 25 December 2016 to 14 April 2017.

4.    3 Mega Prizes for merchants will be of Rs 50 lakhs, 25 lakh, 12 lakh for digital transactions between 8 November 2016 to 13 April 2017.

5.    It will be announced on 14 April 2017.

 

100 Million For 100 Million Campaign launched

President Pranab Mukherjee launched a ‘100 Million for 100 Million’ Campaign at Rashtrapati Bhavan on the sideline of the two-day ‘Laureates and Leaders for Children Summit’. The campaign was conceptualized by Nobel peace prize winner Kailash Satyarthi and was organized by the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation.

 

 

What

1.    The campaign aims to mobilise 100 million youth and children for 100 million underprivileged children across the world.

2.    Its prime objective is to end child labour, child slavery, violence against children over the next 5 years.

3.    It also seeks to promote the right of every child to be safe, free, and educated.

4.    It will strive to inspire 100 million children to speak and act for the numerous other unfortunate children living in terrible conditions to build a child-friendly world.

 

ICAN 2016 

International Civil Aviation Negotiations (ICAN) - 2016 was held recently in Nassau from 5th to 9th December, 2016.  The Conference was attended by 106 countries out of ICAO membership of 191 countries. India held negotiations with 17 countries and “Memorandum of Understanding” was signed with 12 countries.   The major issues resolved at these negotiations as per the directions in National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP 2016) are:

 

 

Increase in traffic rights

1.    Text Box: Open Skies agreement as per NCAP 2016
1.	It allows unlimited number of flights to six metro airports namely Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Chennai, was signed with six countries namely Jamaica, Guyana, Czech Republic,   Finland, Spain and Sri Lanka. 
2.	The new arrangement will encourage connectivity and passenger travel between India and these countries.
3.	New Air Service Agreements were signed with Jamaica and Guyana.
India renegotiated traffic rights with Oman increasing the entitlements with 6,258 seats effective from summer 2017 as the existing entitlements were nearly exhausted. The points of call remained unchanged.

2.    India agreed with Saudi Arabia to increase the capacity by 8000 seats per week from IATA season when Indian carrier’s utilization reaches 80%. 

3.    This was in response to the needs of increasing traffic between the two countries where Indian carriers have been utilising open sky in Damman to mount more flights than the Saudi Arabian side. 

4.    Indian also agreed with Ghana to increase the present allocation of 2 frequencies to 7 frequencies per week to encourage connectivity between the two countries.

 

Code Shares

1.    In the present scenario code shares provide seamless connectivity to the travelling passengers and make possible connectivity between far off destinations not served by direct flights.  

2.    As per NCAP 2016 code shares are to be encouraged and keeping this in view, negotiations were completed with 9 countries to enable the legal framework between the governments of these countries to make possible code shares between the airlines of two sides. 

 

 

3.    The negotiations have  enabled domestic code shares with Czech Republic, Portugal and Malaysia, domestic and international code shares including third country airlines with Guyana, removal of restriction of counting of capacity in case of code share with 3rd country carriers and domestic code  share to additional two points to Mauritius, code share with 3rd country carriers and 4 additional domestic code share points with Saudi Arabia and Spain and code share with 3rd country carriers with Sri Lanka.

4.    Resolution of other issues relating to Air Services Agreement was also completed with Ghana, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Portugal, Hong Kong, Ethiopia and Bangladesh.

 

Climate change negotiations at COP22 approved

The Union Cabinet approved India’s approach to Climate Change Negotiations at the 22 Conference of Parties (COP) to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Marrakesh, Morocco in November 2016. The approval aims to safeguard interest of poor and vulnerable groups by laying stress on adaptation, damage and loss while protecting the development space.

 

 

What

1.    Growth and development of a country are linked with Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.

2.    The development space for India and developing countries needs to be preserved while combating the ill-effects of climate change.

3.    It seeks to address the adaptation needs of the country to combat the ill-effects of climate change and also enables the achievement of developmental goal.

4.    The approach incorporates the interest of all strata of society in the country.

Background  

1.    India in the 22 COP to UNFCCC had participated constructively to ensure that actions are based on the principles of equity and climate justice.

2.    India in along with other developing countries was able to ensure that climate actions are based on the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) and climate justice.

 

‘Vittiya Saksharata Abhiyan’ launched

Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Shri Prakash Javadekar launched ‘Vittiya Saksharata Abhiyan’ in New Delhi. Union HRD Minister appealed to the faculty and especially young students to come forward and join ‘Vittiya Saksharata Abhiyan’ to encourage, create awareness and motivate all people around them to use a digitally enabled cashless economic system for transfer of fund.

 

 

What

1.    Our country is undergoing transformational shift towards digital economy and youth should not only witness the change but also proactively participate in it by becoming agents of change.

2.    Technology can be leveraged to bring financial digital literacy and a step forward toward digital economy.

3.    The Union HRD Minister also appealed to higher education institutes to receive nothing in cash (fee/fines/deposits) and pay nothing in cash (wages/salaries/vendor payments) and develop a cashless campus (covering shops/canteens/services). 

4.    The Union HRD Minister launched a webpage where students can register themselves, give continuous feedback and suggestions on the initiative as well as upload the progress of their work.

 

UNESCO inscribes Yoga

Yoga, India’s one of the ancient practices has now been inscribed as an element in the UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of humanity during the 11th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. During this session, India’s proposal for inscribing Yoga as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity was unanimously supported by all the 24 members of the Intergovernmental Committee.

 

 

What

1.    Yoga has become the 13th intangible cultural heritage that has been listed from India so far with UNESCO. 

2.    Previous ones includes the Chhau dance( Inscribed in 2010), the Buddhist chanting of Ladakh ( inscribed in 2012)Sankirtana –the ritual singing, drumming, and dancing of Manipur( inscribed in 2013), the traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, Punjab(inscribed in 2014) and Ramlila- the traditional performance of the Ramayana ( inscribed in 2008).

