Daily Current Affairs - 26 to 27 January 2016


International

The International Customs Day 2016 was observed across the world on 26 January 2016. The day is organised in commemoration of formation of World Customs Organisation (WCO) on 26 January 1953. On 26 January every year, the Customs administrations of 179 Member States of the World Customs Organisation organize various national events to celebrate the first session of the Customs Co-operation Council. On its part, the WCO Secretariat chooses a topic for the International Customs Day. The WCO is dedicating 2016 to promoting the digitalization of Customs process under the slogan Digital Customs: Progressive Engagement. 

About World Customs Organisation :
• The World Customs Organization is an intergovernmental organization headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. 
• The WCO is noted for its work in areas covering the development of international conventions, instruments, and tools on topics such as commodity classification, valuation, rules of origin, collection of customs revenue, and much more. 
• The WCO maintains the international Harmonized System (HS) goods nomenclature, and administers the technical aspects of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreements on Customs Valuation and Rules of Origin. 
• At present, the WCO represents 180 Customs administrations across the globe that collectively process approximately 98% of world trade. 


Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with the President of France François Hollande, on 25 January 2016 laid the foundation stone of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) headquarters in National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) in Gwalpahari, Gurgaon. They also inaugurated the interim Secretariat of the ISA at the same place. India dedicated 5 acre land at NISE to ISA for hosting its Secretariat and also contributed 175 crore rupees for ISA corpus fund for an initial period of five years. Thereafter it is expected to generate its own resources and become self-financing. 

About International Solar Alliance:
• It was jointly launched in Paris by India and France on 30 November 2015 during the United Nations climate change conference (COP21). 
• It is the India’s first international and inter-governmental organization of 121 Countries to have headquarters in India with United Nations as Strategic Partner. 
• It creates a collaborative platform for increased deployment of solar energy technologies to enhance energy security and sustainable development. 
• It improves access to energy and opportunities for better livelihoods in rural and remote areas and to increase the standard of living.
• It will encourage multilateral bodies like IRENA, REEEP, IEA, REN21, UN bodies, bilateral organizations, corporates, industry, and other stakeholders to contribute towards the goal of increasing utilization of solar energy in the member countries. 
It’s governance structure consists of an Assembly, a Council and a Secretariat. 
• The Assembly will provide guidance, direction and advice to the Secretariat for undertaking the activities. 


Transparency International on 27 January 2016 released the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2015. The Index measured the perceived levels of public sector corruption in 168 countries and territories across the world. While Denmark, with rank 1, was adjudged as the most corruption-free country among the surveyed countries, India was placed at the 76th place with 38 points. India was at the 85th position among the 175 countries surveyed in the CPI 2014. 

About Corruption Perceptions Index :
• It is prepared by Transparency International (TI) which is a global coalition against corruption and The CPI 2015 is the 21st edition of the annual index. 
• It is based on expert opinions of public sector corruption and countries are ranked on the basis of corruption perception score measured on the scale of 0 – 100. A score of 0 means highly corrupt country whereas a score of 100 means very clean country. 
• Transparency International (TI) is based in Berlin Germany and its Managing Director is Cobus de Swardt. 
• At present, TI is running a campaign called Unmask the Corrupt, urging European Union, United States and G20 countries to follow Denmark’s lead and create public registers that would make clear who really controls, or is the beneficial owner, of every company. 


National

Republic Day 2016 was celebrated on 26 January 2016 across the nation. This was the 67th Republic Day of India. President of France Francois Hollande was the Chief Guest at 67th Republic Day parade. First Republic Day was celebrated on 26 January 1950 when India became a Republic with Constitution of India coming into force on this day replacing the Government of India Act (1935) as the governing document of India. 

• For the first time since 1950, a foreign army contingent marched down the Rajpath during the Republic Day parade. The 76-member French Army contingent was the participant of the parade.  
• For the first time, an all-women stunt contingent named ‘Women Daredevils CRPF’ comprising of 120 soldiers will performed stunts on bikes. Apart from this women officers were also 2nd in command to the contingents of Air Force, Coast Guard and Navy. 
• For the first time, the tableau of ex-servicemen of Army veterans was also showcased in the parade.


The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015 came into force on 26 January 2016. The act was made to ensure more stringent provisions for prevention of Atrocities against Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. The bill was provided to make amendments in the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015. 


