Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Current Affairs December 8, 2015

1. ORBITAL CARGO SHIP STARTS JOURNEY TOWARD SPACE STATION
Orbital ATK launched its Cygnus cargo ship to resupply astronauts at the International Space Station. The unmanned spacecraft blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida atop a white Atlas V rocket. The spacecraft is carrying the most cargo ever packed onto a barrel-shaped Cygnus, with some 7,300 pounds (3,300 kilograms) of gear, including science experiments, ready-made food, a jet pack for spacewalking astronauts and even a satellite made by elementary school students.



2. PRESIDENT OF MAURITIUS CALLS ON PRESIDENT

Dr. (Mrs.) Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, the President of Mauritius called on President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan. President Mukherjee welcomed and congratulated her on being the first woman President of Mauritius.


3. ATOMIC ENERGY BILL 2015 INTRODUCED IN LOK SABHA

The Union Minister for Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh introduced in Lok Sabha, the “Atomic Energy (Amendment) Bill, 2015” which seeks to amend the Atomic Energy Act of 1962, in order to overcome difficulties encountered in the setting up of new nuclear projects and enhancement of nuclear power generation.


4. INDO-RUSSIA BILATERAL NAVAL EXERCISE STARTS

The 8th edition of INDRA NAVY will be conducted in the Bay of Bengal from 07-12 December 15. ‘INDRA NAVY’ is a bilateral maritime exercise between the Indian and Russian navies and epitomises the strategic relationship between the two countries. Initiated in 2003, the exercise has matured over the years with increasing scope, complexity of operations and level of participation.

5. LAUNCH OF ‘SHPI LCU L-55’
The fifth ship of LCU MK IV project, was launched on 07 Dec 15 at an impressive ceremony at Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd, Kolkata. LCU L-55 is the fifth vessel in the series of eight Landing Craft Utility Ships being designed and built by M/s GRSE for the Indian Navy. The ship can be deployed for multirole activities like beaching operations, humanitarian and disaster relief operations and evacuation from distant islands.


6. GLOBAL SME SUMMIT 2015 INAUGURATED

Shri Kalraj Mishra, Union Minister for MSME inaugurated the ‘Global SME Summit’ at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. The theme of the summit is “Make in India through Global SME Partnerships”. The objective of this summit is to connect the Global SMEs with the Indian SMEs for mutual business development and explore the emerging Indian market.

7. RAJASTHAN JOINS UDAY SCHEME
Rajasthan Government has conveyed its in-principle approval to Ministry of Power (MoP) for joining UDAY Scheme (Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana). This Scheme has been launched to improve financial and operational efficiencies of power distribution companies (DISCOMs). It envisages reducing interest burden, cost of power and AT&C losses. The scheme provides that States would take over 75% debt of Discoms, as on 30th September, 2015 in two years.


8. NRDC INKS PACT ON “TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER”

National Research Development Corporation, an Enterprise of Department of Scientific & Industrial Research, Ministry of Science & Technology, Govt. of India, New Delhi (NRDC) has entered into Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with CSIR – Indian Institute of Chemical Technology Hyderabad (CSIR-IICT) for marketing the inventions/innovations, patents, formulations, know-how/processes developed by CSIR-IICT and also collection of Premia and Royalties arising from these activities.


9. THE ‘LARGEST PRACTICAL SCIENCE LESSON’ CONDUCTED

Two thousand school students from Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) assembled at the sprawling lawns of IIT Delhi to conduct ‘the largest practical science lesson’, seeking to script a new world record for the Guinness Book. The existing world record is held by a group of 1,339 Irish school pupils. The event was organized by Vijnana Bharati (VIBHA), an organisation for science movement in the country and by the Ministries of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences. This is a part of the December 4-8 India International Science Festival (IISF) 2015.


10. MANEKA GANDHI RELEASES ‘HANDBOOK ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT’

The Minister of Women and Child Development, Smt Maneka Sanjay Gandhi released the ‘Handbook on Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 in New Delhi. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013 was enacted in order to provide a safe and secure working environment to women at workplace. The Handbook is structured into six sections.


