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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Current Affairs Update - 15th December, 2016

Hello and welcome to exampundit . Here are the important Current Affairs of 15 December, 2016. These are important for the upcoming IPPB PO Mains, NIACL AO Mains, IBPS Clerk Mains and RBI Assistant Mains 2016-17.


Current Affairs at a Glance - 15th December, 2016
  1. Andhra Bank has pledged Rs 1,300-crore loan for first phase construction of Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project, for which the Telangana government has been raising funds from banks and financial institutions.
  2. Paytm has announced a program to increase the digital inclusion in the country wherein it is calling upon consumers and merchants across India to teach others on how to use Paytm to pay and accept money.
  3. Airtel Payments Bank on Thursday launched its pilot services across 12,000 retail outlets in Karnataka, in addition to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana the southern market.
  4. The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a ban on all liquor shops on national as well as state highways across the country and made it clear that licences of existing shops will not be renewed after March 31 next year.
  5. Sarbananda Sonowal, the Chief Minister of Assam, on 14 December 2016 inaugurated a Solar Battery Station at Bindhakata Tengapukhuri village in Dibrugarh.
  6. The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs in an alert on 13 December 2016 alleged that Pakistan intelligence agencies are spying on Indian security forces using four mobile applications.
  7. The Government of Haryana on 14 December 2016 launched the Mahila Police Volunteer initiative for the safety of women. The initiative was launched by Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.
  8. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) put a temporary nationwide ban on the use of manja on 14 December 2016.
  9. The Union Cabinet on 14 December 2016 approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and United States Geological Survey (USGS) for Cooperation in the use of US Land Remote Sensing Satellite Data.
  10. The Forbes’ magazine's annual list of World’s Most Powerful People was released on 14 December 2016. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was ranked among the top 10 most powerful people in the world. He was ranked at 9th place on the list of 74 people.



Finance/Economy –

Andhra Bank pledges Rs 1,300-cr loan for Telangana irrigation project


  • Andhra Bank has pledged Rs 1,300-crore loan for first phase construction of Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project, for which the Telangana government has been raising funds from banks and financial institutions.
  • The consortium of lenders led by Andhra Bank has estimated the project cost in phase one to be about Rs 7,400 crore, the government said.
  • Andhra Bank managing director Suresh N Patel today handed over the loan sanction letter to chief minister K Chandrasekhara Rao.
  • Andhra Bank is also extending Rs 1,935 crore loan for Telangana government's drinking water grid project( Mission Bhagiratha), Rs 1,000 crore to the state civil supplies corporation and Rs 400 crore to the state seed development corporation, Patel informed on this occasion.


Paytm launches campaign to increase digital inclusion


  • Paytm has announced a program to increase the digital inclusion in the country wherein it is calling upon consumers and merchants across India to teach others on how to use Paytm to pay and accept money.
  • The campaign is aimed at transforming user behaviour and further accelerate the country's ongoing shift from cash to digital payments.
  • As a part of the drive, Paytm has also announced an incentive including Rs one crore grand prize along with additional prizes like motorcycles, smartphones, laptops and other exciting gifts. All users transacting between December 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017 are eligible to win these prizes.
  • The company has also announced Rs 2100 in scholarship for 10,000 users who help increase digital inclusion and adoption of Paytm and certificates for one lakh further users across all major districts. The winners will be selected on the basis of their efforts to promote digital payments and onboard merchants for payments through Paytm.
  • The company has even waived off its one percent transaction fee for transferring money to the Bank for KYC-enabled merchants to facilitate this shift in merchant behaviour.