President Pranab Mukherjee on 26 January 2016 approved the Union Cabinet’s recommendation for the imposition of President’s rule on Arunachal Pradesh. 
Constitutional Provision of Presidential Rule: The President imposed the Rule on the state following the provisions of imposition of President’s Rule on a state mentioned under Article 356 of the Constitution of India, after the failure of Constitutional Machinery in the state. 


Union Government and Chhattisgarh Government on 25 January 2016 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Chhattisgarh State Power Distribution Company Limited (CSPDCL) under the Scheme Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) for operational and financial turnaround of the CSPDCL. 

About UDAY : The Scheme UDAY was launched by the Union government on 20 November 2015 to ensure a sustainable solution to enable the distribution utilities across the country to break out of a long standing debt of almost 4.3 Lakh crore rupees. Sustainability of operational and financial performance is at the CORE of UDAY. 
Demand Side interventions in UDAY such as usage of energy- efficient LED bulbs, fans & air-conditioners and efficient industrial equipment through PAT (Perform, Achieve, Trade) would help in reducing peak load, flatten load curve and thus help in reducing energy consumption in the States. 


Union government on 25 January 2016 approved fitting of roof top solar energy panels over 10000 houses belonging to Economically Weaker Sections in Tamil Nadu at a cost of 253 crore rupees. This is first of its kind under Prime Minister’s Awas Yojana (PMAY)(Urban). Under this Scheme, The Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation will provide an assistance of 150000 rupees per house while the State Government will contribute 60000 rupees and the beneficiary’s contribution will be 43000 rupees. 

About Prime Minister’s Awas Yojana (PMAY)(Urban) :
• Housing Scheme for All 2022 was renamed to Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY). 
• This scheme was launched on 25th June 2015 by PM Narendra Modi. 
• It aims to construct about 2 crore houses in the country within 7 years that is from 2015 to 2022. 
• People who will be benefited through this scheme will be homeless ones, poor urban people and belonging to EWS and LIG categories. 


The Union Cabinet on 27 January 2016 approved increase in the Authorized Share Capital of the National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC). The target of NSFDC for the year 2015-16 is to cover 63000 beneficiaries. 

Benefits of the increase in Authorized Share Capital
• With this, the Authorized Share Capital of NSFDC is increased from 1000 crore rupees to 1200 crore rupees. 
• The approval will enlarge the quantum of funds available for economic activities, better coverage and enhanced outreach to double the Below Poverty Line (DPL) Scheduled Caste beneficiaries. 
• Enhancement of share capital would expand its ambit of coverage and increase disbursement of funds to larger sections of the economically deprived scheduled caste population.


The Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawarchand Gehlot on 27 January 2016 launched the National level Job portal www.disabilityjobs.gov.in for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs). The Ministry aims to carry out skill training programme for 5 lakh Persons with Disabilities in next 3 years. 

Highlights of the job portal : 
• It was developed by the National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation (NHFDC). 
• The PwDs can avail the different facilities like self employment loan, education loan, skill training, link to scholarships and information about jobs at this portal. 
• It will empower persons with disabilities by providing them all desired information for employment opportunities on single window platform. 


Bilateral

India and France on 25 January 2016 inked 14 Agreements/MoUs in Delhi. The agreements including MoU on purchase of 36 Rafale Aircrafts were signed during the State Visit of President Francois Hollande of France to India. Hollande was the Chief Guest at the 67th India’s Republic Day (26 January 2016) celebrations. He was the fifth French leader to be a chief guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations, maximum number from any country so far. 

Highlights agreements/MoUs are : 
• MoU on purchase of 36 Rafale Aircrafts.
• Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Centre National D'études Spatiales (CNES) Implementation Arrangement on hosting Argos-4 Payload onboard India’s Oceansat-3 satellite.
• ISRO and CNES Implementation Arrangement on a future joint Thermal Infrared earth observation mission.
• Letter of Intent on CNES, France participation in ISRO’s next Mars Mission. 
• Shareholding Agreement on JV between Alstom and Indian Railways for production of 800 electric locomotives in Madhepura Bihar .
• Agreement between Indian Railways and SNCF, French Railways for joint feasibility study for the renovation of Ludhiana and Ambala railway stations 
• MOU between Food Safety & Standards Authority of India and Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l'alimentation (ANSES) in food safety 
Partnership Agreement on Cooperation in Public Administration between Ministry of Personnel & Public Grievances and French 
• Declaration of Intent for conducting next round of Namaste France (Indian festival) in 2016 and Bonjour India (French festival) 2017 
• Cultural Exchange Programme for the period 2016-2018 
• Arrangement for establishment of an Indo- French Ministerial level Joint Committee on Science & Technology
• Agreement of Cooperation between CNRS, TB, UBO, UBS, ENSTA Bretagne, ENIB (French Universities) and IIT Mumbai in the field of Higher Education & Research. 


