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Daily Current Affairs - 1st Jan to 5th Jan, 2016

International

 
World Braille Day was observed across the world on 4 January 2016 to commemorate the birth anniversary of Louis Braille. 
 


Giorgi Kvirikashvili was on 29 December 2015 elected as the Prime Minister of Georgia. He will succeed Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, who resigned from the post on 23 December 2015. His appointment will now be ratified by the Georgia's President Giorgi Margvelashvili. 

• Kvirikashvili has a background in banking and finance.
• He had served as Director General of Cartu Bank from 2006 to 2011.



The World Health Organization (WHO) on 29 December 2015 declared the end of Ebola virus transmission in the Republic of Guinea. The organization took the decision after observing that 42 days have passed since the last person confirmed to have Ebola virus disease and tested negative now. 


National


The Government of India, the State of Jharkhand and the JBVNL (Jharkhand Bijli Vitran Nigam Limited) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) under the Scheme UDAY – “Ujjwal Discom Assurance Yojana” on 5 January 2016. 

The Scheme UDAY was launched by the Government of India on 20th November, 2015 in consultation with various Stakeholders including States, DISCOMs, Banks and Financial Institutions to ensure a sustainable solution to enable the Distribution utilities across the country to break out of a long standing Debts of almost Rs 4.3 Lakh crore. The scheme would help the financially stressed DISCOMs to supply adequate power at affordable rates, enable the Governments to make efforts towards 100% Village electrification, 24X7 Power for all and supply clean energy. 



The Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh released Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (MDoNER) Calender-2016 on January 5th 2016. 

The theme of the Calendar released this year is “Rising North East” which is depicting developing modern North East. The Minister also briefed about the festival “DESTINATION NORTH EAST-2016” which is being organised by the Ministry during 12-14 February, 2016 in New Delhi to showcase the inherent economic, social and cultural strength of the North East Region at National Level. 



Foundation Stone Laid for an "International Training Centre for Operational Oceanography" at INCOIS, Hyderabad.



Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal on 31 December 2015 announced setting up of CCL Sports University in Jharkhand. The university will have a capacity of 1400 students and 15 sports academies. As 700 out of the total 1400 students will be selected from Jharkhand, the university will help the youth from the state to sharpen their skills under coaches of international standard. 

The decision was taken to give effect to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Central Coalfield Limited (CCL) and the Jharkhand Government in June 2015 in this regard. 

About Central Coalfield Limited: 
• It is a subsidiary of Coal India Limited (CIL), an undertaking of the Union Ministry of Coal. 
• The Mini Ratna Company manages the nationalized coal mines of the Coal Mines Authority, Central division. 
• Its registered and corporate office is in Ranchi, Jharkhand. 



Sterlite Grid on 2 January 2016 set a new benchmark by commissioning the Transmission Project to Rajasthan Atomic Power Project (RAPP) ahead of schedule under the Tariff Based Competitive Bidding (TBCB) incentive regime. RAPP is the first power transmission line to be been commissioned ahead of schedule since the implementation of TBCB scheme. As per Sterlite Grid, the construction work on transmission project to RAPP, which was awarded to the company in 2013, was completed within 12 months from the start of construction. With the commissioning of the RAPP Transmission Project, Sterlite Grid so far has commissioned four out of a portfolio of seven projects and operates ~2900 Circuit Km of projects in eight Indian states. 

RAPP Transmission Project
The project includes laying a 200-km, 400-kilovolt double-circuit transmission line passing through Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. It will connect Kota in Rajasthan to Shujalpur in Madhya Pradesh to provide the path for the evacuation of electricity generated at RAPP-7 and 8. 

The project was completed at an estimated cost of 275 crore rupees would directly benefit the states of Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana. The project will act as an inter-regional link to strengthen transmission systems associated with RAPP to exchange power between the northern and western grids. 

Tariff Based Competitive Bidding (TBCB): Under the TBCB norms, developers quoting the lowest average electricity tariffs from a proposed project get to set it up, as against the erstwhile “cost-plus” model, where projects were set up through pacts with distribution utilities and were entitled to assured returns. 

Further, the power projects awarded under TBCB regime to Power Grid Corporation for system strengthening would get transmission charge from the date of commercial operations, even if it is ahead of schedule. 

About Sterlite Grid: It is part of the Sterlite Technologies Limited and is India's largest private developer of independent power transmission systems. The company is also the first Indian developer to deploy aerial technologies such as LiDAR survey and helicopter-aided construction in India, reducing the commissioning time. 



Government of Telangana on 2 January 2016 launched e-Vahan Bima Scheme to issue motor insurance policy in digital form. The scheme was launched by Information Technology Minister K T Rama Rao in the presence of T S Vijayan, Chairman of Insurance Regulatory Development Authority (IRDA). With the launch of this scheme, Telangana became the first state in the country to legally accept motor vehicle insurance policy in digital form. 

