Current Affairs Update – 15th December, 2015

Hello and welcome to ExamPundit. Here are the Important Current Affairs of 15th December, 2015. These are Important for the upcoming IBPS Clerk Mains and LIC AAO Exam 2016.

Finance/Industry –

PAN mandatory for all transactions over 2 lakh from New Year

  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday said that to counter domestic black money, the Centre will make it mandatory to furnish PAN (Permanent Account Number) for cash dealings above 2 lakh.
  • The Revenue Secretary, Hasmukh Adhia, said later in the evening that the Finance Ministry has changed the reporting requirements of PAN, making it mandatory for all transactions of over 2 lakh effective January 1, 2016.
  • “This will include transactions through cash, cheque and jewellery,” he told newspersons.
  • In Budget 2015-16, Jaitley had proposed making PAN mandatory for all transactions over 1 lakh, but Adhia said it has been revised upwards to “give some breathing time to people” based on discussions with stakeholders.
  • The Central Board of Direct Taxes has also amended the reporting requirement of PAN for other specified transactions. “Persons who do not hold PAN are required to fill a form and furnish any one of the specified documents to establish their identity,” said an official release.
  • Starting from the New Year, quoting of PAN will be mandatory for all transactions of immovable property of over 10 lakh, from the earlier threshold of 5 lakh. It will also be required for all term deposits of over 50,000 in not only banks but also in co-operative banks, post offices, nidhis, and non-banking finance companies. Further, PAN will also be mandatory for opening an account (except basic account) in any bank, including cooperative banks.
  • Cash payments to settle hotel bills and for foreign travel, such as purchase of tickets or buying foreign exchange of over 50,000, will also require quoting of PAN, Adhia said, adding that the earlier limit was 25,000.
  • Opening of demat accounts, buying shares of listed companies which are worth more than 1 lakh, or purchasing debentures, RBI bonds, life insurance policies, and mutual funds of over 50,000 will also require PAN.
  • Quoting of PAN has also become compulsory for purchase of gift cards or cash cards of over 50,000 Adhia said, adding that PAN will no longer be required for installation of telephone or cell-phone connections.

Japan's SoftBank Wins its First Solar Project in India

  • Marking its debut in the Indian solar industry post its investment announcement of $20 billion, Japan’s SoftBank won its first 350 Mw solar power project in Andhra Pradesh through its joint venture company - SBG Cleantech.
  • SBG Cleantech bid the lowest tariff of Rs 4.63 per unit to win the entire tendered capacity of 350 Mw. This is the lowest bid in this year for solar power. Last month, US SunEdison won 500 Mw solar power park in Andhra Pradesh at the same tariff rate.
  • Among the others who were in fray were Indiabulls' Yarrow Infrastructure, Azure Power India, Reliance CleanGen, Goldman Sachs backed ReNew Power and two others.
  • SoftBank tied up with Foxconn and Bharti Enterprises in June this year to invest in the Indian solar energy sector committing a whooping $20 billion. This is its second bid participation after AP solar park and the first win for any power project through its joint venture SBG Cleantech.

Mahindra Group acquired Italian auto design firm Pininfarina

  • Tech Mahindra and Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd, part of the Mahindra Group, on 14 December 2015 acquired Italian car designer Pininfarina SpA for 165 million US dollars in an all-cash deal.
  • Pininfarina is well-known for designing cars for Ferrari, Maserati, Rolls-Royce and Cadillac.

Highlights of the acquisition
  • For the acquisition of Milan-listed Pininfarina, Tech Mahindra and Mahindra and Mahindra have formed a 60:40 joint venture.
  • The joint venture will acquire 76.06 percent in Pininfarina from its controlling shareholder Pincar Srl at a price of 25.3 million euros.
  • The joint venture will buy out the remaining 23.94 percent ordinary shares of Pininfarina through an open offer.

Maharashtra Government constituted a task force for setting up an IFSC in Mumbai

  • The Maharashtra government on 11 December 2015 constituted a task force for setting up an International Financial Service Centre (IFSC) in Mumbai. The task force will be headed by Union Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha.

The task force includes
  • Union Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha (chairman)
  • Lok Sabha MP from Mumbai North Central Poonam Mahajan (deputy chairman)
  • Maharashtra Chief Secretary Swadheen Kshtriya
  • MMRDA Commissioner UPS Madan
  • Principal Secretary Urban development Nitin Kareer
  • A representative from the Department of Economic Affairs, Union Government
  • OSD in the Chief Ministers Office (CMO) Kaustubh Dhavse will be Member Convenor

World Bank Group, FIRST Initiative launched Principles for Public Credit Guarantee Schemes

  • World Bank Group and FIRST Initiative on 14 December 2015 launched Principles for Public Credit Guarantee Schemes (CGSs).
  • The principles provide a generally accepted set of good practices that can serve as a global reference for the design, execution and evaluation of public CGSs that serve small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
  • As per an estimate of the World Bank, up to 68 percent of formal SMEs in emerging markets are either unserved or underserved by financial institutions, with a resulting credit gap estimated to be close to 1 trillion US dollars
  • To fill the gap, the governments across the world have been launching CGS to provide third-party credit risk mitigation to lenders by absorbing a portion of the lender’s losses on loans made to SMEs in case of default.

