Saturday, 19 December 2015

Current Affairs December 18, 2015

India ranks 97th on Forbes’ best countries for business list

  • India has ranked a low 97th out of 144 nations, behind Kazakhstan and Ghana, on Forbes’ annual list of the best countries for business in 2015, scoring poorly on metrics like trade and monetary freedom and tackling challenges like corruption and violence.
  • Denmark topped the list of the 144 nations on the Best Countries of Business in 2015 list by Forbes.
  • The US has dropped four spots to number 22, continuing a six-year descent since 2009 when it had ranked second overall.

Delhi’s Khan Market Remains Most Expensive To Rent A Shop In India

  • National Capital’s upscale Khan Market has retained its place as the most expensive location to rent a shop in the country, while its global ranking has moved up two places to 24th position, according to a report.
  • “Khan Market, which is the most expensive retail location in India, was ranked at 24th Position moving up two places,” property consultant Cushman & Wakefield said in the report. The consultant released its annual flagship report ‘Main Streets Across The World’.
  • The top spot has been retained by New York’s Upper 5th Avenue followed by Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay on second spot and Avenue de Champs Elysess in Paris completing the top three.

No interview for junior posts from Jan 1

  • Government of India has decided that there will be no interview for appointment to junior posts in the Central Government from January 1, next year.
  • Responding to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh stated that by December 31 this year, Government will dispense with and discontinue interviews for all Group C and Non-Gazetted Group B category posts in Central Government.

President honoured by UC Berkeley for promoting open innovation

  • President Pranab Mukherjee received  Garwood Award for ‘Outstanding Global Leader in Open Innovation’ from UC Berkeley-Haas School of Business at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
  • The University of California, Berkeley, one of the most prestigious educational institutes in the world, has established the Garwood Award to acknowledge individuals who have embraced, supported and encouraged open innovation in a significant and impactful way.
  • The award was presented to the president for promoting open innovation; for taking  initiative of hosting and gathering global innovators at the first-ever Global Roundtable on the Inclusive Innovations at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the President House.

Chenab Bridge, Jammu and Kashmir, India

  • Chenab Bridge is an under-construction rail bridge, located between Bakkal and Kauri in the Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), India. The 1,315m-long bridge is being built at a height of 359m. Once completed, it will be the tallest rail bridge in the world.
  • The INR5.12bn ($92m) bridge is a part of Jammu-Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Line (JUSBRL) project being undertaken by the Ministry of Indian Railways. The bridge will include a 14m-wide dual carriageway and a 1.2m-wide central verge.
  • The project is expected to be finished by March 2016 and will have a lifespan of 120 years. It will contribute to the economic development of the state and help in providing better transportation accessibility within the state and the country.

Lok Sabha passes arbitration amendment bill

  • The Lok Sabha passed the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2015, aimed at making dispute resolution in the country quicker and easier.
  • The objective of the bill is to make the arbitration process friendlier and cost effective for investors, ensuring speedy disposal of cases. This will make India a hub for international commercial arbitration.
  • The cabinet had approved the amendment to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, in August.
  • The amendments, based on a Law Commission report, seek to impose a time limit of 12 months for arbitrators to decide on disputes. Parties can also choose to fast track their arbitration within 6 months.

Cabinet nod to pact with BRICS for energy conservation

  • Union Cabinet gave ex-post facto approval to a pact signed between India and BRICS members for enhancing cooperation in building energy efficiency.
  • “The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has given its ex-post facto approval to an MoU signed between India and its BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) counterparts for strengthening and further developing of energy saving and energy efficiency cooperation based on the principles of equality and mutual benefit,”.

Cabinet approves framework for coal gasification

  • The Union Cabinet approved a policy framework for development of Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) in coal and lignite bearing areas in the country.
  • UCG is a method of extraction of energy from coal/lignite resources which are otherwise regarded as uneconomical to work through conventional mining methods.

