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Showing posts with label January 2016 Current Affairs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label January 2016 Current Affairs. Show all posts

Daily Current Affairs- 28 to 29 January 2016


International

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) launched a 2.8 billion US dollar appeal to reach 43 million children in humanitarian emergencies worldwide on 26 January 2016. It included the 54.3 million US dollar appeal to help conflict-affected children in eastern Ukraine in 2016. It is for the first time ever that the largest portion of the appeal, that is, 25 per cent is dedicated towards educating children in emergencies. It planned to increase the number of children in crises who are given access to education from 4.9 million at the beginning of 2015 to 8.2 million in 2016. More than half of 5 million will be Syrian children inside the country or in neighbouring countries. 

UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children 2016 :
• Its appeal targets a total of 76 million people in 63 countries. 
• The largest section of the appeal 1.16 billion US dollars are allocated to life-saving aid needed for Syria and the Syrian refugee crisis in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Key needs include safe water, immunizations, education and child protection. 
• 30.8 million US dollars are being requested by UNICEF to respond to the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe. 
• It is appealing for 180 million US dollars for children in Yemen where almost 10 million children are in urgent need of humanitarian aid in a conflict which is heading towards its first anniversary. 
• It is appealing for 25.5 million US dollars to help protect children in Burundi, one of the poorest countries in the world and to provide aid to Burundian refugees who have fled to Rwanda and Tanzania. 
• It is asking for 188.9 million US dollars to respond to the humanitarian needs in Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad, including addressing the consequences of the violence in northeast Nigeria. 
• The other appeals of UNICEF covers severely underfunded emergencies including protracted crises in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sudan which were all less than 40 per cent funded in 2015. 


Eritrea’s Department of Religious Affairs in the fourth week of January 2016 issued a law that makes it mandatory for men of the nation to marry at least two wives. Failing to adhere by the orders will lead to life imprisonment with hard labour. The law also says that women who attempt to prevent their husbands from exercising the law would spend the rest of their lives in jail. According to documents available on internet, the order was passed in lieu of the country facing a shortage of male population caused due to the civil war with Ethiopia. 

In order to bridge this shortage, the law also intends to cover the necessary wedding and accommodation expenses. The memo is yet to receive official verification or be re-produced in the country’s other national languages. Earlier in the similar way, Polygamy was legalised by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2014, with no limit on the number of wives that a man can marry. Other African countries where polygamy remains illegal include Ghana, Ethiopia, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Angola, Tunisia, Rwanda, and Burundi. 


International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust was observed on 27 January 2016 across the world. The day was proclaimed so by the United Nations General Assembly. The theme for the Holocaust remembrance and education activities in the year 2016 including the Holocaust Memorial Ceremony is "The Holocaust and Human Dignity." 

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) celebrate the day every year. The day marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi German Concentration and Extermination Camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau by the Soviet troops in 1945.


31 countries on 27 January 2016 signed the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA) to boost transparency in the functioning of multinational enterprises (MNEs) by allowing automatic exchange of Country-by-Country reports by tax administrators. The signing of the agreement marks an important milestone towards implementation of the OECD/G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project. 

Features of the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement :
• Under this multilateral agreement, information will be exchanged between tax administrations, giving them a single, global picture on the key indicators of multinational businesses. 
• With Country-by-Country reporting, tax administrations will get aggregate information annually, starting with 2016 accounts, relating to the global allocation of income and taxes paid, together with other indicators of the location of economic activity within the MNE group. • It will enable consistent and swift implementation of new transfer pricing reporting standards developed under Action 13 of the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Action Plan. 
• The 31 signatory countries are the parties of or territories covered by the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters or have signed or expressed their intention to sign the convention. 
• The signatories are - Australia, Austria, Belgium, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom. 


China and Iran on 23 January 2016 signed 17 documents & letters of intents to broaden bilateral cooperation. The agreements were signed in Tehran during the Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Iran. The agreements cover various fields such as energy, industrial capacity, finance, investment, communications, culture, judiciary, science and technology, news media, customs, climate change and human resources. 

During the visit, Xi Jinping and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani agreed to elevate their ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership to boost cooperation on all fronts and carry forward their millennia-old friendship. Xi Jinping’s visit assumed significance as it was his first trip since the lifting of sanctions on Iran. In early January 2016, the USA, European nations and Japan lifted oil and financial sanctions under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) or Vienna agreement. 


