Current Affairs Update – 16-17 December, 2016

Hello and welcome to exampundit . Here are the important Current Affairs of 16 and 17 December, 2016. These are important for the upcoming IPPB PO Mains, NIACL AO Mains, IBPS Clerk Mains and RBI Assistant Mains 2016-17.

Current Affairs at a Glance – 16-17 December, 2016

  1. Lt Gen Bipin Rawat has been appointed as the new chief of Army Staff and Air Marshal BS Dhanoa will take over as the new chief
    of Air Staff
    .
  2. Rajiv Jain was appointed the next chief of
    Intelligence Bureau (IB)
    while Anil Dhasmana
    was named as the new head of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW)

    on Saturday.
  3. India and Tajikistan on Saturday signed four agreements, including one on exchange of
    financial intelligence
    , following delegation-level talks headed by
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Tajik President Emomali Rahmon here.
  4. National Aluminium Company Limited (NALCO), the Navratna PSU, under Ministry of Mines, Govt
    of India and State-run
    power giant NTPC Ltd
    . on Friday signed
    an agreement to set up a 2400 mega watt coal-based power plant at Gajmara in Odisha’s Dhenkanal district
    .
  5. Union Government on 15 December
    2016 launched Lucky
    Grahak Yojana and Digi Dhan Vyapar Yojana to promote digital payments in the
    country
    .
  6. The US-India Clean Energy Finance (USICEF) initiative has been launched to pave the way to
    mobilise finance and support Indian-distributed clean energy projects.
  7. The Union Power and Renewable
    Energy Minister Piyush Goyal on 15 December 2016 announced that the government
    sanctioned over Rs 30 crore for solar cities programme
    .
  8. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj
    International airport in Mumbai became India’s first airport to introduce self
    bag drop units on Thursday
    . The Mumbai International Airport Limited
    (MIAL) has installed several units in the country’s second most busiest airport
    to help passenger flow during rush hours
  9. Assam’s island district, Majuli will now
    become India’s first ever Carbon neutral district by 2020
    .
  10. The seventh edition of EKUVERIN
    commenced on 15 December 2016 at Kadhdhoo, Laamu Atoll, Maldives.
  11. Audi, the German luxury car
    manufacturer, has appointed Rahil Ansari as the Head of Audi India,
    effective February 1, 2017. He replaces Joe King, whose tenure ended.
  12. Sushma Swaraj, the Indian
    Minister of External Affairs was named a
    ‘2016 Global Thinker’ by Foreign Policy magazine for her ‘novel Twitter
    diplomacy’
    .
  13. The Indian Council of Food and
    Agriculture (ICFA) on 15 December 2016 presented ‘Global Agriculture Leadership Award 2016’
    to Ratan Tata in Mumbai
    .
  14. India batswoman Smriti Mandhana
    was on 14 December 2016 named in the
    International Cricket Council (ICC) Women’s Team of the Year 2016
    .

Finance/Economy –
India, Tajikistan sign four agreements including exchange of financial
intelligence

  • India and Tajikistan on Saturday
    signed four agreements, including one on exchange of financial intelligence,
    following delegation-level talks headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and
    Tajik President Emomali Rahmon here.
  • A memorandum of understanding (MoU)
    was signed on cooperation in the exchange of financial intelligence related to
    money laundering, related crimes and financing of terrorism.
  • The two sides signed a protocol
    amending avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion.
  • Another MoU was signed regarding
    cooperation on broadcasting in exchange of audio-visual programmes.
  • The two sides also initialled a
    document on bilateral investment.

NALCO, NTPC sign MoU to set up 2,400-MW Power Plant in Odisha

  • National Aluminium Company Limited
    (NALCO), the Navratna PSU, under Ministry of Mines, Govt of India and State-run
    power giant NTPC Ltd.on Friday signed an agreement to set up a 2400 mega watt
    coal-based power plant at Gajmara in Odisha’s Dhenkanal district.
  • The MoU was inked in the presence
    of Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Union Power,
    Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines Minister Piyush Goyal in New Delhi.
  • Speaking on the occasion,
    Minister Piyush Goyal highlighted that NALCO is planning a greenfield project
    of 6 lakh tonne smelter at Kamakhya Nagar, Odisha of Rs 12,000 crore and
    brownfield expansion at its  Aluminium
    Smelter in Angul, with an additional capacity of 5 lakh tonnes per annum with
    an estimated CAPEX costing Rs.10,000 crore.
  • Dharmendra Pradhan informed that
    it’s a dream come true for the people of Odisha as a power project at Gajamara
    will greatly enhance the industrialization and employment generation in Odisha
    with an investment of 48,000 crore.

