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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS ON DEC 24 2016




DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS ON DEC 24 2016



1. National - Inter-Ministerial task force on Indus Water Treaty meets in New Delhi 
  • The first meeting inter-ministerial task force set up by government to look into strategic aspects of Indus Water Treaty (IWT) with Pakistan was held in New Delhi. 
  • It was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's principal secretary Nripendra Mishra. 
  • It discussed issues of fast-tracking implementation of hydroelectricity projects of 8500 MW-capacity in Jammu and Kashmir. 
  • These projects also include Tulbul Navigation intended at developing India's rights over (Beas, Ravi and Sutlej) and Western rivers (Indus, Chenab and Jhelum) on which Pakistan has rights.

2.. National - NPPA slashes prices of HIV, diabetes, angina drugs 
  • The national drug pricing regulator National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has capped prices of over 50 essential drugs. 
  • It has led to a price cut in the range of 5 to 44% with the average being about 25%. 
  • These 50 drugs include those used for treatment of HIV infection, diabetes, anxiety disorders, bacterial infections, angina and acid reflux. 
  • Besides, NPPA has also fixed the retail prices of 29 formulations. 
  • In this regard in has. 
  • These 55 scheduled drug formulations and retail prices are regulated under the Schedule-I of the Drugs (Price Control) Amendment Order, 2016 by the NPPA.

3. National - President promulgates the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Fifth Ordinance, 2016 
  • President Pranab Mukherjee has given his assent to the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Fifth Ordinance, 2016 as per Article 123. 
  • The law guard against claims of succession or transfer of properties left by people who migrated to Pakistan and China after wars. 
  • The ordinance was re-issued as a bill to amend the law could not be passed in in the winter session of Parliament due to repeated adjournments over the demonetisation issue. 
  • For the first time it was promulgated in January, 2016 to amend the nearly five-decade old Enemy Property Act to plug the loopholes in the principal Act to ensure that the enemy properties worth thousands of crores of rupees vested in the Custodian do not revert to the enemy, enemy subject or enemy firm.

4. International - US President Obama gives assent to defence bill to boost cooperation with India 
  • US President Barack has signed the National Defence Authorisation Act, 2017 to recognise India major defence partner of the United States of America. 
  • The Act enhances security co-operation between the two countries. 
  • It asks the US administration to designate an individual, within the executive branch, who has experience in defence acquisition and technology, to ensure the success of the framework for US-India Defence Relationship. The Act will also help resolve remaining issues impeding US-India defence. 
  • It also lays down conditions nearly half of the funding to Pakistan on a certification that it is taking demonstrable steps against the Haqqani Network.

5. International - NSC passes resolution demanding end to Israeli settlement on occupied Palestinian territory 
  • The UN Security Council (UNSC) has passed a resolution demanding Israel to stop building settlements on occupied Palestinian territory. 
  • The resolution was put forward at the 15-member council for a vote by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal. 
  • It demanded Israel to immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in toccupied Palestinian territory including East Jerusalem. 
  • It is the first resolution the Security Council has adopted on Israel and the Palestinians in nearly eight years. 
  • In response, Israel declared that it rejects this anti-Israel resolution and will not abide by its terms.

6. International - Russia sends battalion of military police in Aleppo 
  • Russia has sent a battalion of military police in Aleppo, after the Syrian regime led by Bashar al-Assad took full control of the ravaged city from the rebels. 
  • The battalion has been sent to maintain law and order in the liberated territories. 
  • The Russian military police is a subdivision of the military that is meant to ensure order and discipline in the army.

7. International - Nepal to import additional 240 MW power from India 
  • India has agreed to export to Nepal an additional 240 MW of electricity in a bid to lessen the power shortage of the Himalayan nation. 
  • In this regard agreement was signed between Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) and state-owned NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam (NVVN). 
  • Under it, 80 MW power will be imported immediately from January 2017 and 160 MW from February 2017 through Dhalkebar-Mujjafpur Cross Border Transmission line. 
  • Nepal is facing under an acute shortage of power. 
  • Power purchase from India will to some extent help Himalayan state to address the problem of blackouts across the country.

