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Daily Current Affairs - 9 to 10 January 2016


International

South Korea's Parliament on 8 January 2016 adopted a resolution, denouncing the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s fourth nuclear test, urging the DPRK to dismantle its nuclear programme. The resolution passed at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea was unanimously through the National Assembly two days after Pyongyang announced its first successful test of a hydrogen bomb. 

China's country code domain 'dot cn' has become the worlds most commonly used over the Internet with 16.36 million users, surpassing Germany's 'dot de' domain. According to the official data, China has about 670 million Internet users and more than 4.13 million websites. 

Sri Lanka on 9th January 2016 embarked on the exercise of making a new Constitution for the country by resolving to convert the current Parliament into a Constitutional Assembly. President Maithripala Sirisena addressed the Parliament and called upon all parties to unite to create the 3rd Republican Constitution for the country. 

National

India has taken up a massive energy efficiency mission under which it will switch over to LED bulbs by the end of 2018, which would result in a saving $ 6 billion per annum, says Union Minister for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy, Shri Piyush Goyal. 

The government will launch new crop insurance scheme in 2016-17. Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said that discrepancies in the existing scheme have been identified and ministry has come out with new crop insurance scheme.

Under the proposed crop insurance scheme, the premium to be charged from farmers will be kept lower and focus will be on early settlement of claims. 

Thermal Power companies in Odisha will now have to transport fly ash free of cost to road construction site located within 100 kms perimeter of their plant. The decision in this regard was taken at the joint meeting between NTPC and State Pollution Control Board at Bhubaneswar on 8 January 2016. 

The utilization of the fly ash over last 3 years has been around 58-60 percent in the State. In the country, annual utilization of fly ash in road construction is about 8.82 million ton, which is around 16 percent of total utilization. 

President Pranab Mukherjee on 7 January 2016 promulgated the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance, 2016 to make amendments to the Enemy Property Act, 1968. These amendments will help is dealing with the loopholes of the Enemy Property Act, 1968 and ensure that the enemy properties that have been vested in the Custodian remain so and they do not revert back to the enemy subject or enemy firm. 
The amendments through the Ordinance include : 
• Once an enemy property is vested in the Custodian, it shall continue to be vested in him as enemy property irrespective of whether the enemy, enemy subject or enemy firm has ceased to be an enemy due to reasons such as death and others. 
• The law of succession does not apply to enemy property. 
• There cannot be transfer of any property vested in the Custodian by an enemy or enemy subject or enemy firm and that the Custodian shall preserve the enemy property till it is disposed of in accordance with the provisions of the Act. 
 Background: 
-> The Union Government enacted the Enemy Property Act in the year 1968 that provided for the continuous vesting of enemy property in the custodian. The Union Government through the Custodian of Enemy Property for India is in possession of enemy properties spread across many states in the country. In addition, there are also movable properties categorized as enemy properties. 
-> In the wake of the Indo-Pak war of 1965 and 1971, there was migration of people from India to Pakistan. Under the Defence of India Rules framed under the Defence of India Act, the Government of India took over the properties and companies of such persons who had taken Pakistani nationality. These enemy properties were vested by the Union Government in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India. 

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on 8 January 2016 laid down norms for erecting memorials of national leaders, freedom fighters, saints, historical personalities and politicians. The state government has issued a Government Resolution (GR) that lays down the norms and guidelines for the construction of memorials. The GR said the guidelines are only meant for memorials of national leaders and venerable leaders. 

Major highlights of the Resolution: 
• There will not be more than two memorials of a national leader in the state. 
• These two memorials will be erected in two separate administrative divisions. 
• If any monument is constructed without prior approval of the state Urban Development Department, then such a structure shall be removed. 
• The policy states that in case more than two memorials are to be erected, then it is the responsibility of the institution making such a demand to provide the land for it and bear its construction cost. The monetary assistance for its construction will not be provided by government. 
• The memorial should not be just in the form of a statue, but should be constructed in the form of schools, colleges, hospitals, multipurpose auditoriums, research centres, libraries, reading rooms, hostels and other institutions meant for public use. 
• The memorials should be constructed in such a way that highlight the facets of the lives of the national leaders and venerated tall leaders. 