Union Government launches Lucky Grahak Yojana, Digi Dhan Vyapar Yojana

  • Union Government on 15 December
    2016 launched Lucky Grahak Yojana and Digi Dhan Vyapar Yojana to promote digital
    payments in the country.
  • These schemes are aimed at
    increasing the overall transparency in the economy and removing the influence
    of cash on the political and economic system.

Key Highlights of both schemes
  • Under these schemes, government
    will be giving cash awards to consumers and merchants who utilize digital
    payment instruments for personal consumption expenditures.
  • The National Payment Corporation
    of India (NPCI) will be the implementing agency of these schemes.
  • The primary aim of these schemes
    is to incentivize digital transactions so that electronic payments are adopted
    by all sections of the society, especially the poor and the middle class.
  • It has been designed keeping in
    mind all sections of the society and their usage patterns.
  • The schemes will become
    operational with the first draw on 25 December 2016 and will lead up to a Mega
    Draw on Babasaheb Ambedkar Jayanti on 14 April 2017.

Lucky Grahak Yojana
(Consumers)
  • Under this scheme, government
    will offer daily reward of Rs 1000 that will be given to 15000 lucky consumers
    for a period of 100 days.
  • Consumers, who use the alternate
    modes of digital payments, will be awarded with the weekly prizes of Rs 1 lakh,
    Rs 10000 and Rs 5000.
  • This will include all forms of
    transactions- UPI, USSD, AEPS and RuPay Cards but will exclude transactions
    through Private Credit Cards and Digital Wallets.

Digi Dhan Vyapar Yojana
(Merchants)
  • Under this scheme, the government
    will award prizes to merchants for all digital transactions conducted at
    merchant establishments.
  • They will be awarded with the
    weekly prizes of Rs 50000, Rs 5000 and Rs 2500

Mega Draw on 14 April 2017
  • The Union Government on 14 April
    2017 will announce three mega prizes Rs 1 crore, Rs 50 lakh, Rs 25 lakh for
    consumers for digital transactions that are held between 8 November 2016- 13
    April 2017.
  • It will also announce three mega
    prizes of Rs 50 lakh, Rs 25 lakh, Rs 12 lakh for merchants for digital
    transactions between 8 November 2016 to 13 April 2017.
  • The winners will be shortlisted
    through a random draw of the eligible transaction IDs by a software that is
    especially being developed by NPCI for this purpose.
  • The estimated expenditure on the
    first phase of the scheme is around Rs 340 Crores.

US-India initiative to back clean energy projects launched

  • The US-India Clean Energy Finance
    (USICEF) initiative has been launched to pave the way to mobilise finance and
    support Indian-distributed clean energy projects.
  • This comes in the backdrop of a
    commitment made by the US and Indian governments to finance clean energy
    projects.
  • USICEF will deploy up to $20
    million in project preparation support, sourced equally from leading
    foundations and the Indian Government, to distributed solar power projects
    under consideration for long-term financing from OPIC.
  • The William and Flora Hewlett
    Foundation, Good Energies Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur
    Foundation, and the David and Lucille Packard Foundation have committed funding
    to USICEF to begin operations, and Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) in Delhi has
    been selected as secretariat for the initiative.
  • The USICEF programme helps
    promising distributed solar projects develop into viable candidates for
    financing from The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the US
    Government’s development finance institution, as well as other finance
    institutions.
  • This support will lay the
    foundation for project developers to access capital to scale up their
    businesses. It is proposed to target India’s distributed solar markets.

Union Government sanctioned Rs 30 crore for Solar City Programme

  • The Union Power and Renewable
    Energy Minister Piyush Goyal on 15 December 2016 announced that the government
    sanctioned over Rs 30 crore for solar cities programme.
  • The funds were sanctioned between
    December 2014 and November 2016 to 21 states and union territories (UTs).
  • It is also called as the
    Development of Solar Cities Programme.
  • The programme aims to consolidate
    all the previous initiatives of the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy
    to address the energy problem of urban areas in a holistic manner.
  • It is designed to support and
    encourage Urban Local Bodies to prepare a road map to guide their cities in
    becoming renewable energy cities.
  • A solar city is defined as a city
    which achieved a minimum 10% reduction in the projected demand for conventional
    energy.
  • The cities may have a population
    between 50000 to 50 lakh. However, relaxation could be considered for
    North-Eastern and hilly States, Islands and UTs.
  • A total of 60 cities will be
    developed under this programme. At least one city in each State to a maximum of
    five cities in a State may be supported by the Ministry.
  • Up to Rs 50 lakh per city is
    provided depending upon population and initiatives decided to be taken by the
    city administration.

