Current Affairs : December,2015

Current Affairs : December,2015

Important Days in December
December 1 : World AIDS Day
December 2 : World Computer Literacy Day, International Day of abolition of slavery
December 3 : International Day of Persons with Disabilities, World Conservation Day
December 4 : Navy Day
December 7 : Armed Forces Flag Day
December 9 : International Day against Corruption
December 10 : Human Rights Day
December 11 : International Mountain Day, UNICEF Day
December 14 : International Energy Conservation Day
December 18 : International Migrants Day
December 19 : Goa’s Liberation Day
December 20 : International Human Solidarity
December 22 : National Mathematics Day
December 23 : Kisan Diwas
December 24 : National Consumer Day
December 25 : National Good Governance Day
December 29 : International Bio-diversity Day

Union Government links LPG subsidy to income
Union Government has announced to link LPG subsidy to income of consumers in order to ensure that the subsidy benefits go to the targeted group. Henceforth, the LPG subsidy will not be available to LPG consumers if the consumer or his/her spouse has taxable income of more than ten lakh rupees. This income would be as per the previous financial year computed under Income Tax Act, 1961. This decision will be given effect to initially on self-declaration basis of LPG consumers while booking cylinders January 2016. This move will affect at least 60 lakh LPG consumers of the total 16.5 crore LPG consumers in the country and Government will save upto Rs. 113 crore from this decision.
Earlier under the ‘Give it Up’ campaign many LPG consumers had given up their subsidy voluntarily but Government felt that consumers in the higher income bracket should get LPG cylinders at the market price. So far, 57.50 lakh LPG consumers have opted out of LPG subsidy voluntarily under the campaign that aims to ensure that the subsidy benefits go to the targeted group.

Union Civil Aviation Ministry gives nod for four Greenfield Airports
The Union Civil Aviation Ministry has given clearance for four greenfield airports in two states. Of the total four approved greenfield airports, three will be in Andhra Pradesh and one at international airport at Dholera in Gujarat.
Key facts:
In Andhra Pradesh greenfield airport will be developed at Nellore and Kurnool districts of under a public-private partnership. These two of the three airports proposed at Andhra Pradesh are likely to be no-frills one.
Ministry also has given site clearance for the Bhogapuram airport in Andhra Pradesh which is about 40 km from Visakhapatnam (Vizag).
The international airport at Dholera in Ahmedabad is expected to reduce the air traffic load at the existing Ahmedabad airport. Earlier Union Environment Ministry had given the environmental clearance to 1,378 crore rupees Dholera airport project.
Greenfield Airport: It is a new airport which is constructed on an undeveloped site. It is built from scratch on a new location because the existing airport is unable to meet the traffic requirements. Brownfield projects: These projects are usually undertaken to modify or upgraded from existing facilities.

Union Government brings 376 drugs under the NLEM
The Union Government has added 106 drugs including that of HIV/AIDS, Cancer and Hepatitis C to the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM). In this regard, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s core committee has revised the NLEM. The committee was headed by V.M. Katoch, former secretary of Department of Health Research.
The revision includes addition of 106 essential medicines and deletion of 70 medicines. With this total number of essential medicines in the list has gone up to 376 from earlier 348 medicines. This move will ensure their availability across the country at affordable prices.
The new list takes cues from the World Health Organisation (WHO’s) 2015 list of essential drugs and medicines that satisfies the priority healthcare needs of people and ensure affordability.
What are Essential medicines?
Essential medicines are those that satisfy the priority health care needs of the country’s population. They are listed with reference to the levels of healthcare namely primary, secondary and tertiary. They are generally based on the country’s disease burden, priority health concerns, affordability concerns etc.
In India NLEM (formed in 2011) decides the essential medicines. It is a dynamic list and is reviewed every 3 years to include or exclude drugs as relevant to the newest medical innovations and aligned to the current market competition.
It should be noted that National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) under the Union Ministry of Chemical and Fertiliser decides the ceiling prices essential medicines under The Drug (Prices Control) Order 2013.

French President Francois Hollande to be chief guest at 67th Republic Day Parade
President of France Francois Hollande will be the Chief Guest at the 67th Republic Day parade of January 26, 2016. It was announced by Union Ministry External Affairs (MEA) after the French President accepted the invitation to witness Republic Day celebration as chief guest. Mr. Francois Hollande would be the 5th highest dignitary from France to be Chief Guest of Indian Republic Day parade after Prime Minister Jacques Chirac (1976), President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (1980), President Jacques Chirac (1998) and President Nicolas Sarkozy (2008).
With this invitation, France now holds distinction of being the guest of honour for the maximum five times of Indian Republic Day parade followed by Bhutan (four times); Mauritius and USSR/Russia (three times each).
Earlier Chief guests of Republic Day parades: 2015-Barack Obama (US President), 2014- Shinzo Abe (Japanese Prime Minister), 2013-Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck (King of Bhutan), 2012-Yingluck Shinawatra (Then Prime Minister of Thailand), 2011- Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (Then President of Indonesia).