11. IRAQ GIVES TURKISH FORCES 48 HOURS TO LEAVE COUNTRY

Iraq gave Turkey 48 hours to withdraw forces it said had entered the country illegally or face “all available options”, including recourse to the UN Security Council. Baghdad said Turkish forces with tanks and artillery entered Iraq without its permission.


12. BUBBA WATSON WINS WORLD CHALLENGE (GOLF)

Two-time Masters Winner Bubba Watson made four birdies in seven holes in the final round to win the Hero World Challenge held at the Albany Golf Club.


13. ASTRONAUT RUNNING THE LONDON MARATHON FROM SPACE

Astronaut Tim Peake is scheduled to run the London Marathon. He’ll strap into the station’s treadmill – usually used for the two hours or so of daily exercise an astronaut needs to stay healthy in low gravity – and start right with the other runners. Peake won’t be the first marathon runner on ISS. That honor belongs to NASA astronaut Sunita “Suni” Williams, who ran the Boston Marathon in 2007. But until now, no other astronaut has attempted the feat.


14. NASA RELEASES SHARPEST IMAGES OF PLUTO

The Pluto flyby was arguably the scientific highlight of 2015. The new images have resolutions of about 250-280 feet per pixel, which amounts to features the size of half a city block.


15. GARY KIRSTEN SACKED AS DELHI DAREDEVILS HEAD COACH

Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Delhi Daredevils announced that they have parted ways with head coach Gary Kirsten. The former South Africa batsman and ex-India coach, was appointed in 2014. India won the 2011 World Cup under his stewardship.
16. PROTEST AGAINST JAPAN WHALING INTENSIFIES
New Zealand led an international protest against Japan’s plans to resume killing whales in the Southern Ocean, while Australia said it was considering further legal action. New Zealand’s ambassador to Tokyo delivered a “strong” formal message from 33 countries, including the United States and Australia, to Japan. A Japanese whaling fleet set sail for the Antarctic, despite environmentalists slamming the move as a “crime against nature”.

17. EARTHQUAKE (7.2) STRIKES TAJIKISTAN
A powerful earthquake measuring 7.2 magnitude struck Tajikistan, shaking buildings as far away as in New Delhi and other parts of north India. The tremor hit at 7:50 GMT some 109 kilometres (67 miles) west of the town of Murghob at a depth of 28 kilometers. The epicenter was located in a remote area, some 345 kilometres east of the capital Dushanbe.


18. LIBYAN LAWMAKERS SIGN PROPOSAL FOR PEACE DEAL

Lawmakers from Libya’s two rival parliaments have signed a declaration of principles aimed at ending the country’s civil conflict. The proposal was signed by two groups from the Libyan parliament and the rival General National Congress. Four years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya is in turmoil.


19. GENPACT SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH ICFAI BUSINESS SCHOOL, HYDERABAD

US-based BPO major, Genpact Ltd has signed an MoU with ICFAI Business School (IBS) to develop an analytics &research programme for its students. This proprietary programme will leverage Genpact’s rich experience and broad suite of analytics solutions serving multiple banks globally, enabling students to gain experience on tools, business applications and the latest industry trends and expectations.

20. OLA APPOINTS JOY BANDEKAR
Taxi aggregator platform Ola has appointed Joy Bandekar as Corporate President to lead new initiatives. With over 20 years of experience, Bandekar will be part of Ola’s core leadership team, focusing on new initiatives for the company. He joins Ola from Flipkart where he was most recently the corporate president.


21. ‘STAR WARS’ CREATOR GETS KENNEDY CENTER LIFETIME AWARD

‘Star Wars’ creator George Lucas received a prestigious Kennedy Center Lifetime Artistic Achievement award. Star Wars became one of the greatest successes in the history of Hollywood. He received his prize at a event that also honored actresses Rita Moreno and Cicely Tyson, 1970s pop singer-songwriter Carole King and Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor Seiji Ozawa.


22. GERMANY GETS 964,000 NEW ASYLUM SEEKERS

Germany registered 964,574 new asylum seekers in the year’s first 11 months. Some 206,101 migrants arrived in November alone, a new monthly record, up from the previous high of 181,166 in October. The number of arrivals was four times the total for all of 2014.


