Hello and welcome to exampundit. Here are the important Current Affairs of 28 and 29 December, 2016. These are important for the upcoming IPPB PO Mains, NIACL AO Mains and RBI Assistant Mains 2016-17.
MeitY teams up with CAIT to train retail merchants for Digital Payments
- The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has decided to team-up with Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) to further promote digital payments among the retail community.
- As many as 1 crore shopkeepers in about 1,000 towns of the country will be trained on digital payments under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between MeitY and CAIT, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Electronics and IT Minister, said at a press conference here on Wednesday.
- Prasad said that there was no timeline for completing the training (raise awareness level and increase adoption) of 1 crore shopkeepers.
- Meanwhile, Prasad also announced that MeitY rural Common Service Centre (CSC) through its outreach campaign ‘Digidhan Abhiyan’ has enrolled over 1 crore rural citizens for digital payments since its launch earlier this month.
- Over 3 lakh merchants have started offering digital payment options to rural customers across various districts and blocks in rural India, Prasad added.
Odisha names Mega Lift Irrigation Scheme after freedom fighter Parbati Giri
- The Odisha Government in third week of December 2016 named the Rs 7600 crore Mega Lift Irrigation Scheme after freedom fighter Parbati Giri.
- The State Cabinet took the decision to mark respect for Giri’s contribution to the freedom movement and service to the poor and needy.
- The government approved tender for 13 Mega Lift Irrigation Schemes with a total command area of 19400 hectares in Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar districts of the state.
Union Government announced roadmap for early completion of PMKSY & AIBP
- The Union Ministry of Water Resources on 29 December 2016 announced a roadmap for early completion of Prime Minister Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) and Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP).
Highlights of Roadmap
- The roadmap is aimed at early completion of 99 identified projects under PMKSY and AIBP.
- Out of these 99 projects, 23 projects were categorised as Priority-I projects which will be completed by April 2017.
- Another 31 projects were identified as Priority-II projects which will be completed by April 2018.
- The remaining 45 projects were classified as Priority-III projects which will be completed by December 2019.
- Out of the 99 AIBP projects, Maharashtra has 26 projects. While Andhra Pradesh has eight projects, Gujarat has only one project.
- Seven projects of Maharashtra are - Waghur, Bawanthadi (IS), Lower Dudhna, Tillari, Lower Wardha, Lower Panzara and Nandur Madhmeshwar. They are in priority-I category. The remaining 19 projects of the State are under the priority-II category.
About Prime Minister Krishi Sinchayee Yojana
- The scheme was approved by the Union Cabinet in July 2015 with an outlay of Rs 50000 crore.
- Its primary objective is to improve convergence among existing water harvesting schemes in order to improve water usage efficiency.
- It is implemented over a five-year period till April 2020.
About Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme
- The scheme was launched by the Union Government in 1996-97 to provide Central Loan Assistance (CLA) to states for executing irrigation projects.
- The primary objective of the programme is to accelerate the implementation of major and medium irrigation projects which were beyond resource capability of the states or were in advanced stage of completion.
World Bank approves USD 235 million for Bihar Rural Roads Project
- The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors in December 2016 approved USD 235 million for the Bihar Rural Roads Project.
- The project aims at improving and effectively managing Bihar’s rural road network. It will also suggest better contract management practices to avoid time and cost over-runs. It will also propose better contract management practices to avoid time and cost over-runs.
- The fund will support the construction of about 2500 km of rural roads under the Mukhiya Mantri Gram Sampark Yojana (MMGSY).
- The roads under the project will be constructed using cost-effective designs and will also incorporate engineering measures that ensure road safety.
Key highlights of the project
- After the completion of the project, around 1.2 million people will be able to access all-weather road. A majority of these people belong to the poor and vulnerable sections of society.
- 30% of the people, who will benefit from the project, live below the poverty line and about 48% of them are women.
- The project will also create direct employment of about 20 million person days for local labourers through a rural road construction and maintenance program.
- Under the project, climate resilient and cost-effective engineering designs will be used. Local materials and industrial by-products will be used to construct the roads.
