Indigenous Nirbhay missile test fails
A flight-test of subsonic cruise missile Nirbhay from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Balasore in Odisha was “an utter failure”, informed sources in the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said. The booster engine in Nirbhay's first stage started working. The missile lifted off from its launcher. But it started veering dangerously towards one side in less than two minutes of its lift-off. The missile, conceived, designed and developed by the DRDO, can take out targets 1,000 km away. It can carry a 300 kg warhead.
1. Nirbhay’s debut flight on March 12, 2013 was a failure. After 20 minutes of lift-off, it deviated from its path and its “destruct” mechanism was activated to ''kill'' it.
2. The second flight on October 17, 2014 was a big success. The missile travelled 1,010 km instead of the targeted 800 km.
3. The third mission on October 16, 2015 was again a failure. After 70 seconds of its flight, when it was cruising like an aircraft after the first stage had fallen off as planned, it lost control and fell within the safety zone.
Swachh Swasth Sarvatra launched
‘Swachh SwasthSarvatra’, an inter-ministerial joint initiative between the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare was launched in the Capital. Another joint initiative, ‘Swasth Bacche Swasth Bharat’, between Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Ministry of Human Resource Development was also launched. The objective of the ‘Swachh Swasth Sarvatra’ initiative is to build on and leverage achievements of two complementary programmes – Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) and Kayakalp – of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation and Ministry of Health and FamilyWelfare, respectively.
Disabilities Bill 2016 Passed
The Lok Sabha passed "The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill - 2016". The Bill will replace the existing PwD Act, 1995, which was enacted 21 years back. The Rajya Sabha has already passed the Bill on 14.12.2016.
The salient features of the Bill
1. Disability has been defined based on an evolving and dynamic concept.
2. The types of disabilities have been increased from existing 7 to 21 and the Central Government will have the power to add more types of disabilities.
3. Speech and Language Disability and Specific Learning Disability have been added for the first time. Acid Attack Victims have been included. Dwarfism, muscular dystrophy have has been indicated as separate class of specified disability.
4. The New categories of disabilities also included three blood disorders, Thalassemia, Hemophilia and Sickle Cell disease.
5. The Government has been authorized to notify any other category of specified disability.
6. Every child with benchmark disability between the age group of 6 and 18 years shall have the right to free education.
7. Government funded educational institutions as well as the government recognized institutions will have to provide inclusive education to the children with disabilities.
8. Reservation in vacancies in government establishments has been increased from 3% to 4% for certain persons or class of persons with benchmark disability.
9. The Bill provides for grant of guardianship by District Court under which there will be joint decision – making between the guardian and the persons with disabilities.
10. Broad based Central & State Advisory Boards on Disability are to be set up to serve as apex policy making bodies at the Central and State level.
11. The Bill provides for penalties for offences committed against persons with disabilities and also violation of the provisions of the new law.
12. The New Act will bring our law in line with the United National Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which India is a signatory.
13. This will fulfill the obligations on the part of India in terms of UNCRD.
14. The new law will not only enhance the Rights and Entitlements of Divyangjan but also provide effective mechanism for ensuring their empowerment and true inclusion into the Society in a satisfactory manner.
India successfully tests SAAW
The Defence and Research Development Organisation (DRDO) has successfully tested an indigenous Smart Anti-Airfield Weapon (SAAW) from an Indian Air Force aircraft on 24 December 2016.
1. Designed and developed in the country, the 120-kg class smart weapon is used to destroy runways, bunkers, aircraft hangers and other reinforced structures.
2. Its long standoff range of 100 km will allow the IAF to hit adversary airfields with high precision from a safe distance.
3. The captive and release trials were tracked by radar and telemetry ground stations at the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur in Odisha during the entire duration of the flight. The government sanctioned the Rs 56.58 crore SAAW project in September 2013.
4. In May, the DRDO conducted the first test on the weapon system from the IAF Jaguar DARIN-II aircraft in Bengaluru in Karnataka.
5. The test was carried out by IAF's Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE).
6. The trial mode mounting of the SAAW on Jaguar DARIN-II aircraft is manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
The Power Ministry was launched a new app, GARV-II, to provide real time data of all six lakh villages of the country. Earlier version of GARV mobile phone application used to provide data about rural electrification regarding 18,452 un-electrified villages. The new version GARV-II will provide real time data for all six lak villages in the country.
1. The GARV-II will enable the commoners to participate in the development work and can give their input about rural electrification programme.
2. Under this facility, village-wise; habitation-wise base line data on household electrification for all states provided by them has been incorporated. Further, village-wise works sanctioned under DeenDayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) have also been mapped to monitor progress of works in each village.
3. In 'GARV' the data of only 18452 un-electrified villages has been mapped and 12-stage milestone based monitoring mechanism has been put in place.
4. Under 'GARV-II', the data in respect of all villages (about 6 Lakh) with more than 15 lakh habitations has been mapped for tracking progress on household electrification in each of the habitations of these villages.
5. GARV-II will have a citizen engagement window 'SAMVAD'to enhances participation.
6. The objective of GARV-II is to ensure electricity access to all households as government has already electrified over 11,000 villages out of 18,452 un-electrified villages.
Health index launched
Government think tank Niti Aayog launched a performance index on health services to nudge states to improve health outcomes and improve data collection systems. This initiative (launch of 'Performance on Health Outcomes' index) is envisioned to bring about the much-required improvements in the social sector outcomes, which have not kept pace with the economic growth in the country. It will be used to propel action in the states to improve health outcomes and improve data collection systems.
1. The index is launched along with Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
2. It is meant to capture the annual incremental improvements by states rather than focus on historical achievements.
3. Niti Aayog released the guidebook for the exercise in the first of a series of regional workshops to be conducted across the country until February.
4. The government's think tank further said it is anticipated that the index will assist in the state-level monitoring of performance, serve as an input for providing performance-based incentives and improvement in health outcomes, and meet citizens' expectations.
5. The index has been developed over several months with inputs from domestic and international experts, including academicians and development partners, seeking feedback from states.
6. The exercise involves the participation of several partners including technical assistance from the World Bank, mentor agencies to hand-hold states, where required, during the exercise and third party organisations to validate the data submitted prior to calculation of the index.
7. The features of the index, measures and methods of data submission will be disseminated to states through workshops.
Fourth experimental trial of Agni-V
India tested its indigenously developed intercontinental surface-to-surface nuclear capable ballistic missile Agni-V. This is the fourth experimental trial of India’s most potent long range nuclear capable ballistic missile. The test was conducted at the missile testing facility in the Abdul Kalam Island (earlier known as Wheeler Island), a defence base off Odisha coast.
1. The 17-metre tall missile weighing 50 tonnes, which was developed indigenously by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), can carry nuclear warhead of about 1.5 tonnes up to a distance of more than 5,000 kms.
