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The Union Minister of Human Resource Development Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani launched the 6th All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) in New Delhi.
- The survey aimed to find out the number of students in higher education in the country and improve the gross enrolment ratio (GER) in different sections of the society including reserved category and women among others.
As a part of the recently launched Prime Minister Awas Yojana (Urban), Gujarat has become the first state in the country to take up Public-Private Partnership Projects for redevelopment of slums in urban areas.
- 30 PPP Projects proposed by Gujarat Government has been approved by the inter-ministerial Central Screening and Monitoring Committee (CSMC) of the Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA) for rehabilitation of slum dwellers in Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot and Vadodara.
- 17,580 new dwelling units will be constructed for slum dwellers living on government lands in these four cities of Gujarat by private developers.
Government Launches Toll-Free ‘Eyeway National Helpdesk’ for Visually Impaired Citizens of India
Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities launched “Eyeway National Helpdesk” for the blind and visually impaired at the Department Headquarters in Paryavaran Bhawan, New Delhi.
- Eyeway National Helpdesk is an initiative of Score Foundation with support from the Department and other organizations like Essel Foundation, Tech Mahindra Foundation and the Hans Foundation.
Now visually impaired citizens of India will be able to call the Eyeway Helpdesk on a toll free number, 1800-300-20469 and get queries addressed in their regional languages. Trained counsellors will share information, guide and connect the caller with relevant professional solutions.
- Information will cover living life with blindness, counselling, advocacy, personal or legal matters, government schemes and programs, employment or education, about making an accessible environment etc.
Rajya Sabha passes SC/ST Amendment Bill
The Rajya Sabha unanimously passed the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2015. The bill seeks to amend the SC & ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
- The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, aims to prohibit the commission of offences against members of the SCs and STs and provides for establishing special courts for the trial of such offences and the rehabilitation of victims.
The 68th UN General Assembly officially launched the 2016 International Year of Pulses (IYP 2016) at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, Italy to raise awareness about the protein power and health benefits of all kinds of dried beans and peas, boost their production and trade and to encourage new and smarter uses throughout the food chain.
- Slogan – “nutritious seeds for a sustainable future”
- FAO has been nominated to facilitate the implementation of the Year in collaboration with Governments, relevant organizations, non-governmental organizations and all other relevant stakeholders.
10th WTO Ministerial Conference adopted Nairobi Package
The WTO’s 10th Ministerial Conference was held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 15 to 19 December 2015.
- The conference concluded with the adoption of the Nairobi Package that is aimed at benefitting organization’s poorest members.
The conference was attended by trade ministers of 162 member countries of the WTO. India was represented by Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Commerce & Industry Nirmala Sitharaman.
- The Nairobi Package contains a series of six Ministerial Decisions on agriculture, cotton and issues related to least-developed countries.
Miss Iraq beauty pageant held for the first time since 1972
Despite the dangers of Isis and death threats to contestants, the Miss Iraq beauty pageant has been successfully held for the first time over 40 years in hotel in Baghdad.
- Shaymaa Abdelrahman, a 20-year-old from Kirkuk, became the first person to claim the title of Miss Iraq since the event was last held in 1972.
- The contest had a total of eight contestants.
The event was not open to the public, and most of the audience was made up of the contestants’ relatives.
Iraq Capital – Baghdad
Iraq Currency – Iraqi dinar
BANKING & FINANCE
India’s GDP to grow at 7 to 7.5 %: Report
According to the mid-term economic review tabled in Parliament, the country’s economic situation is satisfactory and the economy has shown remarkable stability.
- The review has cut the growth forecast for the current financial year to 7-7.5% from earlier estimate of 1-8.5%.
- The report has set retail inflation target at 6% by the end of March 2016 Government is confident of meeting the fiscal deficit targets without any cut in expenditure.
The government’s policy actions and RBI’s monetary policy response have led to improvement in macro stability India is decidedly moving out of the macro adjustment phase and into the recovery phase.
- Keeping the economic scenario in mind Government has not cut its expenditure and has invested in Health and rural development schemes on priority.
Tata Motors listed in top 50 global R&D spenders
On the annual Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard for 2015, prepared by the European Commission, Tata Motors has made it to the Top 50 league of the world’s biggest companies in terms of R&D investments.
- The list is topped by German automaker Volkswagen followed by Samsung, Microsoft, Intel and Novartis in the Top Five.
- Tata Motors has moved up from 104th position last year to 49th However, most of this R&D is at its UK subsidiary Jaguar Land Rover.
In the expanded list of the world’s 2,500 top R&D firms, there are a total of 26 Indian companies, as against 829 from the US, 608 from the EU, 360 from Japan, and 301 from China.
- Overall, India is placed 15th in terms of the number of companies on the list.
- Among other Indian companies, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories is ranked 404, M&M 451, Reliance Industries 540, Lupin 624, Sun Pharma 669, Cipla 831 and Infosys 884.
AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS
World number 2 Scottish professional tennis player Andrew Barron “Andy” Murray was crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) for the second time after Great Britain’s Davis Cup triumph.
- He received more than 361,446 votes in total with rugby star Kevin Sinfield finishing second with 278,353 and heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill third with 78,898.
Murray is the fourth different tennis player to win the award in its 62-year history after Ann Jones in 1969, Virginia Wade in 1977 and Greg Rusedski in 1997.
Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach aka Mindanao & Pia Romero, a Filipina-German actress, model and beauty queen has been crowned with Miss Universe 2015.
- Ms. Wurtzbach represented the Philippines in the Miss Universe 2015 held in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States.