India and Armenia on 27 January 2016 signed a protocol to amend the India-Armenia Double Taxation Avoidance Convention. 

Silent features of the Protocol : 
• It amends the convention between these countries that has been in existence since 9 September 2004. 
• It amends the article on exchange of Information for tax purposes to bring it in line with the updated provisions in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Model. 
• It will enable the two countries to exchange information related to financial and banking transactions under the Double Taxation Avoidance Convention, and thereby facilitate them in addressing tax evasion. 
• It is also expected to further strengthen the efforts of Union Government in curbing the generation of black money. 


Economy

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on 27 January 2016 gave its approval for the Hybrid Annuity Model as one of the modes of delivery for implementing the Highway Projects. The main object of the approval is to revive highway projects in the country by making one more mode of delivery of highway projects. Under this model, the government will provide 40 percent of the project cost to the developer to start work while the remaining investment has to be made by the developer. 

Key highlights of hybrid annuity model : 
• It will facilitate uplifting the socio-economic condition of the entire nation due to increased connectivity across the length and breadth of the country leading to enhanced economic activity. 
• An important feature of the Hybrid Annuity Model for highways development is the rational approach adopted for allocation of risks between the PPP partners - the Government and the private partner i.e. the developer/investor. 


Awards

President Pranab Mukherjee, on 26 January 2016, awarded India’s highest peacetime gallantry award Ashoka Chakra, posthumously to Lance Naik Mohan Nath Goswami of 9 Para (Special Forces) of the Rashtriya Rifles.

What is Ashoka Chakra award ?
• It was established as Ashoka Chakra, Class I by the President of India on 4 January 1952 which came into effect from 15 August 1947. 
• It is the highest Indian peacetime gallantry award which was constituted on similar lines of the British Awards of the George Cross. 
• It was constituted as Ashok Chakra Class I along with Ashok Chakra Class II and III. These awards were renamed as the Ashoka, Kirti and Shaurya Chakras in 1967. 
• Each recipient of the award will get 2800 rupees per month. 


Veteran Bollywood actress Rekha on 25 January 2016 was honoured with the third Yash Chopra Memorial Award in Mumbai. Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao presented the award to the actress in recognition of her talent and contribution to the film industry. 


President Pranab Mukherjee on 26 January 2016 announced the winners of the Padma Awards 2016. The list comprises of 10 Padma Vibhushan, 19 Padma Bhushan and 83 Padma Shri Awardees.
19 of the awardees in the list are women and the list also includes 10 persons in the category of foreigners, NRIs, PIOs and 4 posthumous awardees.

About Padma Awards :
Padma Awards are one of the highest civilian Awards of India. The awards are conferred in three categories namely, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. 
The Awards are given in various disciplines or fields of activities including art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc.
Padma Vibhushan is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service; Padma Bhushan is awarded for distinguished service of high order and Padma Shri for distinguished service in any field.
The awards are announced on the occasion of Republic Day every year. While, they are conferred by the President of India at ceremonial function at Rashtrapati Bhawan usually around March every year.



A Kerala dentist Sajeev Koshy settled in Melbourne on 26 January 2016 was honoured with the highest civilian honour, the Order of Australia. Koshy was given the award for his service to dentistry in Victoria, Australia. He was honoured on the Australia Day Awards 2016, by the Governor General of Australia. 

• The Order of Australia is an order of chivalry established on 14 February 1975 by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia. 
• It is awarded to recognise Australian citizens and other persons for achievement or meritorious service. 
• Before the establishment of the order, Australian citizens would receive British honours. 