2. India joined the US, Russia, UK, France and China, who boast ICBM capabilities, when it tested its first Agni-V missile in 2012.
3. Agni-V is a nuclear-tipped surface-to-surface Inter-continental range Ballistic Missile (ICBM) and reports said that it has the capability to strike targets anywhere in all of Asia and parts of Africa, Europe and cover the most part of China.
4. Agni-V is billed as India's answer to the Chinese DF-26 Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM).
5. The three-stage, solid propellant missile was test-fired from a mobile launcher from the launch complex-4 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR).
First ever Indian Institute of Skills in India
In line with his vision of making India the Skill Capital of the World by empowering its youth to be more employable and self-sustainable, Prime Minister lay the foundation stone of the first ever “Indian Institute of Skills” in the country at Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. The Institute has been conceptualized by Shri Narendra Modi during his visit to Singapore’s Institute of Technical Education. Union Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship in partnership with the Institute of Technical Education, Singapore has decided to open an institute first ever of its kind in the country, the institute is inspired by the Singapore model of training and would adopt various best practices from the country. The Ministry has decided to have six such institutes
1. Prime Minister also inaugurates the Kaushal Pradarshini (Skill Exhibition) for the youth of Uttar Pradesh.
2. The events also see the announcement of “National Apprentice Promotion Scheme” in the State where the State Government has a major role in its successful implementation.
3. MSDE also has plans to felicitate skilled candidates who have been trained under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (RPL) in Kanpur where the Hon’ble Prime Minister himself will distribute skill certificates to Street Food Vendors, Leather industry Workers under the recognition of prior learning program of the government.
4. This program helps in assessment of the existing work experience of a person and certifies him on his current skill-set basis the National Skill Qualification Framework approved by both the industry and the government of India.
Govt nod for ratifying ISA
Government gave ex post facto approval to the proposal of Ministry of New & Renewable Energy for ratification of the International Solar Alliance's (ISA) Framework Agreement by India.
1. ISA was launched jointly by the Indian Prime Minister and the France President on November 30 last year in Paris on the sidelines of the 21st Conference of the Parties (CoP) meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
2. The ISA will strive to bring together more than 121 solar resource rich nations for coordinated research, low-cost financing and rapid deployment.
3. The foundation stone of the ISA Headquarters was laid at Gwal Pahari, Guragaon in Haryana. India has already committed the required support of operationalisation of ISA.
4. ISA will put India globally in a leadership role in climate and renewable energy issues. It will also give a platform to showcase its solar programmes.
5. The agreement was opened for signature on the sidelines of 22nd CoP meeting at Marrakesh, Morocco. The agreement invokes the Paris Declaration on ISA and encapsulates the vision of the prospective member nations.
6. The United Nations Development Programme and World Bank have already announced their partnership with the ISA. Till now, 25 nations have signed the Framework Agreement.
Ordinance of old notes approved
The Cabinet on 28 December 2016 approved promulgation of an Ordinance to make possession of a large number of scrapped banknotes a penal offence that will attract monetary fine. The Specified Bank Notes Cessation of Liabilities Ordinance makes holding of old 1,000- and 500-rupee notes after March 31 beyond a threshold amount a criminal offence that will attract a monetary fine of Rs 10,000 or five times the cash held, whichever is higher.
1. The Ordinance also provides for amending the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Act to provide legislative support for extinguishing the demonetised banknotes that are not returned.
2. While the high-denomination currency ceased to be a legal tender from midnight of November 8, 2016, a mere notification was thought to be not enough to end the central bank's liability and avoiding future litigations.
3. Currency notes carry RBI's promise to pay the bearer the amount of the value of the note, a pledge that can be nullified only by legislation after giving due opportunity to everyone to return old notes.
4. The proposal put to the Cabinet was for a four-year jail term for anyone possessing a number of demonetised currency after March 31, 2017, but it was not immediately clear if it was approved.
5. The Ordinance will have to sent to the President and after his assent will come into force.
6. In 1978, a similar Ordinance was issued to end the government's liability after Rs 1,000, Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 notes were demonetised by the Morarji Desai-led government.
Ordinance for salary via e-mode cleared
The Centre decided to bring in an ordinance to amend the Payment of Wages Act for allowing business and industrial establishments to pay salaries through cheques or electronically. "The Union Cabinet approved the ordinance route to amend the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, to allow employers of certain industries to make payment through the electronic mode and cheques.
1. Employers will also have the option to pay wages in cash.
2. As per practice, the government introduces ordinance to amend laws for immediate implementation of new rules. An ordinance is valid for six months only. The government is required to get it passed in Parliament within that period.
3. The Payment of Wages (Amendment) Bill, 2016, seeks to amend Section 6 of the principal Act to enable employers to pay wages to employees through cheques or by crediting it to their bank accounts electronically.
4. The Bill was introduced by Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya amid din over the demonetisation issue.
5. It will also allow state governments to specify industrial or other establishments that adopt cashless way for salary payments.
6. The new procedure will serve the objective of "digital and less-cash economy", the Bill stated.
7. The Act had come into force on April 23, 1936, providing for payment of wages in coin or currency notes, or in both. The provision for payment of wages by cheque or crediting it into bank account after obtaining the requisite authorisation of employee was inserted in 1975.
8. At present, the Act covers all those employees in certain categories of establishments whose wage does not exceed Rs 18,000 per month.
9. The Centre can make rules regarding payment of wages in relation to railways, air transport services, mines, oil fields and its establishments while states take a call on all other cases.
10. By making state-level amendments to the Act, Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Kerala and Haryana have already made provisions for payment of wages through cheque and electronic transfer.
11. At present, with the written authorisation of an employee, wages can be given through cheque or transferred to his or her bank account.
BS VI fuel dispatched
IOC's Mathura refinery has despatched BS VI high-speed diesel (HSD) to two auto companies to test viability and compatibility as part of its efforts to provide cleaner fuel for an eco-friendly environment. Though the government has set a very stringent target of April 2017 for meeting BS IV and April 2020 for BS VI standard fuel quality, the Mathura refinery has completed the target ahead of the set deadline.
1. Honda was supplied five barrels of BS VI standard HSD fuel, Mahindra & Mahindra Chennai received the same full one tanker (20 KL).
2. BS VI standard HSD will contain only 10 PPM sulphur and motor spirit will be high standard also... since MS VI is also ready for testing, the refinery is having an interaction with automobile companies on this count.
3. BS VI standard HSD and BS VI standard motor spirit were prepared in the refinery without addition of any machinery.
4. By October 2017, a new unit will go on stream at the refinery, where only BS VI standard HSD and high quality motor spirit will be produced on a mass scale.
