Current Affairs Today – December 9 2015

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Current Affairs Today 9 December 2015

INDIAN AFFAIRS

Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill, 2015 consented by Rajya Sabha

Rajya Sabha has passed the Negotiable Instrument (Amendment) Bill 2015 which amends the clauses relating to the territorial jurisdiction for filing Cheque dishonor Cases. The Bill provides for filing of cheque bounce cases at the place where a cheque is presented for clearance and not the place of issue.

  • It will amend the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 which defines bills of exchange, promissory notes, cheques and creates penalties for issues such as bouncing cheques.
  • Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill, 2015 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on May 6, 2015.
  • There are an estimated 18 lakh cheque bounce cases across the country, of which about 38,000 are pending in High Courts.

Seven-member committee to examine online drug sale issue

In a bid of taking care of the risks and concerns related online sales of drugs, Drugs Consultative Committee (DCC) has constituted a seven-member subcommittee to examine the issue of these sales.
(Minister of Health and Family Welfare – Jagat Prakash Nadda)

  • The sale and distribution of drugs in the country is regulated under the Drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945.
  • A number of representations have been received from chemists and druggist associations against the online sale of prescription drugs.

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has constituted an expert core committee to review and recommend the revision of National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) 2011 in the context of contemporary knowledge of use of therapeutic products.

  • As per the Drugs (Price Control) Order, 2013, 680 medicines are currently under the NLEM.

Govt extends PMJJBY and PMSBY deadline to Dec 31

The government has extended the deadline for enrolment in the nation’s two most popular social security schemes up to December 31.

  • Insurance schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY) and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY) are aimed at bringing the unorganised sector and economically weaker population under risk cover.

About Schemes:

  • PMJJBY offers Rs 2 lakh cover at Rs 330 premium every year. Bank account holders in the age 18 to 50 years are eligible to take this facility. The life risk cover will get terminated after 55 years.
  • PMSBY offers a renewable one year accidental death cum disability cover of Rs 2 lakh at Rs 12 premium every year. The insured will get Rs 1 lakh in case of partial permanent disability.

MoU signed between Ministry of Textiles & Ministry of MSME for establishing a Technology Centre at Kanpur

Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed among Ministry of Textiles, Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) & National Textile Corporation (NTC) in order to set up a Technology Centre (Tool Room)

Place : Kanpur, UP

About Technology Centre :

The Technology Centre would provide support in manufacturing of quality tools that would improve productivity of MSMEs and enable them to become competitive in national and international markets, it would also provide trained manpower and consultancy in related areas.

Highlights :

  • Drawing inspiration from the vision of the Prime Minister for ‘Skill India’, Ministry of Textiles, through Integrated Skill Development Scheme (ISDS) targets to train 15 lakh youth in the textile sector by 2017.
  • The Ministry is exploring several alternatives to achieve this target, including evolving synergy with ongoing schemes/institutions and with other Ministries as well.

Key points :

  • Minister of Textiles : Santosh Gangwar
  • Minister of MSME : Kalraj Mishra

MoU Signed for Skill Development in Manufacutring Sector

Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for skill development in the manufacturing sector, with focus on capital goods and automotive sector was signed . The MoU was signed between Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) and the Department of Heavy Industry (DHI).

  • The Department of Heavy Industry has played a key role in promoting two key Sector Skill Councils (SSCs), namely, Capital Goods Sector Skill Council and Automotive Skills Development Council in the skilling ecosystem of this country.

Purpose:

To create centres of excellence for different manufacturing skills and a multi-location national institute of manufacturing technologies for training education and research by utilizing/upgrading the existing training facilities of Central PSUs such as HMT, BHEL and Instrumentation under the DHI.

Highlights of MoU:

  • This will ensure that a robust national ecosystem for development of skills in the manufacturing sector is created in the country.
  • Under the MoU, all Central PSUs have committed to invest at least 20% of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds for skilling purpose.
  • The MoU will also enable significant scale up of apprentice training in the central PSUs under the Department of Heavy Industry and promote adoption of ITIs by these Central PSUs.
  • Apart from ITIs, Advanced Training Institutes and regional vocation training institutes under the Skills Ministry, training partners of NSDC and Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) will also work with the Central PSUs under DHI.
  • This agreement will enable private partnership in the entire value chain of skilling through targeted interventions.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

GFI ranked India 4th in black money outflows p/a

A Washington-based research and advisory organisation Global Financial Integrity (GFI) released its report titled “Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries: 2004-2013” showing a dramatic increase of illicit financial flows from 2004 when it was USD 465.3 billion to USD 1.1 trillion in 2013.
(Illegal financial outflows includes tax evasion, crime, corruption and other illicit activity)

  • Report ranked India at 4th place in black money outflows with USD 51 billion drawn out of the country per annum between the years 2004-2013.
  • China tops the list with USD 139 billion average outflow of illicit finances per annum, followed by Russia (USD 104 billion per annum) and Mexico (USD 52.8 billion per annum).

