Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Insurance Terms for Insurance AO Exams

Hello and welcome to ExamPundit. So today is the last date of 2014 and we are giving you a very special pdf which contains Insurance related terms. This is a perfect PDF containing insurance terms important for New India Assurance (NIACL), National Insurance Co. (NICL), United India Insurance (UIIC) and Life Insurance Corporation(LIC) AO exams.

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Current Affairs Update - 25-26-27-28-29-30 Dec, 2014



Finance/Business/Economy News


1. President signs insurance, coal ordinances

  • Paving the way for additional foreign investment in insurance and to move ahead with the re-allocation of cancelled coal mines, President Pranab Mukherjee today signed the two ordinances in this regard.
  • The Government had decided to promulgate these ordinances to move ahead with reforms in the two sectors, as respective bills could not get through during the just-concluded Parliament Session that ended on Tuesday.
  • The President has signed the two ordinances, Press Secretary Venu Rajamony said.
  • The Cabinet had approved promulgation of the Ordinance on Insurance Bill and re-promulgation of the Coal Ordinance on Wednesday, a day after the conclusion of the Winter session of Parliament.
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had expressed the hope that hiking of the foreign investment cap in the insurance sector to 49 per cent, which has been pending since 2008, will result in capital inflow of $6-8 billion. Earlier, this foreign investment limit was capped at 26 per cent.
  • The Insurance Laws Amendment Bill, 2008 could not be taken up for discussion in Parliament despite being approved by the Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha because of the uproar over the conversion and other issues.
  • The Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill, 2014 has already been approved by the Lok Sabha during the session but could make no progress in the upper House.
  • The re—promulgation of ordinance on coal will facilitate e—auction of coal blocks for private companies for captive use and allot mines directly to state and central PSUs.



2. GAIL, CIL, RCF and FCI signed JV to set up Coal gasification-cum-fertiliser complex in Odisha


  • Four Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) on 23 December 2014 signed joint venture agreements to set up an integrated coal gasification-cum-fertiliser and ammonium nitrate complex in Talcher, Odisha.
  • GAIL (India) Ltd, Coal India Ltd (CIL), Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers (RCF) and Fertilizer Corporation of India (FCI) singed joint venture agreements.
  • The integrated coal gasification-cum-fertiliser and ammonium nitrate complex will be set up with an estimated combined investment of 9000 crore rupees.
  • The execution of construction activities of the projects will start in 2015-16 and expected to complete by 2019.


Highlights of the Joint venture agreements

  • First Joint Venture (JV) GAIL Coal Gas (India) led by GAIL will set up the Upstream Coal Gasification and Gas Purification section for production of Ammonia Syn Gas for downstream fertilizer unit.  The JV will invest around 3000 crore rupees.
  • Second JV Talcher Chemicals & Fertilizers led by Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilizers (RCF) will set up Ammonia-Urea, Nitric Acid-Ammonium Nitrate plants. The JV will be initiated with an estimated investment of 6000 crore rupees and majority stake will be held by RCF & CIL.
  • The overall project comprises of 3850 MTPD Urea plant, 2700 MTPD Ammonia plant, 850 MTPD Nitric Acid plant and 1000 MTPD Ammonium Nitrate plant.
  • The entire project will produce 3850 tonne of urea, 2700 tonne of ammonia, 850 tonne of nitric acid and 1000 tonne of ammonium nitrate per day respectively.



3. RBI released Financial Stability Report December 2014

  • The Reserve Bank of India on 29 December 2014 released the Financial Stability Report December 2014. The report also includes the Trend and Progress of Banking in India during 2013-14.



Highlights of the Report

Macro-Financial Risks:

  • The current weak global growth outlook may prolong easy monetary policy stance, that is, low interest rate regime in most advanced economies (AEs).
  • Low risk premia resulting from low interest rate in AEs may lead to accumulation of vulnerabilities, and sudden and sharp overshooting in markets cannot be ruled out.
  • Financial risk taking has not translated into commensurate economic risk taking.
  • Increase in portfolios flows to emerging market against the backdrop of low interest rates in AEs may increase the risk of reversals on possible adverse growth or financial market shocks, thus necessitating greater alertness.
  • On the domestic front, macroeconomic vulnerabilities have abated significantly in recent months on the back of improvement in growth outlook, fall in inflation, recovery in the external sector and political stability.
  • Growth in the banking business and activity in primary capital markets remain subdued due to moderate investment intentions.


Financial institutions: Developments and stability:

  • The growth of the Indian banking sector moderated further during 2013-14. Profitability declined on account of higher provisioning on banks’ delinquent loans and lackluster credit growth.
  • Urban co-operative banks exhibited improved performance, however, the performance of primary agriculture credit societies and long term rural credit co-operatives remained a matter of concern with a further increase in their losses coupled with deterioration in asset quality.
  • The asset size of the non-banking financial companies (non-deposit taking-systemically important) showed an expansion, however, asset quality deteriorated further during the period of review.
  • The banking stability indicator suggests that overall risks to the banking sector remained unchanged during the first half of 2014-15.
  • Although the liquidity position improved in the system, concerns remain on account of deterioration in asset quality along with weakened soundness.
  • The profitability dimension of the indicator showed an improvement but it remained sluggish.
  • The stress tests suggest that the asset quality of banks may improve in the near future under expected positive developments in the macroeconomic conditions and banks may also be able to meet expected losses with their existing levels of provisions.
  • The asset quality of scheduled commercial banks may worsen from the current level if the macroeconomic conditions deteriorate drastically, and banks are likely to fall short in terms of having sufficient provisions to meet expected losses under adverse macroeconomic risk scenarios.
  • Analysis of the interconnectedness indicates that the size of the interbank market in relation to total banking sector assets has been on a steady decline.
  • Contagion analysis with top five most connected banks reveals that the banking system could potentially lose significant portion of its total Tier-I capital under the joint solvency-liquidity condition in the event of a particular bank triggering a contagion.