Key features of e-Vahan Bima Scheme: 
• Under the scheme, an electronic motor insurance policy is issued in digital form with Quick Response (QR) code. 
• The QR code will be used to scan for verification of policy details. 
• An SMS-based verification was also installed. It can be stored and accessed on smart phones to make the process of verification easier for commuters as well as police. 
• Apart from the QR-based verification, an SMS-based verification was also installed. 
• It can be stored and accessed on smart phones to make the process of verification easier for commuters as well as police. 
• It will help poor accident victims and ensure better compliance as driving a motor vehicle without insurance in a public place was a punishable offence under Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. 
• The initiative was a joint effort of IRDA, Insurance Information Bureau of India, police, transport and information technology departments of the state. 



The Union Government on 1 January 2015 decided to rollout a LPG-like direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme for kerosene. The scheme will be started from 1 April 2016. In the initial phase, the scheme will be implemented in selected 26 districts of eight states: Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab and Rajasthan. 

Key Highlights of the scheme: 
• Under the scheme, people will buy kerosene at market rate, but will get subsidy directly in their bank accounts. 
• The cash subsidy to be paid to users will be equivalent to the difference between current Public Distribution System (PDS) price and market rate of kerosene. 
• To avoid any inconvenience to the beneficiary through payment of un-subsidised price, subsidy will be credited to eligible beneficiaries in advance during the initial purchase. 
• With a view to incentivise States and Union Territories to implement DBT in kerosene, it has been decided that the states will be given cash incentive of 75 percent of subsidy savings during the first two years, 50 percent in the third year and 25 percent in the fourth year. 
• In case, the states voluntarily agree to undertake cuts in kerosene allocation, beyond the savings due to DBT, a similar incentive will be given to those States. The move will help curtail subsidy outgo for kerosene, which in 2014-15 was about 24799 crore rupees. 



The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) on 1 January 2016 signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) for web-based monitoring of Indo-German Watershed Development projects. 

Highlights of the MoU: 
• The web-based monitoring of Indo-German Watershed Development projects will happen in three states- Gujarat, Rajasthan and Telangana. 
• Under the MoU, NRSC will create a separate page for NABARD on Bhuvan web-portal. 
• NRSC will develop customised software tool and mobile application for real time monitoring, online comparison and visualisation with respect to activities implemented in the projects. 



The Union Government on 1 January 2016 signed a Financing Agreement of 50 million US dollars with the World Bank for Nai Manzil Scheme - Education and Skills Training for Minorities. The Financing Agreement was signed by Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affair (DEA) on behalf of the Union Government and by Michael Haney, World Bank’s Operations Adviser in India. 

Highlights of the agreement: 
• Under this agreement, the credit will be facilitated by the International Development Association (IDA), World Bank’s concessionary lending arm. 
• The credit facilitated by IDA will be in the form of loan which carries a maturity of 25 years, including a 5-year grace period. 
• The loan funds will be used for interventions under this scheme to improve the employability and performance of minority youth in the labour market. 
• The total project size is 100 million US dollars, out of which 50 million US dollars will be available as IDA credit and the remaining balance as funding from the Union Budget. 
 • The closing date of the project is 31 October 2021. 

About Nai Manzil Scheme : 
• The scheme was launched on 8 August 2015 in Patna. 
• This central scheme is designed to address educational and livelihood needs of minority communities lagging behind in terms of educational attainments. 
• It aims to provide educational intervention by giving the bridge courses to the trainees and getting them Certificates for Class XII and X from distance medium educational system. 
• It seeks to provide trade basis skill training in four courses at the same time of formal education, in field of (i) Manufacturing (ii) Engineering (iii) Services (iv) Soft skills. 
• It intends to cover people in between 17 to 35 age group from all minority communities as well as Madrasa students. 
• Minority BPL (below poverty line) youth in the age group of 17-35 years will be the main beneficiaries of the scheme. 



The Union Cabinet, presided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 30 December 2015 approved the construction of 69 bridges including approach roads on the Tamu-Kyigone-Kalewa (TKK) road section of the trilateral highway in Myanmar. The bridges will be constructed at a cost of 371.58 crore rupees. 



Bihar State election commissioner (SEC) Ashok Kumar Chauhan on 4 January 2016 announced that toilets will be mandatory requirement for eligibility to contest panchayat elections. This declaration means that no one can contest the Bihar panchayat elections scheduled in 2016 without having a toilet at their home. 



River Information System(RIS): The Union Ministry of Shipping is set to launch the system for Inland Waterways in the country. The system is expected to improve navigation in Indland Waterways as the government is set to expand the network across the country through the National Waterways Bill, 2015. The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on 21 December 2015 and is pending with the Rajya Sabha. 