5. Refinery successfully demonstrated its preparation of first batch of BS-VI HSD on September 1 to serve OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) efficiently.
6. Refinery is also playing pivotal role in developing the loading bay at Mathura Marketing terminal to ensure consistent supply of BS-VI fuel to customers.
New housing schemes announced
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the government would give rebates of three and four per cent on interest rates to the people who would seek loans to build their houses in 2017.
1. To help the middle class and the poor buy or build their homes, the government has brought two schemes under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana
2. Concession of four per cent will be given to those taking a loan of up to Rs 9 lakh and three per cent on Rs 12 lakh.
3. The government would build 33 per cent more houses in villages under the Pradhan Mantri Grameen Awas Yojana.
4. Those who wanted to modify their building or houses would get three per cent concession on loan of up to Rs 2 lakh.
15th birthday of euro
The euro, used by nearly 340 million people each day, celebrates its 15th birthday on 1 January 2017. The euro has lurched from crisis to crisis in recent years, but still manages to enjoy firm support across the 19-member area -- especially among a new generation who has never known any other currency.
1. The euro was launched on January 1, 1999, initially existing only as a virtual currency used in accounting and financial transactions.
2. Euro coins and notes were introduced on January 1, 2002.
3. The inspiration for the euro symbol came from the Greek letter epsilon, a nod to the country's history as the cradle of European civilisation. The two parallel strokes across the logo signify stability.
4. Euro coins each have a side bearing a national design. Austria for example opted for Mozart, Ireland for the Celtic harp.
5. Euro banknotes on the other hand never depict people or real places, only illustrations of fictional architecture.
6. The euro's arrival wasn't love at first sight, with many citizens perceiving the switchover as an unwelcome price hike.
7. In Germany, the currency was nicknamed the "teuro", a pun on the word "teuer" (expensive) and euro.
8. Today, 56 percent of people think having the euro is "a good thing" for their country, according to a European Commission survey of some 17,500 euro area citizens published this month.
India, Singapore amend tax treaty
India and Singapore amended a decade-old double tax avoidance agreement (DTAA) that will allow the tax department to impose capital gains (tax) on investments routed through the island nation and plug a possible misuse of benefits. Earlier this year, the government managed to get Mauritius and Cyprus to amend tax treaties that allowed it to impose capital gains tax and check alleged round-tripping of funds into the country some of which was said to be black money.
1. This year on May 10 we had amended DTAA with Mauritius. Then in September we amended with Cyprus and now we amended the DTAA with Singapore.
2. In recent years, Singapore had emerged as a key source for foreign investors from across the globe to route funds into the country and in some cases it was the top originator of investments.
3. Between April 2000 and September 2016, Singapore accounted for 16% of inflows with Mauritius topping the list with 33% of flows.
4. The latest move by the government seeks to bring parity although there are agreements with countries such as the Netherlands, France and South Korea where some additional benefits are available. Tax experts, however, said with the general anti-avoidance treaty in place, misusing these treaties would be tough.
5. Under the amended treaty with Singapore, capital gains tax will be imposed at 50% for two years starting April 2017, Jaitley said.
6. Earlier DTAAs with the three countries gave complete exemption from payment of tax on profits made through capital gains as there was no such levy in the host countries. The beneficiary did not pay any capital gains tax in India.
Satellite to monitor global carbon emissions launched
China launched a global carbon dioxide monitoring satellite to understand climate change, hours after it lifted nearly a week-long red alert for the worst smog that engulfed about 40 cities in the country. The 620-kg satellite TanSat was put into orbit by Long March-2D rocket from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwest China’s Gobi Desert early this morning.
1. This was the 243rd mission of the Long March series rockets. Besides TanSat, the rocket also carried a high-resolution micro-nano satellite and two spectrum micro-nano satellites for agricultural and forestry monitoring.
2. China is the third country after Japan and the US to monitor greenhouse gases through its own satellite.
3. The satellite was sent into a sun synchronous orbit about 700 kms above the earth and will monitor the concentration, distribution and flow of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.
4. The satellite will help understanding of climate change and provide China’s policy makers with independent data. On a three-year mission, TanSat will thoroughly examine global carbon dioxide levels every 16 days, accurate to at least 4 ppm (parts per million), the report said.
5. The satellite can trace the sources of greenhouse gases and help evaluate whether countries are fulfilling their commitments. TanSat means a louder voice for China on climate change, carbon reduction and in negotiations with a bigger say on carbon trading.
China conducts live-fire drills
China's first aircraft carrier battle group has carried out its maiden live-fire exercises on a massive scale, in a show of strength amid increasing tensions with the US over the South China Sea and Taiwan. Aircraft carrier 'Liaoning' conducted the mammoth drills with live ammunition in the Bohai Sea involving dozens of ships and aircraft as well as several air-to-air, air-to-ship and ship-to-air missiles.
1. The exercise was aimed at testing combination of various types and numbers of ships to optimise the carrier's combat ability.
2. The carrier, destroyers and frigates carried out exercises covering air interception, sea-based attacks and air-defense as well as reconnaissance, early warning and anti-missile systems.
3. The carrier's original design allows it to carry about 30 fixed-wing aircraft.
4. The time and exact location of the exercises were not disclosed accept that they were held in the Bohai Sea which is located between Chinese coast off Dalian and North and South Korea.
5. It was the first time that the weapons used on the carrier were displayed in public since it entered service in 2012.
6. China has become more assertive over the South China Sea after an international tribunal struck down its claim over all most all of the area.
7. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have counter claims over the disputed SCS.
Inter-ministerial task force on IWT
The inter-ministerial task force, set up by government to look into strategic aspects of Indus Water Treaty (IWT) with Pakistan, discussed ways to fast-track hydropower projects of 8,500 Mw-capacity in Jammu and Kashmir during its first meeting held. Chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Principal Secretary Nripendra Mishra, the meet was attended by NSA Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa and Water Resources Secretary Shashi Shekhar as well chief secretaries of Punjab and J&K.
1. The issues of fast-tracking implementation of hydroelectricity projects in Jammu and Kashmir were discussed during the meeting. We discussed what will be the ways of financing and structuring of the projects," top sources said.
2. These projects including Tulbul Navigation, intended at developing India's rights over both eastern and western rivers, will require consent of government of Jammu and Kashmir, which is expected to get back to the task force next month on the issues discussed, they said.
3. India has identified setting up hydroelectricity projects of a total of 18,000 Mw capacity. Of these, 3,000 Mw have already been established.
4. The Centre now intends at further development of 1,800 Mw capacity projects including Ratle (850 Mw) in the first phase. In the second phase, 5,500 Mw capacity projects are expected to be developed.