23. MUTUAL FUNDS SEE RS 31,000 CRORE OUTFLOW

Investors pulled out more than Rs 31,000 crore from various mutual fund schemes in November, with liquid and money markets contributing the most to the outflow. This follows an inflow of about Rs 1.35 lakh crore into mutual fund (MF) products in the preceding month.


24. ASTON MARTIN SIGNS MOU WITH LETV ON ELECTRIC VEHICLES

A MOU has been signed between British carmaker Aston Martin and Chinese technology giant LETV. The fruits of this joint venture are expected to be received by the Rapid E; Aston Martin’s first ever electric vehicle (EV). The research partnership will see the development of a range of projects that will cover everything from connected car technologies to production consultation on future electric vehicles.


25. VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION WINS ELECTIONS

Venezuela’s opposition won control of the National Assembly by a landslide, trouncing the ruling party and altering the balance of power after almost 17 years of socialist rule. The opposition coalition won at least 99 seats in the incoming 167-seat legislature. The ruling socialist party won 46 seats. The 19 remaining races remain up for grabs.


26. VENUS PROBE MAKES ATTEMPT TO ENTER ORBIT

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) made a second attempt to put the Akatsuki probe into orbit around Venus. With the nozzle of the probe’s main engine apparently wrecked, Jaxa reprogrammed Akatsuki to use four thrusters for an attitude-control burn to send it into an elliptical orbit of upto 300,000 km and eight to nine days long around Venus, giving it two years to observe the planet’s meteorological phenomena. Jaxa will confirm later whether the manoeuvre succeeded or not.


27. FITCH KEEPS INDIA’S RATING AT ‘BBB-‘, OUTLOOK ‘STABLE’

Fitch Ratings affirmed India’s rating at ‘BBB-‘, the lowest investment grade, with a stable outlook, saying strong medium-term growth outlook and favourable external finances balance out weak structural features, including its business environment.


28. LATVIAN PRIME MINISTER RESIGNS

Latvia’s Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma announced her resignation after less than two years in office, saying there was a need for “new ideas” following serious infighting within her centre-right party. The 64-year-old has been prime minister since January 2014, when she took over from Valdis Dombrovskis who resigned after the deadly collapse of a supermarket roof for which he said he felt “political responsibility”.


29. MAGSAYSAY WINNER DONATE MONEY TO RELIEF FUND

Bureaucrat and Magsaysay awardee Sanjiv Chaturvedi will donate his award money of $30,000 to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund. Mr Chaturvedi, who was one among two Indians to win 2015 Ramon Magsaysay award, donated the award money to AIIMS for treatment of cancer patients. But it was delayed by the health ministry in depositing the amount into AIIMS account.


30. KAHER KAZEM IS NEW HEAD OF GENERAL MOTORS INDIA

General Motors (GM) announced that Kaher Kazem will take over as President and Managing Director of GM India from January 1, 2016. Kaher currently serves as Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the company’s Indian operations and will replace current President and Managing Director Arvind Sexana, who is retiring in January.


31. ARMENIA TO GIVE PRESIDENT’S POWERS TO PRIME MINISTER

Armenian voters in referendum have supported constitutional changes that would give more powers to the prime minister and parliament at the expense of the president. Armenia’s Central Election Commission said that 63 percent have supported the amendments that would make the president largely a figurehead. The opposition has seen the reform as an attempt by President Serzh Sargsyan to extend his rule.


32. BEIJING ISSUES FIRST EVER ‘RED ALERT’ ON AIR POLLUTION

China’s capital issued its first ever “red alert” for pollution, as the city government warned that Beijing would be shrouded in heavy smog. The warning was an upgrade from an orange alert issued over the weekend, part of China’s four-colour warning system that includes yellow and blue levels for less polluted conditions.


33. WORLD’S FIRST BIOLOGICALLY POWERED CHIP CREATED

In a major breakthrough, researchers at Columbia Engineering have harnessed the molecular machinery of living systems to power an integrated circuit. They achieved this by integrating a conventional solid-state complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) integrated circuit with an artificial lipid bilayer membrane containing adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-powered ion pumps.