Features of River Information System: 
• It will be utilized for real time monitoring of ships plying on the inland waterways network. 
• It will provide remote communication with vessels and real time meteorological data which will be available online. 
• To operationalise the system, Radars and sensors will be installed along the route and there will be major base stations to monitor the movement. 
• By using the system, vessels will be tracked and advised about nearby vessels, waterway information, meteorological information and river safety for ensuring efficient and collision free navigation. 
• In the initial phase, it will be made operational on the 500 km long Haldia-Farakka National Waterways 1. With the implementation of the project, India will join a select league of countries in Europe and the USA which have similar systems in place already. 


Committees | Commissions


Department of Posts on 1 January 2016 formed a one-man committee to study issues related to Gramin Dak Sevaks including wage structure and service conditions. The panel will be headed by Kamlesh Chandra, a retired member of the Postal Services Board, which will be assisted by T Q Mohammad, a senior administrative grade officer, as the secretary. 

Terms of reference of the panel: 
• It will examine the system of branch post offices, engagement conditions and the existing structure of wage and emoluments paid to gramin sevaks and recommend necessary changes. 
• It will review the existing facilities for 2.6 lakh employees spread across the country, the service discharge benefit scheme and other social security benefits. 
• It will examine and suggest any change in the method of engagement, minimum qualification for engagement for gramin dak sevaks. 
• It will examine their conduct and disciplinary rules, particularly keeping in view the proposed induction of technology in rural post offices. 



Justice RM Lodha Committee on IPL spot fixing on 4 January 2016 submitted its report to the Supreme Court suggesting reforms in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The panel has recommended separate governing bodies for IPL and BCCI, with limited autonomy for the IPL Governing Council. It has also recommended legalising betting. 



Union Government on 1 January 2016 constituted Shyam Benegal Committee for holistic interpretation of the provisions of the Cinematograph Act, 1952. The committee was formed with an aim to revamp Censor Board of India. 

The recommendations of this Committee will provide a holistic framework and enable those tasked with the work of certification of films to discharge their responsibilities keeping in view this framework. The committee will be headed by noted film-maker Shyam Benegal. The other Members of the Committee include Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Piyush Pandey, Bhawana Somaaya , Nina Lath Gupta and Joint Secretary (Films) as Member Convenor. 

Terms of Reference of the Committee: 
• During their deliberations, the Committee would be expected to take note of the best practices in various parts of the world, especially where the film industry is given sufficient and adequate space for creative and aesthetic expression. 
• It will recommend broad guidelines under the provisions of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 for the benefit of the chairperson and other members of the Screening Committee. 
• The staffing pattern of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) will also be looked into in an effort to recommend a framework which would provide transparent user friendly services. 
• The Committee has been asked to submit its recommendations by March 2016. 


Bilateral


The Union Cabinet on 30 December 2015 gave ex-post facto approval for signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) among BRICS countries on BRICS Network University. The MoU will help in developing pro-active cooperation among the BRICS nations for the purpose of enhancement of scientific research, higher education and information exchange. It will also help in analysis and implementation of best practices, joint research programmes, and mobility of students, researchers and educators. 

Earlier, in November 2015, the negotiations were held on the MoU during the 3rd BRICS Education Ministers meeting and Senior Officials meeting held in Mosco, Russia. Negotiations to set up the BRICS Network University were initiated as per the Fortaleza Declaration. The declaration was issued on 15 July 2014 after the conclusion of the 6th BRICS Summit held in Fortaleza, Brazil. 



The Union Cabinet on 30 December 2015 approved Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Jordan for promoting cooperation in the field of information technology and electronics. The MoU was signed by both the countries in October 2015. Its objective is to develop and strengthen industrial, technological and commercial cooperation between the two countries in Information Technology and Electronics (IT&E) sector. It also tries to implement institutional and capacity building cooperation programme aimed at fostering partnerships between the two countries. 

The main areas of co-operation under the MoU include- 
• Identifying Capacity Building areas and specific needs of Jordanian IT sector, Design, Plan and implement IT Capacity Building Programmes for the benefit to Jordan 
• Cooperation among private and public entities of both countries in the areas of investment and business promotion 
• Strengthening of collaboration in the IT&E sector in the areas of e-education, e-Governance, m-Governance, e-health and telemedicine 
• Sharing of best practices in the areas of regulatory policy and the institutional framework with special emphasis on developing internationally competitive IT&E manufacturing and services industry 
• Participation in International events organized by each country, as appropriate and exchange of experts 
• Other areas as jointly decided by the Parties The above areas of cooperation will be realized through establishing a Working Group on IT&E composed of representatives of the Parties. 
 