Airtel Payments Bank launches pilot services in Karnataka

  • Airtel Payments Bank on Thursday launched its pilot services across 12,000 retail outlets in Karnataka, in addition to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana the southern market.
  • 70% of these retail outlets, which are essentially banking points, are in rural areas, the company said.
  • Airtel Payments Bank, a subsidiary of the country's leading mobile phone operator Bharti Airtel, rolled out pilot services across 10,000 Airtel retail outlets in Rajasthan in November. It facilitates cashless purchases of goods and services through mobile phones, giving an impetus to the digital payments ecosystem amid the cash crunch effected by demonetisation.
  • The payments bank offers basic banking services to customers by leveraging Airtel’s retail network. It offers highest annual interest rate of 7.25 per cent and an insurance of Rs 1 lakh per account
  • Customers opening a savings account with Airtel Payments Bank will also get one minute of Airtel mobile talk time for every Rupee deposited.


Amazon introduces Prime Video service in India

  • Amazon, the American e-commerce company, has introduced Amazon Prime Video Service in India, posing a tough competition to other online streaming services like Netflix and Hotstar.
  • Amazon Prime video will provide Amazon Prime users with the access to the largest collection of ad-free new releases including Bollywood and Hollywood movies, television shows and award-winning Amazon original series and kid’s programmes. The app is available for download on both Google Play store and Apple app store.
  • The decision was announced by the Director and Country Head of Amazon Video India, Nitesh Kripalani. The best part about this service is that it will be provided to the Prime members on top of the unlimited free one-day and two-day delivery options that they have already been given, with no extra charge. So, the Prime members can enjoy unlimited ad-free streaming by just paying Rs 499 annually.


India –

Supreme Court bans liquor shops on highways


  • The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a ban on all liquor shops on national as well as state highways across the country and made it clear that licences of existing shops will not be renewed after March 31 next year.
  • A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice T. S. Thakur also directed that all signages indicating presence of liquor vends will be prohibited on national and state highways.
  • The bench also comprising Justices D.Y.Chandrachud and L. Nageswara Rao said the existing licenses of liquor shops across the highways will not be renewed after March 31, 2017.
  • Last week, the apex court had expressed concern over 1.5 lakh fatalities every year in road mishaps, saying it may direct closure of liquor vends on national and state highways across the nation, besides removal of the signages indicating their location.
  • The apex court, while reserving verdict on December 7 on a batch of pleas seeking a direction to amend excise laws to ensure that no liquor is sold alongside highways, came down heavily on the Punjab government for seeking relaxation and permitting liquor shops near highways if they are “elevated” ones and the vend are under or near it.


Solar battery station inaugurated in Dibrugarh, Assam


  • Sarbananda Sonowal, the Chief Minister of Assam, on 14 December 2016 inaugurated a Solar Battery Station at Bindhakata Tengapukhuri village in Dibrugarh.
  • The Solar Battery Station, which is one of the biggest projects in Assam, would help in fulfilling the power requirements of 287 households of four villages of the area, namely Gerekigaon, Mulukghat, Mirigaon and Tengabri.
  • The project has installed two solar battery charging stations of 6-kilowatt capacity.
  • The two central battery-charging stations have been installed in two different buildings with a provision of two lights and one fan in each household along with one solar battery.


Pakistan's Intelligence agencies spying on Indian security using 4 apps


  • The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs in an alert on 13 December 2016 alleged that Pakistan intelligence agencies are spying on Indian security forces using four mobile applications.
  • The Home Ministry stated that these intelligence agencies are sending malwares through gaming, music and entertainment apps like Top Gun, Mpjunkie, Bdjunkie and Talking Frog to steal confidential information.
  • The Ministry also added that when users having these apps use mobile banking on their smartphones, chances of cyber crime become higher. So, in order to prevent such a fraud these apps should be deleted immediately.
  • A similar alert was issued by Minister of State for Home Affairs, Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary during Lok Sabha proceedings earlier in May this year. At the time, he had said that the Indian security forces have been made aware of such fraud applications and a set of guidelines have been issued to all ministries and departments to prevent such cyber attacks.