5. These projects are on both the Eastern (Beas, Ravi and Sutlej) and Western rivers (Indus, Chenab and Jhelum).
6. The international lender had then set up two separate mechanisms of COA as well as the neutral expert, which India objected to. The mechanisms were then "paused" by the Bank in view of the objections.
7. The inter-ministerial task force was formally formed last week, nearly three months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a review meeting on the 56-year-old water distribution pact with Pakistan in the aftermath of series of cross-border terror strikes including Uri attack.
8. Under the IWT, signed between India and Pakistan in 1960 and to which the World Bank is also a party, the global body has a specified role in the process of resolution of differences and disputes.
First case under the bankruptcy code
ICICI Bank Ltd has filed an application in the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) against Innoventive Industries Ltd to initiate a corporate insolvency process under the new bankruptcy law. This is the first case in India filed under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, and it will provide a primer on how the new law will help tackle the banking system’s nearly Rs 6.7 trillion of bad loans.
1. The Pune-based steel products maker, which had debt of Rs 955 crore at the end of September, has contested the petition. It said that it is not in default because the industries, law and labour departments of the Maharashtra government had notified a suspension of the firm’s liabilities from 22 July 2016 to 21 July 2017.
2. Therefore, none can proceed against the company showing as the company defaulted paying debts,” said an interim order on the tribunal’s website.
3. ICICI Bank was asked to respond on whether its application complied with the bankruptcy law. However, the tribunal’s website had no details of that day’s hearing at the time of going to press on Sunday.
4. Innoventive, like many other metal firms, suffered from the price downturn of recent years. It entered the corporate debt restructuring cell in 2013, and a year later, it signed a master restructuring agreement with banks which was junked later.
5. There were discussions on some options like bringing in fresh equity, but these didn’t materialize, said a former public sector banker who is familiar with the case, requesting anonymity.
6. Whatever the result, the case is now important to determining the applicability of the bankruptcy code, which came into effect this year.
7. On 1 December, the government made the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India operational and notified rules for insolvency professionals, agencies, and model by-laws under the bankruptcy code. It also issued rules for corporate insolvency resolution.
8. The code is expected to empower the judicial system to handle corporate defaults and winding-up petitions. The NCLT would be the adjudicating authority on these matters and function under strict deadlines prescribed by the code.
9. For the NCLT to be successful, it would be essential for the tribunals to have adequate administrative and judicial staff available, given the number of bankruptcy cases expected. There is also a need for good quality infrastructure to be in place for these cases to be heard across India.
10. The NCLT would need to have these resources in place so that the cases can be completed successfully within 180 days to drive better recoveries for creditors.
11. The success of the insolvency and bankruptcy code is essential for a banking system that is currently reeling under large bad loans.
12. The strategic debt restructuring (SDR) option the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced in June 2015 hasn’t yielded encouraging results. SDR allowed creditors to convert debt into equity and take over the management of defaulting firms.
13. Other forms of restructuring such as the scheme for sustainable structuring of stressed assets (S4A) haven't been implemented in a large number of cases owing to the difficult qualifying conditions.
14. Under S4A, banks can convert up to 50% of a company’s loans into equity or equity-like instruments.
Sale of India's first pharma firm cleared
In the second strategic sale approval in over 12 years, the Cabinet cleared the sale of India's first pharma company Bengal Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Ltd as well as Hindustan Antibiotics Ltd after selling their surplus land. The Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi also approved closure of Indian Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Ltd (IDPL) and Rajasthan Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Ltd (RDPL).
1. The strategic sale approval is just the second in over 12 years. In September, the Cabinet had cleared strategic sale of Bharat Pumps and Compressors Ltd. These will be the first privatisation since sale of Jessop and Co in 2003-04 under the NDA government headed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
2. BCPL and HAL are among the public sector units that NITI Aayog has identified for sale of government's majority stake to private companies in order to bring in greater efficiency and professionalism in their functioning.
3. Proceeds from sale of land, which would be done through open tender, will go towards meeting liabilities of the companies, including paying for VRS for employees.
4. Bengal Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Works Ltd, the previous avatar of BCPL, was set up in April 1901 by eminent scientist and entrepreneur Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray.
5. The government of India took over the management of the company in December 1977 and nationalised it in 1981, renaming it Bengal Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Ltd (BCPL).
6. HAL was the first drug manufacturing company to be set up in the public sector by Government of India with active co- operation of WHO and UNICEF.
7. The government is targeting Rs 56,500 crore in disinvestment proceeds this fiscal. Of this, Rs 36,000 crore is to come from minority stake sale in PSUs and another Rs 20,500 crore from strategic stake sale.
8. The last strategic sale took place in Jessop and Co in 2003-04 under the NDA government headed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, when 72 per cent of government stake was sold to Indo Wagon Engineering for Rs 18.18 crore.
9. The first strategic sale in a PSU also happened under the NDA rule in 1999-2000 when the government sold 74 per cent equity in Modern Food Industries to Hindustan Lever for Rs 105.45 crore.
GST council clears model tax law
.In a significant breakthrough that augurs well for the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST), both states and the centre cleared the model GST law in the seventh GST council meeting chaired by finance minister Arun Jaitley.
1. A lack of consensus on the issue would make it impossible for the government to implement the ambitious indirect tax reform from its target date of 1 April 2017.
2. In the GST model followed by India, it would be a dual GST with the centre and states simultaneously levying tax on a common tax base.
3. The GST to be levied by the centre on intra-state supply of goods and services would be called the central GST (CGST) and that to be levied by the states would be called the state GST (SGST).
4. Similarly the integrated GST (IGST) will be levied and administered by centre on every inter-state supply of goods and services. The central GST will be framed based on the model GST law.
5. The central GST and the state GST would be levied simultaneously on every transaction of supply of goods and services except for exempted goods and services.
6. The finance minister, however, reiterated that the centre and states don’t have the luxury of time and that GST has to be implemented by 16 September 2017, as constitutionally mandated. “Since GST is a transactional tax, its implementation can start at any time of the year. The earlier we do it, the better,” Jaitley said.
Credit guarantee for MSME increased
Prime Minister Narendra Modi while addressing the nation on the eve of the New Year announced an increase in credit guarantees for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) from Rs. one crore to Rs. two crores. He added that Non Banking Financial Company (NBFC) loans will also be covered under this scheme. Banks should give loans, we take guarantee, he said adding that the government has told banks that cash credit limit for small enterprises be increased to 25 percent from 20 percent.
1. Reiterating the government’s decision to give tax relief to small businessmen on cashless transaction, Prime Minister Modi said, “Now on their (small businessmen) digital transactions, tax will be calculated on six percent of their income (which was earlier calculated on eight percent).”