3.    Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has played a key role in having the United Nation declare June 21st as the International Yoga Day in 2014

 

Recommendations of Ratan Watal Committee

The Committee on Digital Payments headed by Ratan P. Watal has submitted its final report to the Union Finance Ministry. It was 11-member committee notified in August 2016 by the Finance Ministry. It was tasked to review existing payment systems in the country and recommend appropriate measures for encouraging Digital Payments. It was having representatives from Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), tax department and various industry bodies in the payments space. Recommendations

 

 

What

1.    The Committee has recommended medium term strategy for accelerating growth of Digital Payments in India.

2.    The strategy must be backed with regulatory regime which is conducive to bridging the Digital divide by promoting competition, interoperability and open access in payments.

3.    It also recommends inclusion of financially and socially excluded groups and assimilation of emerging technologies in the market.

4.    It calls for need of safeguarding security of Digital Transactions and providing level playing to all stakeholders and new players who will enter this new transaction space.

5.    It has suggested inter-operability of payments system between banks and non-banks, up-gradation of digital payment infrastructure and institutions.

6.    It also recommends a framework to reward innovations for leading efforts in enabling digital payments.

 

Rajya Sabha passes Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2016

Rajya Sabha has passed the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2016. The bill repeals Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunity Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act of 1995. The bill comprehensively covers a whole spectrum of problems from physical disabilities to mental illness and multiple disabilities under it. It complies with the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to which India became a signatory in 2007.

 

 

Salient features

1.    It has defined based on an evolving and dynamic concept to include 21 conditions (from 7) as disable.

2.    It also defines Persons with benchmark disabilities as those with at least 40% of any of the above specified disabilities.

3.    Speech and Language Disability and Specific Learning Disability have been added for the first time. Acid Attack Victims have been included.

4.    Persons with disabilities (PwDs) shall have the right to equality. They shall not be discriminated against on grounds of their disability.

5.    Rights include protection from inhuman treatment and equal protection and safety in situations of risk, humanitarian emergencies, natural disasters and armed conflict.

6.    All existing public buildings shall be made accessible for disabled persons.

7.    It provides for the access to inclusive education, self-employment and vocational training to disabled persons.

8.    At least 5% seats in all government institutions of higher education and those getting aid from the government are required to reserve seats for persons with benchmark disabilities.

 

Pre-historic camping site found in Ladakh

An ancient camping site used by pre-historic man and datable to circa 8500 BCE, has been found at an altitude of about 4,200 metres near Saser La in the Nubra Valley, Ladakh. Saser La leads to the Karakoram Pass.

 

 

What

1.    camping site is a place where hunter-gatherers stayed temporarily before they moved on to another place. S.B. Ota, Joint Director General, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), found the camping site during an exploration there in 2015-16. Charcoal pieces from hearth activity and remains of bones associated with it were found at the site.

2.    The charcoal pieces sent for dating to Beta Analytic, Florida, U.S., revealed that the site belonged to circa 8500 BCE.

3.    The camping site found near Saser La was “an ideal place for camping in a picturesque setting,” he said. He described it as “a flat area of barren land with loose rocks all around, snow-covered peaks at a distance and a stream” in a gorge.

4.    Ladakh is famous for its Himalayan mountain ranges, its spectacular glaciers, passes, valleys and the Buddhist monasteries. But not much archaeological importance was attached to the region.

5.    Only 6th century CE to 7th century CE remains were reported in Ladakh. Rough terrain, high altitudes and extreme weather made it difficult for any explorer to undertake archaeological expeditions in the region.

6.    However, the arduous and persistent efforts made by an ASI team under Dr. Ota led to “remarkable archaeological discoveries in Ladakh,” the ASI Director-General added

 

Exercise Konkan 16 

KONKAN 16, the 2016 edition of the annual bilateral maritime exercise between the Indian Navy and the Royal Navy, would be held from 05 -16 Dec 16 at Mumbai and Goa. Exercise KONKAN, named after the Western coastal region of India, was institutionalised in 2004. Since then, the exercise hosted in rotation by both the Navies, has grown in complexity, scale and intensity.

 

 

What

1.    The exercise will be conducted in two phases at Mumbai and Goa

2.    The first phase, to be held from 05 - 09 Dec 16, would be a Command Planning exercise involving the two navies, where planners from both sides will undertake planning for combined maritime operations. 

3.    The second phase is a LIVE EXERCISE (LIVEX), to be held from 12 - 16 Dec 16 at Goa, which involves interaction between the IN Marine Commandos (MARCOs) and the Royal Marines. 

4.    Both phases will involve sharing of best practices and lessons learnt from recent operations, especially in the field of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) and Non-combatant Evacuation Operations (NEO).

 

18th state to join UDAY

 

 

Himachal Pradesh has become the 18th state to join UDAY, a central scheme for revival of debt stressed power distribution companies, availing a net benefit of about Rs 823 crore. Government of India signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Himachal Pradesh and state DISCOM under the Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) on 8 December 2016, for operational and financial turnaround of the DISCOM. 

 

Triple talaq unconstitutional

The Allahabad High Court said that triple talaq is unconstitutional and it violates the rights of Muslim women. In an apparent reference to the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) the high court bench said that "no personal law board is above the Constitution".

 

 

What

1.    Earlier in August, the Supreme Court took on board a petition by a West Bengal-based Muslim woman to declare the practices of triple talaq, ''nikah halala'' and polygamy under the Muslim personal laws illegal and unconstitutional.

2.    The SC bench comprising of CJI TS Thakur and J AM Khanwilkar and J DY Chandrachud had issued notice to Ministries of Women and Child Development, Law and Justice, Minority Affairs, the National Commission for Women, police chiefs of Bihar and West Bengal and the woman's husband, Murtuza Ansari.

3.    Reacting to the Allahabad High Court judgement, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said, "Constitution is supreme and above religion. Allahabad Court's decision should be hailed."

4.    The central government has also told the apex court that triple talaq is against gender justice, equality and the Constitution.

5.    The practice of triple talaq is sanctioned under Muslim personal law that governs marriage, property and divorce. 

6.    Broadly, triple talaqs are of two types: first, in which a husband can utter triple talaq in one sitting in the presence of two witnessessecond, the husband can decide to give talaq in monthly instalments.