- It will also use the alluvial sand that gathers on large tracts of farmable land after floods. It is expected that the step will save more than 25% in construction costs for rural roads.
Ratan P Watal Committee on Digital Payments submitted report to Government
- The Committee on Digital Payments headed by Ratan P Watal in December 2016 submitted its report to the Union Ministry of Finance.
- The committee was formed by the Union Government to suggest measures for increasing digital financial transactions across the country.
- Make regulation of payments independent from the purview of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
- Update the current Payments and Settlement Systems Act, 2007.
- Promote digital payments and receipts within Government.
- Create a fund proposed as DIPAYAN from savings generated from cash-less transactions.
- Create a ranking and reward framework to encourage and recognise government agencies who lead the efforts on enabling digital payments.
- Consider outsourcing the operations of payment systems like Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) and National Electronic Fund Transfer (NEFT).
- Upgrade payment systems like RTGS and NEFT to operate on a 24x7 basis in the due course of time.
- Allow non-bank payment service providers (PSPs) to directly access payment systems.
- National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) should be made payments centric in its ownership and objectives.
- Enable payments to be inter-operable between bank and non-banks as well as within non-banks.
- Create a formal mechanism to enable innovations and new business models.
- Implement other measures to promote digital payments.
Nitin Gadkari inaugurated Sagarmala Development Company in New Delhi
- Union Minister of Shipping and Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on 26 December 2016 inaugurated Sagarmala Development Company (SDC) in New Delhi.
- The incorporation of Sagarmala Development Company is a part of the ambitious Sagarmala Programme of the Union Government.
- The programme aims to harness India’s 7,500 km long coastline, 14,500 km of potentially navigable waterways and strategic location on key international maritime trade routes.
- The main objective of the company is to identify port-led development projects under the Sagarmala Programme.
- It would also aim to increase the scope of private sector participation in project development.
- The company provides equity support for the Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) set up by the ports, state, central ministries.
India, Bhutan signed MoU for technical cooperation in infrastructure engineering
- India and Bhutan in December 2016 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for extending technical cooperation in infrastructure engineering.
- The MoU was signed between the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) of India and Bhutan’s Department of Engineering Services in Thimpu.
Under the MoU, the CPWD will assist Bhutan in –
- Promoting sustainability in the built environment
- Capacity building through training of Bhutanese manpower
- Benchmarking in building and road sectors
- Besides, the CPWD also deploy engineering experts in Bhutan to achieve the above objectives.
CCEA approves Road Connectivity Project for Left Wing Extremism Affected Areas
- The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on 28 December 2016 approved Road Connectivity Project for Left Wing Extremism (LWE) Affected Areas, a Centrally Sponsored Scheme aimed at improving the rural road connectivity in the worst LWE affected districts.
- This project will be implemented as a vertical under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).
Highlights of the Project
- The construction or upgradation of 5411.81 km road and 126 bridges will be taken up at an estimated cost of Rs 11724.53 crore.
- The fund sharing pattern of LWE road project will be same as that of PMGSY that is in the ratio of 60:40 between the Union Government and State Government.
- However, the fund sharing will be in the ratio of 90:10 for eight North Eastern and three Himalayan States (Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh & Uttarakhand).
Govt sets up Justice B N Srikrishna committee to recommend ways to make arbitration more efficient
- Seeking to make India a hub of international arbitration and to accelerate the system of alternate dispute resolution, the government today set up a high level committee to recommend ways to make arbitration more efficient.
- The committee will be headed by retired Supreme Court judge B N Srikrishna. It will submit its report in 90 days.
- The minister said the government has been taking legislative and administrative initiatives on arbitration with an aim of minimising court intervention, bring down costs, fix time lines for expeditious disposal, and ensure neutrality of arbitrator and enforcement of awards.
- The mandate of the panel will be to analyse and review effectiveness of present arbitration mechanism, the facilities, resources, funding and manpower of existing ADR (Alternate Dispute Resolution) institutions.
- It will also examine the institutions funded by the Centre for arbitration purposes and assess skill gaps in ADR and allied institutions for both national and international arbitration.