The Union Cabinet, presided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 30 December 2015 gave its approval for signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for conservation of migratory birds of prey in Africa and Eurasia. The MoU, also called as Raptor MOU, will help India gain knowledge in effectively managing the habitats of the raptors. With the signing of the MoU, India will become the 54th signatory to the MoU. 

The MoU is also in conformity with the provisions of the existing Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, wherein the birds have been accorded protection. It will also include concerted trans-boundary efforts for conservation through interaction with other range countries by signing of the MoU with the Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS). Pakistan and Nepal are the other neighbours which are signatories to the MoU. 

What is a Raptor MoU? 
• The Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia is an international, legally non-binding, agreement to protect migratory birds of prey. 
• It was concluded on 22 October 2008 and came into effect on 1 November 2008. 
• It is an agreement under Article IV paragraph 4 of the CMS. 
• It seeks willingness of the signatory Range States for working for conservation of the raptor species and their habitats. 
• An action plan has been formulated which primarily envisages the conservation action for Raptor species. 
• The MoU extends its coverage to 76 species of birds of prey out of which 46 species including vultures, falcons, eagles, owls, hawks, kites, harriers, and more which are also found in India. 
• The CMS or Bonn Convention, under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), aims to conserve migratory species throughout their range. 
• India has been a party to the CMS since 1 November 1983. 



Russia's Rostech State Corporation on 29 December 2015 tied up with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to manufacture at least 200 Kamov 226T light helicopters. The Kamov will replace the ageing fleet of Cheetah and Chetak. The deal is estimated to be worth 1 billion US dollars and is the first Russian-Indian high-tech project implemented by the Indian government within the framework of the Make in India initiative. 

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Moscow in December 2015, an agreement was signed between the two countries on cooperation in the field of helicopter manufacturing. As per the terms of deal, Rostech will organise in India the production of Russian Ka-226T and its modifications. The agreement also provides for maintenance, operation and repair of helicopters. 

About Kamov 226T: 
• The Kamov Ka-226 is a small, twin-engined Russian utility helicopter. 
• Variants of the Ka-226 have the NATO reporting name of Hoodlum. 
• The variants of Kamov Ka-226 are: Ka-226AG, Ka-226T and Ka-226TG. 
• Instead of Rolls-Royce 250C engines, Kamov 226T is fitted with the more powerful Turbomeca Arrius 2G1. Each engine provides 670 shp, increasing the service ceiling to around 7000 m, providing improved high altitude and high temperature operation. 
• It has new avionics with multifunctional displays, automatic control system, navigation system, radar. 
• It can be equipped with hoist system, helicopter sling, searchlight, additional external fuel tank. 
• For search and rescue missions, it can be equipped with medical module. 



India-Nepal Bus Service on 4 January 2016 resumed after a gap of 27 years. The service was suspended 27 years ago in the wake of the Indo-Nepal Trade and Transit Treaty. 

The service runs between Kanchanpur in Nepal, which is close to Banbasa border in Champavat district of Uttarakhand, and Anand Vihar ISBT in Delhi. To travel in these buses, no special documents are required as both the countries share open border. 
 

Corporate


IRB Infrastructure Developers Ltd, a Mumbai-based road developer, on 4 January 2016 bagged the 10050 crore Zojila Pass tunnel road project in Jammu and Kashmir. This tunnel project is the country’s biggest road project by cost The Zojila Pass tunnel will be the longest in South Asia once completed. Presently, Chenani-Nashri tunnel at 9 km is the country’s longest road tunnel. 

Highlights of the Project: 
• The 14.08 km tunnel will provide all-weather connectivity between the Jammu and Kashmir regions with Leh Ladakh, which remain cut off during winters due to heavy snowfall. 
• The project’s construction period is seven years and the concession period is 22 years. 
• As part of the project, IRB will also build about 10.8 km of approach roads on NH-1 (Srinagar–Sonmarg–Gumri Road) in Jammu and Kashmir. 
• The project also involves construction of snow gallery of 700 meters and avalanche protection measures. 
• IRB will receive payment of 981 crore rupees once in every six months from the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways after the completion of construction. Zojila, one of the highest mountain passes in India, is situated at an altitude of 11000 ft between Srinagar in Kashmir and Leh in Ladakh. 



Nokia Corporation on 5 January 2015 announced that it completed the regulatory formalities for acquiring the French telecom equipment company Alca-Lucent. The deal, worth 15.6 billion euro, was signed in 2014 and later approved by the European Commission. 


Economy


The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 4 January 2016 imposed monetary penalty of one crore rupees on State Bank of Travancore for violation of its instructions. RBI in its release said, the monetary penalty has been imposed for violation of its instructions including reporting of data to Central Repository of Information on Large Credits (CRILC). 

The penalties have been imposed in exercise of powers vested in the Reserve Bank under the provisions of Section 47(A) (1) (c) read with Section 46(4)(i) of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, taking into account the violations of the instructions/directions/guidelines issued by the Reserve Bank from time to time. 
 