Union Government launches IPV injection as part of global polio endgame strategy
The Union Government has launched inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) injection as part of the global polio endgame strategy in New Delhi. The vaccine was launched by the Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare J P Nadda in New Delhi.
It was launched as part of India’s next step in Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) to fight against polio virus in the country.
IPV injections do not contain an attenuated vaccine virus which is used in oral polio vaccine (OPV). Thus it reduces the chances of Vaccine Derived Polio Virus (VDPV).
Key facts  
 The launching of IPV would enable children to get double protection from polio i.e. orally and in the form of injection. UIP initially will cover six states including Uttar Pardesh , Madhya Pardesh , Bihar, Assam, Punjab and Gujarat in the first phase.
By April 2016, Union Government would switch to IPV alongside the oral polio vaccine (OPV) to eradicate polio virus in the country. Henceforth, as part of India’s efforts to boost its polio immunization programme babies getting their third dose of OPV now would be administered an injection with IPV.
It should be noted that India was certified polio-free country on 27 March 2014, but the immunization programme continues since two of its neighbours Afghanistan and Pakistan still remain polio-endemic countries.

Union Government launches GIAN Scheme to boost higher education
Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has launched Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) Scheme to boost the quality of higher education in India. It was launched by Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)  campus.
About Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) Scheme
GIAN Scheme aims at improving the quality of higher education in the country through international collaboration. Facilitate participation of high quality international academicians for delivering short-term courses and programs in Indian institutions.
Initially 500 international faculties will be engaged in conducting courses and later in subsequent years 1000 faculties would be engaged under GIAN throughout India. Under this scheme, academicians will cover 13 disciplines and 352 courses to be taught in 68 national institutions.
These courses will vary in duration from one to three weeks depending on the subject and will be free for students of the host institution and available for nominal fees for others. These courses will be webcasted live for students across the country through web portal designed by IIT Kharagpur.

China officially abandons its One Child Policy by passing law
China has officially abandoned its One Child Policy amid deepening demographic crisis of shrinking workforce and aging population in the world’s second largest economy. In this regard 159-member National People’s Congress Standing Committee, the top organ of China’s Parliament has passed revised Law on Population and Family Planning. The new law allows couples to have two children from January 1, 2016 and marks the ending its over three decades old One Child Policy.
China’s One Child Policy
This forced policy was introduced in 1978 and was implemented since 1980 in order to curb the population and limit demands for water and other resources.
Its main aim was to rein in population growth in order to alleviate social, economic and environmental problems in China.
The controversial policy had restricted most of Chinese couples to only a single offspring and prevented over 400 million births in over 3 decade span.
Internationally it was criticized because it involved serious human rights violations including forced abortions and also was debated it has resulted in China’s economic boom.
New Law The new law was adopted as part of China’s efforts to relax the family planning laws in a response to an ageing population and to manage the demography of the country.
This decision aims to help China to reduce its gender imbalance as the One Child Policy had caused a dramatic gender imbalance due to forced sterilizations, infanticide and sex-selective abortions.

China passes its first Counter-Terrorism law
China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee, the top organ of China’s parliament has adopted the country’s first counter-terrorism law. The legislation was approved with large majority at the end of a week-long bimonthly session China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee.
Key facts
The law expanded the definition of the term terrorism and is the latest attempt of China to address terrorism at home and help maintain world security.
The law grants overarching powers to security agencies and also allows the military to venture overseas on counter-terror operations.
Under the new law a separate clause makes terrorism a crime including fabricating it and disseminating information on fabricated terrorist incidents.
The law allows news media only to report on the personal details of on-scene workers, hostages or authorities’ response to terrorist activities and it will require approval from counter-terrorism authorities. It is mandatory for technology firms to give sensitive data like encryption keys to the government when asked for under this law.

Union Cabinet approves revised cost estimates of Salma Dam Project in Afghanistan
The Union Cabinet has approved the reconstruction and completion of Salma Dam Project in Afghanistan at the Revised Cost Estimates (RCE) of 1775.69 crore rupees. Decision in this regard was taken at the Union Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.
Key facts
Salma Dam Project in Afghanistan is scheduled to be completed by June 2016. It is one of important project implemented to generate goodwill for India in Afghanistan. Central Public Sector Unit M/s. WAPCOS under the aegis of Union Ministry of Water Resources is executing the project.
The completion of this project will address the energy requirements and irrigation needs of western Afghanistan leading to the overall economic development of the region. The project cost was revised due to the foreign exchange rate variation between US dollar and Indian rupee.
Consultancy charges, escalation, training of Afghan personnel etc also have increased the cost of project.
About Salma Dam project
Salma Dam project is situated on the upper reaches of Hari Rud River in Herat province of western Afghanistan. The project involves construction of a 107.5 meter high earth and rock  fill dam and a 42 MW power House with three units with each having capacity of 14 MW. It also has a provision for irrigation of 75,000 hectares of land by releasing water from dam.