- The committee will also evaluate information outreach and efficacy of existing legal framework for arbitration.
Haryana signs MoU with Andhra to prepare citizen database
- Haryana government today signed a memorandum of understanding with Andhra Pradesh to assist it compile a centralised database of its population to ensure efficient and effective implementation of welfare programmes.
- The MoU for State Resident Data Base (SRDB) was signed by Haryana Principal Secretary, Information Technology Devender Singh and Secretary Andhra Pradesh, Information Technology, Vijayen. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Andhra's N Chandra Babu Naidu were present during the signing of the MoU at Andhra Bhawan here.
- Andhra already has a database of this sort. It's described as a comprehensive portal for managing demographic (name, gender, age, photograph and address) and biometric information for facilitating "Unique ID" based identity authentication.
Health Ministry, AIIMS to set up National Death Registry
- The Union Health Ministry in collaboration with All India Institute Of Medical Science (AIIMS) will set up a National Death Registry encompassing data about deaths and their causes in all the hospitals across the country. The announcement was made on 27 December 2016.
Highlights of the National Death Registry
- The aim behind setting up of this registry is to have a nationwide database about the causes of deaths occurring in hospitals in various regions of India.
- It will help the policy makers in having a better understanding of disease outbreaks so as to optimise the resources and healthcare facilities in respective regions.
- AIIMS already implemented the pilot version of the death registry with the unique feature of having a coding system called the Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine (SNOMED).
- AIIMS will be the technical as well as the implementing partner of this programme.
Union Cabinet approved ratification of ISA Framework Agreement
- The Union Cabinet on 28 December 2016 gave its ex-post facto approval for ratification of ISA’s Framework Agreement of International Solar Alliance (ISA) by India.
- The approval was given at a meeting of the cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.
What is International Solar Alliance?
- It is an alliance of 121 nations that are primarily situated between Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn launched on 30 November 2015.
- The International Solar Alliance (ISA) was jointly launched by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and France President Francois Hollande in Paris on the sidelines of the Conference of Parties 21 (CoP21) of the United Nations climate change conference (UNFCCC).
- It is considered as first international and inter-governmental organization mooted by India.
What are the functions of International Solar Alliance?
- It tries to improve living standards by facilitating greater access to energy.
- The ISA works with partner countries to formulate projects and programmes to accelerate development and deployment of existing clean solar energy technologies.
- It also develops innovative financial mechanisms to reduce cost of capital.
- It is also instrumental in spreading knowledge about solar energy through knowledge e-portal.
PM Narendra Modi laid foundation stone of Char Dham Highway Development Project
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 27 December 2016 laid the foundation stone of Char Dham Highway Development Project in Dehradun, Uttarakhand.
- The primary objective of the programme is to develop all-weather roads leading to Char Dham - Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamunotri and Gangotri in Uttarakhand.
Highlights of Char Dham Highway Development Project
- It is also called as the Chardham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojna.
- It is a part of the Union Government’s National Highway Connectivity Improvement Programme for Char Dham in Uttarakhand.
- Char Dham Highway Development Project is an ambitious initiative to improve connectivity to the Char Dham pilgrimage centres in the Himalayas.
- Under the project, 900 km of national highways will be developed.
- These highways will be built at an approximate cost of Rs 12,000 crore.
- The all-weather roads will have tunnels, bridges and fly-overs to enhance road safety and uninterrupted access.
Viral V Acharya appointed as Deputy Governor of RBI
- Viral V Acharya was on 28 December 2016 appointed as the Deputy Governor of Reserve Bank of India (RBI). He is a professor of economics at New York University.
- He will be joining the ranks of Vishwanathan, S S Mundra, R Gandhi as one of four Deputy Governors of RBI. He will be serving under RBI Governor Urjit Patel.
SP Vaid appointed as Director General of J&K police
- The Jammu and Kashmir government on 28 December 2016 cleared the appointment of Dr Shesh Pal Vaid, Special DG, Coordination and Law and Order, as new Director General of Police. Vaid, the 1986 batch Indian Police Services (IPS) officer of J&K cadre, will hold the office until October 2019.
