Current Affairs Daily Digest: December 22, 2016

The Current Affairs Daily Digest for December 22, 2016 with important tid-bits on current affairs.

National Current Affairs

Government to soon set up helpline number 10588 for pregnant women

Government will soon set up a toll free number 10588 to provide relevant information and guidance directly to the pregnant women. The toll free number will be functional at Mother and Child Tracking Facilitation Centre (MCTFC) in New Delhi. The caller can give a missed call at this number and the operator will call back within 90 seconds to address their queries. MCTFS is a centralized web-based application which captures the name based data of pregnant women and children. It was set up at National Institute of Health and Family Welfare in 2014.

India to host 5th Global Conference on Cyber Space in 2017

India will be hosting the fifth edition of the Global Conference on Cyber Space (GCSS) in 2017 in which over 100 countries are expected to participate. GCCS will deliberate on issues related to promotion of cooperation in cyberspace, to enhance cyber capacity building and norms for responsible behaviours in cyberspace. The UK had hosted the first GCCS in 2011 followed by Budapest in 2012, South Korea in 2013 and the Netherlands in 2015.

Union Government launches Google Toilet Locator app

Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu launched ‘Google Toilet Locator’ mobile application to help people locate the nearest toilet. It was launched as part of the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ as well as ‘Digital India Mission’. The app integrates location of all public toilets even those in private buildings with Google maps. Initially the app will have details on location of all toilets in Delhi-NCR and Madhya Pradesh and later it will be followed by other states soon.

2016 Sahitya Akademi Award winners

The Sahitya Academy has announced the names of 24 poets and authors who will be conferred the prestigious 2016 Sahitya Akademi Award. This award has recognised premier works in 24 Indian languages that includes 8 books of poetry, 7 books of short stories, 5 books of novels, 2 books of criticism and 1 book each of essays and play. Read more

Parliamentary committee report highlights alarming rise in forest fires

According to report submitted by Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, there is alarming rise in forest fires across India. It says that the number of forest fires have touched 24,817 in 2016 from 15,937 fires in 2015. It shows alarming rise 55% in the past year. Read more

Union Cabinet approves ordinance to pay salaries by cheques

The Union Cabinet has approved a draft ordinance to empower states and allow industries to pay workers’ wages digitally, through a direct bank transfer to accounts or by cheque in a bid to encourage cashless transactions. The draft ordinance proposes changes to the Section 6 of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936. Read more

International Current Affairs

Nepal to hold first military exercise with China

Nepal will hold its first ever joint military exercise named Pratikar-1 with China on February 10, 2017.  The focus of the drill will be on training Nepali forces in dealing with hostage scenarios involving international terror groups. This military drill does not violate the 1950 India-Nepal treaty of peace and friendship and does appear unconventional.

BRICS bank approves USD 75 million loan for solar project in China

The New Development Bank (NDB) India has approved $75 million loan for Shanghai Lingang Distributed Solar Power Project in China. It has maturity length of 17 years. The project is a solar photo-voltaic power plant with total capacity of 100 MW.  NDB was jointly founded by the BRICS countries by the BRICS (Brazil, India, China and South Africa) and headquartered in Shanghai. It was formally opened in July 2015 with an objective of financing infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies and developing countries.

Japan approves biggest defence budget

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet approved approved 5.13 trillion yen ($43.6 billion) in defence spending for the fiscal year starting in April 2017. It is Japan’s highest annual defence budget announced so far. It is up by 1.4% from the initial budget for the current fiscal year. Now it will be sent to Parliament (Diet) for debate and approval. Read more

Hong Kong revokes visa-free entry to Indians

Hong Kong, a China-administered special territory has decided to withdraw visa-free facility for Indians from January 23, 2017. This decision was taken on the ground to prevent illegal immigration as number of Indian asylum seekers was on the rise. Read more

States Current Affairs

Gujarat Government announces Aerospace and Defence Policy-2016

Gujarat Government announced Aerospace and Defence Policy-2016 to attract investment into fields of aerospace and defence design, development and manufacturing in the state. Under the policy, investors will be entitled to get 100% reimbursement on stamp duty and registration charges paid for purchase, lease or mortgage of land meant for setting up the facility in the areas of Aerospace and Defence. Investors will be allotted land at 50% of prevailing market rate to set up the manufacturing facility on government land. The government will also give cash subsidy of 25% on capital investment made by MSME units to set up their facility in the Aerospace and Defence sector.

Bengaluru to get India’s second sericulture centre

India’s second centre of excellence for sericulture will be soon launched in Bengaluru, Karnataka by Union minister for Textiles Smriti Irani. The centre will aim to boost the silk industry. India’s first such centre was set up in Ranchi (Jharkhand) by the Central Silk Board. Reportedly, India is currently importing nearly 4,000 metric tonnes of high quality raw silk from China.