Financial sector regulation and infrastructure:

  • The capital to risk weighted assets ratio (CRAR) of the scheduled commercial banks at 12.8 per cent as of September 2014 is satisfactory
  • The banking sector, particularly the public sector banks would require substantial capital to meet regulatory requirements with respect to additional capital buffers.
  • With the increased regulatory focus on segregating the cases of willful defaults and ensuring the equity participation of promoter(s) in the losses leading to defaults, there is a need for greater transparency in the process of carrying out a net economic value impact assessment of large Corporate Debt Restructuring (CDR) cases.
  • Another aspect that impinges upon the banks’ asset quality is corporate leverage and its impact on banks’ balance sheets, particularly ‘double leveraging’ through holding company structures and the pledging of shares by promoters.
  • Indian stock markets have seen a rapid growth in recent months. While the retail investor base still remains comparatively low, India’s stock markets have been attracting substantial amounts of foreign investments, increasing the risk of reversal.
  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India has introduced an additional safety net in the form of core settlement guarantee fund to mitigate risks from possible default in settlement of trades and to strengthen risk management framework in the domestic capital markets.
  • With a view to improving participation of actual users / hedgers and the quality of price discovery in the market, the Forward Markets Commission has revised position limits which are linked to estimated production and imports of the underlying commodities.
  • To deal with issues relating to unauthorised deposit acceptance and financial frauds, the State Level Coordination Committee (SLCC) mechanism has been strengthened under the initiative of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC).




4. RBI liberalised norms for Overseas Direct Investment by Indian companies

  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 29 December 2014 liberalised norms for Indian companies investing abroad. The liberalization of norms was part of series of amendment done by RBI from time to time in the Foreign Exchange Management (Transfer or Issue of any Foreign Security) (Amendment) Regulations, 2004.

Liberalised norms

  • Bank may permit creation of charge on the shares of the Joint Venture/Wholly Owned Subsidiary/Step down Subsidiary (JV/WOS/SDS) of an Indian party in favour of a domestic or overseas lender for securing funded and/or non-funded facility.
  • The loan availed by the JV/WOS/SDS from the domestic/overseas lender shall be utilized only for its core business activities overseas and not for investing back in India in any manner whatsoever.
  • Bank may permit creation of charge on the domestic assets of an Indian party in favour of an overseas lender for securing the funded and/or non-funded facility.
  • Bank may permit creation of charge on the overseas assets (excluding the shares) of the JV/WOS/SDS of an Indian party in favour of a domestic lender for securing the funded and/or non-funded facility.



5. India became second largest foreign trading partner of Dubai after China

  • India became second largest foreign trading partner of Dubai after China. This was revealed by the figures released by Dubai Customs on 28 December 2014 that provides trade data for the first nine months of 2014.
  • The figures show that China was Dubai’s top foreign trade partner with a trade value of 34 billion US dollars. As a result, the share of China increased 27 percent over the year 2014.
  • India followed next with a trade value worth 21.78 billion US dollar. However, among the Arab nations, India was at the top with trade volume worth 10 billion US dollars.
  • Dubai's non-oil foreign trade in the first nine months of 2014 was around 269 billion US dollars, with imports having the biggest share at 169 billion US dollars, exports at 23.41 billion and re-exports 76.23 billion US dollars.
  • Dubai’s foreign trade scored steady growth in the first nine months of 2014 with top trading partners. Dubai’s trade statistics for the first nine months of 2014 clearly show the Emirate’s solid foothold as a regional and international trading and investment hub. It maintained a high value despite the global decline in commodity prices.
  • This reflects Dubai’s trading capability to increase the volume of foreign trade, including imports, exports and re-exports, to compensate for any drop in prices.



6. L&T Hydrocarbon won offshore contract from ONGC worth 894 crore rupees

  • Larsen & Toubro (L&T) Hydrocarbon on 29 December 2014 won offshore contract from Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) worth 894 crore rupees for additional development of the Vasai East project.
  • The project includes the work to improve recovery factor of Vasai East field where production was started in 2008 and it is scheduled to be completed by April 2016.
  • L&T Hydrocarbon Engineering (LTHE) bagged the contract on complete turnkey basis from ONGC. LTHE is a fully owned subsidiary of L&T.
  • The contract includes total engineering, procurement, construction and installation of two wellhead platforms, subsea pipelines and modification of existing facilities in Heera-Panna-Bassein block of Mumbai offshore.
  • The 2500 crore rupees project will result in incremental oil production of 1.83 million metric tonne (MMT) and incremental gas production of 1.971 billion cubic metres (BCM) by 2030.