Iran and Airbus on 28 January 2016 signed two agreements covering new aircraft orders and a comprehensive civil aviation co-operation package. The agreement includes purchase of 118 new Airbus aircrafts. The agreement for 118 new aircraft includes 21 A320ceo family, 24 A320neo family, 27 A330ceo family, 18 A330neo (-900), 16 A350-1000 and 12 A380. The agreements were signed at the Elysee Palace, Paris, during Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s official visit to France with French President Francois Hollande. 


The term Human Rights up Front initiative was in news on 28 January 2016 as Deputy Secretary general in his address to UN General Assembly called the Member states, the Security Council along with ECOSOC (UN Economic and Social Council) to play important role in promoting the approaches and changes, which the initiative seeks to achieve. 

The initiative was launched by Secretary General Ban-Ki moon in December 2013 to prevent and respond to serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law. The initiative is all about improving how the UN system functions and how staff members are to perform. It aims to help the organization to act more coherently across peace and security, development, and human rights which are the pillars of the work. It brought three types of changes to backup its systemic failure in prevention and violations of humanitarian law. 

They are :
Cultural change: To make sure that it’s staff understand their prevention responsibilities and pursue them. 
Operational change: To ensure that it works on the basis of shared analysis. 
Enhanced engagement: it ensures to have enhanced engagement with Member States. 


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on 27 January 2016 implemented the long-pending 2010 Quota and Governance Reforms. The reforms represent a major step towards the increasing role of dynamic emerging market and developing countries. The entry into force of these reforms will reinforce the credibility, effectiveness, and legitimacy of the IMF. 

Highlights of the Reforms :
• For the first time, four emerging market countries- Brazil, China, India, and Russia will be among the 10 largest members of the IMF. 
• Other top 10 members include the United States, Japan, and the four largest European countries France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom. 
India’s voting rights increased to 2.6 percent from the current 2.3 percent and China’s voting rights increased to six percent from 3.8. 
• The reforms also increased the financial strength of the IMF by doubling its permanent capital resources to 659 billion US dollars. 
• More than 6 percent of quota shares will shift to dynamic emerging market and developing countries and also from over-represented to under-represented IMF members. 
• For the first time, the IMF’s Board will consist entirely of elected Executive Directors, ending the category of appointed Executive Directors. 
• The scope for appointing a second Alternate Executive Director in multi-country constituencies with seven or more members has been increased. 


National

Union Ministry of Urban Development on 28 January 2016 announced the 1st batch of 20 smart cities from 11 States and Union Territory of Delhi under the Smart Cities Mission. The 20 cities were selected through the Smart City Challenge competition that saw the participation of 1.52 crore citizens from 97 cities and towns. 23 States and Union Territories who could not make to the list of winners will be given an opportunity to participate in a fast track competition. 

Details related to 20 smart cities
• Among the 20 cities and towns, 3 cities are from Madhya Pradesh, two each from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan and one each from the remaining five made it to the winning list. 
• The 20 winning cities and towns have proposed a total investment of 50802 crore rupees over five years with all the cities proposing Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) as a major vehicle of resource mobilization. A total area of 26735 acres has been identified by these cities for making them smart through necessary interventions. 
• These 20 cities account for a total population of 3.54 crore and 5 have population below 5 lakhs each, 4 in the range of 5-10 lakhs, 6 in between 10-25 lakhs, 4 between 25 and 50 lakhs and only Ahmedabad has above 50 lakhs. 


Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on 27 January 2016 directed officials to impose ban on polythene in entire state from January 2017. The Chief Minister’s decision came after his review of the activities of Urban Development and Environment and Housing Department in capital Bhopal. He also directed the officials to chalk out a scheme for developing a new green field city between Bhopal and Indore. 


The Legislative Department in the Ministry of Law & Justice on 28 January 2016 constituted an expert committee to review the Specific Relief Act, 1963. The committee will have five members besides the Chairman. The committee has been asked to submit its report within three months. The Specific Relief Act, 1963 provides for the law relating to certain kind of specific relief and has not been amended since its inception. 

The decision was taken in view of tremendous developments that have taken place after 1963 and also in the context of present scenario involving contract based infrastructure development, public private partnerships and other public projects involving huge investments and enforceability of the contracts thereof. It is a remedy which aims at the exact fulfillment of an obligation or specific performance of the contract rather than a general relief or damages or compensation.
 

