Current Affairs : January,16

Current Affairs : January,2016

Important Days in January
Jan 1   : Army Medical Corps Establishment Day
Jan 8   : African National Congress Foundation Day
Jan 10 : World Laughter Day
Jan 9   : Pravasi Bharatiya Divas
Jan 11 : Death anniversary of Lal Bahadur Shastri
Jan 12 : National youth Day (Birth Day of Swami Vivekanand)
Jan 15 : Army Day
Jan 23 : Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose's birth anniversary
Jan 25 : International Customs Duty Day, India Tourism Day, Indian Voter Day
Jan 26 : Republic Day
Jan 28 : Birth anniversary of Lala Lajpat Rai
Jan 30 : Martyr's day, World Leprosy Eradication Day
Jan 31 : World Leprosy Eradication Day

Union Government forms technical group to monitor Zika virus situation
The Union government has set up a Technical Expert Group to suggest measures to deal with Zika virus. Decision in this regard was taken by high level meeting chaired by Union Health Minister J P Nadda in New Delhi.
The Technical expert group has been asked to submit its report soon so that the government could take steps accordingly.
Key facts
The high level meeting was also attended by Health Ministry’s officials and representatives from AIIMS and National Institute of Virology (NIV). They took stock of the situation in view of the recent outbreak of Zika Virus reported from Latin American countries.
So far not a single case of the virus has been reported in India but government has strengthened its surveillance system and focusing on its preventives and preparedness strategies to tackle the spread of virus in the country.
About Zika virus: The Zika virus spread by Aedes mosquitoes  ( It also transmit 3 other vector-borne diseases Chikungunya, dengue and yellow fever). It has has been linked to brain defects in babies i.e. they born with abnormal condition called microcephaly which can cause brain damage.

Union Government shortlist 20 cities under Smart Cities Mission
 The Union Ministry of Urban Development has shortlisted 20 cities from 11 States and Delhi Union Territory in the list of first batch of Smart Cities Mission.
These shortlisted cities were selected from Smart City Challenge competition in which 97 cities and towns had participated from 23 States and UTs.
State wise Cities: Among the shortlisted 20 Smart cities, 3 are from Madhya Pradesh, 2 each are from Maharashtra, Rajasthan Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh and 1 each from Odisha, Kerala, Delhi (UT), Assam and Punjab.
20 shortlisted smart cities (Rank wise) are Bhubaneswar, Odisha. Pune, Maharashtra. Jaipur, Rajasthan. Surat, Gujarat. Kochi, Kerala. Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. Solapur, Maharashtra. Davangere, Karnataka. Indore, Madhya Pradesh. New Delhi Municipal Corporation. Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh. Belagavi, Karnataka. Udaipur, Rajasthan. Guwahati, Assam. Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Ludhiana, Punjab. Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.

CCEA approves Hybrid Annuity Model for implementing Highway Projects
 The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has given its in principle approval for the Hybrid Annuity Model for implementing the National Highway Projects. The main objective of this model is to revive highway projects in the country by making it as one more mode of delivery of highway projects.
Key features of Hybrid Annuity Model Investment:
Government will invest 40 per cent of the construction cost for building highways and the balance 60 per cent will come from the private developer. Government will investment will be based on the targeted completion of the road project in 5 equal installments.
Recovery: The private developer will be able to recover his investment from the government by receiving annuity payments over a period of 15 years.
Toll collection: There is a separate provision for operation and management payments by the government to the concessionaire. The highway toll tax will be collected by the government i.e. by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) unlike in the build, operate and transfer (BOT) toll model in which the private sector collects it. Thus, private party does not have to bear traffic and inflation risks as the project cost are also inflation indexed.