7. Gujarat Pipavav Port Limited tied up with NYK Auto Logistics to set up Ro-Ro terminal

  • Gujarat Pipavav Port Limited (APM Terminals Pipavav) on 26 December 2014 tied-up with NYK Auto Logistics (India) Ltd to set up a dedicated Roll-on/Roll-off (Ro-Ro) automobile terminal at Pipavav port in Gujarat.


Highlights of the agreement

  • Gujarat Pipavav Port sub-leased 85000 square meters of land for 10 years inside its premises to NYK Auto to develop a dedicated common user integrated Ro-Ro terminal.
  • The facility will also have a pre-delivery inspection (PDI) unit and a vehicle processing centre (VPC).
  • The terminal will be commissioned in mid-2015. It will have an annual designed capacity of 2.50 lakh vehicles.
  • Gujarat Pipavav Port will provide all the port and related facilities for ensuring smooth and seamless flow of automobile cargo.


About APM Terminals Pipavav

  • Located in Gujarat, APM Terminals Pipavav is the first Public Private Partnership (PPP) port in India.
  • APM Terminals Pipavav is part of an integrated Global Terminal Network of 56 ports and 154 inland facilities in 63 countries.
  • Port Pipavav is managed and operated by APM Terminals, the ports and terminals company of the maritime giant the A.P. Moller-Maersk Group.
  • It has two facilities in India currently- India's largest container terminal, APM Terminals Mumbai in JNPT at Nhava Sheva, Mumbai and Port Pipavav in Gujarat.



8. Sanjiv Sarin appointed as CEO and MD of Tata Coffee Limited

  • Sanjiv Sarin was on 29 December 2014 appointed as the Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Tata Coffee Limited with effect from 8 January 2015.
  • His appointed was approved by the Board of Directors of Tata Coffee Ltd. Sanjiv Sarin will succeed Hameed Huq, who will retire on 31 March 2015.
  • Sarin is currently the Regional President for South Asia in Tata Global Beverages Ltd, the holding company of Tata Coffee Ltd.




9. Trevor Bull appointed as CEO and MD of Aviva India Life Insurance

  • Trevor Bull was on 26 December 2014 appointed as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Managing Director (MD) of Aviva India Life Insurance Ltd.
  • He succeeded TR Ramachandran who led Aviva India since October 2008. Bull will take charge of the post from January 2015.



10. Foreign Exchange Reserves of India reached 320 billion US dollars

  • Foreign Exchange Reserves of India reached 320 billion US dollars on the back of a massive jump in foreign currency assets. This was revealed by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data on Foreign Exchange released on 26 December 2014.

As per the data on foreign exchange

  • During the week 8 December to 19 December 2014 the flow of foreign exchange hit 3.163 billion US dollars enabling total foreign exchange reserves to reach 319.997 billion US dollars.
  • The foreign currency assets (FCAs), which are a major constituent of overall reserves, jumped by 3.310 billion US dollars to reach 295.670 billion US dollars during the week ended 19 December 2014. FCA is expressed in dollar terms that include the effect of appreciation and depreciation of non-US currencies such as the euro, pound and yen, held in reserves.
  • The gold reserves remained unchanged at 18.985 billion US dollars.





News Related to India and Indian Polity



11. Union Government observed 25 December 2014 as Good Governance Day

  • Union Government observed 25 December 2014 as Good Governance Day. The day was observed to celebrate the 90th birth anniversary of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
  • The ministry also organised Multimedia Exhibition on former Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee to mark Good Governance Day at the IGNCA complex.
  • Union Ministry of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting organised the rich repository of archival footage on eminent personalities . The footage will be available with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to the public through Doordarshan, All India Radio and Social Media platforms of the New Media Wing.
  • The Exhibition also witnessed screening of three films based on the life of Shri Vajpayee provided by the Film Division of the Ministry. Photo Division provided the photos being mounted at the Exhibition. The Song and Drama Division of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting gave cultural performances during the Exhibition. Publication Division organized a Book Exhibition at the venue. Doordarshan provided short-films to highlight the achievements of the former Prime Minister Shri Vajpayee.
  • The Multimedia Exhibition on former Prime Minister Shri Vajpayee was an example of the innovative approaches being adopted towards information dissemination by different Media Units of the Ministry. The Exhibition reiterated the integrated communication approach being practiced for effective outreach and impact.
  • At the closing ceremony, prizes were awarded to children who participated in painting competition organized at the venue during the Exhibition. The theme of the painting competition was Swachhta and National unity.




12. Union Ministry of Science and Technology launched SMS-based cyclone warning system

  • Union Ministry of Science & Technology and Earth Sciences on 25 December 2014 launched an SMS-based warning system which will provide alerts on cyclones, tsunami and other weather-related natural calamities.
  • The system was launched on the occasion of Good Governance Day as part of Prime Minister's Digital India Programme.


Highlights of the SMS-based cyclone warning system

  • Under this web-based operational system, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) will send SMS to individuals who register themselves at the weather forecaster's official website www.imd.gov.in.
  • The meteorological department will utilize Mobile Seva of Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) for SMS based cyclone warnings.
  • The information on warnings will be disseminated to officials involved in administration, district magistrates/collectors besides fishermen, farmers and general public.
  • This system is part of the IMD's initiatives for improvement in weather forecast and warning services based on latest tools and technologies including information and communication technology.



13. Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched Mission Indradhanush

  • Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on 25 December 2014 launched Mission Indradhanush to achieve full immunization coverage for all children by 2020.
  • The Mission Indradhanush aims to cover all those children who are either unvaccinated or are partially vaccinated against seven vaccine preventable diseases including diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, measles and hepatitis B.
  • The Mission was launched on Good Governance Day that marks the birth anniversary of Bharat Ratna Madan Mohan Malaviya and birthday of Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee.


Highlights of the Mission Indradhanush

  • Under Mission Indradhanush, four special vaccination campaigns will be conducted between January and June 2015 with intensive planning and monitoring of these campaigns.
  • The ministry has identified 201 high focus districts that have nearly 50 percent of all unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children. These districts will be targeted by intensive efforts to improve the routine immunization coverage.
  • Out of the 201 districts, 82 districts are in just four states of UP, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and nearly 25 percent of the unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children of India are in these 82 districts of 4 states.
  • 201 districts will be covered in the first phase of the mission, 297 districts will be targeted for the second phase in the year 2015.
  • The Ministry will be technically supported by WHO, UNICEF, Rotary International and other donor partners.
  • Mass media, interpersonal communication, and sturdy mechanisms of monitoring and evaluating the scheme are crucial components of Mission.



14. Sushaasan Express flagged off by the Union Ministry of Mines and Steel

  • The Sushaasan Express was on 25 December 2014 flagged off by the Union Ministry of Mines and Steel. The Sushaasan (good governance) Express was launched from Gwalior, the birth place of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
  • The train will run between Gwalior and Gonda via Hazrat Nizamuddin and Lucknow. The train was launched on the occasion of Good Governance Day that marks the birthday of Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee and birth anniversary of Bharat Ratna Madan Mohan Malaviya.


Other announcements made during the function

  • On the same occasion, Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu sanctioned 29 crore rupees for the development of railways in Gwalior.
  • Besides, another announcement was that the Union tourism ministry has approved a plan worth 24.93 crore rupees proposed by the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation to develop Gwalior as a mega tourist centre.




15. Union Ministry of Consumers Affairs announced to set up Grahak Suvidha Kendras

  • Union Ministry of Consumers Affairs on 25 December 2014 announced to set up Grahak Suvidha Kendras in each zone of the country. The move is aimed to provide a number of services to the consumers.
  • The proposed zones where the Government decided to set up the Kendras are North, South, West, East, North East, Central and the National Capital.
  • The Kendras will provide counseling to consumers in redressal of their grievances and assist them in registering their complaints in the appropriate consumer forums. The government will also be authorized to take up complaints with private companies and service providers on behalf of the government.
  • The Ministry has invited applications from registered and eligible Voluntary Consumer Organizations for setting up the Kendras.
  • It has also drawn several other plans and programmes for empowerment of consumers and their welfare. Initiative has been taken on mainstreaming consumer advocacy in the policy decisions of other seven sectors of housing and health.




16. Amitabh Bachchan honoured with Yash Chopra Memorial Award


  • Megastar Amitabh Bachchan was honoured with the Yash Chopra Memorial Award on 23 December 2014.
  • Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao honoured him with the award.
  • Amitabh Bachchan is the sceond recipient of the award. The award was first conferred to melody queen Lata Mangeshkar in 2013.
  • The Yash Chopra Memorial Award has been instituted by the TSR Foundation of T Subbarami Reddy in the memory of the late producer-director in 2013. Yash Chopra died in 2012.


17. Indian Army launched Operation All Out against Bodo militants in Assam


  • Union Government in the fourth week of December 2014 decided to launch Operation All Out against Bodo militants. The decision to launch the operation was taken during the meeting of Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Delhi.
  • The meeting was to review the security situation in Assam after National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) militants’ on 23 December 2014 massacred at least 81 tribal people in two districts of Assam, Kokrajhar and Sonitpur.
  • The two-tier armed operation will be carried on by about 9000 soldiers of Indian Army and paramilitary troopers on the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border to flush out militants of the NDFB (Songbijit Brahma group).
  • Apart from this, authorities have also mulled coordinated action with armies of Bhutan and Myanmar to hunt the NDFB(S) militants, as the group has its bases in the two countries. Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay has assured its support to India in its action against the Bodo militants.



18. Union Cabinet approved promulgation of ordinance on amendments to Land Acquisition Act, 2013

  • The Union Cabinet on 29 December 2014 approved promulgation of an ordinance that amends the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (RFCTLARR) Act, 2013.
  • The amendments were approved in a cabinet meet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The decision to amend the act was taken in the backdrop of suggestions that came up in interactions with the State Revenue Ministers and key implementing Ministries, who faced difficulties in implementing the Act.
  • The proposed amendments will serve both objectives namely, farmer welfare and along with the strategic and developmental needs of the country.


Main amendments in the RFCTLARR Act, 2013
  • Certain provisions of the Act were relaxed and Section 10 A was added to the legislation
  • It also removes Consent Clause (CC) and Social Impact Assessment (SIA) for acquiring land for five purposes, but compensation and rehabilitation and resettlement packages will be applicable as per the new Land Acquisition Act for acquiring land for these purposes.