Insurance –

ICICI Prudential Life launches iProtect Smart

  • ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company Limited, has launched ICICI Pru iProtect Smart - a single product that combines benefits of life, health and accident insurance.
  • It offers cover against death, critical and terminal illness, accidental death and disability due to an accident, said a press release issued by the company.
  • Customers can also increase their cover at various milestones in their lives, for instance, marriage, child birth, etc. The premium for critical illness cover is guaranteed to remain the same throughout the term of the policy. There is also the option to take death benefit as monthly income over 10 years, the release added.
  • The monthly premium for a non-smoker 30 year old male, for a 30-year old policy is Rs 1,110 for death cover of Rs 50 lakh, plus accidental death cover of Rs 50 lakh plus critical illness cover of Rs 10 lakh.

India –

26th Conference of Southern Zonal Council held in Vijayawada

  • The 26th Conference of Southern Zonal Council (SZC) was held on 12 December 2015 at Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh. The conference was chaired by the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
  • Along with the chairperson, the conference was attended by Chief Ministers of five states-Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala and Puducherry.
  • The five states and Puducherry together form the Southern Zonal Council.
  • The conference deliberated issues of common interest to the members of the council such as peninsular region industrial corridor, coastal security, introduction of peninsular tourism trains and finalisation of inter-State reciprocal transport agreement.

Operation Smile-II to start from 1 January 2016

  • Union Government on 14 December 2015 requested the states and Union Territories (UT) to start Operation Smile-II from 1 January 2016. The operation will end on 31 January 2016.
  • In this regard, the Union Home Secretary, Rajiv Mehrishi has written a letter to the Chief Secretaries of all states and Union Territories for participation in Operation Smile-II in their respective State/UT.
  • Operation Smile-II is a campaign to rescue/rehabilitate the missing children. It is a follow up of the exercise Operation Smile that helped in rescuing and rehabilitating 9146 missing children.

Report –

World Bank released Shock Waves: Managing the Impacts of Climate Change on Poverty report

  • World Bank in December 2015 released a report entitled Shock Waves: Managing the Impacts of Climate Change on Poverty. The report examines the two-way relation (interplay) between climate change and poverty and concludes that climate change is one of the primary contributing factors for growing poverty scenario across the world.
  • To remedy the situation, the report also provides guidance on how to create a win-win situation so that climate change policies contribute to poverty reduction and poverty-reduction policies contribute to climate change mitigation and resilience building.
  • By 2030, if both economic growth and climate change are present, an estimated 3.6 billion people could be at risk of malaria, including 100 million because of climate change.
  • Overall impact: In a pessimistic development scenario, climate change could drag more than 100 million people into poverty by 2030.
  • To illustrate the vulnerability of poor people to natural hazards, the report pointed out that poor in Mumbai settle in flood prone areas due to lower land prices.
  • In India, the high-impact climate change scenario brings 2 million people into poverty in the prosperity scenario (if the people are well off), compared to almost 50 million in the poverty scenario (if the people are poor).
  • The estimated cost of ambient air pollution in terms of morbidity and mortality is around 1.9 trillion US dollars annually in China and India alone.

Appointments –

A.K. Jain appointed new CBDT chief

  • Senior revenue service officer A.K. Jain was on Tuesday appointed Chairman of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), the apex policy making body of Income Tax department.
  • Mr. Jain, a 1978 batch Indian Revenue Services officer, was made acting Chairman of the board following superannuation of Anita Kapur on November 30.
  • The Appointments Committee of Cabinet has approved the appointment of Jain as CBDT Chairman, an order issued by Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said.
  • He will have short tenure of two months, till January 2016, officials said.
  • Jain is also holding additional charge of Member (Personnel and Vigilance) in the CBDT.

NIIT Tech appoints Amit Kumar Garg as CFO

  • Mid-tier IT services firm NIIT Technologies said it has hired Amit Kumar Garg, who headed finance at the South Asia arm of Intertek India as its chief financial officer.
  • Garg, a chartered accountant with an MBA from MIT Sloan school of management, Cambridge has over 20 years of experience in finance function at Fidelity International, American Express Financial Centre and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Garg replaces Amit Roy, who was the interim CFO for NIIT Technologies, the company said in a statement.

Awards & Honors –

Renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman won 2016 Genesis Prize

  • Renowned Israeli-US violinist Itzhak Perlman on 14 December 2015 was announced as the 2016 Genesis Prize Laureate for his accomplishments as a musician, teacher and advocate for people with disabilities.
  • Perlman will receive the award on 23 June 2016 from Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at a ceremony in Jerusalem.
  • The Genesis Prize, also known as the Jewish Nobel, was founded in 2012 as a 1 million US dollar award.