US House passed Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act of 2015

US House of Representatives passed the Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act of 2015. It amends the United States visa travel practices.

  • Approved by a vote of 407-19, act would prevent any foreign national who has visited Iraq, Iran, Syria or Sudan in the past five years from entering the US without a visa.

Highlights

  • The Bill would bar people who traveled after 1 March 2011 to 4 Nations from participating in the visa-free program.
  • The bill also mandates travelers to be checked against Interpol databases.
  • The proposed Bill also contains provisions under which US can remove countries from the visa waiver program if they do not cooperate with law enforcement and the intelligence community.

After passage from the House of Representatives, the Act needs its passage from Senate and approval from the President Barack Obama.

What is Visa Waiver Program (VWP)?
It is available to citizens of 38 countries. The program facilitates citizens of these countries to travel to the US for stays of 90 days or less without first obtaining a visa from an embassy or consulate.

BANKING & FINANCE

SEBI orders freezing bank, demat accounts for the Sunplant Forgings

Markets regulator SEBI has ordered attachment of bank and demat accounts of Sunplant Forgings, its promoters and directors, to recover dues worth over Rs 17 crore.

  • The attachment order comes after SEBI, in April, had directed the company and its directors to refund Rs 17.51 crore to the investors which it had illegally raised along with an interest of 15 per cent per annum.
  • The company had allotted redeemable preference shares to 6,000 persons without complying with the public issue norms.

Other Actions :

  • The company and its promoters and directors had been barred from the securities markets for four years and this ban would continue till the completion of refund to investors.
  • The regulator has slapped a penalty of Rs 5 lakh on Mangal Keshav Capital for alleged failure to make timely disclosures about its acquisition of shares in Arms Paper Ltd.

BUSINESS

Tata Comm concludes deal to sell Neotel fixed line to Vodacom

Tata Communications will sell the majority of its subsidiary Neotel’s fixed line assets to Vodacom South Africa but will retain control of licences including spectrum.

  • The deal was originally signed in May, 2014 wherein Vodafone’s South African subsidiary Vodacom had reached an agreement to buy Neotel, controlled by Tata Communications, for 7 billion rand (about Rs 3,200 crore).
  • In dollar terms, the value of transaction at that time was around USD 676 million which has come down to USD 479 million due to depreciation in value of South African rand.

Tata Communications owns over 68 per cent stake in South Africa’s largest fixed line telephone service provider Neotel.

AWARDS & RECOGNITIONS

Nobel Peace Prize conferred upon Tunisia’s “National Dialogue Quartet”

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2015 is to be awarded to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011 aka Tunisian Revolution.

  • National Dialogue Quartet was formed in 2013 when the process of democratisation was in danger of collapsing because of widespread social unrest
  • The quartet established an alternative and peaceful political process as Tunisia was on the brink of civil war.
  • Tunisia adopted a new constitution in January 2014 and held democratic elections at the end of last year.

2 Indians win Queen’s Young Leaders award in UK

Two Indians Kartik Sawhney (21) and Neha Swain (28) are among the 60 others who have won the Queen’s Young Leaders award in the UK for their exceptional work in transforming the lives of others and making a lasting difference in their communities.

  • The award will be presented by the British monarch at a gala ceremony in Buckingham Palace in June 2016.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Central Research Institute in Yoga and Naturopathy to be set up in Khordha District of Odisha

Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy (CCRYN), an autonomous organization under the Ministry of AYUSH has obtained 20 acres of land from Odisha Government in Binjhagiri Village in Khordha District to establish a Central Research Institute in Yoga and Naturopathy.

  • Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga, New Delhi is an autonomous organization under Central Government which is engaged in activities primarily related to education in Yoga.
  • Additionally, in 16 states , 108 colleges and educational institutes of 54 universities conducted courses on Yoga at various levels in the country (during 2012-13), as informed by the University Grants Commission (UGC).

Hetero became first Indian company to receive DGCI’s approval for hepatitis C drug

Drug maker Hetero received the approval to market generic version of Gilead’s Harvoni which is  used in the treatment of Hepatitis C from USFDA(U S Food and Drug Administration). The product will be available under the brand name ‘Ledisof’.

Key facts :

  • Hetero is the first company in India to receive the approval for the fixed-dose combination Ledipasvir-Sofosbuvir (90mg/400mg) from Drug Controller General of India (DCGI).
  • In India alone, it is estimated that 12-18 million patients are infected with Hepatitis C which is several fold greater than those with HIV/AIDS.
  • Untreated chronic hepatitis C increases the risk of cirrhosis of liver, liver failure and hepatocellular carcinoma.

World’s first biologically powered chip created

The researchers at Columbia Engineering have harnessed the molecular machinery of living systems to power an integrated circuit.

About Biologically powered chip :

  • Chip is powered biologically by integrating a conventional solid-state complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) integrated circuit with an artificial lipid bilayer membrane containing Adenosine TriphosPhate (ATP)-powered ion pumps.

Adenosine TriphosPhate (ATP) :

  • ATP is used to transport energy from where it is generated to where it is consumed in the cell.The advance has opened the door to creating new artificial systems that contain both biological and solid-state components.

While other groups have harvested energy from living systems, Shepard and his team are exploring how to do this at the molecular level, isolating just the desired function and interfacing this with electronics.

Iran successfully tests fired Ghadr-110 ballistic missile

Iran has carried out a new medium range ballistic missile Ghadr-110 tested in breach of two United Nations Security Council resolutions.

  • The test was held November 21, 2015 near Chabahar, a port city in southeast Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan Province near the border with Pakistan.  The launch took place from a known missile test site along the Gulf of Oman.

Features of Ghadr-110:

  • Ghadr-110 has a range of 1,800 – 2000 km, or 1200 miles
  • It is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
  • The missile fired in November is an improved version of the Shahab 3, and is similar to the precision guided missile tested by Iran on Oct-10, which elicited strong condemnation from members of the U.N. Security Council.

SPORTS

Chen Long & Carolina Marin bagged 2015 BWF Player of the Year Awards

China’s Chen Long and World No.1 and 2015 All England and World champion Carolina Marin bestowed with the BWF Player of the Year award from BWF President Poul-Erik Hoyer in Dubai.

Other Awards:

  • World Junior Champion in Mixed Doubles and Men’s Doubles Zheng Si Wei grabbed the Most Promising Player of the Year.
  • Norway’s Helle Sofie Sagoy won the Female Para-Badminton Player of the Year.
  • Korea’s Lee Sam Seop was named Male Para-Badminton Player of the Year.

Maharashtra won Wheelchair Basketball Championship

Maharashtra won Wheelchair Basketball ChampionshipMaharashtra has clinched the title of 2015 National Wheelchair Basketball Championship by defeating Punjab which was opened on the eve of the International Day of People with Disabilities.

  • The trophy was presented by Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot.
  • This was the 2nd edition of the Wheelchair Basketball Championship was organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross, Wheelchair Basketball Federation of India and the Sports Authority of India.

Participants – Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala

About Wheelchair Basketball Federation of India
WBFI was founded in 2014 is a registered national body which aims at promoting wheelchair basketball sport in the country.

  • The vision of WBFI is to enable large-scale participation and following for wheelchair basketball as a means to empower physically-challenged persons and to nurture strong state-level and national teams for wheelchair basketball in India.

IMPORTANT DAYS

International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide observed

On 9 December 2015 International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime was observed globally.

  • The 9th of December is the anniversary of the adoption of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the “Genocide Convention”).
  • In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) established 9 December as the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime.
  • The resolution was initiated by Armenia.

International Anti-corruption day

International Anti-corruption dayInternational Anti-Corruption Day has been observed annually on 9 December to raise awareness of corruption and of the role of the Convention in combating and preventing it.

Theme: Break the corruption chain

  • The 2015 joint international campaign focuses on how corruption undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to human rights violations, distorts markets, erodes quality of life and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish.

It shows that acting against corruption is imperative to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all.