India –
Mumbai airport becomes India’s first to introduce self bag-drop
facility

  • The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj
    International airport in Mumbai became India’s first airport to introduce self
    bag drop units on Thursday. The Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) has
    installed several units in the country’s second most busiest airport to help
    passenger flow during rush hours.
  • The bag drop solution units,
    which will be available to the passengers of Air India, Jet Airways, SpiceJet,
    Go and Indigo, are being manufactured by SITA. ‘Scan&fly’, as its called,
    will allow passengers that have already checked in online to quickly tag and
    drop their baggage before heading directly to the gate.
  • The plug-and-play design of SITA
    Scan&Fly allows it to be easily installed onto existing airport check-in
    desks, maximising terminal space while leveraging the speed of self-service.

No alcohol shops within 500 metres of highways: Supreme Court
  • The Supreme Court (SC) on 15
    December 2016 ordered the State and the Union Governments to remove all liquor
    shops located 500 metres or less from national and state highways.
  • However, the Bench, headed by
    Chief Justice TS Thakur, ruled that the existing licence-holders could continue
    their business till 31 March 2017.
  • The ruling was based on
    recommendations by Punjab, Haryana, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry governments.
  • The Bench advised the State and
    the Union Governments to take into account both road safety and government
    revenue.
  • It had allowed representatives of
    public interest litigants in these cases to attend the meeting between the
    Union and the State Governments.
  • The states pleaded for exempting
    state highways from the ban on liquor shops. However, the Bench stated that “if
    it is valid for national highways, it is valid for state highways also. What is
    good for the Centre is good for the states as well. It is a good idea not to
    allure highway users into drinking and driving. If there is a reasonable method
    which the governments want to adopt, we have no difficulty in approving it. At
    the end of the day, it is for the good of society at large.”
  • The top court also stated that
    closing down liquor shops on highways would not adversely affect the tax
    revenue to a great extent.

Assam’s Majuli to be India’s first carbon neutral district

  • Assam’s island district, Majuli
    will now become India’s first ever Carbon neutral district by 2020.
  • The project titled ‘’Sustainable
    Action for Climate Resilient Development in Majuli’ (SACRed, Majuli) was
    launched by Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, A K Johari on 14
    December 2016. It was initiated by Assam’s department of Environment and Forest
    to fight against climate change and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.
  • According to Johari, the project
    would start with afforestation, reforestation, and conservation of the existing
    flora and fauna, followed by other methods to ensure sustainable development
    over the next three years.
  • The implementation of the project
    will happen in partnership with other departments of the district, for which
    the government has created a special district level committee under the
    leadership of the Majuli’s Deputy Commissioner Pallav Gopal Jha.

Seventh Indo-Maldives joint military exercise EKUVERIN begins

  • The seventh edition of EKUVERIN
    commenced on 15 December 2016 at Kadhdhoo, Laamu Atoll, Maldives. The exercise
    will conclude on 28 December 2016.
  • The Exercise EKUVERIN is a 14 day
    platoon level joint military exercise between the Indian Army and the Maldives
    National Defence Force. The exercise is conducted on a yearly basis.
  • The exercise aims at conducting
    military training with emphasis on amphibious and counter insurgency/ counter
    terrorism operations.
  • It also aims at enhancing
    interoperability between the two armies.

Appointments –
Lt Gen Bipin Rawat appointed as new Army chief, Air Marshal BS Dhanoa
as new Air Force chief

  • Lt Gen Bipin Rawat has been
    appointed as the new chief of Army Staff and Air Marshal BS Dhanoa will take
    over as the new chief of Air Staff.
  • Lt Gen Bipin Rawat will succeed
    General Dalbir Singh Suhag who will retire on January 10, 2017.
  • Air Marshal BS Dhanoa will
    succeed Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha who will retire on December 31, 2016.
  • Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa
    AVSM YSM VM took over as the Vice Chief of the Air Staff (VCAS) on 01 June
    2015. He was commissioned in the IAF in June 1978 as a fighter pilot. He is an
    alumnus of Rashtriya Indian Military College, the National Defence Academy and
    the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington.
  • Air Marshal Dhanoa is a Qualified
    Flying Instructor and has flown various types of fighter aircraft in his
    distinguished career. During the Kargil Operations, he commanded a fighter
    squadron and himself flew numerous night strike missions in the mountainous
    terrain.
  • He has the distinction of having
    held a number of the important operational appointments including Station
    Commander of a fighter base and leader of an Indian Military Training Team
    abroad He has also served as Chief Instructor (Air) at the Defence Services
    Staff College, Wellington, Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Intelligence) at
    Air Headquarters and Senior Air Staff Officer of two operational Commands.
    Prior to being appointed as Vice Chief of the Air Staff, the Air Marshal was
    the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the South Western Air Command.
  • In recognition for his
    meritorious services, he was awarded Yudh Seva Medal (YSM), Vayusena Medal (VM)
    in 1999, and Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM) in 2015 by the President of India.
  • He is married to Mrs. Kamalpreet
    and they have a son Jasman who is pursuing law.