 

HC not a disciplinary authority: SC

A High Court is not a disciplinary authority and it is not its job to impose a punishment even if an employer hands down a "shockingly disproportionate" penalty to an errant employee, the Supreme Court has said. Holding that the power of awarding a particular penalty rested with the disciplinary authority, a bench headed by Justice A K Sikri said, "it is not the function of the High Court to impose a particular punishment even in those cases where it was found that penalty awarded by the employer is shockingly disproportionate."

 

 

What

1.    "Decision qua the nature and quantum is the prerogative of the disciplinary authority. It is not the function of the High Court to decide the same," the bench said.

2.    The observation came in a judgment which set aside an order of a division bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court altering the penalty of dismissal from service awarded to a supervisor of a cooperative bank by the disciplinary authority and modified it and said the employee would be denied two increments for a period of three years.

3.    The apex court said the courts below, while exercising their power of judicial review in such matters, "should not sit as the appellate authority."

4.    The disciplinary authority of Krishna District Cooperative Central Bank had found K Hanumantha Rao, a supervisor of five Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies (PACS), guilty of dereliction of duty.

 

ISRO signs first contract to build two satellites

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has signed the first contract for an industry-built spacecraft with a consortium of six companies based in Bengaluru. The contract includes the assembly, integration and testing (AIT) of two spare navigation satellites in 18 months.

 

 

What

1.    ISAC assembles the country's satellites for communication, remote sensing and navigation.

2.    After two years, the consortium will make about half a dozen spacecraft of 300-500-kg category a year with an expected buyback from ISRO and possibly for export, Col. H.S.Shankar (retd), CMD of Alpha Design.

3.    ISRO has purchased sub-systems from its suppliersthis is the first time that it will be outsourcing entire satellites to industry.

4.    Alpha is a defence manufacturing contractor while the others are small and medium-sized companies which already supply components to ISRO's programmes.

5.    The second spacecraft will be made entirely by us but at ISRO's readily available facilities. From the second year onwards, the consortium must provide four to five [small- to medium-sized] satellites each year.

6.    The others in the consortium are Newtech Solutions; Aidin Technologies and DCX Cables from Bengaluru; Vinyas Technologies from Mysuru and Avantel Systems of Hyderabad.

 

Exercise EKUVERIN

Seventh edition of Exercise EKUVERIN will be held from 15 to 28 Dec 2016 at Kadhdhoo, Laamu Atoll, Maldives. The Exercise is a 14 day platoon level joint military exercise between the Indian Army & the Maldives National Defence Force conducted on a yearly basis.

 

 

What

1.    The aim of the exercise is to conduct military training with emphasis on amphibious & counter insurgency/ counter terrorism operations with a view to enhance interoperability between the two armies.

2.    The contingents comprises of platoon strength from BIHAR Regiment and a similar strength of the Maldivian National Defence Force.

3.    The previous edition of the exercise was held in India at Trivandrum, Kerala.

 

Indra Navy – 2016

The 9th edition of exercise INDRA NAVY, an annual bilateral maritime exercise between Indian Navy and Russian Navy will be conducted in the Bay of Bengal from 14 to 21 December 2016. 

 

 

 

What

1.    The primary aim of exercise INDRA NAVY-16 is to increase inter-operability amongst the two navies and develop common understanding and procedures for maritime security operations. 

2.    The scope of the exercise includes wide-ranging professional interactions in harbor phase and a diverse canvas of operational activities across a spectrum of maritime operations at sea. 

3.    INDRA NAVY is a bilateral maritime exercise between the Indian and Russian navies and epitomizes the strategic relationship between the two countries. 

4.    Initiated in 2003, the exercise has matured over the years with increase in scope, complexity of operations and level of participation.

 

National Women’s Parliament-2017

The Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly in association with MAEER’s MIT School of Government, Pune would be organising a ‘National Women’s Parliament -2017’ for three days from February 10 at Amaravati, the states permanent capital city. All women Members of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies of all states in the country, along with over 10,000 girl students from colleges of higher education would participate in the deliberations, AP Assembly Speaker K Sivaprasad told reporters in Hyderabad on 12 December 2016.

 

 

What

1.    Almost half of India’s young generation are women and though they are the largest democracy in the world, women in India find themselves under-represented and far-removed from decision making levels. 

2.    Women face many political, socio-economic, ideological and psychological obstacles in undertaking leadership roles. There is a dire need to remove these obstacles.

3.    The National Women’s Parliament (NWP) would be a common and non-political platform for women from diverse background like politics, education, sports, industry, media, cinema, arts and culture, judiciary and young aspiring girl students to share their experiences and knowledge in the area of women’s social economic and political empowerment.

 

Infosys invests in ideaForge

Software major Infosys has said it has invested an undisclosed amount in Mumbai-based drone company ideaForge, which counts India’s armed and paramilitary forces as its biggest customers. Infosys, which has made the investment through its innovation fund, says it plans to use ideaForge’s indigenous unmanned air vehicles and the data insights to offer industrial solutions to its global clients.

 

 

What

1.    ideaForge’s UAVs, which have fully autonomous operation, high endurance, and image intelligence with live feed, have been used by the Indian Armed Forces for surveillance, crowd monitoring and rescue operations. 

2.    These are also used by Gujarat Police, Maharashtra Police, BSF, NDRF and for commercial applications in verticals such as energy, utilities, telecom and agricultureideaForge incubated at IIT Bombay in 2007 and then expanded its business. 

3.    “ideaForge’s high performance UAVs, which have been designed and built in India, have significant potential in industrial use cases

4.    WRV Capital and IndusAge Partners also participated in the round with Infosys, who have collectively invested about Rs 70 crore in the Mumbai firm.

International

 

India, Qatar ink pacts on cyberspace

India and Qatar on 3 December 2016 signed four agreements on visas, cyberspace and investments following delegation-level talks led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Qatari countepart Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani. 

 

 

What

1.    One agreement allows holders of diplomatic, special and official passports of the two countries visa-free travel between the two countries.

2.    protocol on technical cooperation in cyber space and combating cyber crime was signed between the Ministry of Home Affairs of India and the Ministry of Interior of Qatar.

