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Daily Current Affairs - 13th January, 2016


International


United States and Jordan have agreed to enhance efforts to combat nuclear terrorism. Secretary of State John Kerry and Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh signed a Joint Action Plan in Washington. The State Department said, the measure strengthens US-Jordanian efforts to work to detect and prevent nuclear and radiological smuggling incidents. 

The US has similar agreements with 13 other countries, including Iraq, Ukraine and Lithuania. State Department spokesman John Kirby said, the US may seek similar arrangements with additional countries. 
 

National


The 153rd birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda is being observed as National Youth Day across the country 12th January 2016. The day is celebrated annually since 12 January 1985 in recognition of his ideals and teachings and to project him as a role model for the Indian youth. 

He established Ramakrishna mission in 1897 as an affiliated organisation to the math to take up social work in the fields of education, healthcare and welfare. He condemned social inequalities on the name of religion and preached for women empowerment and emancipation of youth. 
 


Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd, BHEL has commissioned a 520-MW coal-based thermal power unit in Andhra Pradesh. The unit has been commissioned at the 2x520 mw Vizag Thermal Power Project of Hinduja National Power Company Limited (HNPCL), Visakhapatnam. The 2x520 mw Vizag thermal power project is being executed by BHEL on engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) basis. 

The project is located on the coast of the Bay of Bengal and uses single flow condenser and sea water as main cooling water. The project was severely affected by the Hudhud cyclone in 2014 while it was in construction stage. The restoration was carried out by BHEL on war-footing and the first unit has been commissioned successfully. The second unit of this project is also in an advanced stage of completion. 

 
Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said, the government plans to declare about 50,000 km of highways as National Highways before January 26. Mr.Gadkari said that the National Highways length is 96,000 km in the country and government plans to declare 1.5 lakh km of National Highways by the Republic day. 
 

 
Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari on 11 January 2016 unveiled measures to improve road safety across the country. The measures were announced during the launch of the Road Safety Week in New Delhi, which is being organised every year to create awareness among general public to improve the safety on road. 

And, the measures announced are part of the Union Government’s concerted action plan to reducing road accidents by half by 2019, and, they include: 
• Constitution of the Road Safety Authority to look after overall aspects related to road safety in the county. 
• Introduction of the Road Transport and Safety Bill in the Parliament for seamless development of a secure, efficient, cost-effective, sustainable and inclusive transport system for the movement of passenger and freight in the country. 
• 11000 crore rupees will spent, between 2015 and 2019, to fix block spots across the country. This measure is in addition to the website that was launched to help in identifying black spots where accidents take place frequently. 
• Computers will be used for conducting driving tests to curb irregularities in issuing licenses. 
• Airbags will be made compulsory in every car. 

As per the WHO’s Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015, India has the highest number of road fatalities in the world.
 


Telangana became the first State in India to introduce compulsory gender education at the graduate level. In this regard, the state in second week of January 2016 introduced a bilingual textbook titled, Towards a World of Equals. The book was introduced on a pilot basis in engineering colleges affiliated to the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU-Hyderabad). 
 

 
Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu on 11 January 2016 inaugurated implementation of E-enabled Track Management System (TMS) and Mobile Application of TMS on Indian Railway at Rail Bhawan in New Delhi. Indian Railways brought in these initiatives to bring efficiency and effectiveness in management practices which involve handling of huge volumes of data statistics as well as dynamic analysis of various measurement and defects and planning, deployment of large resources. 

Along with these two initiatives, the minister also inaugurated pilot implementation of Track Inventory Management System on Northern Railway to track materials inventory, construction and track machines organization in entire 225 units of Northern Railway. 
 


Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL), the corporate entity of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, on 11 January 2016 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Andhra Pradesh government. The MoU envisages investment of around 38500 crore rupees to take up various projects at Visakhapatnam. The deal was signed during the 22nd CII Partnership Summit & 1st Sunrise AP Investment Meet, which is being held in Visakhapatnam. 

Key highlights of the MoU: 
• The investments by RINL will include expansion capacity of Vizag Steel to 7.3 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) with a modernisation that may cost approximately 3600 crore rupees. 
• At an investment of 3400 crore rupees, construction of Coke Oven Battery and other projects are also expected to be modernised. 
• The overall investment figure of 38500 crore rupees also includes further total expansion capacity of RINL to around 11.5 MTPA to 12 MTPA. 
• The company will also spend 6100 crore rupees on a slurry pipeline and pellet plant in a joint venture with NMDC & others. 

About Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL): 
• Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited, also known as Vizag Steel, is an Indian government-owned steel producer. 
• The company is based in Visakhapatnam. 
• It has been awarded the Navaratna status, with accompanying autonomy of operations, due to its strong financial performance. 
• The plans for a steel plant in Visakhapatnam were announced in 1971 by then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi. 
• Originally, intended as a plant of the state-owned Steel Authority of India Limited, RINL was established as a separate company in 1982. 
• It has been constructed with collaboration with former USSR and Germany. 
• It is amongst the most advanced Steel plants in India and one of largest integrated steel plants in the world. 
 


Nearly 1.73 crore people have availed the benefit of the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana, PMMY so far since the launch of the scheme in April last year. Special Secretary (Financial Services) Snehlata Shrivastava said, the government is making all efforts to create more awareness among the people about the scheme. She said, the objective of the scheme is to provide banking finances to those who had to borrow from money lenders at higher rates for self-employment. 