8. National - India's longest Expressway connecting Lucknow and Agra open for public 
  • India's longest expressway connecting Agra and Lucknow was thrown open for public after inaugurated by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in November 2016. 
  • It is six-lane greenfield expressway having total length of 302-km. 
  • It has a design speed of up to 120 kms per hour. 
  • It has 2 km dedicated stretch built for fighter jets to land and take-off in times of "war-like emergencies". 
  • It cuts down the travel time between Agra and Lucknow to just 3.5 hours, from the current 7 hours.

9. State - Maharashtra to launch India's first 24×7 helpline for forests 
  • The Maharashtra forest department is going to launch a state-wide 24×7 helpline for registering complaints or getting information about issues related to forests and wildlife from January 6, 2017. 
  • With this Maharashtra will become first state country to have first 24×7 helpline for forests. 
  • This call centre facility will enable citizens to complain about poaching, illegal wildlife trade, forest fires and encroachments on reserved land, among others.

10. State - Karnataka Government removes night shift restrictions for women 
  • Karnataka Government has removed restrictions on allowing women to work in night shifts in all sectors in a bid to provide equal opportunities for women. 
  • As a follow up to this decision, Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, 1961 and the Factories Act 1948 have been amended. 
  • However, employers will have to carry out measures to ensure the security, safety and privacy of female employees. 
  • Besides, state Labour Department has imposed 15-conditions for hiring services of women during night time. 
  • Currently, women in the state are allowed to work in Information Technology (IT) and Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES) sectors.

11. State - Dharamshala vegetable market becomes first cashless market in Himachal Pradesh 
  • The Dharamshala vegetable market has become the first cashless market in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. 
  • It has swipe machine facility to allow farmers and horticulturalists of the area to do cashless transactions. 
  • The swipe machine facility was installed by ICICI Bank in the market was launched by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh.

12. Banking - RBI opens banking ombudsman office in Dehradun 
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has opened a banking ombudsman office in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. 
  • It is the third ombudsman office in North India after Kanpur and Chandigarh. 
  • With this, the total numbers of RBI ombudsman offices have increased to 17. 
  • The Dehradun Office will have the jurisdiction over the entire Uttarakhand and also the seven districts of western Uttar Pradesh. 
  • It was set up considering the significant increase in banking network during the recent past and the vast jurisdiction being covered by the current Office of the Banking Ombudsman, Kanpur. 
  • The Banking Ombudsman office receives and considers complaints relating to deficiencies in banking or other services filed by consumers.

13. International - Japan drags India to WTO on MIP imposed on steel imports 
  • Japan has dragged India to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against certain measures taken by India on imports of 173 iron and steel products. 
  • India had imposed minimum import price (MIP) on imports of certain iron and steel products in February 2016 for six months and was later extended twice for two months to overcome the issue of cheap imports of commodities that were hurting domestic industry

14. Science and Technology - Arctic heatwave could break records this year 
  • Scientists have raised concerns over record-breaking heatwave at the North Pole due to rise in temperature up to 20 degrees higher than average. 
  • The unseasonably warm weather patterns in the Arctic region are directly linked to man-made climate change. 
  • It was found that temperatures throughout November and December 2016 were five degree Celsius higher than average. 
  • It follows a summer during which Arctic sea ice reached the second-lowest extent ever recorded by satellites.

15. Sports - Shiva Keshavan wins gold medal at Asian Luge Championships 
  • India's seasoned Winter Olympian Shiva Keshavan has won gold medal at Asian Luge Championships held at Nagano in Japan. 
  • He finished the 2 heat race with a time of 1 minute, 39.962 seconds and top speed of 130.4 kilometres per hour. 
  • Japan's Tanaka Shohei won Silver medal and Chinese Taipei's Lien Te-An won bronze medal. 
  • This is his third gold medal won by Shiva Keshavan in tournament's history and his medal tally includes four silvers and two bronze medals since 2005. 
  • Five-time Winter Olympian Keshavan is India's only professional luge player and holds Asian speed and time records in sport.

16. Sports - India wins bronze medal at women's U-18 Asia Cup hockey 
  • India won bronze medal at women's U-18 Asia Cup hockey held in Bangkok, Thailand by defeating South Korea by 3-0 goals. 
  • For India two goals were scored by Ritu, while Sangita Kumari scored one goal. 
  • For their creditable bronze medal-winning performance, Hockey India has announced cash rewards of Rs 1 lakh for each player and Rs 50,000 for each of the support staff.

