Current Affairs Today – December 25 2015

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Current Affairs Today 25 December 2015INDIAN AFFAIRS

Chattisgarh top performer in “Digital India Week”

Chhattisgarh has been adjudged as the best performing State for its exemplary work in the field of information technology during the “Digital India Week 2015”.

  • The State will receive the award from Communication and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
  • Chhattisgarh was followed by Himachal Pradesh and Meghalaya at the third place.

Within Chhattisgarh, the districts of Kondagaon, Koriya and Gariyaband were adjudged the best performers for its digital facilities and services to the people. CM Raman Singh had launched 16 premium digital services.

  • Wi-Fi city scheme to ensure free high speed internet facility, mobiles app for e-district services, online facility for five pension schemes of social welfare department and six of revenue department, integrated Chhattisgarh mobile app, Chhattisgarh campus connect portal, Lok Seva Kendra and Common Service Centres in villages were among the facilities started during the week.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

PM Modi visit to Russia – An overview

PM Modi was in Russia for two days to attend the annual India-Russia Summit in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin to further strengthen the already close bilateral strategic partnership.

  • The two countries signed memorandums of understanding (MOU) on technical cooperation in the railway sector, building solar energy plants in India, investment cooperation in Russia’s Far East.

UN approves $5.4 billion operating budget for 2016-2017

The General Assembly has approved a $5.4 billion budget for the United Nations’ regular operations during 2016 and 2017.

  • The regular budget is separate from the budget for the U.N. far-flung peacekeeping operations, which totals $8.27 billion for the year ending June 30, 2016.
  • Many U.N. agencies are funded by voluntary contributions from member states.

The United States, the largest contributor, pays 22% of the regular budget followed by Japan with 9.68%.

UN Security Council backed Libya unity accord

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously adopted a resolution endorsing an agreement between Libya’s rival camps on forming a unity government.

  • The Security Council urged the parties to implement its terms within the 30-day as prescribed by the agreement to form a Government of National Accord.
  • It also called on the world community to provide all necessary aid to defeat terrorist groups.
  • The deal to unify the government calls for a Unity government, headed by businessman Fayez el-Sarraj as premie

The agreement brokered by United Nations was facilitated by the Secretary-General Special Representative, Martin Kobler, in a bid to end a four-year-long crisis that has left nearly 2.4 million Libyans in desperate need of humanitarian aid.

BANKING & FINANCE

China-backed AIIB formally established in Beijing

China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in which India is a founder member along with other 56 countries was formally established here and expected to start operation next month.

  • Articles of Agreement outline the financial share of each founding member as well as rules for policymaking, governance structure and business and operational systems for the bank.

The bank’s establishment came after 17 funding members of the AIIB, which account for just over 50% of its share capital, ratified the agreement on the bank.

  • With authorised capital of USD 100 billion and subscribed capital of USD 50 billion.
  • AIIB, based in Beijing will invest in sectors including energy, transportation, urban construction and logistics as well as education and healthcare.

China, India and Russia are the three largest shareholders, taking a 30.34 per cent, 8.52 per cent, 6.66 per cent stake respectively in the newly-formed bank. Based on the shareholding, India is expected to get the post of the Vice President.

Current Account Deficit narrowed to 1.6 % of GDP

The current account deficit (CAD) narrowed to 1.6% of GDP at USD 8.2 billion in the second quarter ended September.

  • The contraction in CAD was primarily on account of lower trade deficit (USD 37.4 billion) as compared with USD 39.7 billion in Q2 of last year though it was higher than the level in the preceding quarter (USD 34.2 billion).

According to experts, a CAD up to 2.5% of GDP can be financed with the current level of foreign fund inflows and remittances. In FY14, it had risen to a historic high of 4.8% of GDP.

  • The foreign direct investment also slowed down during the July-September period to USD 15.1 billion from USD 16.7 billion in the preceding quarter.
  • On portfolio investments, there was a net outflow of USD 6.5 billion as against a net inflow of USD 9.8 billion in the year-ago period.

Foreign exchange reserves on a balance of payment basis also came down by USD 0.9 billion in Q2 of the current fiscal.

Reserve Bank of India Invites Applications for Innovative Payment Solutions

India’s central bank The Reserve Bank of India has invited applications for “Payment System Innovation Awards” to encourage innovative solutions in the field of Payment and Settlement System.

  • With this initiative, the RBI is hoping to transform the way transactions are processed in the world’s fastest growing emerging economy.
  • The Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology (IDRBT), which is the technology arm of the RBI, will organize the competition.
  • Panels of experts will shortlist the most innovative applications, and the best three will be rewarded with citations/prizes. The winners may also be given a chance to present their ideas/ technologies to the industry representatives.

BUSINESS

Biocon launched generic version of hepatitis-C drug Harvoni in India

The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) recently approved the sale of Sofosbuvir-Ledipasvir combination, which is being manufactured in India under a license from Gilead.

  • Biopharmaceutical company Biocon launched a generic version of Gilead Life sciences’ hepatitis C drug, Harvoni, in India.
  • The novel therapy named CIMIVIR-L is a fixed dose combination of Ledipasvir 90 mg and Sofosbuvir 400 mg, and an improved version of Gilead’s blockbuster hepatitis C drug Sovaldi.
  • Recently Natco Pharma has received a license from Gilead to sell a generic version of the drug in India, sells a bottle of 28 tablets at about Rs 20,000.