Ministry of Culture on 28 January 2016 released a commemorative coin of 150 rupees and a circulation coin of 10 rupees on Lala Lajpat Rai. The Commemorative Coin of 150 rupees is made of Quaternary alloy with diameter of 44 mm and weight of 35 grams. The Circulation coin of 10 rupees is made of bi-metallic material with diameter of 27 mm and weight of 7.71 grams. 

The coin was released by Dr Mahesh Sharma, Minister of state (Independent charge) Minister of Tourism & Culture at New Delhi on the occasion of 150th birth anniversary of Lala Lajpat Rai. Ministry of culture has been celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Rai from 28 January 2015 to 28 January 2016. 


Anti-Leprosy Day was observed on 30 January 2016 nationwide to focus attention on the disease which is also known as the Hansen’s disease. Annually, the day is celebrated in the memory of Mahatma Gandhi, who attained martyrdom on 30 January 1948, in order to re-memorize his selfless efforts and care for the people affected by the infectious disease leprosy. 


Lt Governor of Puducherry AK Singh on 28 January 2016 launched the MITRA mobile application to ensure safety and security of women in the Union Territory. The app was launched in the presence of the Chief Minister N Rangasamy in Puducherry. 


Bilateral

The 1st Ministerial Meeting of Arab-India Cooperation Forum was held on 24 January 2016 in the Bahraini capital Manama. The meeting, which was opened by Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, was attended by Minister of External Affairs and Overseas Indian Affairs Sushma Swaraj, foreign ministers of Arab States, and the Secretary General of the League of Arab States Nabil Elaraby. 

The meeting reviewed the achievements of the Arab-Indian cooperation since the establishment of the Arab-Indian Co-operation Forum in New Delhi in 2008 and adopted the Manama Declaration. The declaration called for enhanced cooperation on bilateral, regional and global issues including terrorism, Palestine, Syria, Arab-Israeli conflict and reforms in the UNSC by expanding its permanent and non-permanent membership. 


Economy

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation on 29 January 2016 released the first revised estimates of national income, consumption expenditure, saving and capital formation for 2014-15. Besides, the CSO also released second revised estimates of the years 2011-12 to 2013-14 (with base year 2011-12. 

Highlights of revised estimates for FYs 2014-15 & 2013-14 :
• Gross Domestic Product: Nominal Gross Domestic Product or GDP at current prices for the year 2014-15 was estimated at 124.88 lakh crore rupees while that for the year 2013-14 was estimated at 112.73 lakh crore rupees, exhibiting a growth of 10.8 per cent during 2014-15 as against 13.3 per cent during 2013-14. 
• Real GDP or GDP at constant (2011-12) prices for the years 2014-15 and 2013-14 stands at 105.52 lakh crore rupees and 98.39 lakh crore rupees, respectively, showing growth of 7.2 per cent during 2014-15, and 6.6 per cent during 2013-14. 
• The previous Real GDP estimates for FY 2014-15 and 2013-14 was 7.3 and 6.9 respectively. 
• Per capital income: Per capita net national income at current prices was estimated at 79412 and 86879 rupees respectively for the years 2013-14 and 2014-15. 
• Correspondingly, per capita private final consumption expenditure (PFCE) at current prices, for the years 2013-14 and 2014-15 was estimated at 52022 and 56772 respectively. 
• Industry-wise contribution: Percentage shares of different sectors of the economy in gross value addition (GVA) at current prices were – primary sector (20.04), secondary (27.36) and tertiary (52.60). 
• Percentage changes in GVA in 2014-15 at constant (2011-12) prices over the FY 2013-14 were – primary sector (1.3 percent), secondary (5.4) and tertiary (10.3). 
• The growth in real GVA during 2014-15 has been higher than that in 2013-14 mainly due to higher growth in mining and quarrying (10.8 percent), hotels & restaurants (10.7), public administration and defence (9.8) and other services (11.4 percent). 
• Saving: Rate of Gross Saving to gross national disposable income (GNDI) for the year 2014-15 is estimated as 32.3 per cent, the same as in 2013-14. 
• The highest contributor to the Gross Saving is the household sector, with a share of 57.8 per cent in the year 2014-15. 
• Capital formation: The rate of gross capital formation (GCF) to GDP declined from 34.7 per cent during 2013-14 to 34.2 per cent in the year 2014-15. 


Corporate

Cognizant Technology Solutions on 27 January 2016 acquired the privately-held KBACE Technologies Inc., a US-based global consulting and technology services company specialising in cloud strategy, implementation and integration. 