17. Sports - India wins Asian Cricket Council Under-19s Asia Cup title 
  • India won the 2016 Asian Cricket Council Under-19s Asia Cup title by defeating Sri Lanka by 34 runs in Colombo. 
  • Indian after winning the toss had opted to bat made 273 runs target for eight in 50 overs.  
  • In second innings Sri Lanka was bowled out to 239 runs in 48.4 overs.

18. Sports - Pankaj Advani wins National title in 6-red Snooker 
  • Sixteen-time world champion Pankaj Advani has won the 2016 National title in 6-red Snooker, the shorter format of the game. 
  • In the final match heldin Mumbai Advani overcame his junior opponent Ishpreet Chadha by 7-4 score.  
  • With this win, Advani reclaimed the title, which he had won during the inaugural edition in Bangalore in 2010. 
  • He is the only player in the world to win all titles National, Continental and World in 6-red Snooker event.

19. Award - Bengali poet Shankha Ghosh chosen for 2016 Jnanpith Award
  • Eminent modern Bengali poet Shankha Ghosh was chosen for the prestigious Jnanpith Award for the year 2016. 
  • He is the 52nd recipient of Jnanpith Award. 
  • He is sixth Bengali litterateur to bag this prestigious literary award after Tarasankar Bandyopadhyay (1966), Bishnu Dey (1971), Ashapoorna Devi (1976), Subhash Mukhopadhyay (1991) and Mahasweta Devi (1966).
  • Born on 6 February 1932 in Chandpur now in Bangladesh. 
  • He is prolific poet, critic and academician. 
  • He is regarded a leading authority on Rabindranath in addition to being one of the most prolific writers in Bengali.
  • He also been awarded Sahitya Akademi Award, Saraswati Samman, Narsingh Das Puraskar and Rabindra Puraskar among others.
  • Jnanpith Award  :  
  • Jnanpith Award is India's highest literary honour. 
  • Its name has been taken from Sanskrit words Jnana and Pitha which means knowledge-seat. 
  • It was instituted in 1961 by Bharatiya Jnanpith trust founded by the Sahu Shanti Prasad Jain family that owns the Times of India newspaper group. 
  • It is bestowed upon any Indian citizen who writes in any 22 official languages of India mentioned in VIII Schedule of Constitution of India and English. 
  • Prior to 1982, the award was only given for a single work by a writer. 
  • But after 1982, the award is given for lifetime contribution to Indian literature. 
  • The award carries cash prize of 11 lakh rupees, a citation plaque and a bronze replica of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge and wisdom 
  • Bengali novelist Ashapoorna Devi was the first woman to win this award in 1976. She was honoured for her 1965 novel Pratham Pratisruti (The First Promise), the first in a trilogy.

20. National - NITI Aayog rolls out Performance on Health Outcomes index
  • NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayoga along with Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has rolled out Performance on Health Outcomes index to rank States on the basis of their performance on measurable health indicators. 
  • The index was developed with inputs from domestic and international experts, including academicians and development partners as well as feedback from States.

21. National - December 24: National Consumer Day
  • The National Consumer Day is observed every year in India on 24th December. 
  • On this day the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 had received the assent of the President. 
  • Observance of this day provides an opportunity for individuals to highlight the importance of the consumer movement and promote the basic rights and responsibilities of all consumers The Department of Consumer Affairs under the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs Food and Public Distribution is celebrating this day this year with the theme Alternate Consumer Disputes Redressal.
  • Consumer Protection Act, 1986 The enactment of this Act was considered as a historic milestone in the consumer movement in the country. 
  • This Act aims to provide consumers with effective safeguards against different types of exploitation such as defective goods, unsatisfactory services and unfair trade practices.
  • The World Consumer Rights Day is observed on 15th March.

22. State -  Odisha Government launches Biju Sishu Surakshya Yojana to nurture HIV positive orphan kids
  • The Odisha Government launched the Biju Sishu Surakshya Yojana, a scheme to nurture the orphan and HIV-infected children residing in different child care institutions and orphanages.  
  • The main aim of the scheme is to facilitate care and protection towards orphans and HIV infected children of the state. 
  • It will act and supplement for providing additional resources and complementary modalities to the existing centrally sponsored schemes. 
  • Financial support will be given to promote the primary, higher education and for the securing of the future and rehabilitation of HIV-infected children. 
  • State government will bear the educational expense of these children and provide them scholarship for higher education among other benefits. 
  • The scholarship will be provider to top three meritorious students of the each district of the state and each student who passes the HSC examination will get Rs. 20000. 
  • State government will deposit Rs. 1000 in the Sukayana Samridhi accounts of the girl children till they attain the age of 18 years.

