National Current Affairs
Ken-Betwa River linking project receives environment, forest & tribal clearances
The ambitious Ken-Betwa river linking project has received formal environment, forest and tribal clearances. The project aims at addressing water needs of dry swathes in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. The Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation is working out the funding pattern with NITI Aayog. The Ministry is pursuing NITI Ayog to change its funding pattern of Centre state share from 60:40 to 90:10 for the project as it is a special project.
NITI Aayog calls for review RTE Act
The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog has called for a review of the provisions of the Right To Education (RTE) Act that stipulate children who do not perform well cannot be held back up to 8th Class. The RTE Act aims to provide primary education to all children aged 6 to 14 years. It stipulates that no child can be held back in a grade, regardless of his performance, all the way up to the 8th grade.
Union Government forms committee to look into Haj subsidy issue
The Union Ministry of Minority Affairs has decided to set up a six-member committee to look into the Hajj subsidy issue. The decision has been taken in light of a 2012 Supreme Court order on gradually reducing and abolishing subsidy given to pilgrims by 2022.
SC refuses to pass judgment on Jallikattu before Pongal
The Supreme Court has rejected a plea urging it to pass judgement on Jallikattu before the harvest festival of Pongal. It had also dismissed the review petition against its 2014 verdict. Earlier, the apex court had questioned the Union Government for its January 2016 notification allowing use of bulls in events like Jallikattu, saying that its 2014 verdict banning the use of the animals cannot be negated.
International Current Affairs
Russia to ban cigarette sale to those born after 2015
The Russian Health Ministry has unveiled plans to ban the sale of cigarettes to anyone born after 2015 as part of its part of a tough anti-tobacco strategy. It will make Russia the first country in the world to completely phase out tobacco. The proposed ban will go into effect in 2033, when the present Russian citizens (now babies) and younger reach adulthood i.e. when they turn 18 years old. Smoking is already legally banned Russian workplaces, housing block stairwells, buses and commuter trains and within 15 metres of airports and train stations. Russia has one of the highest smoking rates in the world with around 40% of its population smokers and its cigarette market is estimated to be worth more than $22 billion.
Europe’s first underwater museum opens in Lanzarote
Europe’s first underwater contemporary art museum, Museo Atlantico (Atlantic Museum) was made open for public off the coast of Lanzarote, in Bahía de Las Coloradas, Canary Island in Spain. The art museum sits 15 metres below the sea surface and has been created British artist Jason DeCaires Taylor. It exhibits 12 art installations and more than 300 life-size human figures, all crafted from high quality marine cement that guarantees to survive corrosive sea water for 300 years. The museum is spread over a 2,500-square-metre area and is accessible to snorkellers and divers. It can also be observed through glass bottom boats with going into water.
Japanese PM Shinzo Abe signs 1 trillion yen aid package to Philippines
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has signed a 1-trillion yen (about $8.7 billion) aid package to the Philippines over the next five years. The package focused on infrastructure and energy is meant to improve economic and political relations between the two island nations. It was signed during Japanese PM’s two-day visit to Philippines, making him the first foreign leader to visit archipelago since the election of the Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte in May 2016. Experts believe that this deal is apparently aimed at thwarting China’s growing influence on the Philippines. Now Japanese PM Abe is to follow his trip to Australia, Indonesia, and Vietnam, in a series of diplomatic missions to Japan’s Pacific neighbours seen as response to aggressive Chinese foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific region.
US President Barack Obama awards Joe Biden with highest civilian honour
Outgoing US President Barack Obama has awarded Vice President Joe Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, highest civilian honour. He was bestowed with this for an extraordinary career in public service. Barack Obama had picked up Biden, his former primary rival, as his running vice presidential mate in 2008. Before accepting the nomination, Biden had spent more than three decades in the US Senate. During this time he had amassed a large portfolio and body of work, including stints as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee.
China commissions sophisticated electronic reconnaissance ship CNS Kaiyangxing
China’s Navy has commissioned a sophisticated electronic reconnaissance ship CNS Kaiyangxing or Mizar (hull code 856). It is a Type 815A electronic reconnaissance ship, having full displacement of 6,000 metric tons and a maximum speed of 20 knots (37 km/hr). It is also equipped with three small-caliber naval guns. It is capable of conducting all-weather, round-the-clock reconnaissance on multiple and different targets. The ship is so sophisticated that only a few countries in the world such as US and Russia are capable of developing it. Presently, China is operating six electronic reconnaissance vessels – Beijixing (Polaris), Tianlangxing (Sirius), Tianwangxing (Uranus), Haiwangxing (Neptune), Kaiyangxing (Mizar) and another ship whose name has not been revealed and is only known by its hull code of 855.