Leslie Berland was on 26 January 2016 appointed as the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of Twitter Inc, an online social networking site. Before Berland’s appointment, the marketing operations was overseen by the Twitter’s CFO Anthony Noto. 


Person in News

Aparna Kumar, IPS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre, on 17 January 2016 became India's first civil servant to scale Mount Vinson Massif, the highest peak in the Antarctica. She hoisted the Tricolour and the flag of the Uttar Pradesh Police Service on Mount Vinson Massif. She set out on the Antarctic expedition on 5 January 2016, accompanied by a 10-member team of mountaineers from various countries. 


Former minister and freedom fighter Maheswar Baug died on 28 January 2016 at the district headquarter hospital in Balasore, Odisha. He was 85. 


New Appointments

Justice Sanjay Mishra was on 28 January 2016 appointed as Lokayukta of Uttar Pradesh. 


Gurdeep Singh on 28 January 2016 was appointed as the Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of NTPC Ltd.Singh will be the first person to be appointed to the top job at a Maharatna company through a search committee route.


Books

The second volume of memoirs of President Pranab Mukherjee titled "The Turbulent Years – 1980-1996" was released on 28 January 2016 by Vice President Hamid Ansari in function held at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi. 


The book titled "Nathuram Godse - The Story of an Assassin" authored by Anup Ashok Sardesai was released on 30 January 2016. The book was released at the government-owned Ravindra Bhavan in Margao, Goa by BJP leader and the bhavan's chairman Damodar Naik. The book narrates the story of Nathuram Vinayakrao Godse who died an untimely death and his brother suffered a life of immense mental torture. It also speaks of the family of Godse who faced countless abuses and humiliations. 


Awards

Rodney George Laver honoured with the Companion of the order of Australia on 26 January 2016 on the occasion of the Australia Day. He was conferred with the award for eminent service to tennis as a player, representative and mentor, at the national and international level, and as a role model for young sportsmen and women. 


Chennupati Jagadish and Jay Chandra, Indian-origin persons, were on 26 January 2016 honoured with the Order of Australia, highest civilian honour of Australia on the occasion of the Australia Day. They were awarded for their contribution in the fields of physics, engineering and medicine.

Chennupati Jagadish is an eminent professor at Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra. He was conferred with the award for his eminent service to physics and engineering, particularly in the field of nanotechnology. 

Jay Chandra is an eye doctor in New South Wales. He received the award for his significant service to medicine in the field of ophthalmology as a clinician and for his service to the international community through eye care programs. They were awarded along with Sajeev Koshy, a Kerala dentist settled in Melbourne. 


Prince Mahidol Award 2015 was conferred upon Professor Morton Mower and Sir Michael Marmot for outstanding achievements in medicine and public health worldwide. The award was presented on 29 January 2016 at the Grand Palace in Bangkok by the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn on behalf of the King of Thailand Bhumibol Adulyadej, who couldn’t attend the ceremony due to ill health. Mower, a citizen of the USA, received the award in the category of medicine for invention of the Automatic Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator. 

The device helps in monitoring heart rate and rhythm and delivers electrical current when abnormality is detected. Marmot, a citizen of the UK, won the award in public health category for his evidence-based evaluation of the role of Social Determinants of Health, a concept that was adopted by the government of the UK and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to eliminate health inequalities. 


Nisid Hajari on 28 January 2016 won the 2016 William E. Colby Award for his book, Midnight’s Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India’s Partition. Hajari will be presented with the award and honorarium at Norwich University, the USA in April 2016. 
The Midnight’s Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India’s Partition covers the 1947 partition of India and the violence that surrounded that event. 


Veteran wildlife filmmaker Naresh Bedi on 28 January 2016 was honoured with the V Shantaram Lifetime Achievement Award at the 14th edition of the Mumbai International Festival for Documentary, Short and Animation Films (MIFF 2016). Bedi was honoured for his outstanding contribution to wildlife filmmaking. He is also credited with filming several rare wildlife moments. 


Sports

14-year old Ishika Shah on 26 January 2016 won the 12th Sub-Junior National Snooker championship title in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. To win the title, she defeated Anushi Seth by 50-2, 50-33 in the final match. 


Sania Mirza and her Swiss partner Martina Hingis on 29 January 2016 won the 2016 Australian Open title of tennis in the women’s doubles category. To win the title, the top seeded Indo-Swiss pair defeated seventh seeded Czech duo Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka 7-6 (1), 6-3 at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. With the win over the Czech duo, they extended their unbeaten run to 36. In a semi final of the tournament, the duo created a world record by winning their 29th women’s doubles match in a row. 