India ranks 76 in 2015 Corruption Perception Index
India has been ranked 76th out of 168 countries in the recently released 2015 Corruption Perception Index (CPI). The 2015 CPI was the 21st edition of the annual index and was published by the Berlin-based corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI).
Key facts
In this edition, India has scored 38 on a scale from 0 (most corrupt) to 100 (least corrupt). This score is same as 2014 edition indicating that country is showing lack of improvement. India has improved in its ranking compared to earlier position of 85 and 94 in 2014 and 2013, respectively.
Top 5 Countries: Denmark (score 91), Finland (score 90), Sweden (89 score), New Zealand, Netherlands (87 score) and Norway (87 score).
Bottom 5 Countries: Angola (rank 163), South Sudan (rank 163), Sudan (rank 165), Afghanistan (rank 166), North Korea (rank 167) and Somalia (rank 167)

CCEA approves 5000 MW of Grid-connected Solar PV Power Projects
Cabinet committee on economic affairs (CCEA) has approved setting up over 5,000 Mega Watt of Grid-Connected Solar Photo Voltaic Power Projects on build, own and operate (BOOT) basis. Decision in this regard was taken by Union Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.
These projects will be
Set up in four trenches of each 1,250 MW capacity during four succeeding financial years from 2015-16 to 2018-19.
Implemented by Solar Power Developers with Viability Gap Funding under Jawahar Lal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM). Cost is five thousand fifty crore rupees over five years and the total investments expected under the JNNSM scheme is about 30,000 crore rupees.
These projects will generate employment to 30 thousand people and help in reduction of more than 8 Million tonne of CO2 emissions into environment every year

Union Government inks loan agreement with World Bank for Neeranchal National Watershed Project
Union Government has signed a loan agreement with World Bank for the Neeranchal National Watershed Project to improve watershed management in rural rain fed areas.
The loan credit will support the watershed activities of the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) in selected sites in 9 states.
These states are Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Rajasthan.
Key facts
World Bank will provide loan of US$ 178.50 million with a maturity of 25 years, including a 5 year grace period. The loan has been sanctioned by the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm International Development Association (IDA).
It will give impetus to longstanding partnership between the World Bank and Union Government in the watershed management.

Union Cabinet approves Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana
The Union Cabinet has approved Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, a new crop insurance scheme to boost farming sector in the country. It is farmers’ welfare scheme that aims to reduce the premium burden on farmers and ensure early settlement of crop assurance claim for the full insured sum. Highlights of Scheme
Uniform premium: Farmers will pay uniform premium of 2 per cent for all Kharif crops and 1.5 percent for all Rabi crops. In case of annual horticultural and commercial crops, farmers will pay 5 per cent premium. These premium rates are very low. Government will pay balance premium to provide full insured amount to the farmers against crop loss on account of natural calamities.
Government subsidy: There will be no upper limit subsidy given by Government even if balance premium is 90 percent.
Capping the Premium: The provision of capping the premium rate has been removed and farmers will get claim against full sum insured without any reduction. It was removed as it resulted in low claims being paid to farmers and was mainly done to limit Government outgo on the premium subsidy.
Use of technology: Government will encourage use of technology especially Smart phones and remote sensing to a great extent. In order to reduce the delays in claim payment to farmers, smart phones will be used to capture and upload data of crop cutting. To reduce the number of crop cutting experiments remote sensing will be used.

Union Government launches Ganga Gram Yojana
 The Union Government has launched Ganga Gram Yojana to develop 1600 villages in Uttar Pradesh (UP) situated along the banks of Ganga River.
The scheme was launched by the Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Uma Bharti at Puth village in Hapur district of UP.
 About Ganga Gram Yojana
In the first phase of the Ganga Gram Yojana, 200 villages in UP have been selected. In these selected villages open drains discharging waste directly into river Ganga will be diverted to sewage treatment facility.
Government will spend one crore rupees on every village under this programme. It would be mandatory for every household in selected villages to have functional toilets.
Under this programme, these selected villages will be developed under the Sichewal model (Village in Punjab) which is based on cooperation of the villagers for water management and waste disposal.