The five cases include 

  1. National security
  2. Defence
  3. Rural infrastructure including electrification
  4. Industrial corridors
  5. Building social infrastructure including PPP where ownership of land continues to be vested with the government



19. First Municipal Elections in 60 years held in Myanmar

  • First Municipal Elections in 60 years were held in Myanmar on 27 December 2014 for electing the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC).
  • The ballot for the YCDC was the first chance for the residents of Yangon, the biggest city of Myanmar, to vote under the country’s quasi-civilian government which replaced outright military rule in 2011.
  • However, the voters voted under severe voting restrictions and limited power of the councilors being elected.
  • Voting was limited to one person per household and the age of the candidates were narrowly prescribed. Further there was a ban on political parties taking part in the campaign.
  • As a result, only 4 lakh of the Yangon’s several million residents were eligible to vote for the elections.
  • Also only 300 candidates, among them businessmen, retired civil servants and activists, are competing for 115 positions on the committee.  Though, the top posts will remain largely appointed.




20. 16 States ratified National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2014

  • 16 States have ratified the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Bill, 2014. The information related to this was revealed by Union Ministry of Law and Justice on 28 December 2014.
  • The NJAC Bill, 2014 also called Constitution (121st Amendment) Bill 2014 seeks to replace the present collegiums system with National Judicial Appointments Commission to appoint the judges of higher judiciary.
  • Although the names of all the states which have ratified the bill were immediately not known, however, Goa, Rajasthan, Tripura and Gujarat had ratified the bill in October 2014. Also, UP assembly had ratified the bill with an amendment. The NJAC Bill was ratified by Telangana in December 2014.
  • Earlier in August 2014, the Rajya Sabha Secretariat had sent the bill to the states for ratification after Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha had cleared the bill.



21. DeitY announced to set up Fast Track Task Force to boost mobile manufacturing

  • The Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) on 29 December 2014 announced to set up a Fast Track Task Force to re-establish and catalyse significant growth in mobile handset and component manufacturing eco-system in India.
  • As part of boost mobile manufacturing, the task force aims to achieve production of 500 million units of mobile handsets by 2019.
  • It includes promotion of large scale manufacturing/assembly activity to achieve production of annual manufacturing output of 150000 crore rupees to 300000 crore rupees.
  • It is estimated that this large scale production can create employment opportunity for 15 lakh people.
  • Composition of the Task Force
  • The Chairman of the Task Force is Pankaj Mohindroo, the President of Indian Cellular Association (ICA). The Co-Chairmen of the task force are Josh Foulger, the President of Nokia SEZ and Hari Om Rai, the Co-founder of Lava mobile handsets.

The members of the Task Force

  1. BD Park, Managing Director, Samsung India
  2. Kenichiro Hibi, Managing Director, Sony India
  3. Sandeep Bhargava, Microsoft Devices Director for Government relations
  4. Soon H Kwon, Managing Director, LG India
  5. Vikas Jain, Co-founder of Micromax Informatics

The Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) Directors SK Marwah and Asha Nangia will represent government in this task force.


22. Department of Disabilities Affairs renamed as Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities

  • Union Government on 29 December 2014 renamed the Department of Disability Affairs (Nishaktata Karya Vibhag) as Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Viklangjan Sashaktikaran Vibhag).
  • This department is functional under the Union Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.


About Department of Disability Affairs

  • The Union Government in June 2012 created the Department of Disability Affairs under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. The department was created to act as the nodal agency for matters pertaining to disabilities. The department had several institutes functional under it like Institutes for the differently-abled, visually challenged, mentally challenged, and empowerment of persons with multiple disabilities.
  • The decision to create Department of Disability Affairs was taken in accordance to Census 2001 that revealed that over 21 million (2.1 crore) people in India (12.6 million males and 9.3 million females) are suffering from one or the other kind of disability. This population was equivalent to 2.1 percent of the population.



23. Eminent educationist Saiyid Hamid died


  • Noted educationist and former Vice Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University Saiyid Hamid died on 29 December 2014 following a prolonged illness. He was 94.


Saiyid Hamid

  • Born in Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh in 1920, Hamid worked for the educational uplift of Indian Muslims.
  • After retiring from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in 1980, he was appointed as the vice chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).
  • He later succeeded Hakeem Abdul Hameed as the Chancellor of Hamdard University in Delhi.
  • Saiyid Hamid was one of the members of the high-level Rajendra Sachar committee appointed by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2005 on the state of Muslims in the country.