- He will succeed DGP K Rajendra, whose extended term of service will end on 31 December 2016. Kumar was appointed as DGP of J&K in May 2014 and later was given an extension of three months during the unrest that occurred in the valley after killing of a militant named Burhan Wani.
- His appointment was approved at a cabinet meet chaired by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.
- He is the second officer from Jammu to have risen to the post of Director General of Police. MM Khajuria was the first person from Jammu to hold the position. He held the position in 1985.
Anil Baijal to be appointed 21st Lieutenant Governor of Delhi
- Former IAS officer Anil Baijal is all set to be appointed as the 21st Lieutenant Governor of Delhi. The approval for his appointment was given on 28 December 2016 by President Pranab Mukherjee.
- Baijal will succeed Najeeb Jung, who resigned from the post of Delhi LG on 22 December 2016. Jung had resigned 18 months short of his tenure.
Soli J Sorabjee re-elected as President of India International Centre
- Former attorney general Soli J Sorabjee was on 26 December 2016 re-elected as the President of the India International Centre (IIC), a prestigious cultural institution. He was appointed for a period of five years with effect from 1 January 2017.
- The Board of Directors of IIC unanimously elected Sorabjee for a second consecutive term while recognising his services in achieving the objectives of IIC.
Meghalaya to host 2022 National Games
- Meghalaya will host the 2022 National Games, which will coincide with the state’s 50 years of statehood. The state had pledged 5 crore rupees as the bid amount for the game.
- With this, Meghalaya will become the third north-eastern state after Manipur and Assam to host the National Games.
- The news was announced on 27 December 2016 in the meeting of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) meeting held in Chennai. The IOA accepted Meghalaya's bid to host the National Games overshadowing four other bidders, which were Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Chhattisgargh and Uttarakhand.
- The IOA accepted Meghalaya's bid to host the 2022 National Games following the successful South Asian Games, which was co-hosted by Shillong and Guwahati earlier in 2016.
- The next Nation Games will be hosted by Goa in November 2017.
Samit Gohel broke 117-year-old record in first-class cricket
- Samit Gohel, the Ranji player from Gujarat, who scored 359 not out runs in Ranji Trophy quarterfinal in Jaipur, Rajasthan, has broken the 117-year-old record in first-class cricket. He was able to create the world record with 45 boundaries and one six in 723 balls.
- Samit remained not out in his team’s score of 641, which was the highest first-class score for team Gujarat. With this score, Gujarat was able to enter into the semi-final of the Ranji Trophy. It defeated the Ranji team of Odisha.
- One of his teammates Priyank Panchal has been the top scorer in this season's Ranji Trophy.
- Samit, 26, registered the highest first-class 359 while carrying the bat in a match against Odisha at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium. With his score, he also broke the first-class record held by an Englishman, Bobby Abel. Surrey’s Bobby Abel scored 357 against Somerset way back in 1899 at the Oval.
- While Hanif Mohammed’s score of 499 remains the highest score by an opener in first-class cricket.
Virat Kohli chosen Cricket Australia’s ODI Captain of Year
- India’s Test captain Virat Kohli on 27 December 2016 was named Cricket Australia’s ODI team of the year.
- Kohli was earlier also picked as the Captain of the ICC’s ODI team of the year.
- Cricket Australia stated that Kohli played only 10 one-day matches in 2016; however, he underlined his status as one of the best in the 50-over format. He scored back-to-back centuries against Australia in January 2016 and then a 154 against New Zealand, which was more than half of his team's total. At present, he averages an incredible 90.10 in 59 successful run chases for India.
Indian Olympic Association appoints Suresh Kalmadi, Abhay Singh Chautala as life presidents
- The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on 27 December 2016 appointed Suresh Kalmadi and Abhay Singh Chautala as its life presidents.
- The IOA unanimously appointed the Kalmadi and Chautala to the post during its Annual General Meeting in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.