India and Armenia sign Protocol amending the Double Taxation Avoidance Convention
India and Armenia has signed a Protocol to amend the existing Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC) to curb instances of tax evasion.
The Protocol amends the Article on Exchange of Information for tax in the bilateral DTAC signed between India and Armenia and has been in existence since September 2004. It has been amended to bring it in line with the updated provisions in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Model.
Key facts
The amendment Protocol will enable both countries to exchange information related to banking and financial transactions under the DTAC.
It will facilitate them in addressing tax evasion and help to further strengthen the efforts of Indian Government’s to curb generation of black money.

31 OECD members signed corporate tax avoidance deal
31 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) members have signed corporate tax avoidance agreement in a bid to stem fiscal (tax) evasion by multinational companies (MNCs).
The new agreement is about sharing information between members rather than a new tax law. Under it, signatory members have to share information on tax issues of MNCs. It will primarily focus on country-by-country tax reporting of MNCs between members.
Key Fact:
The deal has new measures and rules in order to stop MNCs avoiding paying corporate tax using complicated loopholes in the existing complex tax arrangements.
It will make it harder for MNCs to hide money in tax havens or play one country’s tax authority against another.
It will enhance the transparency in operations of MNCs on tax issues and shall have an immediate impact in boosting international co-operation on tax issues.
The exchange of information under this mutual deal will start in 2017 and henceforth, MNCs must have pay tax in the country where the profits are made.

India, ADB ink $80 Million Loan Agreement to Improve Urban Services in Agartala and Aizwal
Union Government and Asian Development Bank (ADB) have signed $80million loan agreement to improve urban services in two North Eastern cities Agartala and Aizwal. This loan agreement is the third tranche of a $200 million financing facility of ADB under its North Eastern Region Capital cities Development Investment (NERCDI) Program.
Key facts
The loan funds will be used for investments in water supply, sanitation and solid waste management in Agartala and Aizwal. It will support urban reforms as well as strengthen the institutional, managerial, and financial capacity of service institutions benefiting nearly a million people in the two cities.
ADB’s third tranche loan is in the form of ordinary capital resources of 20-year term. The Union Ministry of Urban Development is nodal agency for implementing the tranche 3 activities and overall program associated with that will have June 2019 deadline.
Under NERCDI, the previous program tranches have provided assistance to five other cities in the Northeast. They are Aizawl (Mizoram), Shillong (Meghalaya), Gangtok (Sikkim), Kohima (Nagaland) and Agartala (Tripura).

Rajasthan Government inks MoU to join UDAY Scheme
Rajasthan Government along with its power distribution companies (DISCOMS) has signed a MoU to join UDAY (Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana) Scheme.
State DISCOMS part of this MoU are Jaipur Vidyut Vitran Nigam Limited (JVNL), Jodhpur Vidyut Vitran Nigam Limited (JVVNL) and Ajmer Vidyut Vitran Nigam Limited (AVNL).
Key facts
With this, Rajasthan became third state to sign the MoU under UDAY scheme after Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.
By joining the UDAY Scheme, discoms in Rajasthan will be able to overcome permanent and sustainable solution for their debt-ridden utilities and achieve financial stability and growth.
Presently, discoms in Rajasthan have a total debt of 80,500 crore rupees which accounts for 18.7 per cent of the country’s total discom debt of 4.3 lakh crore rupees.

Maharashtra’s first Solar Power operated Mini-Water Supply Plant commissioned
The first Solar Power operated Mini-Water Supply Plant of Maharashtra was commissioned in Hingna village of Mouda Taluka in Nagpur district. It will facilitate villagers to get pure water supply for a very low cost which can easily be borne by the Gram Panchayat.
Key facts
The unit has been installed in the village on experimental basis by private company Rite Water Solutions under the supervision of the Zilla Parishad authorities.
The system delivers 10,000 Litres of purified water every day and runs completely on solar power for which 1800 Watt panels.
It purifies the water by removing nitrate content in order to prevent the ill effects on the health of villagers.