Afghanistan becomes 164th member of WTO
Afghanistan has become 164th member nation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), global trade body after 11 years of negotiations. WTO has formally approved Afghanistan’s membership proposal at its ongoing 10th ministerial conference in the Nairobi, Kenya.
In this regard, Protocol of Accession (PoA) was signed by WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo and Afghanistan’s First Deputy Chief Executive Mohammad Khan Rahmani. The final accession to become a full member will come in to effect after PoA is ratified by Afghanistan Parliament till June 2016. It will be the 36th least developed country (LDC) to join the global trade body.

COP 21 adopts historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change
Conference of the Parties 21 (COP 21) have adopted the historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change. It was adopted by 189 countries of total 196 countries under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that attended the COP 21.
Key facts of Paris Agreement on Climate Change
Facilitates enforcement of global greenhouse gas emission (GHGs) reduction measures in the post-2020 i.e. in post Kyoto Protocol scenario.
Takes into account the principle of equity (climate justice) and common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) and respective capabilities.
Based on consensus among the members that have incorporated their respective Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) including India.
Mandatory for all Countries to keep global temperature rising below 2°C by 2100 above pre-industrial levels with an ideal target of keeping temperature rise below 1.5°C.
Developed countries to provide 100 billion dollars annually to the developing counterparts beginning in 2020 and it would increase with time.
Empowers countries to determine how to cut their emissions but mandates that they report transparently on those efforts.
Countries will assess their progress every five years for meeting their climate commitments and submit new plans to strengthen.

Myanmar’s first UNESCO biosphere reserve Inle Lake launched
Myanmar has launched the country’s first United Nation Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Biosphere Reserve Inle Lake in Shan state. With this launch Myanmar opens a new chapter in its commitment to bio-diversity and eco-system conservation. In June 2015, the lake was officially designated as Myanmar’s first biosphere reserve under UNESCO’s Man and the Bioshpere (MAB) programme.

North India’s first cable bridge named Atal Setu inaugurated in Jammu and Kashmir
North India’s first cable-stayed bridge named Atal Setu was inaugurated on Dunera-Basohli-Bhadharwah road in Basohali town in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir. It was inaugurated by Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar along with Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh and Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag.
About Basohli Cable-Stayed Bridge
Basohli Cable-Stayed Bridge is 592-metre long and has been constructed over Ravi River on Dunera- Basohli-Bhadharwah road. The work of bridge started in September 2011.
It has been constructed by Border Roads Organization (BRO) at a cost of Rs 145 crore. It is a joint venture (JV) of Indian Railway Construction Company Limited (IRCON) and SP Singla Construction group.
It will provide close connectivity among the three states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab. It would boost connectivity and tourism among the three states.
The bridge is strategically important from the defence point of view as well. It is fourth of its kind in the country and first in North India and Jammu and Kashmir.
Other three major cable-stayed bridges in the country are: (i) Vidyasagar Setu – Over the Hoogly River in Kolkata (West Bengal). (ii) Bandra-Worli Sea Link (Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link) – Mumbai (Maharashtra). (iii) New Yamuna Bridge- Over Yamuna River in Allahabad (Uttar Pradeh).

Delhi Government releases blueprint for Odd-Even formula
Delhi government has released a detailed blueprint for its ambitious Odd-Even formula for road-rationing plan to check pollution in the national capital. The Odd-Even formula plan seeks to curb the number of vehicles plying in the national capital by limiting four-wheelers on alternate days.
To ensure effective implementation of the plan, Delhi government is planning to deploy 10,000 volunteers around the city.
Key facts
Under it cars with licence plates ending in an odd number will ply on odd dates and those ending with an even number can run on even dates. The odd-even scheme will be on a trial basis from 1 to 15 January, 2015.
It will be between 8am and 8pm and on Sunday no restrictions are applied. The penalty in case of a violation is Rs. 2,000.
During this implementation, public transport including buses and the Metro will be run at high frequency. Residents are being urged to carpool in order to reduce pressure on public transport.
The government plans to run 6,000 more buses to accommodate those who can’t drive their cars.
The list of 20-plus exemptions from the restrictions include emergency vehicles, fire engines, ambulances, hospitals, hearses, prisons, VIPs, enforcement vehicles and defence ministry vehicles. Among VIPs, leaders of the opposition in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Chief Ministers of states, Judges of the Supreme Court and high court and Lokayukta are exempt. CNG and electric vehicles are also exempt.
Two-wheelers and Vehicles driven by or occupied by handicapped persons and Female driver are also exempt.
Outstation vehicles including those coming from the National Capital Region (NCR) have not been exempted from the scheme.