Sports


Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) on 3 January 2015 won the 26th Lal Bahadur Shastri Hockey tournament. To win the title, the ONGC defeated Indian Railways 3-0 on penalties in the final match held at the Shivaji Stadium in New Delhi.



India on 3 January 2016 won of the South Asian Football Federation Cup (SAFF) championships. In the title clash played at Trivandrum International Stadium of Kerala, India defeated defending champions Afghanistan 2-1. Half time saw both the teams’ goal-less. At the end of a breathless normal second half, both India and Afghanistan were 1-1. For India, the first goal was scored by Jeje Lalpehlua. 

In the ongoing extra time, Indian captain Sunil Chhetri scored a goal to help India lead 2-1. India has been the most successful side in the tournaments history by winning the title in seven of the 11 editions. Afghans won their first title in 2013. 



Sweden's Bjorn Isberg on 30 December 2015 was appointed as the Tournament Director of Coal India Hockey India League (HIL), the premier league for hockey in India. On the other hand, Muthukumar Balakrisnan from Malaysia was given the role of the Assistant Tournament Director in the 4th edition of the Coal India Hockey India League. Andy Mair from Scotland was named as the umpire's manager for the league. 


Persons in news


Cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, winner of an Oscar for Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, passed away on 1 January 2016 in California, United States. He was 85.  

Vilmos Zsigmond was born on 16 June 1930 in Szeged, Hungary. 



Veteran Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Ardhendu Bhushan Bardhan passed away on 2 January 2016 after a long illness. He was 92. He was the former general secretary of the CPI, which is one of the oldest political parties in India. 



Grammy-winning singer Natalie Cole passed away on 31 December 2015 due to congestive heart failure following complications from a kidney transplant in Los Angeles. She was 65. 



Ian Murdock, best known for founding one of the world's best known Linux distributions, passed away on 28 December 2015 in San Francisco. He was 42. The reason behind his death is unknown; however, his last tweets declared an intention to commit suicide. 

Who was Ian Murdock? 
• Ian Murdock was an American software engineer known for being the founder of the Debian project and Progeny Linux Systems, a commercial Linux company. 
• He wrote the Debian Manifesto while a student at Purdue University, where he earned his bachelor's degree in computer science in 1996. 
• In January 2006, he was appointed Chief Technology Officer of the Free Standards Group and elected chair of the Linux Standard Base workgroup. 
• He left the Linux Foundation to join Sun Microsystems in March 2007 to lead Project Indiana. 
• From November 2015 until his death, he worked for Docker, Inc.



Iconic Marathi poet and Padma Bhushan recipient Mangesh Keshav Padgaonkar passed away on 30 December 2015 after a brief illness. He was 86. 



General Om Prakash Malhotra, former Punjab Governor and ex-Chief of Army, passed away on 29 December 2015 due to old age.



Ian Fraser Lemmy Kilmister, founding member and singer in the British heavy metal band Motorhead, passed away on 28 December 2015 after battling cancer. He was 70. 



Mary Barra was on 4 January 2016 elected as Chairman of General Motors (GM) Board of Directors with immediate effect. Barra succeeds Theodore Solso, who will continue serving as the Lead Independent Director of the Board. 



Ex-Chief Justice of India Sarosh Homi Kapadia passed away on 4 January 2016 in Mumbai. He was 68. 



Former Wigan Athletic defender Steve Gohouri passed away. His body was recovered from the River Rhine in the western city of Krefeld on 2 January 2015. He was 34. 


Appointments


IT giant Wipro, India’s third largest IT services exporter, on 4 January 2016 appointed current Chief Operating Officer (COO) Abid Ali Neemuchwala as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and member of the board. On the other hand, the current CEO T K Kurien was elevated as its new executive vice-chairman. Both the changes will be effective 1 February 2016. It is the first time in Wipro’s history that the CEO has been elevated to the role of vice-chairman. 

As the CEO of Wipro, Neemuchwala will handle global infrastructure services, business application services, business process services and advanced technology solutions. He will also be responsible for business operations, strategic engagements, advisor relationships and strategic marketing. 



Former Defence Secretary Radha Krishna Mathur was on 4 January 2016 sworn in as the eight Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) of India by President Pranab Mukherjee. Mathur succeeded Vijai Sharma, who completed his tenure on 1 December 2015. As the CIC, the former Defence Secretary will have tenure of about three years, until he attains the age of 65 years. 

About Radha Krishna Mathur:
• Mathur is a retired IAS officer of Tripura cadre. 
• He was made Defence Secretary for a fixed two-year term on 28 May 2013. 
• He did his graduation from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur and post graduation from IIT, Delhi. 
• He had been Secretary in Union Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and in Defence Production and Supplies. 