Punjab’s Navneet Kaur on 28 January 2016 won two gold medals in the 34th Senior National Rowing Championship at Hussainsagar Lake, Hyderabad. It was her maiden gold at the country’s highest level in the senior category. 


Angelique Kerber of Germany on 30 January 2016 won the 2016 Australian Open women’s singles tennis title at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. To win her maiden grand slam title, the seventh seed defeated the world number 1 ranking Serena Williams of the USA by 6-4 3-6 6-4. For 28-year-old Kerber, the final match was her first major final.


Brazilian racing driver Pietro Fittipaldi on 31 January 2016 clinched the 2015-16 MRF Challenge Formula 2000 at Madras Motor Racing Track in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu. Fittipaldi won two of the four races which earned him the required points to clinch the title with a tally of 244 points while Colombian Tatiana Calderon finished second (199), just eight ahead of Nikita Troitckii of Russia (191). 


Defence

India on 28 January 2016 test fired its indigenously-built surface-to-air Akash missile from complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR).at Chandipuri in Odisha. It was as part of a user trial mission. Three rounds of test were carried out by Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel aiming at para-barrel targets. 

About Akash Missile :
• The Akash (sky) is a mid-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system. 
• It is developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) of India under the integrated guided-missile development programme (IGMDP). 
• IGMDP is also involved the development of the Nag, Agni and Trishul missiles and Prithvi ballistic missile. 
• The first missile was delivered to the IAF in March 2012. The missile was formally inducted into the IAF in July 2015. 
• The missile can fly at supersonic speeds ranging from Mach 2.8 to 3.5 and can engage aerial targets up to a range of approximately 25 kilometers. 


Intelsat, the commercial satellite giant, on 27 January 2016 announced that Inteslat 29e, the first of the Intelsat EpicNG high throughput satellites, was successfully launched. The satellites were launched from French Guiana aboard an Ariane 5 vehicle. The high throughput platform should provide customers with superior connections at a lower cost. Designated Intelsat 29e will be placed into service at 310° east and replace Intelsat 1R. Intelsat 29e will bring high throughput capacity in both C-band and Ku-band to North and Latin America and the North Atlantic region. At least six more Epic spacecraft will follow, to cover other regions and to provide back-up. 

About the Intelsat 29e :
• Intelsat 29e is the first satellite of Intelsat’s next generation, all digital EpicNG satellite platforms, which combines wide beams and spot beams with frequency reuse technology and the sector’s most advanced digital payload. 
• The digital payload will provide customers with unprecedented security and flexibility, enabling customers to seamlessly access and shift capacity to match their usage needs in a particular region or timeframe. 
Intelsat EpicNG is optimized to provide satellite connectivity for applications including the Internet of Things, enterprise, wireless infrastructure, aeronautical and maritime mobility, and government, which are expected to provide a combined 3 billion dollar incremental opportunity by the year 2020. 
• It is manufactured by Boeing and is equipped with the most advanced digital payload on a commercial spacecraft. 
Intelsat 29e is the 56th Intelsat satellite launched by Arianespace. Besides, Intelsat has plans to launch the second Intelsat EpicNG satellite, Intelsat 33e, which will serve Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, in the third quarter of 2016, also aboard an Arianespace launcher. 


Science | Technology

A team of astronomers of UK, USA and Australia discovered the widest planet system so far comprising of lonely planet named 2MASS J2126 in a huge orbit around its star TYC 9486-927-1. The discovery was published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society on 26 January 2016. 


Japan on 28 January 2016 unveiled country’s first stealth fighter aircraft X-2. The domestically-built fighter aircraft seeks to augment defence capabilities of the country that is surrounded by China and Russia that already have radar-evading aircraft technology. X-2 is expected to undergo its first test-flight in February 2016. 

Features of X-2 :
• It has two engines, similar to the F-22 of the USA, and is 46 feet long by 30 feet wide and 15 feet tall. 
• Its stealthy features include a special coating on the canopy that houses the pilot, as well as a carbon-fiber composite material that absorbs radar waves. 
• It was built under the code name Mitsubishi Advanced Technology Demonstrator-X by the country’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. 
• Apart from Mitsubishi, around 200 companies were involved in the development of the unarmed technology demonstrator. 
• It was built at a cost of 340 million US dollars and is smaller than a standard jet fighter. 


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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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