Centre okays inclusion of some castes in Scheduled Castes list

  • The government approved a proposal for inclusion of certain castes, including Sais, Aheria and Peruvannan, in the list of Scheduled Castes (SC) in five states.
  • The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gave its approval for introduction of a Bill for amendments to the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950, in order to modify the list of Scheduled Castes in respect of the five states Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Kerala, Odisha and West Bengal.

PM Modi chooses agenda for DGPs’ meet to be held in Gujarat

  • In an unprecedented move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has himself chosen the agenda points for the three-day Directors-General of Police (DGP) conference to be held in Rann of Kutch in Gujarat.
  • The top policemen of the country would be on their toes for the next three days, performing yoga and giving impromptu presentations on various internal security topics.

Reva Khetarpal takes oath as Delhi’s Lokayukta

  • Former Delhi high court judge justice Reva Khetarpal took oath as the new Lokayukta of Delhi.
  • Lt. governor Najeeb Jung administered the oath at a function where Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal was also present.
  • Khetarpal will serve a five-year term.
  • The post was vacant since November 2013, when retired Justice Manmohan Sarin relinquished office.

Apple names Jeff Williams COO, a job once held by Tim Cook

  • Apple Inc promoted longtime executive Jeff Williams to the role of chief operating officer, reinstating the title previously held by Chief Executive Tim Cook, as part of a series of changes to the company’s leadership team.
  • Williams, who joined Apple in 1998, previously served as senior vice president of operations and oversaw development of the Apple Watch, the company’s first new product since the iPad.
  • In charge of the iPhone maker’s supply chain, and service and support operations, he also looked after the company’s social responsibility initiatives.

Jet Airways CEO Cramer Ball steps down

  • Mr. Ball has quit the airline to pursue a new opportunity, in Europe for family reasons.
  • In another top-level reshuffle, Jet Airways, India’s second largest airline by market share, announced the resignation of its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Cramer Ball with effect from February 29, 2016. The airline said Mr. Ball stepped down to “pursue a new opportunity in Europe for family reasons.”
  • Gaurang Shetty, whole-time director at the airline, will become the acting CEO.
About Cramer Ball
Mr. Ball had joined Jet Airways last year after its board had approved his appointment in May 2014.
Italian airline Alitalia announced appointment of Mr. Ball as its CEO beginning March next year.

Tata Starbucks CEO Avani Davda quits

  • Tata Global Beverages Ltd  said Avani Davda, chief executive officer of Tata Starbucks, a joint venture of Tata Global Beverages and Starbucks Corp, has resigned to pursue opportunities outside the group.
  • Ms Davda was the youngest CEO in the Tata Group.

Sebi to distribute Rs 18 cr among 4.6 lakh investors

  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) will distribute Rs 18.06 crore among 4.63 lakh investors as part of the second tranche to those affected by irregularities in 21 initial public offerings (IPOs) between 2003 and 2005.
  • According to a Sebi statement, the second tranche includes Rs 7.35 crore recovered by the capital market regulator in exercise of the newly conferred recovery powers under the Securities Laws (Amendment) Act, 2014.

New species of ‘sail-backed’ dinosaur, found in Spain

  • Named Morelladon beltrani, it was a medium sized styracosternan ornithopod of around 6 meters long and 2.5 meters high.
  • Scientists have discovered a new species of unusual ‘sail backed’ dinosaur in Spain which inhabited the Iberian landmass about 125 million years ago.
  • Researchers from National University of Distance Education (UNED) in Spain described the species as Morelladon beltrani.

Two years after acquisition, Apple shuts social analytics platform Topsy

  • Apple Inc has shut down its Topsy Labs unit, which specialized in analyzing Twitter data and providing insights into current sentiment on a variety of topics, and the move prompted an outcry from many of its users.
  • The website for the platform currently directs users to an Apple support page. On Tuesday night, Topsy sent out its last tweet from its ‏@Topsy account: “We’ve searched our last tweet.”
About Topsy:
San Francisco-based Topsy was one of Twitter’s early partners, enjoying direct access to the messaging service’s billions of tweets over several years. It has indexed them all to make them readily and rapidly searchable.

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