2. Announcing a new scheme for pregnant women, the Prime Minister said, “Rs. 6000 will be credited to (pregnant) women’s accounts for registration, delivery, vaccination, nutrition.” However, the scheme will only be launched in 53 districts in the initial phase and only Rs 4000 will be given.
FCRA licences of NGOs canceled
Licences of around 20,000 of 33,000 non government organisations (NGOs) have been cancelled by the government after they were found to be allegedly violating various provisions of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), thus barring them from receiving foreign funds.
1. This was conveyed to home minister Rajnath Singh during a review of the foreigners division of the home ministry. Giving a detailed presentation, home ministry officials said after cancellation of FCRA licences of around 20,000 NGOs, only 13,000 NGOs in the country are legally valid now.
2. The exercise of reviewing the working of the NGOs was started about a year ago and the process is still continuing.
3. Among the 13,000 valid NGOs, around 3,000 have submitted applications for renewal while ministry of home affairs received 2,000 new applications for registration under the FCRA for the first time.
4. An additional 300 NGOs are currently under prior permission category but not registered under the FCRA.
5. However, FCRA licences of around 16 NGOs were renewed by the home ministry under the “automatic” route and all the cases were reviewed thoroughly and except in two cases, 14 NGOs have been put under the prior permission category while papers of the two NGOs are under examination.
6. As per FCRA, if an NGO is put under prior permission category, it is barred to receive foreign funding from abroad without taking permission from the home ministry.
National Policy for Advanced Manufacturing
Government is formulating a National Policy for Advanced Manufacturing as one of the key tools to attain its objective of increasing the contribution of manufacturing output to 25 per cent of GDP by 2025 from 16 per cent at present.
1. The National Policy for Advanced Manufacturing also aims to significantly enhance India's global manufacturing competitiveness. However, the government is mindful of the "threat to jobs" due to adoption of smart manufacturing.
2. The National Policy for Advanced Manufacturing which essentially is how to increase technological depth so that we become globally competitive and are not left behind.
3. The capital goods policy envisages formulation of a national policy for advanced manufacturing which would include advanced materials, modern manufacturing like advanced robotics and 3D printing, among others.
4. The National Capital Goods Policy, approved by the government in May, envisages increasing production of capital goods from Rs 2, 30,000 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 7, 50,000 crore in 2025 and raising direct and indirect employment from the current 8.4 million to 30 million.
5. The policy also aims to facilitate improvement in technology depth across sub-sectors, increase skill availability, ensure mandatory standards and promote growth and capacity building of MSMEs
Science and Technology
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched an Aadhaar-based mobile payment application called BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money). The Prime Minister at a 'Digi Dhan Mela' event in the capital asked citizens to make at least five digital transactions, so as to understand the concept behind e-payments, and then use it extensively. "Download it on a smartphone or on a feature phone. It is not necessary to have the internet for this app.
1. The app is called BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money) -- a re-branded version of UPI (Unified Payment Interface) and USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data).
2. No internet needed: "Be it a smartphone or feature phone of Rs 1,000-1,200, BHIM app can be used. There is no need to have Internet connectivity. One only needs a thumb. BHIM can also be downloaded on playstore. Register your bank account with BHIM, and set a UPI PIN for the bank account. Your mobile number is your payment address (PA), and you can start transacting.
3. Send money to or receive money from friends, family and customers through a mobile number or payment address. Money can also be sent to non UPI supported banks using IFSC and MMID. You can also collect money by sending a request and reverse payments if required.
4. You can scan a QR code for faster entry of payment addresses. Merchants can easily print their QR Code for display.
5. Maximum of Rs. 10,000 per transaction and Rs. 20,000 within 24 hours.
First Chikungunya Vaccine developed
Researchers from United States have developed the first vaccine for Chikungunya fever made from an insect-specific Eilat virus. The newly-developed vaccine does not have any effect on people, which makes it safe and effective for humans. Its clinical trials on mice and non-human primates show that it quickly produces a strong immune defence and completely protects them from disease when exposed to the chikungunya virus.
About Chikungunya Chikungunya
1. It is a mosquito-borne virus that causes a disease.
2. It is transmitted by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes.
3. There is no commercial chikungunya vaccine.
New regimen of drugs for TB/HIV launched
A new daily regimen of Fixed Dose Combinations (FDC) for TB/HIV patients was launched at the Indira Gandhi Medical College, Kathirkamam. This follows the Central TB Division deciding to adopt FDC with daily regimen wherein all the four ATT drugs are combined and packed in a single tablet to reduce the number of pills intake and to improve the patient compliance.
1. Tuberculosis was the most common opportunistic infection among HIV positives in India with about 25 per cent of deaths in HIV due to TB.
2. With about 5 per cent of diagnosed TB patients found to be HIV positive in India, the situation posed a major public health challenge.
3. Aiming to control this menace, the Central TB Division and National AIDS Control Organisation have started collaboration since 2001. All the clients attending Integrated Counselling and Testing Centre (ICTC), the Facility Integrated ICTC and the anti-retroviral therapy centres were screened for TB with four symptoms complex and the diagnosis are made swiftly with a newer technology called CBNAAT wherein the results are obtained within the same day. At present, the DOTS treatment (intermittent regimen) was the standard for the diagnosed TBHIV co-infected patients.
4. The FDC regimen adopted by the Central TB Division was launched at the antiretroviral therapy centre at the IGMCRI by Dr. K.V. Raman, Director (Health and Family Welfare Services).
New theory of gravity passes first test
A Dutch theoretical physicists alternative to Einstein’s theory of gravity has passed its first test in a study of more than 30,000 galaxies. A team led by astronomer Margot Brouwer from Leiden Observatory in The Netherlands tested the new theory of physicist Erik Verlinde from the University of Amsterdam for the first time through the lensing effect of gravity.
1. Brouwer and her team measured the distribution of gravity around more than 33,000 galaxies to put Verlinde’s prediction to the test.
2. She concluded that Verlinde’s theory agrees well with the measured gravity distribution.
3. The gravity of galaxies bends space, such that the light travelling through this space is bent, as through a lens. Background galaxies that are situated far behind a foreground galaxy (the lens), thereby seem slightly distorted.
4. This effect can be measured in order to determine the distribution of gravity around a foreground-galaxy.
First biological pacemaker developed
Scientists have developed the first functional pacemaker cells from human stem cells which can regulate heart beats with electrical impulses, paving the way for alternate, biological pacemaker therapy. The findings from the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine at University Health Network in Canada show how human pluripotent stem cells can be coaxed in 21 days to develop into pacemaker cells.
1. These human pacemaker cells were tested in rat hearts and were shown to function as a biological pacemaker, by activating the electrical impulses that trigger the contraction of the heart.
2. Pluripotent stem cells have the potential to differentiate into more than 200 different cell types that make up every tissue and organ in the body.