24. Raghubar Das sworn-in as first non-tribal Chief Minister of Jharkhand


  • BJP leader Raghubar Das was sworn-in as tenth Chief Minister of Jharkhand on 28 December 2014. 59-year-old Raghubar Das is the first non-tribal Chief Minister of Jharkhand since the state came into being on 15 November 2000.
  • The oath of office and secrecy was administered by the Jharkhand Governor Syed Ahmed at a ceremony held at the Birsa Munda football stadium in Morhabadi in Ranchi.
  • Apart from Das, four ministers (three from the BJP and one from the All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) were sworn-in as ministers. They are
  • Ranchi MLA and former speaker of Jharkhand assembly - CP Singh of BJP
  • Dhanbad MLA - Dr Louis Marandi of BJP
  • Khunti MLA - Neelkanth Singh Munda of BJP 
  • Ramgarh MLA and former minister - Chandra Prakash Choudhary (only MLA from AJSU party)


About Raghubar Das

  • Raghubar Das is a five-time MLA from East Jamshedpur
  • In August 2014, he was elected as BJP national vice president
  • He also served as BJP President in Jharkhand
  • After the 2009 Assembly elections, he was appointed as the deputy chief minister in the Shibu Soren government
  • He had served as a minister in Jharkhand in the governments led by Babulal Marandi, Arjun Munda and held portfolios of finance, labour and urban development during his stint as cabinet minister
  • For the first time, he was elected as MLA to the undivided Bihar assembly in 1995
  • He also has served Tata Steel in Jamshedpur as a Grade 4 employee
  • Das belongs to the influential Vaishya community
  • Das, during his education days at the Jamshedpur Co-operative College was an active student union leader and joined the student movement launched by Loknayak Jaiprakash Narayan in 1974.
  • He was born on 3 May 1955 in Bhalubasa area of Jamshedpur



25. Union Government launched Madan Mohan Malviya National Mission on Teachers and Teaching

  • Union Government launched Madan Mohan Malviya National Mission on Teachers and Teaching on 25 December 2014. Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the mission at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi.
  • The mission was launched the mission with an outlay of 900 crores rupees during 12th five year plan. It envisages to addressing comprehensively all issues related to teachers, teaching, teacher preparation, professional development, Curriculum Design, Designing and Developing Assessment & Evaluation methodology, Research in Pedagogy and developing effective Pedagogy.
  • On One hand, the mission will address current and urgent issues such as supply of qualified teachers, attracting talent intoteaching profession and raising the quality of teaching in schools and colleges.
  • On another hand, the mission will pursue long term goals of building a strong professional cadre of teachers by setting performance standards and creating top class institutional facilities for innovative teaching and professional development of teachers.
  • The Mission will focus on both urgent issues and long term goals in a holistic manner dealing with the whole sector of education without fragmenting the programmes based on levels and sectors as school, higher, technical etc.
  • The mission is an umbrella scheme will create synergies among the various ongoing initiatives on Teachers and Teaching under Union Ministry of Human Resources Development and other autonomous institutions.
  • The Mission  will have the components such as  Schools of Education (in Central Universities), Centres of Excellence for Curriculum and Pedagogy,) Inter-University Centres for Teachers’ Education, National Resource Centre for Education, Centres for Academic Leadership and Education Management, Innovations, Awards, Teaching Resource Grant, including Workshop & Seminar and  Subject Networks for Curricular Renewal and Reforms.
  • Besides, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Campus Connect wi-fi of Banaras Hindu University by remote control. He unveiled the plaque of the Inter-University Centre and also launched the Varanasi Mahotsav.



26. Vrinda Sarup appointed as Secretary to Department of School Education and Literacy


  • Senior IAS officer Vrinda Sarup on 29 December 2014 was appointed as Secretary to the Department of School Education and Literacy under Union Ministry of Human Resource Development. Her appointment was approved by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.
  • She succeeded R Bhattacharya who is due to retire on 31 December 2014. R Bhattacharya is a 1978 batch IAS officer of Andhra Pradesh cadre.
  • She will take the charge with immediate effects.
  • Vrinda Sarup is a 1981 batch IAS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre. She is presently working as Special Secretary to the Department of School Education and Literacy under the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development.
  • Department of School Education & Literacy is responsible for development of school education and literacy in the country. The Department has its eyes set on the universalisation of education and making better citizens out of our young brigade.



27. Oldest litigant in Babri Masjid case Mohammad Farooq died

  • The oldest litigant in the Babri Masjid case Mohammad Farooq passed away on 24 December 2014 due to old age-related ailments. He was 100.
  • Farooq, a resident of Ayodhya, was one of the seven main litigants from Muslim side in the 1949 Babri Masjid case regarding placing of Lord Rama idols in the premises.
  • Now, the eldest son of late Farooq, Mohammad Saleem will inherit his legacy of the case and may become litigant in place of his father as per Uttar Pradesh’s Additional Advocate General and convener of Babri Masjid Action Committee Zafaryab Jilani.


Background
  • On the night of 22 December 1949, an idol of Lord Rama mysteriously appeared inside Ayodhya's Babri Masjid. This incident had set in motion a chain of events in the Indian politics.
  • Farooq was one of the seven main litigants from the Muslim side who filed civil suits pledging their respective claims to the site. The rest of the six main litigants are Hashim Ansari, Ashhad Rashidi, Maulana Mahfuzurur Rahman, Mufti Hasbullah, Mahmud and Sunni Central Waqf Board.



28. Malayalam Film Actor Narayanan Lakshmi Balakrishnan Died

  • Malayalam film actor Narayanan Lakshmi (NL) Balakrishnan died on 25 December 2014 following a prolonged illness. He was 72.
  • Being a diploma-holder in painting, Balakrishnan began his career as a still photographer and later turned to acting.
  • He was associated with over 180 films as still photographer and appeared in major and minor roles in around 100 movies.
  • His performances in movies like Kakkothikkavile Appooppan Thadikal, Pattanapravesham and Joker won him appreciation.
  • He worked as a photojournalist in Kerala Kaumudi for eleven years  from 1968 to 1979.
  • Balakrishnan has also published a book titled Black and White in 2011.




