Current Affairs Today – December 16 2015

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Current Affairs Today 16 December 2015INDIAN AFFAIRS

BMC approved Smart City Proposal for Maharashtra

The Smart City Proposal (SCP) for the metropolis was today approved by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) with worth of 32000 crore rupees.

  • The Shiv Sena, ruling party of the 227-member BMC, passed the proposal with a list of 14 amendments attached to it. Out of the fourteen amendments, 12 were made by the Shiv Sena and two by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).

Maharashtra Cities selected for Smart Cities Mission
Amravati, Aurangabad, Mumbai, Kalyan-Dombivli, Nagpur, Nashik, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Solapur and Thane.

Combined Commanders’ Conference held on an aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya

Shri Narendra Modi chaired the Combined Commanders Conference on board INS Vikramaditya at Sea, off the coast of Kochi.

  • This is the first time that the Combined Commanders Conference has been held on board an aircraft carrier.
  • The Prime Minister interacted with soldiers, sailors and airmen on board INS Vikramaditya.

Prime Minister witnessed an operational demonstration of India’s naval and maritime air capabilities.

  • The operational demonstration included take-offs and landings of naval fighter aircraft from INS Vikramaditya, missile firing from a warship, flypast of helicopters and fighter aircraft, marine commando operations and steam-past of warships including INS Virat.

LS passes bill to allow NPCIL to have tie-ups with other PSUs

Lok Sabha passed a bill that will allow state-run NPCIL to have collaboration with other PSUs in the nuclear field.

  • The Atomic Energy Amendment Bill 2015 proposes to amend the 1962 Atomic Energy Act to change the definition of “government company” in the Act with a view to expand its scope by including such joint venture companies as may be formed between NPCIL and other PSUs.

At present, only two Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs)Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and Bhartiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited (BHAVINI), which are under the administrative control of Department of Atomic Energy, operate nuclear power plants in the country.

Operation Smile-II to start from 1 January 2016

GOI has requested the States/UTs to start “Operation Smile-II” from 1st January, 2016 to 31st January to rolled out throughout the country as a follow up of the earlier campaign to rescue/rehabilitate the missing children.

Key Impacts of Smile I :

  • So far 9146 children under Operation ‘Smile’ and 19742 children under Operation “Muskaan” were rescued/rehabilitated.
  • A large number of missing children have been reunited with their families which is a remarkable achievement made by the field offices

About Operation Smile-II

  • Various activities are being undertaken with respect to the rolling out of “Operation Smile-II”.
  • All children residing in shelter homes, platforms, bus stands, roads, religious places, etc. are to be screened by trained police personnel.
  • Before 1st January, 2016, the Police Personnel from each state are to be properly trained in methodology to extract information from such children tactfully without their getting intimidated, as well as in various provisions of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) JJ Act, Protection of Child Right Act, relevant sections of Cr.PC & IPC and Advisories issued by MHA etc.
  • During the operation, the particulars of such identified children will be uploaded on the ‘Missing child’ portal of the Ministry of Women and Child Development by the respective State Police.

GIFT City Phase-2 work launched

Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City) announced the launch of the Phase-2 development, which will be focused on International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) to be set up in GIFT SEZ.

  • With the launch of Phase-2 development, GIFT City has invited proposals from developers to build office towers in SEZ and non-SEZ areas.

Allotments:

  • GIFT IFSC has already made allotment to around 20 institutions including leading names such as SBI, IDBI Bank, ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank and YES Bank.
  • GIFT has also signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with various leading Capital Market players namely BSE, NSE, MCX and DMCC.
  • NSE has signed MoU with London Stock Exchange for setting up global trading platform at GIFT IFSC SEZ.
  • From the Insurance sector, GIC and New India Assurance have also received allotment in GIFT IFSC.

IFSC banking units:
India’s first IFSC is already operational with the commencement of IFSC banking units by Yes Bank & Federal Bank in November 2015.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

14th Meeting of Heads of Governments of SCO Member

The 14th Meeting of the Heads of Governments (Prime Ministers) of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Member States on Regional Economic Cooperation was held in Zhengzhou, China.

Participants – PM of Kazakhstan K Masimov, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, PM of Kyrgyzstan T Sariev, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, PM of Tajikistan K Rasulzoda and First Deputy PM of Uzbekistan R Azimov and representatives of observer states. India, which is a complied state at present, was represented by Minister of State for External Affairs Gen V K Singh.

Step to Counter Terrorism: 34-Nation Islamic Military Coalition

Saudi Arabia has launched Islamic Military Coalition, a new military alliance of 34 nations mainly Muslim nations to fight terrorism.