Girija Vaidyanathan appointed as new Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu

Senior IAS Officer Girija Vaidyanathan was appointed as the new Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu. She replaces P. Rama Mohana Rao. She will also hold additional charge of Vigilance Commissioner and Commissioner for Administrative Reforms. Ms Girija Vaidyanathan is a 1981 batch IAS officer. Prior to this appointment she was serving as the Additional Chief Secretary and Commissioner of Land Reforms.

Environment, Science & Technology Current Affairs

White House bans oil, gas drilling in Arctic, Atlantic oceans

The White House has blocked new leases for oil and gas drilling in sections of the Arctic and Atlantic region to protect a sensitive and unique ecosystem. The protection covers an area of the Arctic and 31 sea canyons in the Atlantic. The ban was imposed considering the risk of oil spills and the limited ability to clean up from a spill in the region’s harsh conditions.

December 22: National Mathematics Day

The National Mathematics Day is observed every year on 22nd December to celebrate birth anniversary of great Indian autodidact Mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. This year, it is 129th birth anniversary of Srinivasa Ramanujan. Read more

China launches TanSat satellite to monitor global carbon emissions

China successfully launched TanSat, a global carbon dioxide (CO2) monitoring satellite to understand the effects of climate change. With this, China became third country after Japan and United States to have its own satellite to monitor greenhouse gases (GHGs). Read more

Kaisa Matomaki, Maksym Radziwill win 2016 SASTRA Ramanujan award

Kaisa Matomaki and Maksym Radziwill have been jointly won the 2016 SASTRA-Ramanujan award for mathematics for their ‘revolutionary’ collaborative work on short intervals in number theory. Their mathematical work dwells on properties of numbers in “short intervals.” Read more

Banking, Business & Economy Current Affairs

Kyrgyzstan invites investment from India

Kyrgyzstan President Almazbek Atambayev has invited Indian businesses to invest in the Central Asian country which can act as a gateway to region. He also promised protection to those investing in Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyzstan is a small country but is the key to the gate of Central Asia. India and Kyrgyzstan have firmed up broad contours of pacts covering a range of areas to combat the challenge of terrorism, extremism and radicalism. Both countries are aiming to strengthen ties in areas of defence, security, mining, IT, agriculture and energy.

Union Government asks banks to waive transaction fee on IMPS, NEFT transfer of over Rs 1,000

The Union Finance Ministry has asked Public Sector Banks (PSBs) to restrict fees on payments through Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) and Unified Payments Interface (UPI) to the extent that is applicable for NEFT fund transfer of over 1,000 rupees. It will apply for all transactions up to 31st of March, 2017. IMPS is an interbank electronic instant mobile money transfer service through mobile phones. The UPI app enables customers to make online as well as offline payment to merchants from their bank account.

RBI imposes penalty on 5 foreign banks for violating FEMA rules

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has imposed fine on five foreign banks namely, Standard Chartered Bank, Deutsche Bank, Bank of America, Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi and The Royal Bank of Scotland for violating reporting requirements of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999. The fines were imposed by Central Bank by exercising its powers under the provisions of Section 11(3) of FEMA 1999. Germany’s Deutsche Bank has been imposed a fine of Rs 20,000 while the rest of the banks have been fined Rs 10,000 each.

Sports Current Affairs

Bank of Baroda became first Indian company to support FIFA U-17 World Cup

The Bank of Baroda (BoB) became the first Indian company to sign up as a national supporter of the 2017 FIFA Under-17 World Cup to be hosted by India in October 2017. While FIFA already has international sponsors for all events, including Coca-Cola, Wanda, and Adidas BOB is the first Indian supporter. The 2017 FIFA Under-17 World Cup will see participation from 24 countries and matches will be played at six different venues.

Ravichandran Ashwin named ICC Cricketer of the Year and Test cricketer of the Year

Ace Indian cricketing bowler Ravichandran Ashwin was named the ICC Cricketer of the Year 2016 and the ICC Test cricketer of the Year 2016. With this, he became the second Indian player after Rahul Dravid to bag the two coveted prizes in the same year.  Ashwin has been ranked Number one bowler and all-rounder in Test cricket. This year, he picked up 72 wickets in 12 matches at an outstanding average of 23.90 and scored 612 runs at an average of 43.17. He is the only Indian in ICC’s Test Team of the Year. Besides, Virat Kohli was named captain of the ICC ODI Team of the Year. While Ravindra Jadeja and Rohit Sharma also featured in the ODI Team of the Year.

India’s Arjun Bhati wins in Kids Golf World Championship

India’s Arjun Bhati (12) secured the first position in Kids Golf World Championship 2016 held in Malaysia defeating South Africa’s Methu Denish. In this event 21 countries had participated. Arjun has been playing golf for about three and half years and so far he has played a total of 82 tournaments. Kids Golf World Championship is a world competition organised by US Kids Golf Foundation for boys and girls between ages 5 to 18 years.