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Daily Current Affairs - 15th January, 2016


International


The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared an end to the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, meaning that all known chains of transmission of the disease have been stopped in West Africa. The end of active transmission was declared, after 42 days without a new case in Liberia. It joins Guinea and Sierra Leone, which earned the status last year. However, the WHO warned that West Africa may see flare-ups of the virus. It has killed more than 11,000 people since December 2013.



The Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) on 12 January 2016 released the dataset titled "Trends in International Migrant Stock: The 2015 Revision." The compilation was released at the UN DESA headquarters in New York, the USA. The dataset analysed trends in migration flows across the world, even country as well as region wise, between 2000 and 2015. 

As per it, the number of international migrants, persons living in a country other than where they were born, reached 244 million in 2015 for the world as a whole, a 41 per cent increase compared to 2000. And, India has the largest diaspora in the world in 2015 as 16 million people from India were living outside of their country. 



The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on 12 January 2016 notified revised petition fees for H-1B and L-1 visas. The increase in the fees is in tune with the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 that was signed into law by Barack Obama, the President of the USA, on 18 December 2015. 

As per the revision, the petitioners must submit an additional fee of 4000 US dollars for certain H-1B visas and 4500 US dollars for certain L-1A and L-1B visas. The increased fees are applicable to petitioners who applied on or after 18 December 2015 and will be in force till 30 September 2025. 


National


Army Day is being celebrated on January 15, 2016



Stroke registry of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), reveals that, the occurrence of strokes in people below 45 years is increasing and now it has touched 25 percent in overall stroke cases. Director General of ICMR Dr Soumya Swaminathan told this to media in Delhi. She also said, ICMR along with health Ministry is planning to eliminate filariasis, commonly known as elephantiasis and in this regard they have added ivermectin a new drug to the present Mass Drug Administration (MDA) scheme. 

The Indian Council of Medical Research is the apex body for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research in the country. ICMR’s multiple national institutes are engaged in research on specific health topics like tuberculosis, leprosy, cholera, and viral diseases. 



Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has said the ministry has set a target to reduce number of road accidents by fifty percent in next five years. Addressing the National Meet of NGO on road safety in New Delhi the said his ministry has also decided to identify black spots or accident-prone areas on the national highways and develop them to reduce such incidents. Mr. Gadkari said, he has proposed to the government to set a separate ministry for road transport and create a National Road Safety Authority. 



President Pranab Mukherjee on 8 January 2016 gave his assent to the Sugar Cess (Amendment) Bill, 2015. The bill raises the ceiling of the impost from 25 to 200 rupees per quintal, which will help sugarcane growers and cash-starved mills. The bill was passed by Lok Sabha on 15 December 2015. However, the opposition members had joined ranks in the Rajya Sabha to oppose its consideration on 23 December 2015. The bill, which was declared a money bill, became a law after President Mukherjee’s nod as it was not returned by the Upper House to the Lok Sabha within 14 days of its consideration there, as required under the rules. 

Key highlights of Sugar Cess (Amendment) Bill, 2015: 
• The Sugar Cess (Amendment) Act, 2015 has amended the Sugar Cess Act, 1982. 
• The principal Act provides for the imposition of a cess as an excise duty on the production of sugar. The rate of sugar cess is notified by the central government from time to time. The principal Act specifies the ceiling on the cess at 25 rupees per quintal under the Act. The Bill proposes to increase this ceiling to 200 rupees per quintal of sugar. 
• The cess was proposed to be increased in order to meet the government’s expenditure on interventions to ensure payment of dues to sugarcane farmers. 



The Union Government in January 2016 released a Draft Bill, which proposes reservation benefits for transgender persons. The Draft Bill, titled "The Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2015", was formulated by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. 

Key highlights of Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2015: 
• The draft states that transgender persons who by birth do not belong to Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes may be declared as Backward Class. They will be entitled for reservation under the existing ceiling of OBC category. 
• Transgender persons will not be prevented from competing for seats which are not reserved for them. 
• The bill will provide for the formulation and implementation of a comprehensive national policy for ensuring overall development of the Transgender Persons. 
• Transgender should be declared as the third gender, and a Transgender Person should have the option to identify as man, woman or transgender as well as have the right to choose any of the options independent of surgery/hormones. 
• Only the nomenclature transgender should be used and nomenclatures like other or others should not be used. 
• Transgender persons will also be issued a proper certificate for their identity by a state-level authority duly designated or constituted by respective the state or UT. 
• Transgender students will be able to avail scholarship, entitlements, fee-waiver, free textbooks, free hostel accommodation and other facilities at subsidised rates. 