34. JAPANESE PM SHINZO ABE TO VISIT INDIA

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit India from December 11 to 13 at the invitation of his Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The visit of Prime Minister Abe is for the annual summit meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.


35. IDFC BANK TIES UP WITH TCS FOR BANKING SOLUTIONS

IDFC Bank has inked a pact with IT services major Tata Consultancy Services to use TCS BaNCS for its core banking solutions. IDFC Bank started operations on October 1 this year with 23 branches, powered by TCS BaNCS.
36. UBER FINED FOR MISLEADING PRACTICES
A French appeals court upheld charges against taxi app company Uber, fining it 150,000 euros ($160,000) for “misleading commercial practices”. In January, France banned Uber’s low-price UberPOP service, which allowed unlicenced drivers to become taxi drivers using their own cars. Bans have also followed in Belgium, Germany and Holland, though the company’s full-price service using professional drivers remains unaffected in France.


37. ITC TAKES EQUITY IN CLASSIC INFRASTRUCTURE

Diversified conglomerate ITC has acquired an 87.06 per cent equity share capital of group firm ‘Classic Infrastructure & Development Ltd’ for Rs 11.38 crore. The share has been acquired through Greenacre Holdings Ltd (GHL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Russell Credit Ltd (RCL), an arm of ITC.


38. BILL ON POTABLE ALCOHOL INTRODUCED IN LOK SABHA

A bill that seeks to transfer the authority to regulate “potable alcohol” to the states was introduced in the Lok Sabha. The Industries (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015, introduced by Commerce Minister, seeks to amend the first schedule of Industries (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951. The bill provides that existing heading “26 Fermentation Industries” in the first schedule of the existing act will be substituted with the heading “26 Fermentation Industries (other than potable alcohol)”.


39. PARLIAMENTARY PANEL ADVOCATES INTEGRATING CBI & CVC

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, headed by Congress MP E M Sudarsana Natchiappan, recommended integrating Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and the anti-corruption wing of the Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI to work directly under the command and control of Lokpal to deal with corruption cases. It also suggested inclusion of leader of single largest opposition party in Lok Sabha, in case there is no recognised Leader of Opposition, as member of selection panel to choose chairperson and members of Lokpal.


40. INFOSYS TO EXPAND OPERATIONS IN IRELAND

Software services giant Infosys will expand its operations in Ireland, doubling the number of staff in the country to 500 in three years and setting up its first product-centric research and development centre outside India. The expansion will see the Bangalore-headquartered firm create up to 95 roles at its first dedicated product-centric research and development (R&D) centre outside India, and open a second Irish facility to house up to 155 people who will provide IT services to Infosys clients.



One of two Russian defence satellites launched on Dec. 5 did not separate from the Soyuz carrier rocket’s upper stage and is considered lost. A Soyuz-2.1B rocket carrying two satellites was launched from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in the Russian north-western Arkhangelsk region, with the Defence Ministry saying on its website on Dec. 5 that the launch was successful.


42. COCHIN SHIPYARD LAUNCHES FAST PATROL VESSELS

The public sector Cochin Shipyard Ltd has launched the nineteenth of the 20 Fast Patrol Vessels being built for Indian Coast Guard. The vessel was named “ICGS Atulya” and launched by Hema Subramaniam, wife of Commodore K. Subramaniam, Chairman & Managing Director, CSL. As on date, 15 ships out of 20 have been handed over to the Indian Coast Guard.


43. SUSHMA SWARAJ TO VISIT PAKISTAN

Sushma Swaraj will lead Indian delegation for Heart of Asia 5th Ministerial Meeting on Afghanistan on December 9 in Islamabad. She will also hold talks with Pakistan. This is first visit by India’s top diplomat to Pakistan in three years, part of efforts to restart a peace dialogue plagued by militant attacks and distrust.



Music streaming App SAAVN has appointed Gaurav Wadhwa as Vice-President of Entertainment and Original Content. Wadhwa comes from beverage major PepsiCo where he was a Senior Marketing Consultant.