Google, Railtel launches free public Wi-Fi service at Mumbai Central Station
Google India and Indian Railways’ telecom arm RailTel has launched free Rail Wire Public Wi-Fi service for railway passengers at the Mumbai Central Station. This service was launched by Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.
With this, Mumbai Central has become the first railway station in India to have free high-speed Wi-Fi Internet facility.
Key facts
Railwire Wi-Fi Service will be available to any user (passenger) having Wi-Fi enabled smart phones. Users can easily stream research their destination, surf high definition video while they’re waiting or save some videos for offline viewing download e books for the journey.
Security: Users can use this facility after authenticating their cell phone number by entering a four digit OTP (One Time Password) sent to their smart phone via SMS.

India inks Loan Agreement with World Bank for Bihar Kosi Basin Development Project
Union Government has signed 250 million dollars Financing Agreement with World Bank for Bihar Kosi Basin Development Project. The loan has been sanctioned by the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm International Development Association (IDA). The loan has implementation period of 5 years and Bihar Government is the implementing agency. About Bihar Kosi Basin Development Project Project objective is to enhance: (i) Resilience to floods from Kosi River which is infamously dubbed as sorrow of Bihar and increase agricultural production and productivity of targeted districts along the river basin. (ii) State’s capacity to respond promptly and effectively to an eligible crisis or emergency. Five components of Project are: (i) Improving Flood Risk Management. (ii) Augmenting Connectivity. (iii) Enhancing Agricultural Productivity and Competitiveness. (iv) Implementation Support (v) Contingent Emergency Response. Primary beneficiaries of this Project: Rural households and producers in the Kosi River Basin who are regularly exposed to floods. It will mainly include farmers who have lost their agricultural lands by the devastating 2008 Kosi River Flood due to the silt deposition. It will also include farmers from the project area currently not having access to irrigation and other technologies, adequate transport network and improved agricultural practices.

Sikkim becomes India’s first fully organic state
Sikkim has formally become India’s first fully organic state after it successfully implemented organic farming practices on around 75,000 hectares of agricultural land.
Formal declaration in this regard was made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi after inaugurating the Sikkim Organic Festival 2016 in Gangtok, Sikkim. PM also handed the Organic Certificate to Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling.
The Sikkim Organic Festival 2016 has been organised on the sidelines of the National Conference on Sustainable Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. On this occasion, PM also launched three new orchid species developed in Sikkim which is also known as the Land of Flowers viz. Cymbidium Sardar (named after Sardar Patel), Cymbidium Deen Dayal (named after Deen Dayal Upaddhyay) and Cymbidium Namo (named after Narendra Modi).

Telangana government launches e-Vahan Bima Scheme
Telangana Government has launched e-Vahan Bima Scheme to issue motor insurance policy in digital form. With this, Telangana became the first state in the country to legally accept motor vehicle insurance policy in digital form.
About e-Vahan Bima Scheme
The scheme is an electronic motor insurance policy issued in digital form with Quick Response (QR) code to scan for verification of policy details.
It is a joint effort of Insurance Regulatory Development Authority (IRDA), Insurance Information Bureau of India (IIBI), state police and also transport and information technology departments of the state.
The QR code will be used by police and state authorities to scan for verification of policy details. Apart from QR code, an SMS-based verification also has been installed. The scheme helps to make verification process easier as the digital version of insurance policy can be stored and accessed on smart phones.

IMF Reforms: India, China, Brazil, Russia get more voting rights
International Monetary Fund’s (IMF’s) long-pending 2010 Quota and Governance Reforms have finally become effective. These proposed reforms are the biggest change in the governance of the IMF (lender of last resort) since it was established after World War II in 1945 after the Bretton Woods Conference.
Key facts
Gives boost the representation of emerging economies like India, China, Brazil, Russia and increases their power and greater say in IMF. India’s voting rights increased by 0.3% from the current 2.3% to 2.6%. China’s voting rights increased by 2.2% from current 3.8% to 6 %.
These reforms shifted more than 6% of the quota shares to emerging and developing countries from the US and European countries. Russia and Brazil also have gained from the reforms.
The combined quotas or the capital resources of IMF also have doubled due to reforms to $659 billion from current $329 billion. The doubling of quotas means that the shares (roles) of advanced European and Gulf countries have been reduced and that of emerging nations particularly China has been increased.
China will have the 3rd largest IMF quota and voting share after the US and Japan. While, India,Russia and Brazil will also be among the top 10 members of the IMF. The voting power and quota shares of the IMF’s poorest member countries will be protected.
Under the reform, for the first time IMF’s Executive Board will consist entirely of elected Executive Directors and it ends the category of appointed Executive Directors.

