Current Affairs Daily Digest: January 4, 2017

The Current Affairs Daily Digest for January 4, 2017 with important tid-bits on current affairs.

National Current Affairs

Election Commission announces dates for assembly elections in five states
  • The Election Commission of India (ECI) has announced the dates for the assembly elections in five states– Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa.
  • With the Election Commission announcement the Model code of conduct has come into effect. Counting of votes for all five states will take place on 11 March 2017. Read more
Justice JS Khehar sworn in as 44th Chief Justice of India
  • Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar was sworn in as 44th Chief Justice of India (CJI).
  • He was administered oath to the office by President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi. With this, he became the first person from Sikh communitry to become the CJI. Read more
Government launches Swachh Bharat Survekshan 2017 in 500 cities

The Union Ministry of Urban Development launched Swachh Survekshan 2017 to rank 500 cities/towns across the country on cleanliness with a population of 1 lakh and above The survey will be conducted by Quality Council of India (QCI) under the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan in a bid to encourage competition to improve sanitation. Read more

Government approves new projects under Namami Gange for Haridwar and Varanasi
  • The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) has approved new projects under Namami Gange programme in Haridwar (Uttarakhand) and Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh).
  • In Haridwar, 68 MLD sewage treatment plants (STP) and 14 MLD STP in Sarai was with Central government funding and also under Hybrid Annuity based PPP mode.  Read more

International Current Affairs

China launches first freight train to London
  • China launched its first freight train to London (Britain) with an aim to improve China-Britain trade ties, strengthen connectivity with Western Europe.
  • The train departed from Yiwu West Railway Station in eastern Zhejiang Province of China. It will travel for about 18 days and more than 12,000 kilometers before reaching its destination in Britain.
  • On its way, the train will pass through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France before arriving in London.
  • It is mainly carrying goods, including household items, garments, cloth, bags and suitcases produced in Yiwu. London is the 15th city in Europe added to China-Europe freight train services.
  • The success of this train will further give impetus to China’s One Belt and Road Initiative (OBOR), an infrastructure and trade network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along ancient trade routes.

Donald Trump names Robert Lighthizer as US trade representative
  • US President-elect Donald Trump named prominent trade attorney Robert Lighthizer as his chief trade negotiator. He will be in charge of negotiating deals and engaging in trade relationships with other countries.
  • Earlier, Robert Lighthizer had served as the Deputy United States Trade Representative under the Ronald Regan administration and is known for harsh critic of China’s trade practices.
  • He has extensive experience in striking agreements that protect some of the most important sectors of the US and has repeatedly fought in the private sector to prevent bad deals from hurting Americans.
  • During his stint in the Regan Administration, he played a major role in developing trade policy and negotiating roughly two dozen bilateral international agreements on a variety of topics from grains to steel.

Ivan Rogers, Britain’s Ambassador to the EU resigns
  • Britain’s Ambassador to the European Union (EU), Sir Ivan Rogers, has resigned less than three months before the United Kingdom triggers Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty to leave the bloc (or Brexit).
  • His resignation comes amid reports suggesting there were demands for replacing him with a diplomat who is more energetically pro-Brexit.
  • He was heading the UK Permanent Representation to the European Union (UKRep), which represents Britain in negotiations that take place in the EU since November 2013.
  • He is considered among UK’s most experienced EU diplomats and previously had served as David Cameron’s Europe adviser since 2011.

Paul Ryan re-elected as US House Speaker
  • US lawmakers voted to retain congressman Paul Ryan as speaker of the House of Representatives. With this, Ryan will lead the 115th Congress before President elect Donald Trump’s inauguration on 20th January 2017.
  • US House members voted 239 to 189 to re-elect Ryan to the key post over the top Democrat, former speaker Nancy Pelosi. Five lawmakers voted for other figures.
  • As a speaker of the House of Representatives, Ryan will lead the incoming two-year session of the House
  • He had opposed Donald Trump during the Presidential race and even had refused to campaign with the him ahead of the November 2016 election.

Banking, Business & Economy

Oil companies to offer discount of Rs. 5 per LPG cylinder on online booking
  • The Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry announced that Oil companies will give discount of 5 rupees to LPG customers on every LPG refill through on-line payment.
  • This scheme aims at encouraging consumers to shift to online payment through digital platforms to achieve the objective of no-cash or less-cash based transactions.
  • The discount will be given to LPG customers who book and pay for their LPG cylinders online through existing online modes including net banking, credit and debit cards at the time of booking.

Paytm Payments Bank gets final RBI approval
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has given in principle approval to Paytm Payments Bank Ltd, an entity majority owned by One97 Communication founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma.
  • The Paytm payments bank is expected to start operations in February 2017 with its first branch in Noida, Uttar Pradesh. More than Rs. 200 crore has been invested till now for the payments banks.
  • In 2015, RBI had awarded ‘in-principle’ approval to Vijay Shekhar Sharma to set up a Payments Bank along with 10 others with an objective of deepening financial inclusion.
  • Payments banks can accept deposits from individuals and small businesses of up to Rs 1 lakh per account. They cannot do lending business. Currently, Airtel is only player that has commenced Payments Bank operations.