Haryana launched Mahila Police Volunteer Initiative


  • The Government of Haryana on 14 December 2016 launched the Mahila Police Volunteer initiative for the safety of women. The initiative was launched by Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.
  • With this launch, Haryana has become the first State in the country to adopt the scheme. The scheme is a part of a number of initiatives taken up by the Union Government to achieve gender equality.
  • It is a joint initiative of the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development and Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • Its objective is to create a link between the police authorities and the local communities in villages.


Green Panel imposes interim ban on Manja


  • The National Green Tribunal (NGT) put a temporary nationwide ban on the use of manja on 14 December 2016.
  • The order was passed by a bench chaired by NGT Chairperson Swatanter Kumar, who said that the sharp glass coated manja used for flying kites poses a serious threat to humans, birds and animals alike. The panel stated that the ban would apply on nylon, cotton and Chinese manjas that are coated with glass and metal.
  • Apart from this, the Manja Association of India has been told to submit a report on the harmful effects of the kite strings to the Central Pollution Control Board.
  • The move followed a plea by senior advocate Sanjay Hedge and advocate Shadan Farasat on the behalf of the animal rights body -People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)-seeking a ban on the use of the kite strings, especially since Makar Sankranti is approaching and manja would be used then for flying kites.
  • The advocates also sought a ban on the manufacture, sale, import and use of the kite strings and referred to Allahabad High Court’s November 2015 order, which banned the use of Chinese manja in Uttar Pradesh, to support their case.


Union Cabinet approves MoU between ISRO and United States Geological Survey

  • The Union Cabinet on 14 December 2016 approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and United States Geological Survey (USGS) for Cooperation in the use of US Land Remote Sensing Satellite Data.
  • This MoU is aimed at enabling ISRO to receive USGS's Landsat-7 & 8 in India. On the other hand, USGS will receive ISRO’s Resourcesat-2 data of US region.
  • ISRO has always been pursuing space cooperation actively with many organisations of United States including National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).


Lists –

Forbes ranks PM Modi 9th among world's 10 most powerful people


  • The Forbes’ magazine's annual list of World’s Most Powerful People was released on 14 December 2016. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was ranked among the top 10 most powerful people in the world. He was ranked at 9th place on the list of 74 people.
  • The list was topped by Russian President Vladimir Putin for the fourth straight year. Putin is followed by President-elect of the US Donald Trump (2nd), German Chancellor Angela Merkel (3rd) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (4th).

10 Most powerful people
  1. Vladimir Putin (64) - Russia
  2. Donald Trump (70) - The United States
  3. Angela Merkel (62) - Germany
  4. Xi Jinping (63) - China
  5. Pope Francis (79) - Roman Catholic Church
  6. Janet Yellen (70) - The United States
  7. Bill Gates (61)  - Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  8. Larry Page (43) - Alphabet
  9. Narendra Modi (66) - India
  10. Mark Zuckerberg (32) – Facebook


Awards & Honors –

A R Rahman in Oscar Race Again

  • Two-time academy award winner AR Rahman is in the Oscar race again for his work in the American biographical film ‘Pele: Birth of a Legend’.
  • The film directed and written by Jeff and Michael Zimbalist is based on the early life of the legendary Brazilian footballer Pele. The film’s score is entirely composed by the Indian music maestro Rahman.
  • According to the initial list of Oscar nominations released by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the singer is in contention for the Academy Award nomination in two categories- Best Original Score and Original Song category. The list was released on the body’s official website on 13 December 2016.


Obituaries –

Nobel-winning economist Thomas Schelling dies at 95

  • Nobel Prize-winning economist Thomas Schelling, who used game theory to explain nuclear strategy, has passed away, according to a colleague.
  • Longtime friend and colleague Richard Zeckhauser says Schelling died Tuesday at his home in Bethesda, Maryland. The former Harvard University and University of Maryland professor was 95.
  • Schelling was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics in 2005 along with Robert Aumann. The Nobel committee said the economists' work "enhanced our understanding of conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis".





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