3.    The protocol adds an important dimension of bilateral technical cooperation in cyberspace and combating cyber crime to the existing framework agreement in the field of security signed in November 2008.

4.    letter of intent was signed that allows for negotiations on an agreement on grant of e-visa to businessmen and tourists of the two countries.

5.    memorandum of understanding (MoU) was also signed between Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy of Qatar and Confederation of Indian Industry which will provide a framework for project experts for Indian companies in Qatar, including through participation in infrastructure projects in Qatar. 

6.    India enjoys close and friendly relations with Qatar, which are based on mutually beneficial commercial exchanges and extensive people-to-people contacts.

7.    Qatar is not only an important trading partner for India in the Gulf region but is also the largest supplier of LNG, accounting for 66 per cent of the total imports in 2015-16.

8.    Indians form the largest expatriate community in Qatar and their positive contribution in the progress and development of their host country is well recognised. There are over expatriate 630,000 Indians in Qatar.

 

Japan ratifies TPP trade pact

Japan ratified the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free-trade pact aimed at linking a dozen Pacific Rim nations, hoping it will one day take effect despite President-elect Donald Trump's pledge that the United States (US) will withdraw from it.

 

 

What

1.    The TPP, which aims to cut trade barriers in some of Asia's fastest-growing economies but does not include China, cannot take effect without the US.

2.    The deal, which has been five years in the making, requires ratification by at least six countries accounting for 85 per cent of the combined gross domestic product of the member nations.

3.    Given the sheer size of the American economy, the deal cannot go ahead without US participation.

4.    It has not been ratified by the US Senate and Trump last month promised to withdraw from it after he is inaugurated in January. Instead, he would replace it with bilaterally negotiated trade deals.

5.    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said the TPP would be "meaningless without the United States".

6.    But by ratifying the deal in Parliament, Japan is signalling it hopes the accord can be resuscitated when conditions are more favourable.

7.    Government officials said the trade pact would essentially go into deep freeze but that they would not abandon hope of reviving it in future.

 

India, Vietnam sign N-pact

In a significant development, India and influential East Asian nation Vietnam on 9 December 2016 signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserting that it will further strengthen the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries.

 

 

What

1.    The two countries also signed three other agreements — to enhance aviation linksto jointly work in the area of energy efficiency and promotion of parliamentary cooperation.

2.    The four pacts, aimed at boosting the relations, were signed here in presence of Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and visiting President of Vietnam’s National Assembly Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan after their talks on enhancing the ties.

3.    Ngan, who is leading a Vietnamese Parliamentary delegation, also met the Prime Minister who said the Agreement on Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy “will further strengthen the comprehensive strategic partnership between India and Vietnam.”

4.    Modi recalled his earlier meeting with Ngan in Hanoi during his visit to Vietnam in September.

5.    Ngan, as the first woman to head the National Assembly of Vietnam, is a source of inspiration to women across the world.

6.    Modi welcomed increased Parliamentary interactions between India and Vietnam, and called for instituting an exchange programme for young parliamentarians of the two countries.

7.    Cooperation Agreement between the Lok Sabha of the Republic of India and the National Assembly of the Socialist

8.    Republic of Vietnam.

9.    The civil nuclear agreement with Vietnam, an influential East Asian nation, comes close on the heels of India signing a similar pact with Japan.

10.  Vietnam is the 14th country to sign civil agreement with India

11.  The two countries had earlier in 1986 signed a pact in the civil nuclear field which was limited to training. However, the new agreement is broadbased and encompasses research on nuclear reactors.

12.  An MoU on ‘Promotion of traffic between Vietnam and India and sharing of best practices in airline operation, ground handling procedure and management’ was also signed between Air India and Vietjet Aviation Joint Stock Company.

13.  Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a PSU under the Power Ministry, and Vietnam Electricity (EVN) signed an MoU on ‘Developing a Partnership to Jointly Work in the Area of Energy Efficiency’.

 

First global oil pact 

OPEC and non-OPEC producers on 10 December 2016 reached their first deal since 2001 to curtail oil output jointly and ease a global glut after more than two years of low prices that overstretched many budgets and spurred unrest in some countries. With the deal finally signed after almost a year of arguing within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and mistrust in the willingness of non-OPEC Russia to play ball, the market’s focus will now switch to compliance with the agreement.

 

 

What

1.    OPEC has a long history of cheating on output quotas. The fact that Nigeria and Libya were exempt from the deal due to production-denting civil strife will further pressure OPEC leader Saudi Arabia to shoulder the bulk of supply reductions.

2.    Russia, which 15 years ago failed to deliver on promises to cut in tandem with OPEC, is expected to perform real output reductions this time. But analysts question whether many other non-OPEC producers are attempting to present a natural decline in output as their contribution to the deal. “This agreement cements and prepares us for long-term cooperation,” Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih told reporters after the meeting, calling the deal “historic”.

3.    TWO YEARS OF PAIN Oil prices have more than halved in the past two years after Saudi Arabia raised output steeply in an attempt to drive higher-cost producers such as U.S. shale firms out of the market.

4.    In April in Doha, an attempt to clinch a deal collapsed. Novak said talks between OPEC and non-OPEC had been rescued after Saudi Arabia replaced veteran oil minister Ali al-Naimi with Falih, who “had fresh views and ideas”. Apart from Russia, the talks on Saturday were attended by or had comments or commitments sent from non-OPEC members Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bolivia, Brunei, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Sudan and South Sudan.

 

Economy

 

RBI issues final guidelines on LEF

The RBI issued final norms for banks' exposure to large companies and said lender's total advances to a single company cannot be higher than 20 per cent of its capital base. The new norms should be implemented by March 31, 2019.

 

 

What

1.    The sum of all the exposure values of a bank to a single counter-party must not be higher than 20 per cent of the bank's available eligible capital base at all times. 

2.    However, in exceptional cases, board of banks may allow an additional 5 per cent exposure of the bank's available eligible capital base

3.    The sum of all the exposure values of a bank to a group of connected counter-parties must not be higher than 25 per cent of the bank's available eligible capital base at all times. 

