Thursday, 24 December 2015

Current Affairs December 24, 2015

Cabinet approves Rs 3,000 crore scheme for fisheries sector
  • Government  approved an integrated scheme with an outlay of Rs 3,000 crore for the development and management of fisheries sector as it seeks to bring ‘blue revolution’ in the country.
  • The central scheme will benefit the entire fisheries sector covering about 14.50 million fishers. It will be implemented in all the states and the union territories.
  • It would mainly focus on increasing production and productivity from aquaculture and fisheries resources, both inland and marine. It seeks to boost private investment as well.
Government To Expand Visa-Free Diplomatic Travel To More Countries
  • Seeking to expand the envelope of visa-free travel for holders of diplomatic and official passports to other countries, the Union Cabinet today approved a model agreement on exemption from visa requirements for such people.
  • “This would facilitate visa-free entry, transit and stay up to 90 days (or less) in any period of 180 days (or more) in the territory of India or signatory country for holders of diplomatic and official passports of either country,” an official statement said.
  • Visa free agreements have been signed with 69 countries.
Union Cabinet Approves Lucknow Metro Rail Project Phase-1A
  • The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved the Lucknow Metro Rail Project Phase – 1 A. It will cover a length of 22.878 km with 22 stations.
  • The cost of the project will be Rs 6928 crore which will be supported by Government of India with Rs 1300 crore in the form of equity and subordinate debt. The Project will be implemented by Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation (LMRC), which will be reconstituted into a 50:50 jointly owned company of Govt. of India and Govt. of Uttar Pradesh.
Cabinet approves revised cost of Salma dam in Afghanistan
  • The union cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the reconstruction and completion of Salma Dam Project in Afghanistan at the revised cost estimate of Rs.1,775.69 crore.
  • Salma dam project, on the upper reaches of Hari Rud River in Afghanistan’s western Herat province, involves construction of a 107.5 meter high earth and rock-fill dam and a 42 MW powerhouse with three units of 14 MW each.
  • The project has potential to irrigate 75,000 hectares of land, and is scheduled to be completed by June 2016.
India closing in on Westinghouse deal to build 6 nuclear reactors
  • India expects to seal a contract with Westinghouse Electric Co LLC to build six nuclear reactors in the first half of next year, a senior government, in a sign its $150 billion dollar nuclear power programme is getting off the ground.
  • The proposed power plant in Gujarat will accelerate India’s plans to build roughly 60 reactors, which would make it the world’s second-biggest nuclear energy market after China.
  • India wants to dramatically increase its nuclear capacity to 63,000 megawatts (MW) by 2032, from 5,780 MW, as part of a broader push to move away from fossil fuels, cut greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the dangerous effects of climate change.
Modi in Russia: Defence, nuclear deals to be sealed
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Moscow to a red-carpet welcome on his first bilateral visit to Russia during which both countries are set to seal a raft of deals in key sectors such as defence, nuclear energy and hydrocarbons to boost their robust and close partnership.
  • The Prime Minister was accorded a guard of honour at the Vnukova-II airport.
  • Stepping up economic engagement and further expanding ties in strategic areas are likely to be the centrepiece of the 16th India-Russia annual summit talks between Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
  • It is expected that a number of major pacts including to ramp up cooperation in defence and nuclear energy sectors will be finalised.
Lok Sabha passes bill to raise bonus for workers
  • Lok Sabha passed a bill allowing two-fold hike in the wage ceiling for calculating bonus to Rs 7,000 per month for factory workers, applicable to establishments with 20 or more workers.
  • The benefit under the Payment of Bonus (Amendment) Bill, 2015, are to be applicable from April 2014.
  • Labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya the government has ensured that interest of workers are protected.
Rajya Sabha clears 4 Bills, blocks 1
  • On the last day of the winter session of Parliament, the government managed to get four Bills cleared by Rajya Sabha without any discussion. But several of its last-minute attempts to push through some other pending business were firmly thwarted by the Opposition.
  • The Upper House, which had remained mostly paralysed throughout the session, cleared the Atomic Energy (Amendment) Bill, Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, and the Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Bill, all of which the Opposition had agreed to pass in a morning meeting.
Agriculture Ministry launches two mobile apps for farmers
  • Launching the apps, Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Radha Mohan Singh said the government would launch a new crop insurance scheme next month, which would aim speedy disposal of claims with very less premiums.
  • Mr. Singh said the mobile apps  ‘Crop Insurance’ would help the farmers not only to find out complete details about insurance cover available in their area but also to calculate the insurance premium for notified crops, coverage amount and loan amount in case of a loaned farmer.
  • The other app  ‘AgriMarket’ could be used by the farmers to get the prices of crops in the market (mandi) within 50 km radius of the device and other mandis in the country.
Paswan inaugurates National Consumer Day celebrations 
  • Union Minister of Consumer Affairs Ram Vilas Paswan inaugurated the National Consumer Day celebrations in the capital.
  • This year’s theme is Safe & Healthy Food: Combating Food Adulteration.