3. Sinoatrial node pacemaker cells are the heart’s primary pacemaker, controlling the heartbeat throughout life.
4. Biological pacemakers represent a promising alternative to electronic pacemakers, overcoming such drawbacks as a lack of hormonal responsiveness and the inability to adapt to changes in heart size in pediatric patients.
5. The researchers used a developmental-biology approach to establish a specific protocol for generating the pacemaker cells.
6. This was achieved by testing different signalling molecules at different times throughout the 21 days to guide the cells towards their goal.
India to host 5th GCCS
India will host the fifth edition of the Global Conference on Cyber Space (GCCS) in 2017 in which over 100 countries are expected to participate. India has been selected for hosting Global Conference on Cyber Space (GCCS) in 2017. It is recognition of India’s emerging role as big cyber power accelerated by Digital India which has gained international fame.
1. The UK had hosted the first GCCS in 2011 followed by Budapest in 2012. South Korea hosted the event 2013 and the Netherlands in 2015.
2. GCCS will deliberate on issues related to promotion of cooperation in cyberspace, norms for responsible behaviours in cyberspace and to enhance cyber capacity building.
3. The conference is likely to be held in last quarter of 2017 but the government will decide on venue and dates for it shortly.
Online initiatives to redress consumer complaints
The government launched a host of online initiatives including a mobile App ‘Smart Consumer’ and an ‘Online Consumer Mediation Centre (OCMC)’ to provide speedy redressal of consumer grievances. The initiatives were unveiled by Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan in New Delhi on the occasion of National Consumer Day on 24 December 2016.
1. The mobile app of the Consumer Helpline and the Smart Consumer App for accessing product information and online communities will benefit the consumers in the digital world.
2. The microsite for consumer safety in the digital world, developed by the Consumer Affairs Department along with Google will help consumers for being vigilant, not falling prey to cyber frauds.
3. Online communities will provide a platform for airing their views, experiences and grievances.
4. The Department has been keeping abreast of the latest challenges to consumer protection and has been devising various strategies to protect consumers from exploitation.
Digital India Awards 2016
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare won gold in the Web Ratna category in the recently concluded Digital India awards, 2016, conferred by the Ministry of Electronics & IT to promote more innovative e-governance initiatives by the government entities. Hon'ble Union Minister of Electronics and Information Technology and Law & Justice, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad presented the award.
1. Digital India awards, earlier known as the Web Ratna Awards, were instituted under the Ambit of National Portal of India.
2. The award acknowledges exemplary initiatives of various government entities in the realm of e-governance.
3. Shri Jitendra Arora, Director, e-Governance, at the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare received the award.
4. Web Ratna award felicitates a Ministry or Department of the Government of India which has a comprehensive web presence and display the level of accountability in terms of quantity, quality, spectrum of coverage, and innovation ascertaining user satisfaction. Level of convenience provided to the citizen for availing the services, usability and accessibility are also assessed.
5. The website of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare conforms to the UUU trilogy. It is totally bilingual as per the directions of Parliamentary Committee of official languages and is accessible to all. Special features have also been incorporated in the website for visually challenged users.
6. The website complies with the mandatory requirements of Guidelines for Indian Government Websites (GIGW). Search has been facilitated using GOI Search as Service (SAS).
7. All relevant web policies have been implemented with due approvals. Content has been grouped systematically under drop down menus that result in easy navigation.
8. A well placed Content Management System (CMS) keeps the website regularly updated.
9. The website and CMS are both security audited. It has been awarded for comprehensive web presence in Web ratna awards in 2014 and appreciated by SUGAM Web e-Newsletter as usable, user-centric and universally accessible.
10. It is compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG-2.0). Social Media has also been integrated with the website.
Sahitya Academy Award for 'Alok'
Marathi author Asaram Lomte's book 'Alok' has been selected for the prestigious Sahitya Academy Award. An announcement in this regard was made this afternoon in New Delhi.
1. Published in 2010, 'Alok' is a collection of six stories that largely reflect rural life and people.
2. Before Lomte, story writer and dramatist Jayant Pawar's "Phoneixchya Rakhetoon Uthala Mor", had won the Sahitya Academy Award for his collection of stories in 2013.
3. "Some years back, stories were written on rural background either anecdotal or 'shrungarik'. Other story writers were writing about middle class and its mentality.
4. The collection has already been translated into Kannad language under the title 'Kotemane'.
5. The stories are multi-faceted and deal with contemporary topics. It is a reflection of society and life.
ICC Cricketer of the Year
India's premier off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was named the International Cricket Council's (ICC) Cricketer of the Year, while Test skipper Virat Kohli was chosen to lead the ODI Team of the Year.
1. Ashwin was the only Indian in ICC's Test Team of the Year and was also named the Test Cricketer of the Year.
2. Batsman Rohit Sharma and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja were named in the ODI team.
3. Pakistan captain Misbah-Ul-Haq won the ICC Spirit of Cricket Award, becoming the first player of his country to win the award.
4. South Africa's Quinton de Kock was selected the ODI Cricketer of the Year.
5. Afghanistan's Mohammad Shahzad was named the ICC Associate Cricketer of the Year while the West Indies all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite won the T20 International Performance of the Year.
6. Bangladesh pace sensation Mustafizur Rahman was given the Emerging Cricketer of the Year.
7. Legends Rahul Dravid, Gary Kirsten and Kumar Sangakkara selected the ICC Test and ODI sides based on the players' performances in the period from September 2015 to the corresponding month in 2016.
8. England's Alastair Cook was named the captain of the Test Team of the Year, which included four Englishmen, three Australians, and a player each from New Zealand, India, Sri Lanka and South Africa.
9. It was the third time Cook has been appointed the captain, while it was the eighth time in nine years that Dale Steyn was selected. Joe Root, David Warner and Kane Williamson have been chosen for the third successive year.
10. The ODI Team of the Year included three Australians, Indians, South Africans each, and one each from England and the West Indies.
11. AB De Villiers has been selected for the sixth time since 2010, while Starc has been picked up for the third time in four years.
SASTRA Ramanujan prize 2016
The 2016 SASTRA-Ramanujan award for mathematics was presented to Maksym Radziwill of McGill University, Canada, at the inauguration of the International Conference on Number Theory at SASTRA University at Kumbakonam. The joint winner is Kaisa Matomaki of University of Turku, Finland.
1. The award citation and the shared prize money of $5,000 were presented by Prof. Steven Weintraub from Lehigh University.
2. Prof. Radziwill will deliver the Srinivasa Ramanujan Birthday Commemorative Lecture on December 22.
3. SASTRA University presents the Ramanujan award to a leading mathematician under 32 years.
4. This year the prize has been jointly given to Kaisa Matomaki and Maksym Radziwill for their ‘revolutionary’ collaborative work on short intervals in number theory.