Lakshmi Vilas Bank gets a new MD & CEO
Lakshmi Vilas Bank has appointed Parthasarathi Mukherjee as the new managing director (MD) and CEO for three years from the date of his taking charge.
- Mukherjee was earlier with Axis Bank as group executive (corporate relationships and international business). He was with the bank for nearly 21 years. Before that, he worked for the State Bank of India (SBI) for nearly 12 years.
Emami ropes in Sania Mirza as brand ambassador of Kesh King
Home-grown FMCG firm Emami Ltd announced tennis star Sania Mirza as the brand ambassador of hair oil and shampoo variants of its newly-acquired Kesh King brand.
- Kesh King was acquired by Emami in June 2015 for Rs 1,651 crore, marking the company’s foray into the ayurvedic hair and scalp care segment. The brand portfolio includes ayurvedic medicinal oil, herbal shampoo and conditioner and ayurvedic capsules.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
AIIMS launches online tracking system for poor patients
In order to check the malpractice of patients submitting false certificates to get free diagnostic tests or surgeries done, the AIIMS has launched an online verification system for poor patients who are exempt from paying charges.
- AIIMS authorities said, is aimed at bringing in more transparency and keeping a track of the BPL card holders seeking free services and treatment.
Union Defence Ministry launches new ‘Make in India’ website for a transparent interface
A new ‘Make in India’ website, www.makeinindiadefence.com has been launched by the Union Minister of Defence Manohar Parrikar in New Delhi, with an aim to make defence acquisition process simpler and to provide a transparent interface with the industry.
- The new website provides information related to all the procedural and policy issues relevant for defence manufacturing industry in the country. The website also provides the latest news and notification regarding various aspects of the defence production involved with the Make in India campaign.
Kane Williamson tops ICC Test rankings
Kane Williamson has become the second New Zealand batsman after Glenn Turner (1973-75) to top the ICC Player Rankings for Test Batsmen after producing a man of the match performance in the Hamilton Test against Sri Lanka, which helped the New Zealand to win the match by 5 wickets and the series 2-0.
- It completed a golden Test year for the right-hander, who took his 2015 aggregate to 1172, the highest by a New Zealander.
- He also ended the year with an astounding 15 Test average.
He started the year 2015 at 13th position, but after scoring 1,172 runs in 16 innings and eight Tests with five centuries and four half-centuries, he has topped the ranking.
Sepp Blatter banned from football for eight years
A FIFA court banned FIFA President Sepp Blatter and Vice-President and member of the Executive Committee of FIFA and President of UEFA Michel Platini.
- Both were “immediately” banned from all football activity. Blatter, FIFA’s president since 1998, was fined 50,000 Swiss francs ($50,000/46,300 euros). Platini was fined 80,000 Swiss francs.
Vijender Singh becomes first Indian to score Pro-Boxing hat-trick
Indian Professional Boxer, Vijendar Singh registered his third consecutive win in Pro Boxing. He defeated his opponent Samet Hyuseinov by Technical knockout (TKO) in Manchester, England.
- He fought his first professional boxing match on October of this year and defeated his opponent Sonny Whiting. In his second first professional boxing match, he defeated Dean Gillen in Dublin, Ireland.
- He won medals in several international level competitions such as 2008 Olympic Games, 2009 World Amateur Boxing Championship, Common Wealth Games and also the Asian Games.
Abhay Singh wins the Under-19 Singapore Squash Open.
World Number One Junior Player, Abhay Singh won the Under-19 title in the final of Old Chang Kee Singapore Squash Open. He defeated Alwin Chai of Malaysia in the final played at Singapore.
- He defeated Vivek Palaniappan of Singapore in his first round, followed it up with a fighting win over 5/8 seed Yusuke Ogata of Japan. In Semi – Final he beat Kojiro Tan of Singapore.
- Abhay has won totally seven junior titles this year, two of them international titles.
RCTC Jockey D K Ashish dies after falling from horse
Jockey D K Ashish who was critically injured after falling from a horse died at City hospital. Ashish, who hailed from Pune, was riding Bold As Brave while participating in the Calcutta OAKS and fell off as he was taking the last home turn during the race.
A trainer at Royal Calcutta Turf Club (RCTC) said that though accidents were part of any kind of sport, yet the sudden demise of a fine jockey like Ashish and the void left by him would be felt.
BOOKS & AUTHORS
President of India presents copy of book on Rashtrapati Nilayam to Governor ESL Narasimhan
The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee presented a copy of a book on Rashtrapati Nilayam, Secunderabad to Shri ESL Narasimhan, Governor of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh at Rashtrapati Nilayam, Secunderabad.
- Anuradha Naik, Conservation architect from Hyderabad, who has authored the chapters on Bolarum and the Rashtrapati Nilayamof the book, was also present on the occasion.
- The book titled ‘The Presidential Retreats of India’ which features the Rashtrapati Nilayam and The Retreat at Mashobra was commissioned by the President’s Secretariat and Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA).
- It has been published by Publications Division, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and will be available soon for public in its outlets.
National Consumer Day – December 24
National Consumer Rights Day is observed on December 24 of every year. Since 1986, as on this day the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 had received the assent of the President. Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Ram Vilas Paswan inaugurated the National Consumer Day celebrations in New Delhi.
- The theme of the 2015 National Consumer Rights Day is “Safe and Healthy Food: Combating Food Adulteration”.
- On the occasion the Department of Consumer Affairs organized a poster making competition among school children on the theme of “consumer awareness”.
- Two podcasts on food safety were also launched which will have sign language interpretation.
Key Points: World Consumer Rights Day – March 15