A one day National Conference on implementation of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 was jointly organized by the Ministry of Women and Child Development and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights(NCPCR) in New Delhi. 

The conference highlighted the immediate need to implement the Act better and take effective measures to deal with sexual offences against children. The Conference was attended by the representatives of Police, Legal Experts, Civil Society organizations, SCPCR, academia and WCD Departments of States among others. 


Bilateral


Power, Coal and Renewable Energy Minister Piyush Goyal has reiterated the need to deepen the cooperation in the energy sector between India and Japan. Speaking at his second bilateral meeting with Mr. Motoo Hayashi, Minister of Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in Tokyo, Japan, the Minister said that the cooperation in energy sector should be such that Japanese technology and capital can be dovetailed with Indian high skilled human resources.

Mr Goyal is on a visit to Tokyo to attend the 8th India-Japan Energy Dialogue 2016. Mr Goyal and Mr Hayashi reaffirmed their desire to significantly increase the engagement between the two countries in the areas of energy, including renewable energy and energy efficient technologies. 


Economy

The World Bank has said India is on track to register its entire population using the Aadhaar digital ID. In its World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends, the Bank acknowledged that digital identification system will help government to promote the inclusion of disadvantaged groups in its welfare schemes. World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said digital technologies are transforming the worlds of business, work and government. 

World Bank's Chief Economist Kaushik Basu said it is an amazing transformation that 40 per cent of the world's population is connected by the Internet. The report noted that digital technologies can promote inclusion, efficiency, and innovation. India has provided unique digital identification to nearly one billion people in five years and increased access and reduced corruption in public services.


Committees/Commissions


Union Government on 11 January 2016 formed a five-member high level committee to monitor the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Corridor (bullet train project). The committee will be headed by NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya. The mandate of the committee is to look into the overall operations and technical issues, Make in India component and financial outlay of the 90000 crore rupees worth project.

Apart from the Chairman, the members of the committee are- 
• AK Mittal, Railway Board Chairman 
• S Jaishankar, Foreign Secretary 
• Shantikanta Das, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs Secretary 
• Amitabh Kant, Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion.


Awards


Bengaluru-based activist Subhashini Vasanth on 13 January 2016 was honoured with Neerja Bhanot Award. She was presented the award for her endeavour to help people in distress and for empowering widows of martyrs and their families across the country. Bollywood actor Sonam Kapoor presented the award to Vasanth at a ceremony held in Chandigarh. 

About Neerja Bhanot Award: 
• The Neerja Bhanot Award is an award of recognition conferred once a year by the The Neerja Bhanot Pan Am Trust in India. 
• It is awarded to an Indian woman, subjected to social injustice, who faces the situation with grit and determination and extends help to other women in similar distress. 



David Beckham on 12 January 2016 was presented with the Danny Kaye Humanitarian Leadership Award at the sixth biennial UNICEF Ball in Los Angeles. Sir Elton John and David Furnish presented the award to Beckham at the event, honouring him for his tireless work to save and improve the lives of children around the world. Beckham has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2005. 


Person in News


The FIFA Emergency Committee on 9 January 2016 decided to dismiss Jerome Valcke from the position of FIFA Secretary General with immediate effect. 



Acclaimed stage actor Brian Bedford passed away due to cancer on 13 January 2016 in Santa Barbara, California, the USA. He was 80.


Sports

India's Sania Mirza and her Swiss partner Martina Hingis on January 14th, 2016 broke a 22-year-old world record by winning their 29th women's doubles match in a row en route to their entry into the women's doubles final of the WTA Sydney International. They won playing the pair of Romanian Raluca Olaru and Kazakhstan's Yaroslava Shvedova 4-6, 6-3, 10-8 in the semi-final.

The Sania-Hingis duo has now surpassed the pair of Puerto Rican Gigi Fernandez and Belarus' Natasha Zvereva, who won 28 matches on the trot. The pair has continued their performance from 2015 when they won 9 titles, which included the Wimbledon, US Open and the WTA finals. 



Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has bagged the Ballon d'or award for the world's best football player of the year for a record fifth time. The Argentine claimed the award with 41.33 percent votes. Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo was second, while Messi's Barcelona team-mate Neymar was third. In the 2014-15 season, Messi had played 61 games in which he scored 52 goals, and gave 26 assists. He clinched the treble with the Spanish giants by winning the La Liga, Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League.


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