Union Cabinet approves Lucknow Metro project
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the Lucknow Metro Rail Project Phase – 1 A. It will cover a length of 22.878 (approx 23) km with 22 stations and the metro train will ply between Chowdhary Charan Singh Airport and Munshi Pulia.
Key facts
The cost of the project will be 6,928 crore rupees which will be supported by Union Government with 1,300 crore rupees in the form of equity and subordinate debt. The Project will be implemented by Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation (LMRC) which will be jointly owned company of Union Government and Uttar Pradesh Government with equal share of 50:50.
Out of the total route length, 19.438 km will be elevated route while underground route length will be 3.440 km. It will have total 19 elevated and three underground metro stations. The project will come under the legal framework of the Metro Railways (Construction of Works) Act, 1978; Railways Act, 1989 and Metro Railways (Operation and Maintenance) Act, 2002.
Lucknow has been experiencing mounting pressure on its transport infrastructure as it is witnessing an annual growth of 8.35 percent in vehicular population. It has witnessed tremendous growth in the last two decades and the population of Lucknow Urban Agglomeration is 29 lakhs as per census of India 2011. The population of Lucknow Metropolitan Area is over 50 lakhs.

West Bengal Government approves proposal for formation of 5 new districts
West Bengal Government has approved proposal for formation of five new districts in the state. With this the total number of districts of Bengal will increase to 25. Decision in this regard was taken by state Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata.
Five new districts are
Kalimpong district: It would be carved out by bifurcating Darjeeling district in north Bengal.
Sundarbans district: Currently stretches across parts of the North and South 24 Parganas districts. It shall consists of part of world’s largest mangrove forest.
Basirhat district: It would be formed out of North 24 Parganas district.
Burdwan (Industrial) district: It would be established by bifurcating existing Burdwan district.
Jhargram district: It will be carved out of West Midnapore district.
These new districts will take six months to one year’s time to come into existence after State administration gets formal permission from court and create the basic infrastructure.

Rajasthan becomes the first state to submit smart city plan
Rajasthan has become the first state in the country to submit smart city plans for three selected cities to Union Government. In this regard, state government has submitted smart city Proposals of Udaipur, Kota and Ajmer to Union Ministry of Urban Development.
Under the proposal the investment outlays proposed by state government for developing these 3 cities as smart cities are Kota 1,493 crore rupees, Ajmer 1,300 crore rupees and Udaipur 1,221 crore rupees respectively. State Government is also forwarding Smart city proposal for Jaipur Cilty with an investment proposed 2,403 crore rupees prior to December 15, 2015 deadline.
Overall Rajasthan has proposed a total investment of 6,457 crore rupees for 5 years for developing these four cities as smart cities.
Indian Railways ink Rs 40000 cr deal of locomotive plants with GE, Alstom in Bihar
 Indian Railways has signed 40,000 crore rupees contracts with General Electrics (GE) and Alstom to set up two locomotive plants in Bihar.
Under this deal, first venture the electric locomotive factory would be set up at Madhepura city and diesel locomotive would be set up at Marhowrah district of the state. It is the first major manufacturing investment in Bihar, boosting manufacturing and contributing to the overall economic growth of state along with creation of new employment opportunities in the state under flagship Make In India initiative.
This is also the first big Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the Indian railway sector after government had relaxed FDI norms to 100 per cent in the railway sector in 2014.

Union Government’s Policy Initiative Development of Industrial / Economic Corridors
Union Government has adopted the strategy of developing integrated industrial/economic corridors across the country in partnership with respective State Governments for boosting industrial development. This information was given by the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) in the Ministry of Commerce & Industry Nirmala Sitharaman in a written reply in Rajya Sabha.
It was also announced that National Industrial Corridor Development Authority (NICDA) with its headquarter in Pune (Maharashtra) has not been constituted yet.
The five industrial/economic corridors are
Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC): The project spans the 6 states viz. Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. This corridor lies along the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) of the railways. It would initially have 8 nodes (cities) in the six DMIC states for development purpose.
Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC): It has three industrial nodes (cities) viz. Ponneri (Tamil Nadu), Tumkur (Karnataka) and Krishnapatnam (Andhra Pradesh).
Bengaluru-Mumbai Economic Corridor (BMEC): One node (city) has been identified for master planning viz. Dharwad (Karnataka).
Vizag-Chennai Industrial Corridor (VCIC): Two nodes (cities) for master planning have been identified. They are Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) and Srikalahasti-Yerpedu (Andhra Pradesh).
Amritsar-Kolkata Industrial Corridor (AKIC): Feasibility study with respect to the Inception Report of this corridor has been completed.

RBI extends deadline to exchange pre-2005 notes to June 30, 2016
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has extended the deadline for exchanging pre-2005 currency notes of various denominations by another six months to June 30, 2016.
From January 1, 2016 such facility for exchanging pre-2005 currency notes will only be available at identified bank branches and Issue Offices of the RBI.
Earlier in June 2015, RBI had set the last date for public to exchange pre-2005 banknotes notes as December 31, 2015. It is fourth time RBI has extended the deadline for exchanging pre-2005 currency notes since March 2014.
Till date RBI has shredded over 164 crore pre-2005 currency notes of various denominations, including of Rs 1,000 with the face value of around Rs 21,750 crore in its regional offices.