Environment Current Affairs
Hope Island becomes graveyard for Olive Ridleys Turtles
Hope Island in Andhra Pradesh has become graveyard for Olive Ridleys turtles after 54 carcasses of this species were spotted on the shores of island. This indicates that the breeding cycle of this species got severe blow due to mechanised fishing boats scouring in the Bay of Bengal coastline. These boats crush most of these turtles under it leading to their death.
Delhi declared free of bird flu
National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi was declared free from bird flu (H5N8 avian influenza) after consecutive samples collected at 15 days’ intervals from the last positive results tested negative. In October 2016, cases of mortality among the birds due to H5N8 avian influenza were reported in National Zoological Park, Delhi NCR.
Banking, Business & Economy
Rajesh Gopinathan appointed as CEO of TCS
India’s largest software firm, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS), has named its chief financial officer (CFO), Rajesh Gopinathan as the chief executive officer (CEO). He succeeds N. Chandrasekaran who was named chairman of Tata Sons. Gopinathan is an alumni of Regional Engineering College, Trichy (now National Institute of Technology), and the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad. He had joined TCS from Tata Industries in 2001. Since the he has worked across different geographies and units before being appointed CFO in 2013.
NTPC to take over Rajasthan’s Chhabra power plant
State owned power producer National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) has signed a non-binding MoU with Rajasthan Government for takeover of 1,000 megawatt (MW) Chhabra Thermal Power Plant. The deal was given effect through a tripartite agreement among NTPC, Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Ltd (RVUN) and Rajasthan Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd (RUVNL). Under this agreement, NTPC will take over Chhabara Thermal Power Plant’s four operational units of 250 MW capacity each and two other under-construction units of 660 MW capacity units. NTPC is India’s largest power generator company and accounts for 25% of total electricity generated in the country. As of March 2016, Central government holds 69.96% stake in NTPC, while banks and financial institutions hold 14.03% and foreign institutional investors hold 10.75% .
Citi Bank India unveils voice biometrics authentication
Citi Bank India has introduced voice biometrics authentication system for its phone banking clients. This will replace the current practice of interactive voice response. The technology allows its clients to use their voiceprints for authentication rather than remember multiple PINs or respond to questions used for verifying identities. The voice biometrics authentication uses voiceprint which is unique for each person similar to fingerprint. It is fast, secure and convenient as verification is completed automatically within 15 seconds.
TCS CEO N. Chandrasekaran appointed Tata Sons Chairman
TCS Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Natarajan Chandrasekaran (53) was appointed as new Chairman of Tata Sons, India’s largest ($103-billion) salt-to-software conglomerate. His appointment comes after the Tata sons removed Cyrus Mistry as the Chairman. With this, Chandrasekaran becomes first non Parsi and only the third non-Tata after Nowroji Saklatwala and Cyrus Mistry to be named as Tata Sons chairman. Chandrasekaran had joined TCS in 1987 as a software programmer. He has been at the helm of TCS as CEO and MD since 2009 and has been spearheading its growth across geographies. TCS is now India’s largest software services exporter and Tata Group’s cash cow, contributing about 90% to Tata Sons revenue in 2014-15.
Industrial production grows 5.7% in November 2016
India’s factory output, measured by the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) has registered 5.7% growth in November 2016 as against 1.9% in October 2016. It is the fastest growth recorded in more than four years and is largely on account of a low base effect.
Sports Current Affairs
Sarita Devi set to become India’s first female professional boxer
Former world champion Sarita Devi is set to become the first female professional boxer from India. She has signed a two-year deal with Sporty Boxing Private Limited, a licensing body for professional boxers in India. She will be making her professional debut against Hungary’s Zsofia Bedo on January 29, 2017 fight night being organised by Indian Boxing Council (IBC) in Imphal. At present, she is training under Joe Clough, who is known for being a part of Muhammad Ali’s coaching staff. She had won gold medal at 2006 New Delhi World Championships, silver medal at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and bronze medal at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games.