29. Noted Hindi poet Nand Chaturvedi died


  • Noted Hindi poet and a litterateur Nand Chaturvedi died on 26 December 2014 following a brief illness. He was 91.
  • Born in 1923 in Jhalawar, Chaturvedi done his Master of Arts in Hindi from Rajasthan University.
  • He retired as Professor of Hindi from Vidya Bhawan Rural Institute.
  • Apart from teaching, he wrote poems and essays including Yeh Samai Mamuli Nahin, Shabd Sansar ki Yayavari- a collection of essays, Imandar Dunya Ke Liye.
  • He was given Bihari Puraskar of K K Birla Foundation for his poem Yeh Samai mamuli nahin in 1996 and he also received Prasaran Sanmaan by Prasar Bharati.
  • He was also honoured with Mira Puraskar, the highest literary honour of Rajasthan Government.


International News



30. Tenth anniversary of Indian Ocean Tsunami observed on 26 December


  • Tenth anniversary of Indian Ocean Tsunami was observed on 26 December 2014. The tsunami was struck off the coastal countries of Indian Ocean triggered by a 9.1magnitude earthquake in 2004.
  • In Sri Lanka, the day was observed as the National Safety Day with a series of commemoration functions across the nation. Memorial ceremonies are held for the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami in Indonesia, India, Thailand and Sri Lanka.
  • In Banda Aceh of Indonesia, thousands of people gathered at the Great Mosque, a19th Century building and paid homage to the victims of tsunami. In India also paid homage to the victims of tsunami especially in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.

About Tsunami 2004

  • Tsunami or Indian Ocean earthquake was an undersea mega thrust earthquake that occurred on 26 December 2004, with an epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.
  • Tsunami was triggered by a 9.1magnitude earthquake, which struck off the costal countries of Indian Ocean such as Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and others. This was among the deadliest natural disasters in human history with at least 290000 people killed or missing in 14 countries bordering the Indian Ocean.
  • Tsunami was also known as the Sumatra–Andaman earthquake and it has given various names, such as South Asian tsunami, Indonesian tsunami, the Christmas tsunami and the Boxing Day tsunami.



31. Ukrainian Parliament adopted Bill to join NATO

  • Ukrainian Parliament, Rada, on 24 December 2014 overwhelmingly adopted a bill that enables the country to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The bill was adopted by 303 to eight votes.
  • With this, Ukraine dropped the non-aligned status to join NATO. The non-aligned status was adopted by Ukraine in 2010 under Russian pressure. The status of non-aligned prevents states from joining any military alliances.
  • During his election campaign in early 2014, President Petro Poroshenko had vowed to put Ukraine under Western military protection.



32. Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan finalised creation of Eurasian Economic Union

  • Russia and four other ex-Soviet nations, viz., Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan on 23 December 2014 finalised the creation of Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).
  • The decision to finalise the creation was taken during the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) meeting in Moscow, Russia.
  • The creation of this economic alliance is intended to bolster their integration among the ex-Soviet states and will come into existence on 1 January 2015.
  • The EEU will also help promote free trade among the member countries.
  • Besides, it will help coordinate the financial systems and regulate the industrial and agricultural policies along with labour markets and transportation networks among the member countries.
  • The new union will have a combined economic output of 4.5 trillion US dollars and bring together 170 million people.



33. INT-Russia successfully test-launched Angara-A5 rocket


  • Russia successfully test-launched Angara-A5 rocket from Plesetsk in northern Russia on 23 December 2014. The rocket was designed to succeed Proton and other Soviet-era launchers. The Angara is billed as the first rocket to have been completely built after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
  • The rocket Angara was named after a Siberian river flowing out of Lake Baikal. It was expected to launch a payload of two tonnes into space. The rocket was developed with a view to launch manned spacecraft.
  • The test launch of the light version of the Angara rocket ended in embarrassment in June due to a sudden automatic launch abort.
  • The Angara-A5 is the first space-booster designed from scratch since the Soviet era. It took two decades of design work and scientific research. The test launch cost approximately 3 billion US dollar.
  • The clean engine eco-friendly Angara rocket family is capable of delivering up to 25 tonnes to a low orbit.


34. Access to Gmail blocked in China

  • Access to Google Inc’s Gmail was blocked in China on 26 December 2014 after months of disruptions. The access to the Gmail was supposedly blocked by Great Firewall of China which is the world's most sophisticated internet censorship mechanism.
  • As part of it, large numbers of Gmail Web addresses were cut off in China from 26 December 2014 and the service was still down on 29 December 2014.
  • The update was confirmed by GreatFire.org, a China-based freedom of speech advocacy group. Also, Google's own real-time traffic to Google services displayed a sharp drop-off in traffic to Gmail from China.
  • The U.S. State Department expressed concern over China's actions which could make email communication difficult for companies operating in China.
  • However, Chinese Foreign Ministry expressed that it is unaware of the development and it is committed to providing a good business environment for foreign investors.
  • The disruptions of almost all of Google's services in China began since June 2014, that is, since the run-up to the 25th anniversary of the government's bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators around Beijing's Tiananmen Square on 4 June 1989.
  • Yet the Gmail users could still access emails downloaded via protocols like IMAP, SMTP and POP3. These had let people communicate using Gmail on apps like the Apple iPhone's Mail and Microsoft Outlook.
  • Also, people can get around China's internet censorship by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) which allows unhindered access to blocked sites and services.