- A life president of IOA is an honorary post with no voting rights or involvement in day-to-day functioning of the body. In its 89-year old history, IOA has had 12 presidents, including the current incumbent N Ramachandran.
Serbian tennis player Ana Ivanovic announces retirement
- Serbian professional tennis player Ana Ivanovic on 28 December 2016 announced retirement from tennis at the age of 29.
- Ivanovic announced her retirement in a video in which she stated that she no longer feels fit enough to compete at the highest level.
- The tennis player is the first Serbian woman to win a grand slam tournament.
Nawaz Sharif inaugurated Chashma-III nuclear power plant
- Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on 28 December 2016 inaugurated Chashma-III nuclear power plant near Mianwali in Punjab Province.
- The inauguration of the plant not only alleviates the load shedding problems in Punjab Province, but also helps Pakistan in achieving the commitments under the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).
- As per the INDCs that are submitted by Pakistan to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), use of non-fossil fuel based energy sources will be encouraged in the country.
Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe seeks reconciliation with US at Pearl Harbour
- In a landmark moment, the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe and President of the United States Barack Obama visited Pearl Harbor in Hawaii to offer condolences to the victims of the surprise Japanese bombing on US naval base 75 years ago.
- The meeting of the two leaders at the memorial site was another move towards reconciliation.
- Both the leaders used the ceremony to encourage their citizens to reconcile and move forward.
- Though Abe did not apologise for the attack, he did offer his most sincere and everlasting condolences to the victims and stated that Japan had taken a solemn vow to never wage a war ever again.
- Abe also visited the USS Arizona Memorial, which was built in 1962 in the memory of the American sailors and Marines who lay buried in the wreckage of the battleship, sunk by the Japanese during the attack.
Nepal rejects India’s 'Open Sky’ offer
- Nepal rejected India’s ‘open sky’ proposal at a meeting held at New Delhi on 20 December 2016. The proposal was to allow unlimited flights between the two countries.
- Nepal explained its decision by saying that it was not ready for the agreement and might consider it two years later. Currently, airlines of both the nations are allowed to operate only 30000 seats from each side.
- India and Nepal signed a memorandum of understanding to create a joint technical committee, which will be responsible for looking into Nepal’s request for developing new air routes and entry points at its Bhairahawa, Janakpur and Nepalgunj airports.
- The committee would convene in the first week of February 2017 to check the feasibility of the requested routes.
Awards & Honors –
Rajasthani writer Satya Narayan selected for 2016 Bihari Puraskar
- Renowned Rajasthani litterateur Satya Narayan was on 26 December 2016 chosen for the 26th Bihari Puraskar 2016 by K K Birla Foundation. This was the 26th year of the award.
- He was chosen for his Hindi book titled Yeh Ek Dunia which was published in 2010. His novel Yeh Ek Dunia depicts the various circumstances of life in contemporary world.
- The book attempts to enter the unseen aspects where human experiences and conscience are more important than life situations of contemporary time zone.
Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher passes away
- Carrie Fisher, known for her role as Princess Leia Organa in Star Wars movie, passed away on 27 December 2016 following a cardiac arrest. She was 60. She is survived by her mother, daughter and beloved French bulldog, Gary.
- Escaping Hollywood in 1973, Fisher enrolled in the Central School of Speech and Drama in London to study acting.
- In 1975, she made her film debut in the Warren Beatty-lead movie Shampoo.
- Throughout the 1990s, Fisher focused on her writing career and published Surrender the Pink and Delusions of Grandma.
- She also crafted the scripts for numerous Hollywood films like The Wedding Singer, Hook and Sister Act, etc.
Sunderlal Patwa, the former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, died
- Sunderlal Patwa, the former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, died at a private hospital in Bhopal on 28 December 2016. He was 92.
- The veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and two-times chief minister of Madhya Pradesh is considered as a political mentor of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
Astronomer Vera Rubin, who confirmed dark matter, passes away
- Pioneering astronomer Vera Rubin passed away on 25 December 2016. She was 88.
- Rubin, who helped discover evidence of dark matter, passed away due to natural causes.