5. The second woman to receive the prize since it was instituted in 2005.
Amma canteen-type meal scheme launched
On the lines of Amma canteens, Rajasthan government has launched a subsidised meal scheme in which the poor and the needy will get breakfast for Rs 5 and lunch or dinner for Rs 8. ‘Annapurna Rasoi’ was launched by Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje at the Jaipur Municipal Corporation campus by feeding a Dalit and a Gurjar woman.
1. The scheme will be in 12 cities initially and introduced across the state later.
2. Breakfast will include Poha, Upma, Sevaiyan, Idli Sambhar, Jwar Khichda, Bazra Khichada etc. while one can have Dal-chawal, Churma, Dal-dhokli and other items for lunch or dinner.
3. Initially, the scheme has been launched in Jaipur, Jodhpur, Kota, Ajmer, Bikaner, Udaipur, Bharatpur, Baran, Banswara, Dungarpur, Pratapgarh and Jhalawar.
4. Late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had launched ‘Amma canteens’ that offer breakfast, lunch and dinner at highly subsidised rates.
Assam government rolled out 'Atal-Amrit Abhiyan' health insurance scheme which will provide coverage against several critical illnesses. Launched to mark the 92nd birthday of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the scheme will offer coverage against 437 illnesses in six disease groups, namely, cardiovascular, cancer, kidney, neo-natal, neurological conditions and burns.
1. Both Below Poverty Line (BPL) and Above Poverty Line (APL) families, with annual income below Rs 5 lakh, are eligible for the scheme.
2. Health always remains a commitment of Government and with the launching of Atal-Amrit Abhiyan access to quality treatment will become a reality for the all the citizens.
3. Atal-Amrit Abhiyan is an endeavour of the government to make quality health care affordable to every individual member of a family.
4. A separate society will also be set up under the Department of Health and Family Welfare which will be responsible for administration of the scheme.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee turns 92
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 25 December 2016 wished former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his 92nd birthday. Atal ji’s exemplary service & leadership has had a very positive impact on India’s growth trajectory.
1. Born in 1924 in Gwalior in a Brahmin family, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was first exposed to the political sphere during the Quit India movement in 1942. Within five years since then, he became a full-time RSS Pracharak and, due to his oratory skills, he soon became the face of the Jana Sangh (which is today known as the BJP).
2. Vajpayee was arrested between 1975 to 1977 during the Emergency imposed by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
3. In 1977, Vajpayee became the external affairs minister in former PM Moraji Desai’s Cabinet. Even in those days, he was the party’s star speaker.
4. He first became prime minister in 1996. He was in office for 13 days and was forced to resign after failing to muster support from other parties. He took the post after fresh elections by forming NDA.
5. He was conferred the Bharat Ratna on March 19, 1998 in New Delhi.
6. By 2004, Vajpayee, a three-time Prime Minister, became the first non-Congress leader to serve a full five-year term. He is also the first foreign minister to deliver a speech in the UN Assembly in Hindi.
Global Wind Power Installed Capacity Index
India ranked 4th in the Global Wind Power, Installed Capacity index with cumulative installed wind power generation capacity of 25,088 MW in 2015. The index was released was released as part Global Wind Report: Annual Market, flagship publication of the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).
1. The index was topped by China, followed by US and Germany with cumulative installed wind power generation capacity of 145362 MW, 74471 MW and 44947 MW respectively. Both Europe and the US markets performed better than expected and the European offshore sector set a new record, installing just over 3 GW.
2. Canada, Mexico and Brazil all had strong years. South Africa was the first market in Africa to pass the 1,000 MW in 2015 and alongside Egypt, Morocco, Ethiopia and Kenya was also leading development in that market.
3. Brazil continues to lead in Latin America, followed by Chile and Uruguay and a potentially very large market is just now opening up in Argentina.
4. India has achieved the largest-ever wind power capacity addition of 3,423 MW in 2015-16, exceeding the target by 44%.
National award for Bidri artisan
Mohammad Abdul Rauf, a master trainer in Bidri handicraft, has got the Shila Guru award for this year. President Pranab Mukherjee presented the award at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on December 9. Mr. Rauf is among the 10 master craftspersons from across the country to be presented this award that includes a gold medal, a plaque and a citation.
1. A statuette of Queen Channamma of Kittur chiselled by Mr. Rauf was presented to Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently in Belagavi.
2. The works of the 52-year-old artisan have been used as souvenirs at the Global Economic Forum, Commonwealth games and other important occasions.
3. The Commissioner of Handicrafts, New Delhi, has included Mr. Rauf in contingents that visited international trade and handicrafts fairs in the U.S. and Europe. Mr. Rauf is a third generation craftsman. His children are also learning Bidri craft.
Next army chief
Current vice Chief of Army Staff (VCOAS) of Indian Army Lt. Gen Bipin Rawat has been named the next army chief and will take over the position from General Dalbir Singh Suhag who retires on January 10, 2017. The government also named Air Marshal B S Dhanoa to be the new chief of Air Staff.
1. Rawat was commissioned in the Fifth Battalion of the Eleven Gorkha Rifles in December 1978, from IMA, Dehradun, where he was awarded the ‘Sword of Honour’. The General Officer has vast experience in high altitude warfare and counter-insurgency operations.
2. He commanded an Infantry battalion, along the Line of Actual Control in the Eastern Sector; a Rashtriya Rifles Sector and an Infantry Division in the Kashmir Valley. He has tenanted instructional appointments at Indian Military Academy, Dehradun and at Army War College, Mhow. Lt Gen Rawat has held important staff appointments at Directorate
World’s oldest water found
Scientists have discovered the oldest water samples on Earth that date back to about two billion years and may hold clues to life forms living far beneath the surface of Mars or other alien planets. Researchers have known that water exists far below the groundwater that has been isolated from the water table — unseen and untouched for billions of years.
1. In 2013, the researchers had found a water sample from mine in at about 2.4 kilometres that was subsequently dated to 1.5 billion years ago.
2. The new record holder was found at three kilometres deep.
3. The researchers determined the age of the water samples by studying dissolved gasses, Phys.org reported. They also reported that the samples they obtained came from a large source that was flowing out of the ground at a rate of several litres per minute — much larger than has been predicted.
4. They discovered that sulphate in the water had come from interactions between the water and the rocks around it, rather than from another source, which suggests that the water was capable of sustaining life.
Justice J S Khehar appointed as CJI
Justice J S Khehar was on 19 December 2016 appointed as the new Chief Justice of India after President Pranab Mukherjee’s approval. Khehar, who led the five-judge constitution bench in the Supreme Court which had struck down the controversial NJAC Act for appointment of judges, will replace Justice TS Thakur as the top judge. Thakur will be demitting office on January 3, 2017.