Union Cabinet approves creation of a Credit Guarantee Fund for MUDRA loans
The Union Cabinet has approved creation of a Credit Guarantee Fund (CGF) for Micro Units Development Refinance Agency (MUDRA) loans. The CGF is expected to guarantee more than 1,00,000 crore rupees worth of loans to micro and small units in the first instance.
Feature of scheme: redit Guarantee Fund for MUDRA Units (CGFMU) will guarantee loans sanctioned under Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) to reduce the credit risk to Banks and other financial intermediaries who are Member Lending Institutions (MLIs).

NABARD inks MoU with NRSC for monitoring Watershed Projects
National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Hyderabad-based National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) for web-based monitoring of watershed projects.
 Under this MoU Web-based monitoring will be undertaken for India-German Watershed Development (IGWDP) projects in three states viz. Rajasthan, Gujarat and Telangana.
NRSC will create a separate page for NABARD on Bhuvan web-portal and also develop customised software tool and mobile application for real time monitoring projects. It will also seek to add feature in this page for online comparison and visualisation with respect to activities implemented in the projects sanctioned by NABARD.

Sania Mirza, Martina Hingis win 2016 Australian Open title of Tennis
Ace Indian tennis player Sania Mirza and her Swiss partner Martina Hingis have won the 2016 Australian Open title of tennis in the women’s doubles category.
In the final match played at Melbourne (Australia), the top seeded duo defeated seventh seeded Czech pair of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka by 7-6 (1), 6-3 score.
It was overall there 12th title together after they had teamed from 2015. It was also their 36th match win together in a row. It is their and their maiden Australian Open title.

PV Sindhu wins 2016 Malaysia Masters Grand Prix Gold Badminton title
Ace Indian Shuttler Pusarla Venkata Sindhu (World No.12) has won the 2016 Malaysia Masters Grand Prix Gold Badminton title. In the final match played at Penang she defeated Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour (World No.20) by 21-15, 21-9 score.
This was Sindhu’s second title in Malaysia Masters Grand Prix which and earlier she had won in 2013. It was overall fifth career Grand prix gold title and first title of the season 2016. Sindhu’s other four titles are Malaysia Masters (2013) and hat-trick Macau Open won in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Science & Technology
Scientists discover largest known solar system
Astronomers have discovered the largest known solar system in the form of gas giant located one trillion kilometres away. This solar system has large planet known as 2MASS J2126-8140 that takes nearly a million years to orbit its star.
Key facts
The newly discovered solar system is 140 times wider than Pluto’s path around our Sun.
The planet 2MASS J2126-8140 has mass between 12 and 15 times of Jupiter and is located about 100 light-years away from Earth.
Astronomers by using lithium signature have estimated the age of planet somewhere between 10 million and 45 million years old.

New tree frog genus named Frankixalus discovered in north-eastern India
Researchers have discovered a new genus of tree hole-breeding frogs named Frankixalus in the forests of northeast India and bordering parts of China.
It was discovered by team of researchers led by Professor Sathyabhama Das Biju who is popularly known as the frogman of India.
Key facts
The new genus has been named after Professor Franky Bossuyt of Brussel based Vrije Universiteit for his contribution in amphibian research.
Frog populations of this genus live in pools of water in the trunks of canopy trees especially in tree holes. They live in low-resource environments which are common practice among frogs and tadpoles of these frogs eat their mother’s eggs for sustenance.