Sports News


35. Mahendra Singh Dhoni announced retirement from Test cricket


  • Mahendra Singh Dhoni on 30 December 2014 announced retirement from International Test Cricket with immediate effect.
  • Dhoni decided to retire from Test Cricket by citing the strain of playing all formats of Cricket. Now he wants to concentrate on ODI and T20 formats.
  • His decision to retire from Test Cricket came after the Third Test against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). Although the match ended in a draw, however, Dhoni surpassed Kumar Sangakkara record of stumping 134 players in all the three formats.
  • Virat Kohli will be the captain of the Indian Team for the Fourth and Final Test against Australia that will be played in Sydney from 6 January 2015. India has already lost the series.


Mahendra Singh Dhoni in Test Cricket

  • He is widely regarded as one of the greatest finishers in limited-over cricket
  • He made his Test debut on 2 December 2005 as wicket-keeper against Sri Lanka
  • Under his leadership India became the No. 1 team in the Test Rankings
  • He became the captain of Indian Test Cricket team in 2008
  • In his Test career, he has played 90 matches and scored 4876 runs in 144 innings
  • His highest Test score is 224 runs



36. BCCI banned spinner Pragyan Ojha from bowling in competitive cricket


  • The BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) on 28 December 2014 banned left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha from bowling in competitive matches. He was banned after his bowling action was found illegal.
  • Ojha's action was tested at the ICC-recognised centre in Chennai and the test concluded that Ojha's elbow flexed more than the permissible limit of 15 degrees.
  • BCCI officially informed Ojha’s home state association Hyderabad that his action needs remedial measures. Ojha will now head to Chennai for taking corrective measures.


About Pragyan Ojha
  • Ojha is the quickest Indian bowler to reach to 100-wicket milestone in Tests
  • He has taken 113 wickets in 24 Test matches and 21 wickets from 18 ODIs
  • He played his first One Day International match against Bangladesh on 28 June 2008 in Karachi



37. Ankita Raina won NECC International Tennis Association Singles title




  • Ankita Raina on 29 December 2014 won the International Tennis Association (ITF) singles title of the World Tennis Association circuit held in Pune. This was her first maiden 25000 US dollars ITF singles title.
  • Ankita defeated Katy Dunne of British 6-2, 6-2 in the final to win the title. With this, she also became the first Indian to clinch the title in the NECC-ITF women's tournament after 14 years.
  • Radhika Tulpule was the first Indian to won the NECC-ITF title in the inaugural year of the tournament in 2001.

About NECC ITF
  • The NECC ITF International Women's Tournament is a tennis tournament on the ITF Women's Circuit, under the tier of the WTA Tour, played on outdoor hard-courts. It is held annually since 2001 in Pune, India.



38. Former England cricketer Geoff Pullar died

  • Geoff Pullar, the former England opening batsman died on 25 December 2014. The left handed batsman died at the age of 79.
  • The former Lancashire and Gloucestershire batsman made his first international debut against India in July 1959 in Headingley. In 1960, he was voted as one of the Wisden's Cricketers of the Year in 1960.


About Geoff Pullar

  • He appeared in 28 Test matches for his country between 1959 and 1963
  • His knock of 131 against India at Old Trafford in his second Test made him the first Lancastrian to score a century on his home ground of Old Trafford


39. India won Gold in World Youth Under-16 Chess Olympiad


  • India won Gold in World Youth Under-16 Chess Olympiad on 22 December 2014. India won against Turkey 3.0-1.0 in the final round at the FIDE (Federation Internationale des Echecs) tournament held at Gyor, Hungary.
  • Russia defeated Ukraine 3.5-0.5 in the final round to come at second place and win the Silver medal. The third place was clinched by Iran while Hungary finished at fourth place in the tournament.
  • In the final round, three Indians International Master (IM) Murali Karthikeyan, IM Aravindh Chithambaram and Kumaran Balaji won their respective matches to clinch the Gold. Only IM Diptayan Ghosh lost to Vahap Sanal of Turkey.
  • Karthikeyan won against Ali Marandi, Chithambaram against Volkan Sevgi and Balaji against Tuna Tuncer. Chithambaram was the best among the Indians in the 10-round tournament who scored eight points in the nine games (8 wins, 1 loss). Karthikeyan also scored eight points in the ten 10 games (6 wins, 4 draws).



40. Phillip Hughes’ bat to be taken to top of Everest

  • In a unique tribute to Phillip Hughes, the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) is planning to place a bat belonging to the late Australian cricketer on top of the Mount Everest.
  • CAN has written a letter to Cricket Australia (CA) and they are working on the initiative.
  • In the letter addressed to CA chairman Wally Edwards, CAN outlined how it wanted to honour the fallen Test opener with a 63-over tribute match.
  • Meanwhile, Cricket Australia trademarked the phrase “63 not out” to stop people from making money at the expense of the former Test opener, who died after being hit by a bouncer during a domestic match in Sydney. He was on 63 when he was hit by the ball.
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