The French soldiers will march down the Rajpath on Republic Day along with Indian troops in the presence of President Francois Hollande. Hollande is the Chief Guest for 26 January 2016 celebrations. This is the first time that a foreign army will participate in the 26th January Parade, since 1950. 
A French contingent, comprising 56 personnel of 35th Infantry Regiment of 7th Armoured Brigade, is already in the country to take part in a joint exercise, Shakti 2016, which began in Rajasthan on 8 January 2016. Some soldiers will also fly down from France to form a proper marching contingent. 

Union Government on 6 January 2016 launched the Phase-I of the River Information System (RIS) of India in New Delhi. It was inaugurated by Nitin Gadkari, the Union Minister of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways. The Phase-I of the RIS, which is first of its kind in India, was launched on the Sagar- Farakka stretch of National Waterway-1 on River Ganges to facilitate safe and accurate navigation. It will be implemented under the overall responsibility of Inland Waterway Authority of India, a statutory body administered by the Ministry of Shipping. 
Phase-I of RIS :
• In Phase-I, the vessels will be monitored by installing 7 remote (base station site) at the Haldia, Garden Reach (GR) Jetty, Tribeni, Swaroopganj, Kumarpur, Ballia and Farakka at a cost of 26.23 crores rupees.
What is River Information Services (RIS) ? 
• River Information Services (RIS) are combination of modern tracking equipment related hardware and software designed to optimize traffic and transport processes in inland navigation. 
• The system enhances swift electronic data transfer between mobile vessels and shore (Base stations) through advance and real-time exchange of information. 
• RIS aims to streamline the exchange of information between waterway operators and users. 
What it would do ? 
• Enhance inland navigation safety in ports and rivers 
• Better use of the inland waterways 
• Environmental protection 
• Enable achievement of safe and efficient inland water transport 
• Avoid risks like Ship- to - Ship collisions, ship to bridge collisions and groundings Indian RIS is akin to system under operation in countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, China & USA. 

Kerala Government on 6 January 2016 decided to implement a health care project, Sampoorna Arogya Keralam (SAK) announced in the 2015-16 State budget. The project will benefit about 42 lakh people of the state. The decision was taken at a state Cabinet meeting at Thiruvananthapuram. The project will bring together different schemes in health sector under one umbrella and ensure that beneficiaries get financial aid up to 2 lakh rupees. It would cover families in the income group of less than 3 lakh rupees per annum. 

The Rajasthan Government on 7 January 2016 signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Cairn Enterprise Centre Society, supported by oil and gas exploration company Cairn India. The MoU aims at providing clean drinking water in Barmer district. 
Key Highlights of MoU: 
• The MoU was signed between state government’s Public Health Engineering Department and Cairn Enterprise Centre Society. 
• As per the agreement, water plants will be established and maintained to provide clean drinking water to more than 800 villages in Barmer, a part of the Thar Desert where drinking water is a precious commodity. 
• The initiative will involve setting up of 333 small scale reverse osmosis (RO) plants over the next three years. 
• The initiative will provide safe drinking water to an estimated population of over one million. 

Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways on 7 January 2016 decided to implement the Bharat Stage (BS) VI norms from 1 April 2020 to curb vehicular pollution.The decision was taken at an inter-ministerial meeting was chaired by Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari. At present, BS-IV emission norms are in progress and they would be switched over to BS-VI emission norms by skipping BS-V emission norms altogether. Currently, BS-IV petrol and diesel are being supplied in whole of Northern India covering Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi and parts of Rajasthan and western UP. The rest of the country has BS-III grade fuel.

The Union Government on 8 January 2016 allowed the conduct of the traditional bull-taming sports, Jallikattu, in Tamil Nadu. The ban on the sports was lifted few days before the traditional harvest festival will begin in Tamil Nadu. Jallikattu is celebrated around pongal in southern state of Tamil Nadu. 

The Union Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) on 7 January 2016 approved the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) for Punjab and Uttarakhand for the year 2015-16. The plans were approved by an inter-ministerial Apex Committee under the State Annual Action Plans (SAAP). 
• Punjab Government will invest 720 crore rupees in improving basic urban infrastructure in 16 cities. 
• Under the SAAP for 2015-16, Punjab Government will invest 365 crore rupees in 46 water supply related projects.
• Uttarakhand will spend 267 crore rupees in 6 cities under action plan. 
• Uttarakhand Government has proposed to spend 133 crore rupees in 20 water supply related projects in 6 mission cities. 