New bird species named Himalayan Forest Thrush discovered in India
Scientists have discovered a new bird species named Himalayan Forest Thrush in northeastern India and adjacent parts of China.
It has been given scientific name Zoothera salimalii after ornithologist and naturalist Salim Ali who has made significant contributions to ornithology in India.
Key facts
Himalayan Forest Thrush bird was first noticed at different elevations with similarities to other bird species Plain-backed Thrush. But both of them have two different song types.
It has as a longer bill, shorter wings and shorter legs. It is found in the rocky habitats above the tree-line in North eastern Himalayas.

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket successfully launches Jason-3 Ocean-monitoring satellite
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has successfully launched the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying Jason-3 Ocean-monitoring satellite.
It was launched from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base and the satellite has been successfully inserted it in the desired orbit. Jason-3 is the 4th mission in the joint US-European series of satellite missions that measure the height of the ocean surface.
Key facts
Jason-3 has been incorporated with radar altimeter that will measure sea-level variations of oceans across the world with very high accuracy. It will examine the topography of the ocean floor to help study effects of climate change or human-induced changes on the ocean.
It will also seek to boost hurricane forecasting and marine navigation. It will provide scientists with critical information about ocean circulation patterns. It will also provide information about both global and regional changes in sea level and the climate implications of a warming world.

Chinese scientists develop new bio-artificial liver
Chinese scientists have developed a new bio-artificial liver that can help patients to survive from liver failure long enough for an organ transplant. It has been developed by team of researchers from the Shanghai Institute for Biological Sciences and doctors from Nanjing Drum Tower Hospital.
Key facts
The bio-artificial liver is based on human liver cells and has been designed to be attached outside a patient’s body. This liver device is based on cells taken from human fat, skin or other tissues and is reprogrammed into liver cells.
It can help  to prolong lives of patients with liver failure by recovering patients’ liver functions till suitable donor livers for a transplant is found.

CIRB Hisar becomes second institute to clone buffalo in India
Scientists at the Central Institute for Research on Buffaloes (CIRB) in Hisar, Haryana have successfully produced a cloned buffalo offspring named ‘Cirb Gaurav’. CIRB scientists have achieved this feat under the project entitled- Cloning for conservation and multiplication of superior buffalo germplasm.

Akash missile successfully test fired at Chandipuri in Odisha
Indigenously-built surface-to-air Akash missile was successfully test fired from complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipuri in Odisha.
Test: It was as part of a user trial mission in which 3 rounds of test were carried out by Indian Air Force (IAF) aiming at para-barrel targets.
About Akash Missile
Akash (in English it means sky) is a mid-range surface-to-air missile (SAM). Indigenously developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) under the Integrated Guided-Missile Development Programme (IGMDP).
The missile has supersonic speeds ranging from Mach 2.8 to 3.5. It has capability to carry warhead of 60 kg. It can engage aerial targets up to a range of approximately 25 kms.
It is powered by Ramjet-rocket propulsion system (RRPS) which renders thrust for the missile to intercept the target at supersonic speed without any retardation.
It is capable of neutralising aerial targets like cruise missiles, fighter jets and air-to-surface missiles. The missile was formally inducted into the IAF in July 2015. The first missile was delivered in March 2012 to the IAF.

CERT-In inks cyber security agreements with 3 nations
 Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) has signed cybersecurity agreement with its counterparts in Malaysia, Singapore and Japan. In this regard, the Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has apprised the Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) signed between CERT-In and 3 nations.
Key facts
These MoUs are related to cybersecurity and shall promote closer cooperation for exchange of knowledge and experience. Each signatory country will share knowledge and experience in resolution, detection and prevention of security related incidents between India and the respective country.
Malaysia: MoU between CERT-In and its Malaysian counterpart was signed in Kuala Lumpur in November, 2015 during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Malaysia.
Singapore: MoU between CERT-In and Singapore Computer Emergency Response Team (SingCERT), Cyber Security Agency (CSA) was signed in November, 2015 during Prime Minister’s visit to Singapore.
Japan: MoU between CERT-In and Japan Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center (JPCERT/CC) was signed in December, 2015 through diplomatic exchange.