NSE launches three new group indices
The National Stock Exchange (NSE) has launched three separate indices on three corporate houses of India viz. Tata, Aditya Birla and Mahindra Group. The first of its kind three separate indices based on corporate houses have been designed to reflect the performance of companies belonging to the respective corporate group.
Each of three indices will comprise all the companies of the respective business group. The three separate indices are
Nifty Tata Group Index: It includes 25 companies across 12 sectors with a total market capitalisation of 7.51 lakh crore rupees. It represents 7.83 per cent of the total market capitalisation of companies listed on the NSE.
Nifty Aditya Birla Group Index: It consists of eight companies across seven sectors with the market capitalisation of 2.08 lakh crore rupees. It represents 2.17 per cent of the total market capitalisation of companies listed on the NSE.
Nifty Mahindra Group Index: It consists of seven companies with a market capitalisation of about 1.64 lakh crore rupees. It represents 1.71 per cent of the total market capitalisation of companies listed on NSE. These three indices have been created by the NSE’s group company India Index Services & Products Ltd (IISL). The company is planning to launch indices on other corporate groups and third-party products based on such indices

IMF approves China’s Yuan as elite reserve currency
International Monetary Fund (IMF) has included China’s Yuan into its elite reserve currency basket mailny used as an international reserve asset with an effect from effect from 1st October 2016.
Decision in this regard was taken by the IMF’s executive board meeting for regular five-yearly review of the basket of currencies that make up the Special Drawing Right (SDR) . Yuan also known as the Renminbi will be the fifth freely usable currency along with the US Dollar, British Pound, Japanese Yen and Euro.
It was added in the basket after it met all existing criteria for its inclusion.
Criteria for inclusion in elite reserve currency basket
Export Criterion: Exports of a particular country must have the largest value over a 5 year period and should play a central role in the global economy.
Freely Usable: The currency must also be a freely usable currency i.e. widely used in international transactions for making payments and widely traded in the main exchange markets.

RBI keeps repo rate unchanged in 5th bi-monthly monetary policy review
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its fifth bi-monthly monetary policy review has maintained status status quo in key policy interest rate. The key policy interest rates were kept unchanged on the basis of an assessment of the current and evolving macroeconomic situation in the country.
The Key policy interest rates are
Repo rate under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF): unchanged at 6.75 per cent.
Reverse repo rate under the LAF: unchanged at 5.75 per cent
Marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate has unchanged at 7.75 per cent.
Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) of scheduled banks: Unchanged at 4.0 per cent of net demand and time liability (NDTL).
Continuation of liquidity under overnight repos at 0.25 per cent of bank-wise NDTL at the LAF repo rate.
Continuation of liquidity under 14-day term repos as well as longer term repos of up to 0.75 per cent of NDTL of the banking system through auctions.

Steve Smith named ICC Test cricketer of Year for 2015
Australian cricketer Steve Smith has been named Cricketer of the Year for 2015 at the International Cricket Council (ICC) Awards ceremony in Dubai. With this, Smith became the 4th Australian and 11th overall player to win the prestigious award named after Sir Garfield Sobers.
He was also adjudged the Test Cricketer of the Year for 2015. During the voting period, which ran from September 2014 to September 2015, Steve Smith has finished as the leading run-scorer in Tests with 1,734 runs in 25 innings of 13 matches at an average of 82.57. This included seven centuries and six half-centuries.
In One-Day Internationals format for same voting period, Smith had scored 1,249 runs at an average of just under 60 with four centuries and eight half-centuries in 26 matches. South Africa’s ODI captain AB de Villiers was named the ODI Cricketer of the Year for 2015for the second time in a row.
Other Categories ICC awards :
ICC Emerging player of the year: Josh Hazlewood (Australia).
Best T20 performance of the year: Faf du Plessis (South Africa).
Spirit of Cricket award: Brendon McCullum (New Zealand).
ICC Associate player of the year: Khurram Khan (UAE).
Umpire of the year: Richard Kettleborough (England).
Women’s ODI Cricketer of the Year: Meg Lanning (Australia).
T20I Women’s Cricketer of the Year: Stefanie Taylor (West Indies).

Chennaiyin FC wins 2015 Indian Super League Football Champions
Chennaiyin FC has won the second edition of Indian Super League (ISL) Football tournament. In the final played at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa, they defeated hosts Goa FC by 3-2 goals score. Till the 87th minute of final match Goa was leading by 2-1 goals but the self goal from their keeper Laxmikant Kattimani in the 90th minute and Colombian Stiven Mendoza’s strike seconds later helped Chennai win the title.
Awards of 2015
ISL Golden boot Award: John Stiven Mendoza Valencia (Chennaiyin FC).(Scored tournament’s highest scorer of 13 goals)
Golden Glove Award: Apoula Edima Edel Bete (Chennaiyin FC).
Muthoot Group Fair Play Award: Mumbai FC.
Hero of the League award: John Stiven Mendoza Valencia (Chennaiyin FC).