4.    The framework said any breach of the limits shall be under exceptional conditions only and shall be reported to RBI immediately and rectified at the earliest but not later than a period of 30 days from the date of the breach. 

5.    The guidelines said banks must apply these exposure at the same level as the risk-based capital requirements are applied, that is, a bank shall comply with the these norms at two levels the consolidated level and solo level. 

6.    Under the proposed LEF, an exposure to a counter-party will constitute both on and off-balance sheet exposures included in either the banking or trading book and instruments with counter-party credit risk.

 

Global Payments Report 2016

The Indian e-commerce market is set to overtake the US and become the second largest in the world in less than two decades, going head-to-head with China for the position of biggest e-commerce market; this according to new research from Worldpay, the leader in global payments. For its Global Payments Report 2016, Worldpay analysed 30 markets around the world, including India, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Australia in Asia-Pacific. The Global Payments Report is an annual Worldpay report compiled using a combination of Worldpay's data and insights, external findings from Euromonitor, Datamonitor andystats.com and secondary data from other independent sources.

 

 

What

1.    This year, Worldpay's research has discovered increasing complexity in the global payments market and found that e-commerce is expected to grow exponentially. 

2.    This growth will occur around the world, but emerging markets are leading the charge particularly India, where e-commerce is predicted to mature by 28 per cent per year from 2016 to 2020. 

3.    According to Worldpay projections, India will be the world's second largest e-commerce market by 2034, thanks to massive surges in internet penetration, a swelling millennial population and the rising uptake of mobile phones.

4.    Our research has uncovered a number of trends that point to India's potential for astounding e-commerce growth in the next two decades. The market is predicted to reach $63.7 billion by 2020 and overtake the US by 2034. 

5.    Much of India's e-commerce growth will be the result of rising internet penetration. Roughly 350 million Indian citizens are already online, according to Worldpay's research and that number is expected to nearly double to 600 million by 2020. Google's 'Next Billion Users' team estimate that three Indians are coming online every second.

6.    As India continues to invest in new technical infrastructure such as the National Optical Network, originally scheduled for completion in 2013 and now undergoing trial roll-outs millions of Indian consumers will get wider access to fast internet.

7.    Another major factor driving e-commerce growth in India is the country's huge uptake of mobile phones. 

 

100 banks join NFS network

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) said 100 banks have joined the National Financial Switch (NFS) network as direct members. NFS is the largest interoperable ATM network in the country and it manages more than 95 per cent of the domestic interbank ATM transactions. 

 

 

What

1.    As of today, NFS network comprise of 745 members who include 100 direct members, 645 sub-members including regional rural banks (RRBs) and white label ATM operators (WLAOs). The network now has 2, 30,000 ATMs. 

2.    Direct members are those banks that directly participate in clearing and settlement with NPCI. Direct member bank can also act as a sponsor bank. 

3.    NFS has emerged as one of the well-established ATM networks in the world. Its operational functions and services are at par with most of the global ATM networks. 

 

'Notified jurisdictional area' on Cyprus removed

India removed Cyprus from the list of 'notified jurisdictional area' thereby providing big relief to investors and Indian companies that have raised capital from Cyprus investors. In exercise of the powers conferred by sub section (1) of section 94A of the Income-tax Act, 1961, the Central Government hereby rescinds the notification of the Government of India in the Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue, number 86 of 2013 published in the Gazette of India.

 

 

What 

1.    India blacklisted Cyprus in 2013 for not sharing tax information. It had classified the island nation as a notified jurisdictional area on grounds that Cyprus was not providing information requested by tax authorities under the taxation treaty. 

2.    Following the notification, all payments made to Cyprus attracted a 30 per cent withholding tax and Indian entities receiving money from there were required to disclose the source of funds. 

3.    India and Cyprus had on November 18 signed the revised bilateral tax treaty under which capital gains tax will be levied on sale of shares on investments made after April 1, 2017, bringing the island nation at par with Mauritius in terms of tax treatment. 

4.    The new agreement also provides for exchange of banking information and allows the use of such information for purposes other than taxation with prior approval of competent authorities of the country. 

5.    As per the revised tax treaty, capital gains arising from sale of shares of an Indian company will be taxable at the applicable domestic tax rate

6.    The protocol to the India-Mauritius DTAA provides for a scenario wherein the taxes in India will apply at 50 per cent of the domestic tax rate on capital gains during the transition period of two years. 

7.    No such relief is granted in the new India-Cyprus DTAA and therefore, capital gains arising from sale of shares of an Indian company will be taxable at the applicable domestic tax rate.

 

 

Science and Technology

 

India’s first private moon mission

TeamIndus, a Bengaluru-based private aerospace company, has said it will send a spacecraft to the moon on December 28, 2017, aboard an Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) rocket. The mission’s aim is to land this spacecraft on the moon, have it travel at least 500 metres and beam high- definition video, images and data back to the earth. Were it to be successful, it would likely pip ISRO’s proposed moon-lander mission — Chandrayaan 2 — that is yet to formally announce a launch date. In 2008, Chandrayaan 1 became the first Indian space mission to send a spacecraft that circled the moon.

 

 

What

1.    Except for the launch vehicle, all of the technology that will power the rover and lander is developed in-house by TeamIndus.

2.    TeamIndus has high-profile investors, including Ratan Tata of the Tata Group; Sachin and Binny Bansal, co-founders of Flipkart and Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of Infosys Ltd, and is a 100-member team of engineers, space enthusiasts, former Air Force pilots and former ISRO employees. It is one of the four international teams — and the only one from India — in the running for the Google Lunar XPRIZE, a $30 million (approx. Rs. 200 crore) competition, to encourage private companies to launch space missions.

3.    Two U.S.-based companies, Moon Express and Synergy Moon and one Israeli company — SPACE 1 L — have so far announced agreements with space-launch-vehicle companies such as SpaceX. Other than technical requirements, the prize rules also require that companies be 90% privately funded.

 

Miscellaneous

 

Pollution code on lines of Beijing

The Supreme Court on 2 December 2016 approved the use of a common pollution code for Delhi-NCR to categorise the severity of the pollutants present in the air. The levels of pollution will be classified into four categories — moderate to poorvery poorseverevery Severe or emergency. Accepting recommendations made by the Delhi and Central government, the apex court directed the Centre to notify the levels of four categories of pollution.  