Aurobindo Pharma gets USFDA nod for acid reflux drug

Aurobindo Pharma Ltd. has received 54th approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration(USFDA) to manufacture and market Famotidine tablet that is used for the short-term treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease and active duodenal ulcer.

  • The approved abbreviated new drug application (ANDA) is bio and therapeutically equivalent to the reference listed drug product Pepcid tablets of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc., the Hyderabad firm.
  • With this, Aurobindo has a total of 226 ANDA approvals.

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Col. C.K. Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award for Syed Kirmani

Former India stumper Syed Kirmani (65) was chosen for the prestigious Col. C.K. Nayudu Lifetime Achievement award for 2015.

  • He is the first wicketkeeper in 21 years to be nominated for this award. Popularly known as “Kojak” for his Telly Savalas-look, Kirmani will be the 23rd recipient of the award.
  • He has being chosen for the award by BCCI’s special committee comprising President Shashank Manohar, Anurag Thakur (secretary) and Ram, Chairman and Publisher, Kasturi and Sons Ltd.

IOC, RIL fixed top 2 slots in Fortune 500 India list

In the list of Fortune 500 Indian companies 2015, State-owned Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has maintained its No.1 position followed by Reliance Industries (RIL) in terms of revenue for the 6th consecutive year.

  • IOC tops the chart with an annual revenue of Rs 4, 51,911 crore while Mukesh Ambani-led RIL’s revenue is Rs 3, 82,565 crore.

APPOINTMENTS

Gautam Bambawale appointed as India’s next High Commissioner to Pakistan

Gautam H Bambawale appointed as India's High Commissioner to PakistanSenior diplomat Gautam Bambawale, currently India’s envoy to Bhutan, has been appointed as next High Commissioner to Pakistan, External Affairs Ministry officially announced.

  • An IFS officer of 1984-batch, Bambawale will replace T C A Raghavan, who is retiring at the end of this month.

Thomas Cook India elevates Madhavan Menon as CMD

Travel services provider Thomas Cook India has re-designated its present MD Madhavan Menon as Chairman and Managing Director, effective January 1, 2016.

Thomas Cook India elevates Madhavan Menon as CMD

  • The board of directors of the company has appointed “Madhavan Menon as Chairman and re-designated him as Chairman and Managing Director with effect from January 1, 2016.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

India’s first Artificial Liver Tissue developed using 3D printing

A Bengaluru-based biotech start-up, Pandorum Technologies, has become the first Indian firm to develop artificial living tissue, which performs the function of a human liver and can lead to affordable, full-scale transplantable organs in few a years.

  • The tissue has been developed by the trio comprises of Arun Chandru, Dr Abdullah Chand and Dr Sivarajan T.
  • The tissue performs critical functions of a human liver tissue including detoxification, metabolism and secretion of biochemicals such as albumin and cholesterol.
  • The tissue can grow and survive up to eight weeks.

Indian cancer scientist develops software for patients

An Indian scientist in the United States has developed a new MRI-based technique to predict survival of patients with aggressive brain tumours and help provide personalised therapy.

  • Dr. Pallavi Tiwari’s work is based on recent clinical findings that 90 per cent of the Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) recurrences occur close to the tumour margin, suggesting that malignant cells are present at the periphery of the tumour but are not visually discernible.

OBITUARY

Olympian cyclist Suprabhat Chakrabarty passed away

Olympian cyclist Suprabhat Chakrabarty passed awayOlympian cyclist Suprabhat Chakrabarty (86) passed away on 24 dec 2015 following a heart attack. He leaves behind his wife, son and daughter.

  • Five-time National champion Chakrabarty, fondly known as ‘Khaja’ in cycling circles, was a key member of the National squad that took part in the first edition of the Asian Games in 1951 in Delhi, 1952 Olympics in Helsinki and World Peace Race the same year.

Former Chief Justice of Karnataka and Kerala HC VS Malimath dead

Former Chief Justice of Karnataka and Kerala HC VS Malimath deadFormer chief justice of Karnataka and Kerala high courts and chairman of the Karnataka Border Protection Commission (KBPC) Justice V S Malimath died at Manipal Hospital in Bengaluru.

About VS Malimath :

  • Appointed as head of KBPC by the Karnataka government in June to provide legal counselling on the boundary dispute with Maharashtra. Justice Malimath headed the Committee on Reform of Criminal Justice System in India and was the United Nations Representative to monitor human rights enforcement in Nigeria and Sri Lanka.
  • He served as an International Observer to oversee the referendum in Sri Lanka.He was appointed Advocate General in 1968 and later as judge of the Karnataka high court in March 1970.
  • He was appointed Chief Justice of Karnataka high court in 1984 and later transferred to Kerala high court.

Awards:

He was conferred with the National Citizen’s Award by the President of India,Karnataka Rajyotsava Award and honorary Doctorate of Law by Karnatak University.

IMPORTANT DAYS

National Good Governance Day

Good Governance Day  is observed annually on the 25th December in India to mark the birth anniversary of former-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.Good Governance Day was established in 2014 to honor Prime Minister Vajpayee by fostering awareness among the Indian people of accountability in government.

The health ministry Nadda launched four information technology driven initiatives to mark good governance day

  • Kilkari – Audio-based mobile service that delivers weekly audio messages and is being supported by Tata Consultancy Services as part of its CSR initiative.
  • M-Cessation – IT-enabled tool to help tobacco users to quit tobacco.
  • Mobile Academy – Mobile App developed through which about 90,00,000 Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) will be imparted training.
  • Nadda also inaugurated the new IT-enabled OPD registry block at AIIMS.
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