Centre has approved major changes to the Defence Procurement Procedure, DPP. The Defence Acquisition Council, DAC chaired by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar met in New Delhi to discuss the new DDP and gave its approval to the changes. Mr Parrikar said, they have finalised the DPP 2016. He said, the major part of the changes have been approved. The new DPP will streamline defence acquisitions and give a big impetus to indigenisation through the ‘Make in India’ initiative. 

The highlights of the new procedure are a new category to promote domestic manufacturing, including government funding for Research & Development and recognition of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in technology development. The new DPP provides for increase in contract threshold from Rs 300 crore to Rs 2,000 crore for offsets. 
 

Business


Airbus Group on 11 January 2016 announced the appointment of Ashish Saraf as Vice-President - Industry Development, Strategic Partnerships and Offsets. Saraf will look over the Group's existing Make in India initiatives and conceive new ones for all the businesses of Airbus Group India with the aim to increase their industrial footprint in the country. 


 
India's biggest e-commerce company, Flipkart, on 11 January 2016 announced the promotion of current Chief Operating Officer Binny Bansal to the post of Chief Executive Officer (CEO). On the other hand, Sachin Bansal, who has been the CEO since inception, will now take on the newly-created role of Executive Chairman.


Economy


The country’s foreign exchange reserves, which were $350.4 billion as on September 2015, were able to support imports for 9.8 months, up from 8.9 months as on end March, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said in its Half Yearly Report on Management of Foreign Exchange Reserves. 

As on end March, 2015, foreign exchanges reserves were at $341.64 billion. Import cover was 8.1 per cent in September 2014. The country’s foreign exchange reserves were at $350.4 billion as on January 1, 2016 – the same level seen on September end. 


Awards


The Nati folk dance of Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh in second week of January 2016 was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest folk dance in the world. Nati entered in the book as the largest folk dance in terms of participants’ number. Total 9892 women participated in this folk dance in their traditional colourful Kulluvi on 26 October 2015 during International Dussehra festival. 

The event, phrased as Pride of Kullu, was dedicated to girl child, was recorded in several cameras. Kullu Dussehra is a centuries-old festival and celebrations begin on Vijaya Dashami, the day when the festivities end in rest of the country. The folk dance entered the Limca Book of Records in 2014 after about 8760 artists performed it at the Kullu Dussehra festivities. 


Sports

 
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi on 11 January 2016 won the Ballon d'Or trophy for the world’s best football player for the fifth time overall. In the 2014-15 season, Messi had played 61 games in which he scored 52 goals, and gave 26 assists. 

Ronaldo had won the award in 2015 for the third time, while Messi was the winner from 2009 to 2012. On the other hand, US midfielder Carli Lloyd, who scored a hat-trick in the World Cup final against Japan, claimed the Women's player of the year award. 

2015 winners:
• FIFA Ballon d'Or: Lionel Messi 
• FIFA Women's World Player of the Year: Carli Lloyd 
• FIFA Puskas Award: Wendell Lira 
• FIFA World Coach of the Year (Men's): Luis Enrique 
• FIFA World Coach of the Year (Women's): Jill Ellis 
• FIFA FIFPro World XI: Neuer, Silva, Marcelo, Ramos, Alves, Iniesta, Modric, Pogba, Messi, Neymar, Ronaldo 
• FIFA Fair Play Award: All football organisations supporting refugees. 

FIFA Ballon d'Or Award: 
• The FIFA Ballon d'Or award is an annual association football award given by FIFA to the male player who has performed the best in the previous calendar year. 
• It is awarded based on the votes from national team coaches and captains, as well as journalists from around the world. 
• The award began in 2010 after France Football's Ballon d'Or and the men's FIFA World Player of the Year award were merged. 
• The winner of the 2010 FIFA Ballon d'Or was Lionel Messi who also won the title for the years 2011, 2012 and 2015. 
• Messi was the last footballer to win the Ballon d'Or award in 2009 after which the award was merged with the FIFA World Player of the Year awards to create the FIFA Ballon d'Or. 
 

Science & Technology


Scientists at Central Institute for Research on Buffaloes (CIRB) in Hisar on 10 January 2016 claimed to have successfully produced a cloned buffalo offspring Cirb Gaurav. CIRB Director Dr. Inderjeet Singh stated that the scientists achieved the success on 11 December 2015. The scientists achieved the feat under the project titled, Cloning for conservation and multiplication of superior buffalo germplasm. With this achievement, CIRB became world’s third and India’s second institute to produce cloned buffalo. 

About cloned buffalo calf Cirb Gaurav:
• This cloned buffalo calf is distinct from the earlier clones produced in India. 
• The clone is produced from cells of ventral side of tail of superior bull buffalo. The ventral side of tail is least exposed to sunlight and may have less mutation rate and can be good choice for isolation of donor cells to produce healthy clones. • The newborn cloned calf is maintaining good health and showing normal activities. 

National Dairy Research Institute in Karnal was the first institute to produce a cloned calf in India. 
 


Illumina, the world’s largest DNA sequencing company, on 10 January 2015 announced the launch of the startup named GRAIL to develop blood-based cancer tests. 

The company was launched in association with Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezo’s venture fund Bezos Expeditions and Arch Venture Partners. 


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