 

 

What

1.    Beijing also has a similar pollution code where regular colour-coded alerts are issued based on the pollution levels

2.    The court order comes nearly a month after the capital saw pollution levels rise to alarming levels, with thick smog enveloping the city. It lead to the Arvind Kejriwal government announcing a slew of temporary measures to bring pollution levels down to normal.

3.    Shutting down of the Badarpur power plant, halting construction activity, vacuuming cleaning and sprinkling of water on roads, and banning the practice of burning dry leaves or waste were among the measures announced.

4.    Recently the top court has also banned the sale of fireworks in the capital in an effort to curb rising pollution levels.

 

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister passes away

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa passed away on 5 December 2016 at the Apollo Hospitals, Chennai. She was 68. The government has announced three days holiday in view of the mourning period.

 

 

What

1.    Ms. Jayalalithaa was a reluctant entrant into films as well as politics but she succeeded in both; her film career began in 1965 with her first film 'Vennira Aadai'. 

2.    Ms. Jayalalithaa was Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister for 6 terms and has been in politics since 1982 when she joined the AIADMK and made her first speech on "Pennin Perumai" (The Greatness of a Woman). 

 

Justice J S Khehar to be the 44th CJI

Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, who led the five-judge constitution bench in the Supreme Court which had struck down the controversial NJAC Act for appointment of judges, was recommended as the 44th Chief Justice of India.

 

 

What

1.    Justice Khehar, 64, will be the first Chief Justice from the Sikh community and he will succeed CJI Thakur who will be demitting office on January 3, 2017.

2.    Justice Khehar, who will be sworn in on January 4, will hold the tenure for over seven months till August 27, 2017.

3.    Besides heading the bench in NJAC matter, Justice Khehar has also headed a bench which had set aside the imposition of President's Rule in Arunachal Pradesh in January this year.

 

TIME magazine's Person of the Year 2016

US President-elect Donald Trump was named by TIME magazine as its Person of the Year 2016 for his stunning upset victory in the presidential election.

 

 

What

1.    After campaigning as an anti-establishment, populist candidate, 70-year-old Trump was elected the 45th President of the US — a stunning end to a presidential bid that repeatedly broke with political precedent.

2.    The first runner-up for Person of the Year is Trump's rival in the presidential elections and Democratic nominee Hillary Clintonand the second runner-up is online hackers.

3.    Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the 11 candidates shortlisted by TIME for its annual honour.

4.    The Person of the Year is picked by TIME editors from among world leaders, artists, corporate czars and organisations who most influenced the news, for better or for worse.

5.    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.

6.    The other contenders were US gymnast Simone Biles, CRISPR Scientists who developed a groundbreaking new technology that can edit DNA, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, the Flint Whistleblowers who along with civil-engineering professor Marc Edwards and local pediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha blew the whistle on the lead-poisoned water in Flint, Michigan, singer Beyonce, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

 

GTI 2016

India was ranked 7th in the list of countries most impacted by terrorism in 2015, according to the Global Terrorism Index (GTI), 2016, released by the Institute for Economics & Peace, a Sydney-based think-tank. 

 

 

What

1.    India is one of six Asian countries ranked in the top 10 nations most impacted by terrorism. The Heart of Asia conference adopted the Amritsar declaration on December 4, 2016, which recognises "terrorism, violent extremism, radicalization, separatism, and sectarianism and linkages among them" as the gravest challenges facing the region. 

2.    The declaration voiced particular concern about the "high level of violence" by ISIS and its affiliates, the Haqqani Network, al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan - all based in South Asia. 

3.    India recorded 289 terrorism-related deaths in 2015, a 45 per cent decline over 2014. However, the number of Indian Army and paramilitary soldiers killed this year is at an eight-year high, IndiaSpend reported on November 29, 2016. 

4.    As many as 797 terrorist attacks were recorded in India in 2015, up 4 per cent since 2014, the report said. 

5.    While the 2015 attacks were the highest since 2000, 80 per cent were non-lethal. Overall, 49 different terrorist groups were engaged in attacks but 31 of these failed to kill anyone. 

6.    India experienced 7 per cent of all terrorist attacks around the world, the fourth highest after Iraq (20 per cent), Afghanistan (14 per cent) and Pakistan (8 per cent). India, in 2015, had fewer terror attacks (797) than only Iraq (2,415), Afghanistan (1,715) and Pakistan (1,008). India suffered twice as many attacks as Syria (384). 

7.    Deaths from terror attacks globally declined 10 per cent from the highest recorded level of 32,765 in 2014 to 29,376 in 2015, the GTI report said. 

8.    The GTI score for a country is calculated based on weightage assigned to the total number of terrorist incidents, fatalities, injuries and property damage sustained in the year in question. The index also takes into consideration attacks which took place in the four previous years. 

World’s second biggest sitting statue 

 

 

A complex with 108 temples and a towering 216-feet-high sitting statue of 10th century Bhakti saint Ramanuja is taking shape on the outskirts of Hyderabad. Called the Statue of Equality as a tribute to Ramanujacharya’s philosophy and teachings, the gigantic structure will mark the beginning of the 1000th birth anniversary celebrations of the religious guru, planned by Chinna Jeeyar Swamy and his religious trust.

 

The Nobel Prizes were handed out

The Nobel Prizes were handed out on 10 December 2016 to the winners for their ground-breaking work ranging from the development of the world’s smallest machines to song lyrics that have touched generations of fans.

 

 

What

1.    The Nobel Prize in LITERATURE: Singer-songwriter Bob Dylan for having created what the Swedish Academy described as “new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” Dylan isn’t attending the ceremony.

2.    The Nobel Prize in MEMORIAL PRIZE IN ECONOMIC SCIENCES: Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmstrom for their contributions to contract theory, a field of research applicable to anything from CEO bonuses to the deductibles and co-pays for insurance.

3.    The Nobel PEACE PRIZE: Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for his efforts to end his country’s civil war after five decades of bloodshed.