India ranks third among countries offering highest salaries to expats: HSBC
  • According to recently released HSBC Expat survey 2016, India ranks third among the countries offering the highest average annual salary to expatriates.
  • The list was topped by Switzerland followed by Hong Kong. The surveyed expatriates (foreign workers) living in India received average salary of $145,057.
  • Whereas, foreign workers in Switzerland were highest paid who got an average salary of $188,275, followed by Hong Kong at $169,756. Switzerland’s average annual expat salary was almost twice the global average.
  • Switzerland has topped the expat career ranking list for a second year because of the combination of high salaries and excellent work culture.

Service charge not mandatory at restaurants and hotels: Government
  • The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) has announced that it is not mandatory for customers to pay service charge restaurants and hotels. Thus, billing of service charge by restaurants in addition to taxes is optional.
  • DCA took this decision, following number of complaints from consumers that restaurants and hotels are following the practice of charging ‘service charge’ in the range of 5-20%, in lieu of tips. It forced consumers to pay irrespective of the kind of service provided to him.

OVL qualifies to bid for Iran oil, gas projects
  • ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL), the overseas arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), has won rights to bid for oil and gas development projects in Iran.
  • OVL is among the 29 international oil companies from more than a dozen countries that Iran has pre-qualified to bid in the upcoming tender for oil and gas projects.
  • Others on the list include China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Total SA of France, Russia’s Gazprom and Eni of Italy.

Persons in News

CJI TS Thakur retires
  • Justice Tirath Singh Thakur retired as the 43rd Chief Justice of India after completing tenure of one year.
  • During his tenure of almost 13 months as the CJI, he had pronounced 126 judgments. Several of his Judgments are considered as milestone and they would be referred in coming years.
  • On several many occasions, CJI Thakur had raised the issue of Judges’ vacancy in higher judiciary and surging pendency of cases.
  • However, after quashing of the NJAC Act, during his term as CJI, the judiciary and the Union Government failed to finalize the collegium reforms.
  • Some of major judgments of the outgoing CJI Thakur includes: Holding that seeking vote on lines of Caste, religion, language etc, is illegal, bringing ordinances under the purview of Judiciary, issue of rising NPA of Banks, setting up Lodha Panel to reform BCCI, upholding the 4G-spectrum allocation to Reliance etc.
  • He will be succeeded by Justice JS Khehar who will be the first from the Sikh community to hold the top judicial post.

5 Indian Americans took oath as members of Congress
  • Five Indian Americans took oath as the members of the Congress, creating history for a minority ethnic community that comprises just one per cent of the US population.
  • Kamala Harris was sworn-in as the Senator from California. She is the first Indian American to serve in the US Senate.
  • In the House of Chambers, four Indian Americans Raja Krishnamoorthi, Tulsi Gabbard, Ro Khanna and Ami Bera were sworn in as its members.
  • Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, who won the election from Illinois and Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii took the oath on Gita. Congressman Ami Bera was re-elected for the third consecutive term.
  • Tulsi Gabbard is the first ever Hindu to be elected to the US Congress, was sworn-in for the third consecutive term. Ro Khanna had won form Silicon Valley (California).

British art critic, author John Berger passes away
  • Influential British art critic and prize-winning author John Berger, a self-declared revolutionary John Berger passed away. He was 90.
  • He was born in London in 1926. After serving in the British Army he had enrolled in the Chelsea School of Art, becoming a painter.
  • He then taught drawing from 1948 to 1955 and become a noted art critic from 1952 onwards. He wrote about artists including Pablo Picasso, Titian, Paul Cezanne and Gustave Courbet.
  • He was best known for his art criticism essay “Ways of seeing”, written to accompany a BBC television series. This series is credited for changing the way people viewed art.
  • He also won the 1972 Booker Prize for Fiction for his experimental novel G., set in pre-World War I Europe.
  • He was Marxist humanist and called himself a revolutionary. He had he donated half of the prize money of Booker Prize to UK branch of the Black Panthers, the far-Left black nationalist organisation.

RBI appoints Surekha Marandi as executive director
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has appointed Surekha Marandi as its Executive Director (ED).
  • In her new role, she will look after Consumer Education and Protection Department, Financial Inclusion and Development Department, and Secretary’s Department of the RBI. Read more
Google Doodle pays tribute to India’s social reformer Savitribai Phule
  • Search engine giant Google honoured India’s 19th Century social reformer Savitribai Phule on the occasion of her 186th birth anniversary (3 January 2017) by dedicating a doodle on its webpage.
  • She was among the country’s first women to speak up for the rights of women. She was the first woman teacher of the first women’s school in India and also a first pioneer in modern Marathi poetry.

Sports Current Affairs

Balaji appointed as bowling coach of KKR
  • Former India pacer Lakshmipathy Balaji was appointed as bowling coach of Kolkata Knight Riders ahead of the 2017 Indian Premier League (IPL) session.
  • Balaji would replace Wasim Akram. He was integral part of KKR’s bowling line-up from 2011 to 2013. He had contributed in the team’s victorious campaign in 2012.
  • In his new role, he will be seen alongside Jacques Kallis, Wasim Akram in the support staff for KKR, two time IPL champions.
  • Balaji was a part of Kings XI Punjab team in 2014 before he decided took call to retire from Indian Premier League career.

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