  • Joint operations headquarter is to be established in the Riyadh.
  • It is an effort to respond to Western assertions that it could do more in the fight against the Islamic State.

Fitch retains India’s rating at BBB-/Stable

American rating agency Fitch retained India’s sovereign rating at the lowest investment grade of “BBB-/stable”, showing the nation will continue to post good growth despite subdued prospect for the Asia Pacific region in a situation of dollar strength in the context of an expected rise in US (Federal Reserve) rates and lower commodity prices.

  • India’s economy will grow by 5% in the current fiscal that will stand out globally but warned that its business environment would remain weak despite improvements.
  • Emerging Asia’s growth in 2016 is expected to slow to 3% from 6.5% mostly due to the projected slowdown in China.

UN atomic watchdog IAEA ends Iran ‘weapons’ probe

 The global nuclear watchdog, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has ended its 12-year investigation into concerns that Iran might be developing nuclear weapons. The move is seen as a key step towards lifting UN, EU and US sanctions.

Conclusion
The IAEA concluded that Iran conducted nuclear weapons-related research until 2003 and to a lesser extent until 2009, but found no evidence of this since.

BANKING & FINANCE

World Bank accorded USD 1.5b for clean India

Washington D.C. headquartered World Bank has consented $1.5 billion loan for the “clean India campaign” to support the government in its efforts to ensure all citizens in rural areas have access to improved sanitation by 2019.

  • This project aimed at strengthening the implementation of the Swachh Bharat initiative of the government.

BUSINESS

MoEF gives nod to NTPC’s Telangana power project

The Ministry of Environment and Forests has given ‘green signal’ to a power project being set up by state-owned NTPC in Telangana while it has deferred another project of the PSU in Andhra Pradesh.

Highlights of the project :

  • The NTPC Limited is presently operating a coal-based 2,600 MW (stage-I, II & III) thermal power station at Ramagundam in Telangana’s Karimnagar district and is in the process of expanding it by addition of 2×800 MW.
  • The cost of the expansion project is about Rs 9,954.20 crore, which includes about Rs 834.81 crore for environmental protection measures,the coal requirement will be 8 million tonnes per annum and has been allotted from Mandakini-B Coal Mine block in Odisha.

Minister of Environment and Forests : Prakash Javadekar

APPOINTMENTS

Arun Kumar Jain appointed Central Board of Direct Taxes Chairman

Arun Kumar Jain was appointed as the Chairman of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) for two months (till January 2016) approved by the appointment Committee.

About Arun Kumar Jain

  • Arun Kumar Jain is a 1978 batch Indian Revenue Services officer. CBDT is the supreme policy making body of Income Tax department.
  • Arun Kumar was made the acting Chairman of CBDT after the retirement ofAnita Kapur as the Chairman of CBDT on November 30, 2015.Currently, Anita Kapur has been appointed as the adviser on tax reforms in the Union Ministry of Finance for six months.

Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT)  

  • The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) is a statutory authority functioning under the Central Board Revenue Act, 1963.
  • The officials of the CBDT (holding ex-offcio position) functions as Division of the Union Ministry of Finance, dealing with matters relating to levy and collection of direct taxes.

Akhilesh Mishra appointed as the next High Commissioner of lndia to the Republic of Maldives

Akhilesh Mishra appointed as the next High Commissioner of lndia to the Republic of MaldivesSenior diplomat Akhilesh Mishra, currently Consul General of lndia in Toronto, has been appointed as country’s next High Commissioner to Maldives announced by External Affairs Ministry .

About Akhilesh Mishra :

  • An officer of 1989 IFS-batch, Mishra will succeed Rajeev Shahare, who has been appointed as the Indian Ambassador to Denmark.         .

Key points :

  • Republic of Maldives Capital : Male
  • Republic of Maldives Currency : Maldivian rufiyaa
  • Republic of Maldives President : Abdulla Yameen

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

ISRO launched six Singaporean satellites

National space agency Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched six Singapore satellites and also tested the fourth stage of its PSLV rocket from Satish Dhawan Space Centre.

  • These 6 satellites were launched as part of the agreement entered into between ST Electronics (Satcom & Sensor Systems), Singapore and Antrix Corporation Limited, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), government of India Company under the Department of Space (DOS).
  • PSLV C-29 lifts off successfully from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh with all 6 Singapore satellites.
  • These six satellites took the count of foreign satellites launched by ISRO to 57.
  • The six satellites carried by PSLV-C29 together weighed about 624 kg at lift-off.