Science & Technology
Reliance Jio launches 4G telecom service
Reliance Jio has launched 4G (4th Generation) telecom service using LTE (Long Term Evolution) Technology. The service was launched by company’s Chairman Mukesh Ambani on the 83rd birth anniversary of Dhirubhai Ambani, founder of the Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) in Navy Mumbai, Maharashtra. This initial phase of 4G service was launched for limited to 85000 employees and their families of the company. However the commercial services to begin by April 2016 throughout country.
The Jio 4G Service has three-pronged features focusing on broadband networks, affordable smart phones and the availability of rich content and applications. It seeks to provide unique combination of high speed data up to 1 gigabyte per second (Gbps), telecom, media, digital commerce and payment services.
India’s 4G profile
With this launch Reliance Jio became fourth telecom service provider in India to launch 4G service. Sunil Bharti Mittal led Airtel was first telecom service provider in the country to launch 4G service using LTE Technology in Kolkata in 2012. It was followed by Aircel in July 2014 (in 4 circles Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar and Odisha) and Vodafone India on 8th December 2015 in Kochi, Kerala.

Union Government launches two mobile apps for farmers
Union Government has launched two mobile applications namely Crop Insurance and AgriMarket Mobile to benefit farmers These apps were launched by Union Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Minister Radha Mohan Singh in New Delhi to celebrate the birth anniversary of former Prime Ministers Choudhary Charan Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Key facts
The main purpose for developing these Apps is to provide all relevant information to farmers and other stake holders in real time to create conducive environment for raising farm productivity and income to global levels.
Crop Insurance mobile app: It will help farmers find out complete details about insurance cover available in their area. It will also help farmers to calculate the insurance premium for notified crops, coverage amount and loan amount. Farmers can use this app to get details and information about normal sum insured, premium details, extended sum insured and subsidy information of any notified crop in any notified area.
AgriMarket Mobile app: It can be used by farmers to get the market prices of crops in the mandi within 50 km radius of the device. It can automatically tracks the location of person using mobile GPS and fetches the market prices of crops in those markets.

Philippines becomes first Asian country to approve sale of dengue vaccine Dengvaxia
Philippines became the first Asian country to approve the sale of the world’s first ever dengue vaccine Dengvaxia in the country. The
 Dengvaxia vaccine has been manufactured by French pharmaceutical manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur. It has been designed to protect people in the 9-45 age groups from all four subtypes of the virus.
Key facts
The Dengvaxia vaccine was produced as the result of an extensive clinical development programme of the French company than ran for almost two decades. Sanofi Pasteur has requested authorisation to roll out the vaccine in 20 countries.
Earlier it secured its first regulatory approval in Mexico a fortnight ago and is currently being reviewed by around 20 countries in Asia and Latin America.
tests of the vaccine carried out on 40,000 people from 15 countries by the company has shown that vaccine can immunise two-thirds of people aged 9-45. It was also found that the vaccine is capable of reducing the risk of hospitalisation of person infected by dengue virus by 80 percent.

Union Government gives in principle approval to Google’s Loon project
Union Government has given in principle approval to work on Loon project of internet search engine giant Google for providing Internet connectivity by using large balloons. The announcement was made by Google CEO Sunder Pichai in New Delhi after meeting Union Communication and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
The project will be started on a pilot basis and state run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) will be partner with the project in order to expand Internet connectivity in the country.
What is Google’s Loon project?
It is Google’s ambitious research and development project that aims at providing low-cost Internet access to rural and remote areas.
Under the project, high altitude floating telecom tower balloons are positioned at a height of 20 km, above earth’s surface for transmission of internet services. Each balloon can provide full wireless broadband internet coverage up to an area of 40 km.
These balloons are mainly powered though solar panels. These balloons have transceivers which can connect to cell phone networks in order to fill the gaps in their networks especially in remote areas such as mountains and deserts.
Google already has successfully tested this technology in New Zealand, California and Brazil.
Apart from Project Loon, Google also has partner with the Common Service Centre (CSC) and Internet Sathi programme (ISP) to expand Internet reach in 3 lakh villages particularly for women training. Google is also focusing on bringing its various products in many more Indian languages.

ISRO successfully launches 6 Singapore Satellites onboard PSLV-C29
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully placed six commercial satellites from Singapore in their dedicated orbits. These satellites were launched using Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C29) from the first launch pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
This successful launch coincides with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Singapore in year 2015.
Key facts
The PSLV-C29 was launched in the core-alone version. The total lift-off mass was of 227.6 tonne that included 600 kg payload weight.
It was overall PSLV’s 32nd space flight and the 31st consecutively successful one. The major payload was TeLEOS-One remote sensing satellite weighing 400 kg.
It would be used for urban planning and disaster monitoring of Singapore. The other five satellites included two micro satellites and one nano satellite. These satellites are VELOX-CI (123 kg), VELOX-II (13 kg) 6U-Cubesat technology demonstrator, Athenoxat-1, Kent Ridge-1 (78 kg) and Galassia (3.4 kg) 2U-Cubesat.
All of these satellites were successfully launched into a 550 km circular orbit inclined at 150 to the equator.
So far Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of ISRO has successfully launched more than 55 foreign satellites of 20 countries into space. Some of its customer countries are US, UK, Japan, Germany, Switzerland and South Korea.