Atul Sobti on 1 January 2016 took charge as Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of state-owned power equipment maker Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) for a period of five years. His appointment as CMD of BHEL was approved by the Union Government in September 2015. 

About Atul Sobti :
• Prior to this appointment, Sobti was the Director on the board of BHEL, where he headed two crucial portfolios of Power and Finance. 
• He also held Additional Charge of the post of Director (Engineering, Research and Development). 
• Before his elevation to the Board of BHEL in December 2013, Sobti was Executive Director (Power) at BHEL and was holding concurrent charge of Industrial Systems Group, a Bengaluru based unit of BHEL. 



The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) on 30 December 2015 approved the appointment of Dr Gyanendra D Bandgaiyan as the Director General of the National Centre for Good Governance. He will be in the office for a period of three years which is extendable by another two years or up to 60 years of age, whichever is earlier. 

The 54-year-old Bandgaiyan is a former IAS officer of the Union Territories cadre. He hails from Madhya Pradesh. He is also an Ex-Chief Economist, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 

About National Centre for Good Governance 
• It is an autonomous institution under the administrative control of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT). 
• It is the apex think tank in the country that guides and helps implement good governance reforms through research, policy analysis, advocacy and capacity building. 
• It was inaugurated on 24 February 2014 by upgrading National Institute of Administrative Research (NIAR), Mussorrie. 





Senior BJP MLA, Jetha Bharwad was on 29 December 2015 unanimously elected as the first Vice-Chairman of Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) that sells its dairy products under brand name Amul. Bharwad is an MLA from Sehra constituency of Panchmahal district. He is also the chairman of Panchmahal District Cooperative Milk Producers Union Ltd. Since its inception in 1973, this is for the first time that GCMMF created the post of Vice-Chairman By amending their by-laws. Bharwad's nomination was proposed by Rajkot Dairy's Chairman Govind Ranpariya and was supported by Valji Umbad, Chairman of Sarhad dairy in Kutch. 

About Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF):
• GCMMF is considered as India's largest food products marketing organisation with an annual turnover of 21000 crore rupees. 
• The member unions of GCMMF procure an average of 16 million litres of milk everyday from 3.6 million milk producers in 18000 villages of the state. 
• It is the Apex organisation of the Dairy Cooperatives of Gujarat popularly known as AMUL, which serves the interest of consumers by providing quality products which are good value for money. 
• Currently, Jethabhai Patel, Chairman of the Sabar Dairy, is the chairman of GCMMF. 



Satyavati Berera on 27 December 2015 became the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Big Four accounting firm in India. With this, she became the first woman to reach the level of a COO. Berera will take charge as COO on 1 January 2016. She will replace Neil Wilson, who is moving to London as global operations partner with PwC. She will be second only to chairman Deepak Kapoor in hierarchy. 



Air Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria took over as Deputy Chief of the Air Staff on January 1st, 2016.


Awards


Veteran South Indian classical vocalists Sanjay Subrahmanyam was on 1 January 2016 conferred with the 2015 Sangita Kalanidhi award. The prestigious award was conferred upon him by mathematician Manjul Bhargava at 89th annual conference of the Madras Music Academy in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. 

With this, Subrahmanyam became seventh artist to be conferred with this award before completing 50 years of age including Ariyakudi Iyengar, Musiri Subramania Iyer, Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, GN Balasubramaniam, ML Vasanthakumari and M Balamuralikrishna. 

About Sanjay Subrahmanyam: 
• Subrahmanyam is Charted Accountant by profession but in 2000, he became full-time musician. 
• He started performing Carnatic music in 1987. 
• He has also been awarded with various awards for his compositions including Gaana Padhmam (2013), Vani Kala Sudhakara (2010) and the title Kalaimamani by Tamil Nadu Government (2006). About Sangita Kalanidhi award/Title 
• It is a prestigious award bestowed annually upon an expert of Carnatic Music by the Madras Music Academy. 
• The award’s name has been derived from Sanskrit language which means treasure of Music and art in English. 



DAVA or Drug Authentication and Verification Application Project on 31 December 2015 won the 2015 eASIA Award under Trade Facilitation categoy. The award was announced by Asia Pacific Council for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (AFACT) in Tehran, Iran. DAVA is an integrated platform for implementation of the Track and Trace system both for exports and domestic markets of Drugs and Pharmaceuticals. 

Features of DAVA Project:
• It was launched on 29 June 2015 by the Department of Commerce. 
• It will provide simpler means to the consumer and regulatory agencies for establishing drug authentication and protect the India’s Brand image in international trade. 
• The application has value-added features like availability of stocks for a drug in area/wholesalers/retailers at a point of time 
• Whenever required, drugs can easily be identified and recalled due to traceability of stocks, prevention of black marketing which especially arises during epidemics. • It aims to cover all the drugs manufactured in India. Indian Pharmaceutical industry has approximately 250 large units and more than 8000 small and medium scale units. 
• It is in the pilot stage and will be subsequently made mandatory for all pharmaceutical exports from India. 
• Once fully implemented, the export of fake or spurious drug from the country will not be possible and in case it happens it would be easily traceable. 