Snapdeal launched mobile website in Hindi, Telugu

Snapdeal India’s largest online marketplace in terms of sellers, launched its brand-new multi-lingual interface on its mobile site designed to enable consumers to shop online in their preferred languages.

Key facts :

  • Snapdeal, which competes with Flipkart, the country’s largest ecommerce player and Amazon India, developed a grammar engine to ensure error-free translations, transliterations and grammar checks in each language.
  • The SoftBank, Foxconn and Alibaba Group-backed online marketplace’s mobile user interface will now be available in Hindi and Telugu.

Snapdeal CEO : Kunal Bahl

At pressure from Germany Google, Facebook, Twitter agree to delete hate speech in 24 hours

Facebook, Google and Twitter have agreed to delete hate speech from their websites within 24 hours, a new step in the fight against rising online racism following the refugee crisis said by German Justice Minister Heiko Maas.

  • The government has been trying to get social platforms to crack down on the rise in anti-foreigner comments in German on the web as the country struggles to cope with an influx of more than 1 million refugees this year.
  • The new agreement makes it easier for users and anti-racism groups to report hate speech to specialist teams at the three companies and agree that as a rule this should be possible within 24 hours.

ENVIRONMENT

Arctic Region hits record high temperature over land: NOAA

Annual Arctic Report Card of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a federal agency of US for monitoring condition of the oceans and the atmosphere has revealed that the average temperature over Arctic land for the year ending in September 2015 was the highest on record indicating that the Arctic is warming twice as fast as other parts of the Earth.

Highlights:

  • The Arctic was 3 degrees Celsius above average for the year ending in September 2015.
  • The recorded temperature rise is the warmest since observations began in 1900. Due to temperature rise the ice in this region is growing thinner each year.
  • The sea ice coverage in the Arctic has reached its peak in February 2015 and marked the lowest extent since record-taking began in 1979.
  • The newly formed thin ice comprises about 70% of the winter ice cover in the Arctic Ocean compared to about half that in the 1980s.

SPORTS

Rory McIlroy bagged European Tour Golfer of the Year award

Rory McIlroy bagged European Tour Golfer of the Year awardNorthern Irish professional golfer Rory McIlroy(26) from Holywood in County Down was named the European Tour Golfer of the Year. He received the award for the third time in four years. The Northern Irishman won three times during the 2015 season, including an enthralling victory in the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai last month.

Highlights :

  • McIlroy bagged the European Tour Golfer of the Year award after a panel consisting of members of the golfing media unanimously voted for him as the 2015 winner.
  • Currently World No. 3, he was World No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for 95 weeks.
  • Previously, McIlroy was named the European Tour Golfer of the Year in 2014 and 2012

Chief Executive Officer of The European Tour : Keith Pelley

Shiva, Mandeep among four boxers to receive IOC Olympic scholarships

Shiva, Mandeep among four boxers to receive IOC Olympic scholarships

Four Indian boxers selected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for a scholarship.

  • World Championships bronze-medallist Shiva Thapa (56kg)
  • Commonwealth Games silver-medallist Mandeep Jangra (69kg)
  • Gaurav Bidhuri (52kg)
  • Sumit Sangwan (69kg)

Key facts :

  • Gaurav Bidhuri and Sumit Sangwan were the other two boxers picked by the IOC after recommendations from the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).
  • The boxers will get a sum of USD 800 every month till August next year, provided they qualify for the Olympic Games, besides an additional USD 5,000 to cover their transportation cost for participation in the Olympic qualifying events.

Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara, Kento Momota won singles titles at World Dubai Superseries Finals

Japanese shuttlers Kento Momota and Nozomi Okuhara emerged champions in the men’s and women’s singles categories, respectively, in the BWF Superseries Finals at the Hamdan Sports Complex.

Men’s Single title:
World No.5 Momota beat Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen 21-15, 21-12 in 36 minutes

Women’s Single title :

world No. 4 Okuhara overcame world No. 3 Yihan Wang from China 22-20, 21-18 in an hour and three minutes.

Women’s doubles title :

Chinese twin shuttlers Luo Ying and Luo Yu beating Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl from Denmark.

Men’s double title :

Indonesian men’s doubles pair of Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan beat China’s Chai Biao and Hong Wei 13-21, 21-14, 21-14 in 53

Mixed double final:

Adcock couple, Chris and Gabriele defeated South Korean pair of Ko Sung Hyun and Kim Ha Na 21-14, 21-17 in 37 minutes.