Anti-jamming capability of Astra missile successfully tested
Scientist from Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) recently have successfully tested crucial anti-jamming capability of the Astra missile. During the trials missiles ECCM (electronic counter-counter measure) features to overcome any jamming was successfully evaluated. This test was conducted after the missile’s RF seeker and other electronic components were sought to be jammed in the earlier trials. With some more trials to be carried in future including air launch trial with a warhead, the missile will be inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 2015.

Seychelles government allows India to build Naval Base on its Assumption Island
Seychelles government allowed India to build its first Naval Base on the Assumption Island in the Indian Ocean region (IOR) as a joint project between both countries. In this regard, Seychelles government has allocated a plot of land on in its Assumption Island which will help to enhance mutual security along our western seaboard in IOR.
India’s first Naval Base project has acquired significance following China acquiring its first African naval base in Djibouti (near Horn of Africa) in November 2014.
On completion, the naval base would be used by the defence forces both countries. It would help India to exercise greater control over the strategic western region of IOR to the piracy-prone eastern African coastline that commands vital energy (oil) sea transport lines.
This naval base will be staging posts for a large maritime security network that India is setting up with the help of the various IOR partner countries.
Other developments
From March 2016, India is also set to acquire a fully operational coastal radar system (CRS) in Seychelles. It would further enhance India’s ability to gather intelligence and assist in surveillance operations in IOR especially vital energy lanes near Seychelles.
India is also steadily increasing its maritime and security cooperation with Seychelles. It is also providing new patrol vessels to Seychelles in mid-January 2016.
Security operation in the IOR also has helped Seychelles to secure itself in the Contact Group for Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), which will hold its first meeting in Mumbai (Maharashtra) in January, 2016.

India’s first indigenously designed & built frigate INS Godavari decommissioned
India’s first indigenously designed warship INS Godavari has been decommissioned after 32 years of service. It was decommissioned at Naval Dockyard in Mumbai (Maharashtra) after it completed its full life cycle, meeting all responsibilities and duties assigned in 3 decades of service. After decommissioning, the ship would be used as a target to practice missile firing for final burial at sea.
About INS Godavari
INS Godavari was the first of the three in her Class of guided-missile frigates and was commissioned into Indian Navy on 10 December 1983. The ship was considered as a symbol of India’s growing military might and self-reliance.
It was first of three Godavari Class frigates, others being Ganga and Gomati
Naval Operations: In its three decades of service, the warship took part in major naval operations including Operation Jupiter (1988) in Sri Lanka, Operation Shield and Operation Bolster (1994) for de-induction of Indian Army from Somalia, Patrol of Gulf of Aden (PoG) in 2009 and anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden in 2011.
It was also part of ‘Operation Cactus’ in 1988 where India successfully thwarted a coup d’état against the Maldivian government.

India joins select club nations to build LNG ships
India has joined select club nations to build Liquefied natural gas (LNG) ships after state owned Cochin Shipyard has received certification in this regard.
Cochin Shipyard also became first shipyard in India to get the nod to build LNG-transporting ships for any client world-wide.
Key facts
In this regard, Cochin Shipyard has signed a license agreement with French technology company Gaztransport & Technigaz (GTT). GTT holds patented technology for LNG ships and provides the certification in design engineering and membrane-type containment systems for the transportation and storage of LNG.
GTT would provide technology for the cryogenic containment and handling system which is most critical part of an LNG ship as the LNG is carried at a temperature of -163 degrees.
This license agreement authorises Cochin Shipyard to use the membrane type technologies of GTT for any liquid gas carriers, more particularly the LNG carriers.
With this India joins the league other nations including South Korea, Japan and China building LNG transportation ships. It also opens a new chapter in ship-building technology in India and marks a big step for Make in India.

Social Issues
Parliament passes SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2015
Parliament has passed The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2015. The bill was first passed in Lok Sabha in August 2015 and later in Rajya Sabha in December 2015. Now it will go for presidential assent.
Key features of the Bill
The bill seeks to amend parent law i.e. The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. It aims to prohibit the commission of offences against members of the SCs and STs and adds provisions for establishing special courts for the trial cases of such offences and the rehabilitation of victims.
Actions to be treated as offences: The Bill adds new categories of actions to be treated as offences committed by non SCs and STs and amends certain existing categories. Impeding certain activities related to voting especially vote or not vote for a particular candidate will also be considered an offence.
Addition of new offences: (i) Garlanding SCs and STs with footwear (ii) Compelling to do manual scavenging or dispose carry animal or human carcasses. (iii) Abusing SCs/STs in public by caste name (iv) Disrespecting any deceased SCs/STs person held in high esteem or attempting to promote feelings of ill-will against SCs/STs (iv) Threatening or imposing economic and social boycott.
Offences in case of sexual exploiting of SC or ST woman: It will be considered as an offence in case of (i) Using acts, words or gestures of a sexual nature against SC/ST woman. (ii) Touching an SC/ST woman intentionally in a sexual manner without her consent (iii) Practice of dedicating an SC/ST women as a devadasi to a temple.
Following activities will be considered an offence: Preventing SCs/STs using common property resources, entering any places of public worship that is open to the public, and entering an education or health institution. In case of any violation of any provisions mentioned in this act the courts will presume that the accused non SC/ST person was aware of the caste or tribal identity of the victim, unless it is proved.
Public servants role: The Bill add provision specifying duties of public servants which  includes (i) registering a FIR or complaint (ii) public servant must read out the information given oral complaint by SC/ST person before taking the signature of the victim and giving copy of this information to the victim. It should be noted that parent Act has provision mentioning that public servant (non SC/ST) neglecting his duties related to SCs/STs will be punished with imprisonment for a term of 6 months to 1 year.
Establishments of Courts: The Bill adds provision specifying establishment of Exclusive Special Court and Special Court at the district level to try offences mentioned under this Act. Exclusive Public Prosecutor and Public Prosecutor will be appointed for every Exclusive Special Court and Special Court.
Rights of victims and witnesses: The bill adds new chapter dealing with the rights of victims and witness. It mentions that it shall be the duty of the state to make arrangements for the protection of victims and their dependents and the witnesses. It also mentions that state should specify a scheme to ensure the implementation of rights of victims and witnesses.