  • The National Consumers Right Day is observed across the country on every 24th December. It was on this day that the Consumer Protection Act was enacted in 1986.
Navy conducts large scale fleet exercise on eastern seaboard
  • Amid increasing Chinese activities in the Indian Ocean Region, the Navy has conducted a large scale Fleet exercise on the eastern seaboard, which included the nuclear submarine Chakra as well as units from India’s strategic Andaman and Nicobar Command.
  • The exercise has been conducted to maintain high levels of combat readiness and counter emerging threats.
Railways hikes tatkal ticket charges for AC, sleeper class
  • The government has increased the tatkal ticket booking charges by up to 33 per cent. The Indian Railways has increased the tatkal booking charges for travel in sleeper class, AC-III tier, AC-II tier and executive class and the revised charges will come into effect from December 25.
  • The announcement came immediately after the winter session of Parliament concluded on Wednesday.
  • The second class (general) tatkal charges will remain unchanged.
Training programme to empower tribal youth
  • Move to attract more youth from marginalized sections of society to the MGNREGS.
  • The Wayanad district administration has launched a barefoot technicians training programme for educated tribal youth under the Sradha scheme of the State government to attract more youth from marginalized sections of society to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).
‘Seychelles committed to Indian naval base’
  • Seychelles President acknowledges that India has been steadily increasing its maritime and security cooperation with Seychelles.
  • A plot of land for India to build its first naval base in the Indian Ocean region has been allocated by the Seychelles government in the Assumption Island.
Philippines is first Asian country to approve dengue vaccine
  • The Philippines became the first Asian country  to approve the sale of the world’s first-ever dengue vaccine.
  • Dengvaxia, manufactured by French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi, secured its first regulatory approval in Mexico a fortnight ago and is currently being reviewed by around 20 countries in Asia and Latin America.
  • It is hoped the drug could eventually help prevent millions of deaths from dengue, the world’s fastest-growing mosquito-borne disease.
Pawan Kumar Agarwal appointed CEO of FSSAI
  • Senior IAS officer Pawan Kumar Agarwal was appointed as chief executive officer of food regulator food safety and standards Authority of India (FSSAI), as part of senior level bureaucratic reshuffle effected by the government.
  • As many as 12 Additional Secretaries, including Agarwal, have been appointed in various central government departments.
About Agarwal:
  • Agarwal, a 1985 batch IAS officer of West Bengal cadre, is presently joint secretary in ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship.
  • He has been appointed in place of Yudhvir Singh Malik, an order issued by department of personnel and training.
Amit Agarwal new Chief Financial Officer of Jet Airways
  • Private carrier Jet AirwaysBSE -1.44 %  said it has appointed former Suzlon senior executive Amit Agarwal as its Chief Financial Officer (CFO).
  • Agarwal’s appointment to the post is effective from, the airline.
  • Jet Airways did not have a full time CFO since March 2014 when the then incumbent Ravishankar Gopalakrishnan, who was also the acting chief executive officer, parted ways with the airline.
Raman, Hirwani and Sekar appointed to NCA coaching panel
  • The National Cricket Academy Board appointed former Test cricketers W.V. Raman (batting), Narendra Hirwani (spin bowling) and T.A. Sekar (fast bowling) on the coaching panel of the Bengaluru-based facility.
  • The meeting was also attended by BCCI president Shashank Manohar and honorary secretary Anurag Thakur and the members of the NCA Board.
  • The meeting was chaired by Niranjan Shah, NCAB chairman and West Zone representative.
RBI extends deadline to exchange pre-2005 notes to June 30
  • Reserve Bank extended the deadline for exchanging pre-2005 currency notes of various denominations, including Rs 500 and Rs 1,000, by another six months to June 30, 2016.
  • The Reserve Bank had, in June 2015, set the last date for public to exchange pre-2005 banknotes notes as December 31, 2015.
  • However, RBI added that from January 1, 2016, such facility will only be available at identified bank branches and Issue Offices of the Reserve Bank.
Wipro to buy Viteos Group for $130 mn
  • The acquisition of Viteos will be completed in the quarter ending March 31, 2016.
  • India’s third largest IT exporter,Wipro, said it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the U.S.-based Viteos Group, a business process provider, for a purchase consideration of $130 million.
Amazon inks pact with NIESBUD to boost SME growth
  • E-commerce major Amazon has signed an agreement with the National Institute for Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development (NIESBUD) aimed at encouraging SMEs to grow business profitably online.
  • Under the MoU, and NIESBUD will work towards spreading awareness on the enormous potential of e-commerce for SMEs and empower them to leverage numerous opportunities India’s growing digital economy offers, the company said in a release.
Australia skipper Steve Smith named ICC Cricketer of the Year
  • Australia captain Steve Smith was named ICC Cricketer of the Year for 2015 on Wednesday after scoring a world leading 1,734 runs at an average of 82.57 with seven centuries over the voting period.
  • The 26-year-old right-hander kept the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy in Australia for the third straight year after pace bowler Mitchell Johnson and his predecessor as skipper, Michael Clarke, won in 2014 and 2013.
  • Smith also scored four centuries and 1,249 runs in 25 one-day internationals from Sept. 18, 2014 to Sept. 13, 2015, notching up the winning runs as Australia stormed to a fifth World Cup triumph.

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