West Bengal Government honoured Bappi Lahiri and Kumar Sanu with Lifetime Achievement Awards

  • The West Bengal Government on 14 December 2015 honoured music composer Bappi Lahiri and singer Kumar Sanu with Lifetime Achievement Awards.
  • State Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee handed over the awards at the inauguration of the annual Bangla Sangeet Mela.
  • Besides, Bollywood musician Shantanu Moitra was awarded with the Sangeet Mahasamman Award.
  • The Bishesh Sangeet Samman was awarded to Dwijen Mukhyopadhyay, Ajoy Chakraborty and Sandhya Mukherjee.
  • Vocalists Nachiketa, Sriradha Bandyopadhyay, Dileep Kumar Bose and Fakir Alamgir were honoured with Special Sangeet Samman.

Sports –

IPL 2016: Dhoni, Ashwin to play for Pune; Raina, Jadeja for Rajkot

  • India’s limited-overs captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Tuesday emerged the top draw in the IPL draft with the Sanjeev Goenka-owned new franchise Pune opting to pick him first for the stipulated price of Rs. 12.5 crore.
  • In-form Indian batsman Ajinkya Rahane was the second choice for Pune, while Rajkot opted for Ravindra Jadeja in the same position. Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was picked by Pune as their third choice. New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum was Rajkot’s choice.
  • Following the two-year suspension of the Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals after being found guilty of breaching IPL regulations, new franchises from Pune (owned by New Rising) and Rajkot (Intex) have been roped in for the next two editions.

Team Pune
  • M.S. Dhoni (Rs. 12.5 crore)
  • Ajinkya Rahane (Rs. 9.5 crore)
  • Ravichandran Ashwin (Rs. 7.5 crore)
  • Steven Smith (Rs. 5.5 crore)
  • Faf du Plessis (Rs. 4 crore)

Team Rajkot
  • Suresh Raina (Rs. 12.5 crore)
  • Ravindra Jadeja (Rs. 9.5 crore)
  • Brendon McCullum (Rs. 7.5 crore)
  • James Faulkner (Rs. 5.5 crore)
  • Dwayne Bravo (Rs. 4 crore)

Apurvi Chandela, Chain Singh Strike Gold in National Shooting Championship

  • Apurvi Chandela gave a firm indication that her Rio preparations were on the right track when she won the Women's 10M Air Rifle event on the last day of the 59th National Shooting Championship here today.
  • Chain Singh, also a Rio Olympic Qualifier like Apurvi, claimed the Men's 50M Rifle 3 Positions Gold at the Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Range.
  • While Apurvi was clearly the woman to beat in her final, Chain had to fend off the challenge from Olympic medalist Gagan Narang who finished second.
  • It was a 1-2 for Rajasthan in the Women's 10M Air Rifle as unheralded junior Geetakshi Dixit came second to go along with her three more Gold and another Silver medal in the day.
  • In the Men's 50M Rifle 3 Positions, largely considered one of the toughest Olympic events, army man Chain shot 452.8 in the final round, comfortably ahead of Air India's Gagan Narang who closed with 451.1.
  • Swapnil Kusale of the Railways, a talented youngster who has had a great year and great Nationals to boost, won a creditable Bronze with a final tally of 441.7 points.
  • Gagan had topped the qualifying with a score of 1170 while both Swapnil and Chain had registered scores of 1166.               

Serena Williams is SI's Sportsperson of the Year

  • Serena Williams is Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year — the first female athlete honoured on her own by the magazine in more than 30 years.
  • Williams came within two matches of tennis’ first calendar-year Grand Slam since 1988, a bid that ended with a semifinal loss at the U.S. Open.
  • In all, the 34-year-old American went 53-3 during 2015 with five titles, including at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon. Williams was No. 1 in the WTA rankings all season.

Rory McIlroy wins European Tour player award

  • Rory McIlroy has been voted European Tour’s Player-of-the-Year for 2015, winning the award for the third time in the past four seasons.
  • The 26-year-old Northern Irishman successfully defended the Race to Dubai title after winning the season-ending World Tour Championship in Dubai last month. He had two other victories — at the Dubai Desert Classic and the WGC-Cadillac Match Play.
  • McIlroy was granted special dispensation to play the European Tour’s Final Series. He had not fulfilled the standard membership criteria because of an ankle injury sustained midway through the year.

World –

Merriam-Webster declares ‘ism’ as word of the year for 2015

  • Merriam-Webster has picked a small but powerful suffix as word of the year: ism.
  • But not just any ism. The top isms to earn high traffic spikes and big bumps in lookups on the dictionary company’s website in 2015 over the year before are socialism, fascism, racism, feminism, communism, capitalism and terrorism.
  • Pinpointing reasons why words go on the run at Merriam-Webster is an educated guess. The dictionary company tracks corresponding news events to link lookups to real life.
  • And its researchers also crunch data in a way that filters out common words frequently looked up year after year after year when making their top annual choices.
  • Lookups for fascism corresponded to release of video in November showing a white police officer shooting a black teenager in Chicago, and the criminal charges that followed.


Team ExamPundit


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