Gujarati litterateur Raghuveer Chaudhary selected for 2015 Jnanpith Award
Eminent Gujarati litterateur Raghuveer Chaudhary has been selected for the 51st Jnanpith award. Mr. Chaudhary is the fourth Gujarati litterateur to bag this prestigious award after Uma Shankar Joshi (1967), Pannalal Patel (1985) and Rajendra Shah (2001).
Amitabh Kant appointed CEO of NITI Aayog
Senior IAS officer Amitabh Kant has been given additional charge as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog. Decision in this regard was taken by Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. Mr. Kant’s appointment comes after incumbent NITI Aayog CEO Sindhushree Khullar’s extended tenure is coming on 31st December 2015. Amitabh Kant is IAS officer of 1980 Batch of Kerala Cadre. Presently, he is serving as Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) and is expected to retire in March 2016.
About NITI Aayog
Union Government had replaced erstwhile six decade old Planning Commission with a new institution named National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) on 1 January 2015. This new institution aims to serve as Think Tank of the Government. Noted Economist Arvind Panagariya was appointed Vice Chairman of the NITI Aayog. Economist Bibek Debroy and former DRDO chief V K Saraswat were appointed as full-time members.

Veteran Bollywood actress Sadhna passes away
Veteran Bollywood actress Sadhna Shivdasani (mononymously known as Sadhana) passed away in Mumbai, Maharashtra. She was 74. She was renowned for his style statement and acting prowess in Bollywood in the 1960s and 70s. Her fringe haircut was famously known as the Sadhna cut inspired from British actress Audrey Hepburn at that time.

Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach crowned Miss Universe 2015
Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach has been 64th crowned Miss Universe after beating out contenders from the United States, France, Colombia and Australia. She was crowned by 2014 Miss Universe winner Paulina Vega of Columbia. Miss USA Olivia Jordan has been named the second runner-up.
About Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach
Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach is a Filipino-German actress, model, beauty writer and beauty pageant titleholder born to German father and Filipino mother. She had started working actress as at age 11 under the screen name Pia Romero.
She had appeared in films such as Kung Ako Na Lang Sana (2003), All My Life (2004) and All About Love (2006). Presently, she is working as stylist and writer for the lifestyle section of a leading newspaper in the Philippines

ZSI Scientists discovered a new eel species named Bengal moray eel
Scientists of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) have a discovered a new species of eel named Bengal moray eel (Gymnothorax mishrai) along the coast of Digha in Purba Medinipur district of West Bengal.
The Eels are mainly snake-like fishes with fins and gills and are mostly found at bottom of rivers and seas. About Bengal moray eel Bengal moray eel species is a marine fish species. It is 32.4 cm long and brown in colour. Their body does not have any patterns. This species belonging to moray eel has 134 vertebral bones and has been categorised among the short, brown, patterned moray eels.
The fish is edible like other eel species that are mainly consumed in India is limited to the coastal areas. There are around 800 species of eels species found across the world and India is home to 150-200 of these fish species.

R K Mathur appointed as Chief Information Commissioner
Former Defence Secretary Radha Krishna Mathur (62) has been appointed as Chief Information Commissioner (CIC). He will have tenure of about three years (2017) till he attain the age of 65. He succeeds Vijai Sharma as he has retired after completion of his tenure. Conventionally, the senior-most Information Commissioner is chosen as CIC. However, Mr Mathur appointment was made away from the convention of appointing senior-most serving Information Commissioner as CIC.

Legendary actor Dilip Kumar conferred with Padma Vibhushan
Legendary actor Dilip Kumar (93) has been conferred with the prestigious Padma Vibhushan, country’s second highest civilian award. It was bestowed upon him by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at his residence in Mumbai, Maharashtra. Union Government had selected veteran actor for the Padma Vibhushan on the eve of 66th Republic Day.

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