4.    The Nobel Prize in CHEMISTRY: Frenchman Jean-Pierre Sauvage, British-born Fraser Stoddart and Dutch scientist Bernard “Ben” Feringa for work on tiny molecular machines that scientists say can lead to new computer chips, batteries and energy storage systems.

5.    The Nobel Prize in PHYSICS: British-born scientists David ThoulessDuncan Haldane and Michael Kosterlitz for research on superconductors and other unusual states of matter, which the judges said could pave the way for developments in electronics and quantum computers.

6.    The Nobel Prize in MEDICINE: Japanese scientist Yoshinori Ohsumi for discoveries related to autophagy, the “self-eating” process that lets a cell break down and recycle some of its contents. Breakdowns in the autophagy process have been linked to a number of grave diseases including Parkinson’s, diabetes and cancer.

 

India abstains from voting on UNGA

 

 

India along with 35 other nations abstained from voting on a UN General Assembly resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Syria and urgent aid deliveries in the war-ravaged country. The Canada-led resolution, which expressed "outrage" at the escalation of violence in Syria, particularly war-battered Aleppo, was adopted by a vote of 122 in favour, 13 against and 36 abstentions on 9 December 2016.

 

World's longest tunnel opens 

Regular rail service through the world's longest tunnel began on 11 December 2016, carrying passengers deep under the Swiss Alps from Zurich to Lugano. The famed Gotthard Base Tunnel (GBT) had a ceremonial opening in June, attracting European leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande for its maiden ride.

 

 

What

1.    The Swiss national rail service (SBB) had announced that on 11 December 2016 would mark the start of normal commercial traffic through the 57-kilometre (35-mile) GBT, which took 17 years to build, at a cost of over 12 billion Swiss francs (USD 11.8 billion, 11.2 billion euros).

2.    The Swiss news agency ATS reported that the first regular passenger train to use the GBT pulled out of Zurich at 6:09 am (0509 GMT) and arrived in Lugano at 8:17 am, with the tunnel passage shaving a full 30 minutes off the previous travel time for the same route.

3.    The ambitious GBT project has won praise across Europe for its pioneering efforts to improve connectivity from Rotterdam to the Adriatic.

4.    The Swiss funded tunnel was largely made possible by technical advances in tunnel-boring machines, which replaced the costly and dangerous blast-and-drill method.

 

Cyclone Vardah

Text Box: Why are cyclones given names?
1.	The practice first began to help people easily remember them instead of identifying a storm with a specific number based on its latitude-longitude. Also it is easy to issue alerts, and for the media to report the developments. 
2.	This simultaneously increases the community preparedness and heightens interest in the event, according to WMO. 
3.	Names are ideally retired in case there is massive damage to property and loss of human lives. Example: Hurricane Sandy, Katrina that hit America under the Obama and Bush administration respectively were retired.
Tropical cyclones passing over the northern part of the Indian Ocean are named by eight countries in the region, namely India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman and Thailand. The process only began in 2004, fours years after World Meteorological Organization agreed in principle to allow them to name cyclones originating in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea. The alphabet system is used to designate the name of a cyclone, which means the name of the year’s first cyclone begins with A. previously, till 1979, cyclones were only given female names. Male names were only introduced in the same year. World Meteorological Organization (WMO) maintains the database of cyclone/hurricane/typhoon names. There are six lists of names used in rotation and they are recycled every six years. The names are picked from this pre-designated list and are usually familiar with the people living in the region. India has so far contributed the following names: Agni, Bijli, Akash, Jal, Lehar, Megh, Sagar and Vayu.

 

 

Who named cyclone Vardah?

1.    The name Vardah, which means red rose, was given by Pakistan. 

2.    The name was originally part of a standby list that is used to replace retired names in the original list. 

3.    Cyclone Vardah made landfall in Tamil Nadu and coastal Andhra Pradesh on 12 December 2016 evening. Heavy rainfall and high wind speeds measuring over 90 kmph are expected to follow. 

4.    It was downgraded from very severe cyclone to severe cyclone by the Indian Meteorological Department.

 

India among world's top five defence spenders

India is among the world's top five defence spenders with its military budget at USD 50.7 billion, overtaking Saudi Arabia and Russia, according to a new report released on 12 December 2016.

 

 

As per Report

1.    The US, China and the UK remain the top three defence spenders while India has the fourth largest military budget, followed by Saudi Arabia and Russia, according to the '2016 Jane's Defence Budgets Report', released by research firm IHS Markit.

2.    India spent USD 50.7 billion this year on defence, up from USD 46.6 billion last year.

3.    India is set to overtake Britain with the third-largest defence budget by 2018 as a result of its modernisation drive.

4.    The US remained way ahead of the world with a budget of USD 622 billion, followed by China at USD 191.7 billion while the UK spent USD 53.8 billion on defence this year, Saudi Arabia USD 48.68 billion and Russia USD 48.44 billion.

5.    After three years of budgetary constraints, the definitive UK-based defence magazine forecasts that Indian spending will rise from USD 38 billion in 2010 to USD 64 billion in 2020.

6.    Procurement spending has been constrained in India over the last three years as personnel costs have increased. However, what we expect to see from 2017 onwards is a military focused on modernisation. 

7.    India needs new equipment to fulfill its modernisation drive. Over the next three years, India will re-emerge as a key growth market for defence suppliers.

8.    The worldwide outlook shows that global defence spending rose by 1 per cent to USD 1.6 trillion this year, against 0.6 per cent in 2015.

9.    This rise has been attributed largely to strategic threats posed by Russia and the Islamic State terror group in the Middle East.

10.  By 2020, China is forecast to be spending more than the whole of western Europe on defence and by 2025, more than all the states in the Asia-Pacific region combined.

 

Vacation Deprivation Report 2016

India has been ranked as the fourth most vacation deprived country globally, as 63 per cent take fewer days of the vacations that they get, according to a report. After Spain (68 per cent)UAE (68 per cent)Malaysia (67 per cent) and South Korea (64 per cent), India is ranked the fourth most vacation deprived country globally," according to Expedia 'Vacation Deprivation report 2016'.