45. KERALA STATISTICAL INSTITUTE RECONSTITUTED

According to KK Jose, new president, Kerala Statistical Institute will be strengthened as a centre of excellence in the fields of surveys, studies and research in socio-economic sector. PC Jain is the Executive Chairman of the reconstituted board and VM Sunanda Kumari, Executive Director. S Rajasekhar will be the Secretary.


46. NRDC ENTERS INTO PACT WITH CSIR-IICT

The National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) has entered into a memorandum of agreement with CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad for marketing the latter’s inventions/innovations, patents, formulations, know-how/processes and also collection of premia and royalties.


47. INDIA GRABS THE SECOND SPOT IN ICC TEST CHAMPIONSHIP

India moved into the second place of the ICC Test Championship table after completing a 3-0 drubbing of South Africa in the four-Test series, which concluded with the fourth match in New Delhi. Hosts India notched up a massive 337-run victory over South Africa in the fourth and final Test at the Ferozshah Kotla stadium after dismissing the visitors for 143 in 143.1 overs.


48. CENTRE INTRODUCES BILL TO HIKE WAGE LIMIT FOR BONUS

Government introduced The Payment of Bonus (Amendment) Bill, 2015, in Lok Sabha that seeks to enhance pay eligibility limit of an employee for bonus to Rs. 21,000 per month, from Rs. 10,000, to make more workers eligible for the benefit. It also seeks to enhance the monthly bonus calculation ceiling to Rs. 7,000 per month from existing Rs. 3,500. It will increase the quantum of bonus substantially.


49. ₹90 CRORE RELEASED TO FCI, NAFED TO PROCURE PULSES

With pulses supplies improving but prices still ruling comparatively high, the Centre has released over ₹90 crore to various agencies for procurement to create a buffer stock. NAFED, SFAC (Small Farmers Agriculture Business Consortium) and FCI (Food Corporation of India) will procure pulses (tur and urad) in the Kharif 2015 season at prevailing market rates from farm gate/mandis for creation of buffer stocks.


50. DHINGRA PANEL’S TERM EXTENDED

Haryana government extended the term of Justice S. N. Dhingra Commission, set up to probe grant of license(s) to some entities, including businessman Robert Vadra’s company in Gurgaon, for six months till June 2016.


51. VIJAY PRABHAKAR IS OWNER OF CHENNAI SMASHERS

Complete mystery surrounded the owners of the Chennai Franchise in the Premier Badminton League till its auction began. It emerged later that Vijay Prabhakar, elder son of actor and MLA Vijayakant, was the owner of Chennai Smashers.

52. WORLD CIVIL AVIATION DAY
In 1996 the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed that 7 December was to be the International Civil Aviation Day. The day had been celebrated by the International Civil Aviation Organization since 7 December 1994, the 50th anniversary of the signing the Convention on International Civil Aviation. The ICAO Council has selected a new theme for International Civil Aviation Day for the years 2015-2018 ‘Inclusive: Working Together to Ensure No Country is Left Behind.’


53. LARGEST DESTROYER FOR NAVY HEADED FOR TESTING

The largest destroyer ever built for the U.S. Navy ‘USS ZUMWALT’ headed out to sea for the first time, departing from shipbuilder Bath Iron Works and carefully navigating the winding Kennebec River before reaching the open ocean where the ship will undergo sea trials.


54. GREENLAND GLACIERS RETREATING AT RECORD PACE

Greenland’s glaciers are retreating quickly, and a new study shows in historical terms just how quickly: over the past century, at least twice as fast as any other time in the past 9,500 years. The study also provides new evidence for just how sensitive glaciers are to temperature, showing that they responded to past abrupt cooling and warming periods, some of which might have lasted only decades.


55. INDIA COMPLETES HISTORIC TEST SERIES WIN OVER SOUTH AFRICA

Indian bowlers led by Ravichandran Ashwin showed outstanding perseverance to end South Africa’s dogged resistance and register a comprehensive 337 run victory in the final cricket Test, winning the four-match series by a historic 3-0 margin. Needing a mammoth 481 to win, South Africa depended on their ultra-defensive strategy before being bowled out for 143 in 143.1 overs, the last five wickets falling for a mere seven runs in a dramatic collapse.

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