Cottalango Leon, a person of Indian origin, was on 22 January 2016 selected for the 2016 Technical Achievement Award of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 


The International Hockey Federation (FIH) on 26 January 2016 announced the winners of its Hockey Stars awards for 2015. The Netherlands' Robert Van der Horst and Lidewij Welten won the men's and women's FIH Player of the Year awards, respectively, for their performances in 2015.
Other winners of the awards are:
Award
Winner
Goalkeeper of the year (Women)
Joyce Sombroek (The Netherlands)
Goalkeeper of the year (Men)
David Harte (Ireland)
Rising Star of the Year (Women)
Lily Owsley (Great Britain)
Rising Star of the Year (Men)
Chrisopher Rühr (Germany)


Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on 27 January 2016 presented the Raksha Mantri awards for excellence for the years 2012-13 and 2013-14 in New Delhi.

The awards are presented in recognition of exemplary performance amongst Ordnance Factories and the nine Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs). The awards were given in three major categories, Institutional Awards, Best Performing Division, Factory, Shipyard Awards and Group and Individual Awards.


List of awardees for the year 2012-13 and 2013-14


Indian lawyer and human rights defender Henri Tiphagne on 26 January 2016 was selected for the 8th Human Rights Award by Amnesty International Germany. The award is a recognition of Tiphagne’s exceptional commitment to human rights. He will be conferred with the award at an official ceremony on 25 April 2016 at the Maxim Gorki Theatre in Berlin, Germany. 

• The Human Rights Award is presented by Amnesty Germany every two years in recognition of individuals or organizations campaigning for human rights under very difficult conditions. 
• The award comes with 10000 Euros, provided by Amnesty Germany’s foundation Stiftung Menschenrechte, Förderstiftung Amnesty. 
• Former award recipients include: Monira Rahman from Bangladesh (2006), Women of Zimbabwe Arise from Zimbabwe (2008), Abel Barrera from Mexico (2011) and Alice Nkom from Cameroon (2014). 

Person in News

Hollywood actor Vigoda, known for his work in The Godfather and on the television series Barney Miller, passed away on 26 January 2016 in New Jersey . 


Marvin Minsky, the pioneer of artificial intelligence, died on 24 January 2016 at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital due to cerebral hemorrhage. The mathematician and the computer scientist died at the age of 88. Minsky, a professor emeritus at the MIT Media Lab, helped in work that helped inspired the creation of the personal computer and the Internet. 

Some of his inventions include :
a) He developed first head-mounted graphical display (1963)
b) He developed the confocal microscope, a predecessor to today’s widely used confocal laser scanning microscope. 
c) He developed, with Seymour Papert, the first Logo turtle
d) In 1951, he built the first randomly wired neural network learning machine, SNARC


The captain of the champion Indian basketball team in the first Asian Games in 1951, Ranbir Chopra, died on 25 January 2016 in Kapurthala, Punjab. He was 86. Chopra had been part of the Punjab team that won the national title in 1951 in Ludhiana.

Sports

The International Cricket Council (ICC) on 26 January 2016 launched the official ICC men’s Team Rankings from Test, One Day International (ODI) and T20I cricket.

India returned to the summit of the Test rankings for the first time since August 2011. India is the new leader with 110 rating points followed by Australia and the South Africa.


Refer to Test, ODI, and T20I Rankings


Tennis’s governing bodies on 27 January 2016 constituted the Adam Lewis headed Independent Review Panel (IRP) to safeguard integrity in tennis. An announcement in this regard was made by the Chairmen and CEOs of the Governing Bodies of International Tennis – Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), Women's Tennis Association (WTA), International Tennis Federation (ITF) and the Grand Slam Board. 

The IRP was formed to review the functioning of the existing anti-corruption mechanisms and suggest measures to further safeguard the integrity of the game. The panel will review and report on the appropriateness and effectiveness of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program (TACP) and suggest recommendations for change. 
 

Australian batsman David Warner on 27 January 2016 defeated captain Steve Smith for the prestigious Allan Border Medal for 2016.
Other winners announced in the award ceremony are:
Award
Winner
Test Player of the Year
David Warner
One Day International Player of the Year
Glenn Maxwell
Bradman Young Cricketer of the Year

Alex Ross
State Player of the Year
Adam Voges (Western Australia)
Women's International Cricketer of the Year (Belinda Clark Award)
Ellyse Perry

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