ISRO successfully launches IRNSS-1E satellite
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully launched India’s fifth navigation Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS) 1E satellite. It was launched on board of PSLV-C31 rocket from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SHAR), Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
Key facts
The IRNSS-1E weighs 1425 kilogram and has the mission life of 12 years. It equipped with two types of payloads viz. navigation payload and ranging devices.
The navigation payload will be operating in L5-band and S-band along with and highly accurate Rubidium atomic clock. It will be mainly used to transmit navigation service signals to the users.
The ranging payload consists of a C-band transponder. It will facilitate accurate determination of the range of the satellite.

‘Sahayog – Kaijin 2016’: India and Japan joint Coast Guard exercise
The 15th edition of bilateral exercise by the Indian Coast Guard and its Japanese counterpart titled ‘Sahayog-Kaijin 2016’ has begun off the coast of Chennai, Tamil Nadu in the Bay of Bengal.
Key facts
Focus of Exercise: Anti-piracy procedures, search and rescue operations and interoperability between the two forces and other areas of common professional interest.
Highlights: Japanese Coast Guard ship Echigo along with its integral helicopter is participating. It will also involve Indian coast guard ships like Samudra Pahredar, Rajkamal, Vishwast, Rajtarang, Hovercraft, C-415, C-417, one Dornier and one Chetak helicopter

Social Issues
Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015 came into force
The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015 came into force from 26th January 2016. Earlier President Pranab Mukherjee had given his assent to the bill after it was passed by the Parliament in the winter session in December 2015.
Key facts
The amended law include new offences like tonsuring of head or similar acts which are derogatory to the dignity of SCs and STs.
It also includes garlanding with chappals, abusing in caste name, using or permitting manual scavenging, imposing social or economic boycott.
It also has provisions for establishment of Exclusive Special Courts for the expeditious disposal of cases.
The new law also defines wilful negligence and dereliction of duty of public servants at all levels provision and specify duties of public servants.

AP Government launches Giriputrika Kalyana Pathakam Scheme for tribal people
Andhra Pradesh Government has launched Giriputrika Kalyana Pathakam Scheme to support the tribal women in their quest for livelihood. It was launched by Minister for Social Welfare Ravela Kishore Babu.
The scheme seeks to reduce rampant infant mortality and child marriages among tribal people.
Scheme Highlights
The scheme is designed to provide a onetime financial assistance of 50,000 rupees to each tribal woman who gets married.
The amount will be directly disbursed to the bank accounts of the beneficiary through District Tribal Welfare Office.
To avail the benefits of this scheme, each beneficiary would have to fulfil some mandatory conditions.

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 comes into force
The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 came into force 15 January 2016. In this regard, Union Ministry of Woman and Child Development has issued orders for enforceable of Act. The Act had received President Pranab Mukherjee’s assent on December 31, 2015 after it was passed by the Parliament.
Key features of  Act
 Aims at ensuring protection, proper care, development and social reintegration of children in difficult circumstances by adopting a child-friendly approach.
Permits trying of juveniles between the ages of 16 and 18 years as adults for heinous offences.
Establishment of Child Welfare Committees (CWC) along with Juvenile Justice Boards (JJB) in each district.
Empowers JJB to examine the nature of crime and decide whether it was committed as a child mind or as an adult mind. Based upon the preliminary inquiry of JJB, juvenile offender will be either sent for rehabilitation or will be tried as an adult.
The CWC will determine institutional care for juvenile in need of care and protection. Prescribes eligibility of adoptive parents and the procedure for adoption.
Penalties for cruelty against a child have been prescribed in case of offering a narcotic substance to a child and selling and abduction of a child.