The Union Government on 7 January 2016 merged the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in keeping with its broad principle of Minimum Government, Maximum Governance. With this merger, the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, which used to be a flagship event of the MOIA will now be celebrated by the MEA on 9 January. The decision is expected to help government address duplication as well as unnecessary delays in various works. 
Background
The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) was established in May 2004 as the Ministry of Non-Resident Indians' Affairs. However, it was renamed as the MOIA in September 2004. The primary task of the MOIA was to connect the Indian diaspora with its motherland. Initially, there have been two separate ministers in charge of Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). 
However, since May 2014 External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Minister of State in MEA VK Singh were handling both the ministries. 

1st Meeting of Council of Trade Development and Promotion held in New Delhi. Consultations held for developing a Framework for making States Active partners in boosting India’s exports.

Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance called on the Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Shri J P Nadda, on January 9, 2016. During the meeting he discussed various issues relating to the health sector in India. Dr Seth Berkley expressed appreciation for the initiatives taken by the Ministry towards strengthening the health systems, particularly in the area full immunization through Mission Indradhanush.

The Health Minister elaborated on the new initiatives of the Government such as Mission Indradhanush that aims to cover all missed-out and left-out children with cover of full immunization and the successes within the nation-wide initiative, the launch of new vaccines including Pentavalent, Pneumococcal, Rota Virus, Measles-Ruebella and the adult JE vaccine. 

Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) Mysuru is going to conduct human clinical trials for an anti-obesity cooking oil developed by it. Usually, only new drugs developed internationally but set to be sold in the country, are subject to such trials. The trial is aimed at testing whether the oil has side effects and at what extent it can help contain obesity. 

Union Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari has said that the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is planning to set up a modern Indian Waterways Hub at Haldia to attract more investment in this region. 
He said Haldia Dock Complex (HDC) is the main gateway for import and export of cargo destined or originating from Eastern, North Eastern and Northern parts of the country as well as land locked countries like Nepal and Bhutan. 

Four new vaccines have been added to the recently launched Centre's ambitious programme Mission Indradhanush to immunise children against preventable diseases. 

The new vaccines are inactivated are: polio vaccine,  Adult Japanese Encephalitis vaccine, Rotavirus vaccine and  Measles Rubella vaccine.

Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry has launched an online initiative to engage the LPG consumers and citizens in providing efficient and citizen friendly services in LPG distribution. It has launched two online discussion forums namely Citizen Friendly Services and Increasing LPG Coverage in the Country, which are available on the websites www.mygov.in and www.mylpg.in.

Bilateral
India and France on 8 January 2016 started their eight-day counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency joint exercise Shakti-2016 in Rajasthan. This is the third edition in the series of bilateral exercises under this banner and is being held in Mahajan Field Firing Ranges in Rajasthan's Bikaner. The exercise will be focused on counter terrorism operations in backdrop of semi-urban terrain under United Nations Mandate. It is an important step for the armies to train together and gain from each other's rich operational experience. 
French 35th Infantry Regiment: The French 35th Infantry Regiment was raised in 1604 by a member of the gentry from Lorraine whose surname was Nemond. It has at least 12 battle honours to its credit. The battalion has varied combat experiences, having served in Algeria, Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan, amongst other places. During World War I it was nicknamed As de Trefle (Ace of Clubs). It is now based at the garrison in Belfort. 

Committees/Commissions

Newly formed Censor Board committee headed by Shyam Benegal to look into revamp of Board is underway in Mumbai.

New Appointments
Amitabh Kant was on 7 January 2016 appointed as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NITI Aayog. His appointment was approved by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC). Kant will take over the office of CEO in March 2016, when he retires from service. On 1 January 2016, Kant was given the additional charge of the CEO of NITI Aayog following the completion of tenure of previous CEO Sindhushree Khullar on 31 December 2015. 

Devender Kumar Sikri was on 7 January 2016 appointed as Chairman of fair-trade regulator Competition Commission of India (CCI). He succeeds Ashok Chawla, whose tenure as the Chairman of CCI ended on 7 January 2016 itself. Sikri will have a tenure of about two and half years, i.e. till he attains the age of 65 years.