 

 

As per Report

1.    The report revealed that 40 per cent Indians don't use all vacation days as work schedule does not allow for vacation or don't have enough staff to cover and 32 per cent are not able to take vacation days due to personal schedule.

2.    Vacations play a critical role in creating work-life balance as it re-energises people to be more focused at work (95 per cent of Indians agree in the survey).

3.    The report also found that 27 per cent Indians did not take vacations as they found it difficult to coordinate time with their spouse or family and 32 per cent felt personal schedule did not allow them.

4.    About 21 per cent Indians also felt that important work decisions will be made when they are on vacations and 21 per cent said it will be perceived positively on their employers as the reasons for not taking any leave.

 

World Malaria Report 2016

India is among the four countries that account for 81 per cent of estimated deaths caused by Plasmodium vivax, the WHO said on 13 December 2016 and asserted that more than 18 crore people in the country are at high risk of malaria. Noting that sustained and sufficient funding for malaria control is a "serious" challenge, the global body's World Malaria Report, 2016, said despite a steep increase in global investment for fighting malaria between 2000 and 2010, funding has "flat-lined" since then.

 

 

What

1.    Four countries (Ethiopia, India, Indonesia and Pakistan) accounted for 78 per cent of Plasmodium vivax cases. Last year, these four countries accounted for 81 per cent of estimated deaths due to P. vivax malaria, the report said adding 18, 35, 47,074 people were high risk of malaria last year. 

2.    Plasmodium vivax is a protozoal parasite and a human pathogenIt is one of the five species of malaria parasites that commonly infect humans and the most frequent and widely distributed cause of recurring malaria. It is less virulent than Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest of the five. 

3.    According to estimated malaria cases and deaths from 2000 to 2015, while there were 36,000 malaria deaths in 2000, the figures rose to 41,000 in 2005. In 2010, 33,000 estimated malaria deaths took place, while in 2015 it was 24,000. 

4.    The report said in 2015, an estimated 212 million cases of malaria occurred worldwide a fall of 22 per cent since 2000 and of 14 per cent since 2010

5.    Most of the cases in 2015 were in the WHO African Region (90 per cent), followed by the WHO South-East Asia Region including India (7 per cent) and the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region (2 per cent). 

6.    Many countries of the region, substantial gaps in programme coverage remain. Funding shortfalls and fragile health systems are undermining overall progress, jeopardizing the attainment of global targets. 

 

India tops Asia in innovation chart

India has emerged as the most preferred destination for innovation in Asia and third biggest globally, with 'Silicon Valley' of East Bengaluru leading the charge, says a research by global consulting major Capgemini.

 

 

What

1.    India has been ranked as the No. 1 innovation destination in Asia and No. 2 in the world for new innovation centres.

2.    Bengaluru, which saw the opening of three new centres between March and October this year and an announcement by Apple to establish a startup accelerator, leads the Indian challenge on innovation and is ranked as the fifth hub at the global level.

3.    Nine new innovation centres were opened in the country during the period, taking the total number of innovation centres to 25. The US leads the list with 146 centres, followed by Britain with 29 and India is at the third place with 24 centres.

4.    The report said there has been noticeable activity in tier-II cities when it comes to innovation, and added that apart from Pune, which already existed on the global map, Jaipur has also entered the list with two new centres.

5.    The research, done by Capgemini Consulting's Digital Transformation Institute in collaboration with Fahrenheit 212 and in partnership with Brian Solis of Altimeter said efforts taken by the government are the prime moving factor for the emergence of the country in the list.

6.    This is due in part to the government and other public sector initiatives that seek to establish India as a digitally empowered society and nurture innovation.

7.    Jaipur, Pune and Hyderabad each welcomed two new centres involving partnerships with the government during the March-October period.

8.    The number of active incubators in the country increased from 40 per cent to 140, with a bulk 66 per cent of them in tier-II and tier-III centres.

9.    Global names, including Cisco, Qualcomm Technologies, general Electric 3M and London-based Internet of things consortium Hypercat have a presence in the country today, the report said.

10.  The footprint in smaller cities was attributed to the IoT policy for 2016-2020 and the government's startup India initiative launched early in 2016.

 

India’s first transgender school

 

 

Sahaj International School in Kochi will be the first residential transgender school in the country, transgender activists Vijayaraja Mallika, Maya Menon and Faisal CK said. The school will initially accommodate 10 transgender children, who will study under the National Open School system. The school will be inaugurated on December 30 by transgender rights activist and artist Kalki Subramaniam.

 

English most powerful language in the world

English has been ranked first in the top 10 most powerful languages in the world according to the 2016 World Power Language Index (PLI). The index was published by World Economic Forum (WEF).

 

 

What

1.    Indian language Hindi was ranked 10th in the 2016 PLI.

2.    There are over 6,000 languages spoken in the world. Of these 2,000 count fewer than 1,000 speakers.

3.    Just 15 languages account for half of the languages spoken in the world.

4.    English is dominant language of 3 G7 nations (USA, UK and Canada).

 

Top 10 Languages in 2016 PLI

 

 

English (1st), Mandarin (2nd), French (3rd), Spanish (4th), Arabic (5th), Russian (6th), German (7th), Japanese (8th), Portuguese (9th) and Hindi (10th). The top six languages are official languages of the United Nations. The remaining 4 in the top 10 include two other BRIC languages (Portuguese and Hindi) and 2 of the economic heavyweights (Germany and Japan). Hindi is most primarily language spoken in India with a share of 41%. It is also the official language of Indian government. About World Power Language Index (PLI) The World Power Language Index (PLI) compares or ranks languages on their efficacy in the various domains. It uses 20 indicators to measure the influence on language. It measures the usefulness of a language to a representative human being. It is not meant to apply to any particular person with their own set of conditions, preferences and geography. It does not measure of the beauty or merit of a language or its associated cultures.

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Dr Khan

Dr. Khan began his career of teaching in 1988 as lecturer in a college of University of Delhi. He later taught at Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi. He has several research papers and books to his credit.
Dr. Khan has been teaching General Studies since February 1992 to IAS aspirants and is very proud of the fact that almost every State and Union Territory in India has some civil servants who personally associate with him.

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