1. Justice Khehar, 64, will be the first Chief Justice from the Sikh community.
2. He will be sworn in on January 4 and 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.
4. He was also a part of the bench, which sent Sahara chief Subrata Roy to jail while hearing the matter relating to the refund of money invested by people in his two companies.
Anupam Mishra passed away
Renowned environmentalist and water conservationist Anupam Mishra passed away following illness. He was 68. Mishra passed away at 5:40 AM. He was battling with prostate cancer over the past one year. He authored books like 'Aaj Bhi Khare Hai Talab' and 'Rajasthan Ki Rajat Boonde', was a recipient of Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar.
World War II veteran passes away
World War II veteran , who had served with Royal Corps of Signals, passed away on December 15, a defence spokesman said. Sant Mehar Singh joined the Royal Corps of Signals in 1942 and worked as a despatch rider. He saw operations in Imphal and during India-Pakistan war in 1947-48.
1. In one of the operations, Sant Mehar Singh along with three of his colleagues trekked through deep jungles to establish contact with garrison of Bagh, and saved 50,000 lives.
2. In 1948, Mehar bid good bye to uniform and in 1954 laid the foundation of ‘Nirmal Kutia Ashram’ at Batote in Ramban district of Jammu and Kashmir.
3. Sant Mehar Singh had also laid the foundation of ‘Sarv Dharm Sthal’ at Dharmund.
4. The Sant will be remembered for his contribution to the Army and the state of Jammu and Kashmir for his spiritual and peaceful co-existence.
Global University Employability Ranking 2016
The Global University Employability Ranking 2016, compiled by Times Higher Education, reveals which universities recruiters at leading companies around the world think are the best at producing work-ready graduates.
1. Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Science (IISc), a premier institute in the country that works in the area of scientific research and higher education was ranked 38 out of 150 universities worldwide in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016; It had an overall score of 331.
2. It is the only Indian institute to make it to the list.
3. These 150 universities span 34 different countries, from the US to Japan. Employers voted both, for institutions in their own country and universities around the world for international recruitments.
4. In some countries, graduate jobs are not easy to come by, but in European nations such as France, Switzerland and Germany, professional experience is built into degree programmes.
5. Unsurprisingly then, France, Germany and Switzerland are among the best represented countries in the employability ranking, along with the United Kingdom and the United States.
6. Both Germany and Japan have an institution in the top 10, with Chinese and Canadian universities also appearing high in the ranking.
Viral Acharya named RBI deputy governor
The government has appointed Viral V. Acharya, a professor of economics at New York University, as one of the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) four deputy governors for a term of three years. The RBI had a vacancy for deputy governor after Urjit Patel was promoted to governor earlier this year. Patel had headed the prestigious monetary policy, which is now overseen by RBI deputy governor R. Gandhi as part of a widened remit. Acharya teaches at the Stern School of Business in New York university. According to his resume, he has research interests in regulation of banks, corporate finance, credit risk and asset pricing.
Jnanpith Award 2016
Bengali poet Shankha Ghosh was chosen for the prestigious Jnanpith Award for the year 2016. He is the 52nd recipient of Jnanpith Award. He is sixth Bengali litterateur to bag this prestigious literary award after Tarasankar Bandyopadhyay (1966), Bishnu Dey (1971), Ashapoorna Devi (1976), Subhash Mukhopadhyay (1991) and Mahasweta Devi (1966).
About the Award
1. The Award is India’s highest literary honour.
2. Its name has been taken from Sanskrit words Jnana and Pitha which means knowledge-seat.
3. It was instituted in 1961 by Bharatiya Jnanpith trust founded by the Sahu Shanti Prasad Jain family that owns the Times of India newspaper group.
Material out of Silk protein developed
Researchers have created a novel material out of silk protein that can be pre-programmed with biological, chemical, or optical functions, such as mechanical components that change colour with strain, deliver drugs, or respond to light.
1. Using a water-based fabrication method based on protein self-assembly, the researchers generated three-dimensional bulk materials out of silk fibroin, the protein that gives silk its durability.
2. Then they manipulated the bulk materials with water-soluble molecules to create multiple solid forms, from the nano- to the micro-scale, that have embedded, pre-designed functions, according to the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
3. The researchers created a surgical pin that changes colour as it nears its mechanical limits and is about to fail, functional screws that can be heated on demand in response to infrared light, and a biocompatible component that enables the sustained release of bioactive agents, such as enzymes.
4. The ability to embed functional elements in biopolymers, control their self-assembly, and modify their ultimate form creates significant opportunities for bio-inspired fabrication of high-performing multifunctional materials.
5. Silk’s unique crystalline structure makes it one of nature’s toughest materials.
6. Fibroin, an insoluble protein found in silk, has a remarkable ability to protect other materials while being fully biocompatible and biodegradable.
Bihari Puraskar 2016
Rajasthani litterateur Dr Satya Narayan was chosen for the 26th Bihari Puraskar 2016 by the K K Birla Foundation. He was been chosen for his Hindi book titled Yeh Ek Dunia published in 2010. His Yeh Ek Dunia is a meticulous depiction of various circumstances of life in contemporary world.
About the Puraskar
1. The award was instituted in 1991 by the K K Foundation.
2. It is named after famous Hindi poet Bihari.
3. The 2015 Bihari Puraskar was awarded to writer Bhagwati Lal Vyas for his Rajasthani poetry collection titled, “Katha Sun Aawe Hai Sabad”.
World's highest bridge open
The world's highest bridge has opened to traffic in China, connecting two provinces in the mountainous southwest and reducing travel times by as much as three-quarters, local authorities. The Beipanjiang Bridge soars 565 metres (1,854 feet) above a river and connects the two mountainous provinces of Yunnan and Guizhou, the Guizhou provincial transport department said.
1. The bridge cut travel times between Xuanwei in Yunnan to Shuicheng in Guizhou from more than four hours to around one, a truck driver surnamed Duan was quoted by the official news agency Xinhua as saying after the bridge opened.
2. It was “very convenient for people who want to travel between these two places”.
3. The 1,341-metre span cost over 1 billion yuan ($144 million) to build, according to local newspaper Guizhou Daily.
4. It overtook the Si Du River Bridge in the central province of Hubei to become the world's highest bridge, a separate statement by the provincial transport department said earlier.
5. Several of the world's highest bridges are in China, although the world's tallest bridge — measured in terms of the height of its own structure, rather than the distance to the ground — remains France's Millau viaduct at 343 metres.
National Mathematics Day
The National Mathematics Day is observed every year on 22nd December to celebrate birth anniversary of great Indian autodidact Mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. This year, it is 129th birth anniversary of Srinivasa Ramanujan.