23. National - GST Council approves Draft Central, State GST laws
  • The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council has approved the draft Central GST (CGST) and State GST (SGST) laws along with Compensation Bill to bring the GST into implementation, country's biggest indirect tax reform. 
  • The CGST and SGST laws contains total of 197 provisions and five schedules. 
  • They were approved at the seventh GST Council meeting presided by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi.
  • The draft CGST and SGST laws do not include division of administrative turf between states and the centre. 
  • The Compensation Bill will have 2015-16 as base year and compensation to States for the loss of revenue from the GST rollout will be paid every two months. 
  • It provides legal backing to the centre's promise to compensate states if their revenue growth rate were to fall below 14% in the first five years of GST. 
  • However few issues were left to be settled, such as source of compensation fund.
  • The next meeting of the Council scheduled early January 2017 will try to resolve the issue of dividing the administrative powers between the Centre and states. 
  • It will also take up the Integrated GST (IGST) Bill. 
  • It will also discuss the most contentious issue of 'dual control' or 'cross empowerment'.
GST Council :
  1. As per Article 279A of the Constitution, GST Council is joint forum of the Centre and the States. 
  2. Composition: Union Finance Minister (Chairperson), Union Minister of State (MoS) in-charge of Revenue of finance (Member) and Minister In-charge of taxation or finance or any other Minister nominated by each State Government (Members). 
  3. Functions: They are mention in Article 279A (4) of the Constitution. 
  4. It will make recommendations on important issues related to GST, like 
(i) Goods and services that may be subjected or exempted from GST. 
(ii) Model GST Laws.  
(iii) Principles that govern Place of Supply, threshold limits, GST rates. 
(iv) GST rates will including the floor rates with bands and 
(v) Special rates for raising additional resources during natural disasters/ calamities, special provisions for certain States, etc.

24. Banking - ICICI Bank launches EazyPay app for Merchants
  • ICICI Bank, India's largest private sector bank has launched EazyPay mobile application for merchants that allows all-in-one acceptance payments platform. 
  • This app consolidates all digital wallets, QR code, Unified Payments Interface (UPI), and credit & debit cards modes of payments. 
  • With this, ICICI Bank became first bank in the country to roll out all-in-one payments platform. 

25. Science and Technology - New Ebola vaccine may be up to 100% effective: WHO
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed confidence that a prototype vaccine for Ebola may be 100% effective in protecting against the deadly virus. 
  • The vaccine was initially developed in Canada by public health authorities before being taken over by pharmaceutical giant Merck.
  • Earlier in a major experimental human clinical trial of this vaccine conducted on nearly 6,000 people in Guinea in 2015 was found to successfully. 
  • It was observed that no one from the 6,000 people contracted again to the lethal disease. 
  • The test results of the trial were released in The Lancet magazine. 
  • This new vaccine has not yet been approved by any regulatory authority. 
  • But it is said that the vaccine could become available in 2018 under a fast-track approval process. 
  • However, this new vaccine has some flaws as it appears to work against only one of the two most common strains of the Ebola virus. 
  • Thus, it may not give long-lasting protection and some of patients who were given this vaccine have reported side effects like joint pain and headaches.

26. National - Ministry of Textiles to set up Bunkar Mitra Handloom Helpline Centre
  • The Union Ministry of Textiles has decided to establish a Bunkar Mitra-Handloom Helpline Centre where experts in the field of textiles will answer professional queries of weavers. 
  • This helpline initially will be provided in 7 languages viz., English, Hindi and 5 other regional languages Tamil, Telugu, Kannada Bengali and Assamese.
  • This helpline aims to overcome the problem of unavailability of single point of contact where weavers can seek solutions for their technical issues/problems. 
  • Currently there 28 Weavers' Service Centres (WSCs) functioning across the country to provide technical assistance to handloom weavers in improving their skills.


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