An Indian-origin cancer research expert Harpal Singh Kumar on 31 December 2015 received a Knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for his influential work on prevention and treatment of cancer. Singh’s name appeared in the annual New Year’s Honours list that includes several other Indian-origin individuals. On the other hand, Samir Desai, founder-CEO of Funding Circle, received a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his work in the field of financial inclusion. Chairman of Sun Mark Ltd, Raminder Singh Ranger, was awarded a CBE for services to business and community cohesion. 

Among the Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) list were Kala Patel, managing director of Kiddycare Ltd Nurseries, for services to childcare business and Daljit Lally, deputy chief executive of Northumberland Country Council, for services to integrated care.

Aatin Ashok Anadkat, managing director of Hotel Maiyango in Leicester, was awarded with a British Empire Medal for services to entrepreneurship. Besides, Rekha Mehr, founder of Indian sweets inspired bakery Pistachio Rose, received Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to entrepreneurship and enterprise. Ayesha Hazarika, chief of staff to the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, received MBE for political service. 



Eminent Gujarati litterateur Raghuveer Chaudhary was on 29 December 2015 selected for the 51st Jnanpith award for his contribution to the Indian literature. The decision was taken in a meeting of the Jnanpith Selection Board chaired by noted scholar Namwar Singh. Other members of the selection board are Shamim Hanfi, Harish Trivedi, Suranjan Das, Ramakant Rath, Chandrakant Patil, Alok Rai, Dinesh Misra and Leeladhar Mandloi. Chaudhary is the fourth Gujarati litterateur to bag this prestigious award after Uma Shankar Joshi (1967), Pannalal Patel (1985) and Rajendra Shah (2001).

About Jnanpith Award: 
• Jnanpith award is one of the prestigious literary awards in India. The name of award is taken from Sanskrit words Jnana and Pitha which means knowledge-seat. • The award was instituted in 1961 and is presented by Bharatiya Jnanpith, a trust founded by the Sahu Shanti Prasad Jain family. 
• The award is given to any Indian citizen who writes in any 22 official languages of India mentioned in VIII Schedule of Constitution of India. 
• The award includes cash prize of 11 lakh rupees, a citation plaque and a bronze replica of Saraswati. 



Well-known sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik’s Santa Claus sculpture on 29 December 2015 found a place in Limca Book of World Records.Pattnaik claimed that he had created a 45 feet high sand Santa Claus at Puri beach on 24 December 2015, which was recognised as the largest sand Santa Claus by the Limca Book of World Records.


British writer Kate Atkinson on 4 January 2016 won the novel-of-the-year prize at Britain's Costa Book Awards 2015 for the second time in three years. She fetched the award for A God in Ruins, a story of war and its aftermath.
With this, Atkinson became the first author to receive the Costa novel prize three times: for A God in Ruins in 2016, Life After Life in 2013 and Behind the Scenes at the Museum in 1995.
Other winners are:
Award
Winner
Costa First Novel Award
Andrew Michael Hurley for The Loney
Costa Biography Award
Andrea Wulf for The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander Von Humboldt, The Lost Hero of Science
Costa Poetry Award
Don Paterson for 40 Sonnets
Costa Children’s Book Award
Frances Hardinge for The Lie Tree


Science and Technology

 
The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) on 30 December 2015 announced discovery and assignment of elements with atomic numbers 113, 115, 117 and 118. The decision was taken by the IUPAC as the four elements met the discovery of elements of the IUPAP/IUPAC Transfermium Working Group (TWG) 1991 Discovery Criteria. All these four elements are synthetic in nature. They were discovered by scientists belonging to the USA, Russian and Japan and complete the 7th row of the periodic table of the elements. Also, these four elements are the first to be added to the table since 2011, when elements 114 (Flerovium, FI) and 116 (Livermorium, LV) were added. Naming of elements: After officially recognizing the elements, the IUPAC also invited suggestions related to permanent names and symbols from the scientists who discovered them. New elements can be named after a mythological concept, a mineral, a place or country, a property or a scientist. 

Details of four elements Element 113:
• Temporary working name and symbol are ununtrium and Uut respectively. 
• It was discovered by the scientists belonging to RIKEN research laboratory in Japan. 