Justice Sanjay Mishra appointed as Lokayukta of Uttar Pradesh
Justice Sanjay Mishra has been appointed as Lokayukta of Uttar Pradesh after his appointment was approved by the Supreme Court.
In this regard, the apex court recalled its earlier order of appointing Justice Virendra Singh as Lokayukta of UP after objections were raised against Singh’s appointment.
Background Earlier in December 2015, SC in its ruling had passed order appointing Justice Virendra Singh as Lokayukta of Uttar Pradesh using its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution.
Court’s order came after repeated failure of the state government to comply with the court’s directives in the appointment of Lokayukta.

India overtakes Thailand as World’s largest Rice exporter
India has overtaken Thailand as the world’s largest rice exporter in the year 2015 by shipping (exporting) 10.23 million tonnes of rice. It was announced by the Bangkok based Thai Rice Exporters Association Chairman Charoen Laodhammatas.
Key facts
Thailand: The south-east Asian country ranked second on the list of the world’s largest rice exporting countries. It has exported 9.8 million tonnes of rice to the world market in year 2015 compared to 10.9 million tonnes in year 2014.
Vietnam: It was ranked third largest rice exporter with 6.4 million tonnes.
China: It has remained the number one importer country of rice in the year 2015.

India’s largest and tallest tricolour hoisted at Ranchi
India’s largest tricolour was hoisted atop the tallest pole at Pahari Mandir in Ranchi by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.
This flag will remain hoisted for 24 hours and shall be illuminated with the help of twenty sodium vapour lights at night. It is world’s largest and the highest hoisted Indian flag.
Dimensions of flag: It measures 66 feet in height and 99 feet in width in the proper ratio 2:3. It was hoisted on pole with height of 293 feet. It weighs 80 kg.

Winners of 61st Britannia Filmfare Awards
The grand Annual 61st Britannia Filmfare Awards event was organized in Mumbai, Maharashtra. Bajirao Mastani with 8 awards was the film wining highest number of awards.
Awards in various categories are
Best Actor: Ranveer Singh (Bajirao Mastani).
Best Actress: Deepika Padukone (Piku).
Best Film: Bajirao Mastani.
Best Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali (Bajirao Mastani).
Lifetime Achievement: Moushumi Chatterjee.
Best Debut Director: Neeraj Ghaywan (Massan).
Best Debutant (Male): Sooraj Pancholi (Hero).
Best Debutant (Female): Bhumi Pednekar (Dum Laga Ke Haisha).
Critics Award for Best Film: Piku
Critics Award for Best Actor (Male): Amitabh Bachchan (Piku).
Best Actor Female Critics Choice (Female): Kangana Ranaut (Tanu Weds Manu Returns).

SBI Launches First Dedicated Branch For Startups – SBI InCube
India’s largest lender, State Bank of India (SBI) has launched dedicated specialized branch for start-ups called ‘SBI InCube’ in Bengaluru, Karnataka. It was announced by BI Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya in Bengaluru, Karnataka.
Key Facts:
The ‘SBI InCube’ branch will cater to the specific financial needs by providing advisory services to the budding entrepreneurs under one roof It will assist start-ups in cash management, regulations, taxation, mentoring, foreign exchange and remittances and other financial services.
InCube in its current form will not fund start-ups i.e. it will not provide loans. However it will give them loans when they turn more mature.
It will also not help start-ups to raise funds from equity market as it not part of bank’s mandate. InCube branch in Bengaluru will be headed by an assistant general manager and a team of three other officers. Soon SBI will be launching these branches in Pune and National Capital Region (NCR).

EPFO wins National Award on e-Governance for UAN January
The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has won the National Award on e-Governance 2015-16 for launching the Universal Account Number (UAN).
EPFO has won the gold award in this edition of awards in the ‘innovative use of technology in e-governance’ category and will get a cash prize of 2 lakh rupees.
The award will be bestowed upon EPFO by the Union Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions in the 19th National Conference on e-governance to be held in Nagpur.

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