Additional Secretary of Home Affairs, Sailesh, on 7 January 2016 was appointed as the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India. He is a 1985 Batch Assam-Meghalaya Cadre IAS officer and would be succeeding C Chandramauli, who completed his central deputation tenure on 7 January 2016. 
About Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India: 
• The Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, Ministry of Home Affairs is responsible for conducting the decennial Census. 
• Users can get information about Census 2011 such as census schedules, manuals, circulars, training, house listing and housing data, administrative atlas, research on census data, etc. 
• Details related to National Population Register (NPR), NPR schedule, NPR instruction manual, NPR biometric enrollment plan, etc. are given. 
• Access to information about census 2001, population finder, data summary, maps, etc. is also available. 

Government has reappointed Urjit Patel, as Deputy Governor of Reserve Bank of India, RBI, for a second three-year term. He headed a committee that paved the way for the proposed monetary policy committee. Mr Patel joined RBI on January 11, 2013. The re-appointment of Mr Patel assumes significance as in recent past, none of the deputy governors got a second term. Mr Patel, a doctorate from Yale University, also had a stint at IMF. 

Awards

The Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan on 7 January 2016 was felicitated with the Central Banker of the Year Award (Global and Asia Pacific) for 2016. The award was given by the Financial Times Group's monthly publication The Banker. The Central Banker of the Year 2016 Awards celebrates the officials that have best managed to stimulate growth and stabilise their country's economy.
• Raghuram Govind Rajan is the current and the 23rd Governor of the Reserve Bank of India. 
• He took charge of India's central banking institution on 5 September 2013. 
• He has also served as the chief economic adviser to India's Ministry of Finance. 
• He was also the chief economist at the International Monetary Fund from 2003 to 2007. 

Sports

The Philippines' Miguel Tabuena on 7 January 2016 was voted as the Hilton Asian Tour Golfer of Month for December 2015. Tabuena won the award ahead of Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai and India's Himmat Rai. The trio were nominated by a selection panel before going into a voting process. 

Defence

Anti-submarine warfare (ASW) corvette INS Kadmatt was on 7 January 2016 commissioned in the Indian Navy at naval dockyard in Visakhapatnam by Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral R K Dhowan. INS Kadmatt is the second ship of Project 28 (P28) class ASW corvettes and is the latest ship after Shivalik class, Kolkata class and INS Kamorta. In all these ships, an excessive amount of weapons and sensors had been integrated to provide a Common Operational Picture (COP). The ship is an integral part of the Eastern Fleet under the Eastern Naval Command to safeguard the Eastern Seaboard of India. 
About INS Kadmatt: 
• It was designed 90 per cent indigenously by the Directorate of Naval Design (DND) and constructed by M/s Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd. Directorate of Naval Design (DND) is the Navy’s Design Organisation undertaking indigenous design of all surface combatants. 
• INS Kadmatt is named after one of the large islands amongst the Lakshadweep group of Islands off the west coast of India. 
• The ship had been constructed using high grade steel (DMR 249A) produced in India. With a displacement of 3500 tonnes, the sleek and magnificent ship spans 109 meters in length and 14 meters at the beam. 
• It is propelled by four diesel engines to achieve speeds in excess of 25 knots with an endurance of 3450 nautical miles. 
• The ship had a potent strike capability with guns, close in weapon system, heavy weight torpedoes and anti-submarine rockets. Very soon the ship will also be fitted with vertically launched Surface to Air Missiles to neutralise enemy missiles. 
• This second ship of Project 28 has a low radio, acoustic, magnetic and IR signature owing to a ‘X’ shaped hull form, raft mounted engines and an IR suppression system. 
• The unique architecture used to fit the engines on a separate mounting reduces its underwater noise thereby making it difficult to detect by sonars of enemy ships and submarines. 
• As an ASW Corvette, the ship carries on the legacy of her predecessor INS Kadmatt (P 78), which served the Indian Navy for 24 years from 23 December 1968 to 30 November 1992.

Corporate

Quikr on 7 January 2016 announced acquisition of the property search website Commonfloor.com for an undisclosed amount in a majority stock-swap transaction. Quikr bought the website in a distress sale orchestrated by Tiger Global Management Llc. After the deal, Quikr will be valued at about 1.5 billion US dollars based on the share-swap ratio. 

The merger is expected to be completed over the next two to three months. It will also give Commonfloor access to Quikr’s 30 million consumers and harness the potential of the cross-category nature of the platform. QuikrHomes will benefit from CommonFloor’s structured data and domain expert. 

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