Elements 115 & 117:
• 115: ununpentium, Uup are the temporary working name and symbol respectively. 
• 117: ununseptium, Uus are the temporary working name and symbol respectively. 
• In discovering the element 117 Indian scientist Susanta Lahiri played an important role. 
• They were discovered by scientists belonging to Russia and the USA in collaboration 

Element 118: 
• It has ununoctium and Uuo as the temporary working name and symbol respectively. 
• It was jointly discovered by scientists belonging to the Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, California, USA. How they were discovered? They were discovered by slamming lighter ­nuclei into each other and tracking the following decay of the radioactive superheavy elements. Like other superheavy elements that populate the end of the periodic table, they only exist for fractions of a second before decaying into other elements. About IUPAC 
• It is an association of bodies, National Adhering Organizations, which represent the chemists of different member countries. 
• It was formed in 1919 by chemists from industry and academia and headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. 
• It serves to advance the worldwide aspects of the chemical sciences and to contribute to the application of chemistry in the service of mankind. 
• Over nearly eight decades, it has succeeded in fostering worldwide communications in the chemical sciences and in uniting academic, industrial and public sector chemistry in a common language. 



Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences Dr Harsh Vardhan on 30 December 2015 unveiled the National Biotechnology Development Strategy 2015-2020 in New Delhi. The Strategy aims to establish India as a world-class bio-manufacturing hub. The strategy also intends to launch a major mission, backed with significant investments, for the creation of new biotech products, create a strong infrastructure for R&D and commercialization and empower India’s human resources scientifically and technologically. 

Intended benefits of the envisaged mission are- 
• Provide impetus to utilising the knowledge and tools to the advantage of Humanity 
• Launch a major well directed mission backed with significant investment for generation of new Biotech Products 
• Empower scientifically and technologically India’s incomparable Human Resource • Create a strong Infrastructure for R&D and Commercialisation 
• Establish India as a world class Bio-manufacturing Hub. 

The Key elements of the Strategy are- 
• Building a Skilled Workforce and Leadership 
• Revitalizing the knowledge environment at par with the growing bio-economy 
• Enhance Research opportunities in basic, disciplinary and inter-disciplinary sciences 
• Encourage use-inspired discovery research 
• Focus on biotechnology tools for inclusive development 
• Nurturing innovation, translational capacity and entrepreneurship 
• Ensuring a transparent, efficient and globally best Regulatory system and communication strategy 
• Biotechnology cooperation- Fostering global and national alliances 
• Strengthen Institutional Capacity with redesigned governance models 
• Create a matrix of measurement of processes as well as outcome.

Expected outcomes of the Strategy are- 
• Making India ready to meet the challenge of achieving 100 billion US dollars by 2025.
• Launching Four Major Missions – Healthcare, Food and Nutrition, Clean Energy and Education 
• Creating a Technology Development and Translation network across the country with global partnership-5 new clusters, 40 Biotech incubators, 150 TTOs, 20 Bio-connect centres 
• Strategic and focussed investment in building the Human Capital by creating a Life Sciences and Biotechnology Education Council.
 

Defence


Amament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) in the last week of December 2015 successfully test-fired Pinaka II multi barrel rocket launcher (MBRL) System. The three-day long user assisted trials were conducted at Pokhran in Rajasthan. 

Key features of Pinaka II MBRL System:
• Pinaka is an unguided rocket system and capable of neutralising large areas with rapid salvos. 
• Range of Pinaka II is 20 km more than the Pinaka I version, which has a 40 km range and has already been inducted into the forces. 
• The system acts as a force-multiplier while supplementing the artillery guns of the armed forces. 
• It is capable to incorporate several types of warheads, which make the weapon deadly for the enemy as it can even destroy solid structures and bunkers. 
• The system proved its mettle during Kargil war while neutralising the mountain peaks off the enemy. They are developed at a very low cost vis-a-vis other such rocket systems in the world bestowed with shoot and scoot capabilities. 
• The Pinaka MBRL System has been indigenously developed by the ARDE, Pune.



Long Range Surface-to-Air Missile (LRSAM), the missile co-developed by India and Israel, was successfully test-fired on 30 December 2015 on the Western Sea Board. The missile was fired from INS Kolkata and it successfully intercepted an aerial target at extended ranges. The test-fire was jointly carried out by the Indian Navy, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Israel Aerospace Industries. For LRSAM or BARAK 8 missile, as it is called in Israel, it was the first test in India. 

Earlier, on 11 November 2015, it was successfully test-fired from a range in Israel. The missile was developed by the DRDL, Hyderabad in collaboration with Israel Aerospace Industries. It has been manufactured by M/s Bharat Dynamics Limited, India. 

Long Range Surface-to-Air Missile:
This missile along with the MF STAR would provide the Indian ships the capability to neutralize aerial threats at extended ranges. With the successful proving of these systems, Indian Navy has become part of a select group of Navies that have this niche capability which would provide a fillip to our Maritime Operations. 


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