Rajiv Jain, Anil Dhasmana Appointed New Heads of IB and RAW
 

Anil Dharmasa
  • Rajiv Jain was appointed the next
    chief of Intelligence Bureau (IB) while Anil Dhasmana was named as the new head
    of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) on Saturday.
  • Jain is a Jharkhand cadre IPS
    officer. Both officers will have a tenure of two years.
  • Jain, who is at present Special
    Director in the IB, will take over on 1 January after incumbent Dineshwar
    Sharma completes his two-year tenure on 31 December.
  • A recipient of the President’s
    Police Medal, the 1980-batch officer has served in various departments of the
    IB, including the sensitive Kashmir desk.
  • He was advisor to the previous
    NDA government’s interlocutor on Kashmir K C Pant when talks were held with
    separatist leaders like Shabbir Shah.
  • Dhasmana will take over the reins
    of the R&AW , which is tasked with gathering external intelligence. He
    succeeds Rajinder Khanna, who completes his tenure by the end of this year.
  • A 1981-batch officer from the
    Madhya Pradesh cadre, Dhasmana has been with R&AW for the last 23 years,
    during which he served on important desks, including the Pakistan desk.

Rahil Ansari appointed as Audi India head
  • Audi, the German luxury car
    manufacturer, has appointed Rahil Ansari as the Head of Audi India, effective
    February 1, 2017. He replaces Joe King, whose tenure ended.
  • Ansari moves to Audi India from
    Audi AG, where he heads the global pricing for Audi Genuine Parts at Audi AG
    Aftersales.
  • The Audi model range in India
    includes the Audi A3, Audi A3 Cabriolet, Audi A4, Audi A6, Audi A8 L, Audi Q3,
    Audi Q5, Audi Q7, Audi TT Coupé, Audi S5 Sportback, Audi Rs. 6 Avant, Audi Rs.
    7 sportback and Audi R8 V10 plus.

Sunil Arora appointed as Director General of IICA
  • Former Information and
    Broadcasting Secretary Sunil Arora was on 15 December 2016 appointed as the
    Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the Indian Institute of
    Corporate Affairs (IICA).
  • Arora’s appointment was approved
    by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC). He will serve the  office for a period of five years or till
    attaining 65 years of age or until further orders, whichever is the earliest.
  • IICA is a think tank that comes
    under the Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs. It focuses on matters impacting
    the functioning of corporates. Moreover, it work towards capacity building with
    various stakeholders including regulators and professionals.

Nigeria’s Amina Mohammed named UN Deputy Secretary-General
  • Incoming United Nations (UN)
    Chief Antonio Guterres on 15 December 2016 appointed Nigeria’s Environment
    Minister Amina Mohammed as his Deputy Secretary-General.
  • Guterres was recently sworn in as
    the ninth male UN Chief. He pledged to reach gender parity among senior
    leadership within his five-year term. He will take over from current
    Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 1 January 2017.
  • Also, Guterres appointed
    Brazilian diplomat Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti as Chef de Cabinet and South
    Korea’s Kyung-wha Kang as Special Adviser on Policy.

Awards & Honors –
Sushma Swaraj named 2016 ‘Global Thinker’ by Foreign Policy magazine

  • Sushma Swaraj, the Indian
    Minister of External Affairs was named a ‘2016 Global Thinker’ by Foreign
    Policy magazine for her ‘novel Twitter diplomacy’.
  • Swaraj’s name featured in the
    ‘decision makers’ category along with the names of other world-renowned leaders
    such as US Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, former UN Secretary General
    Ban Ki-Moon and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
  • The major credit of the Minister’s
    inclusion in the list goes to her prompt twitter responses since she took
    office. The magazine recalled a particular instance when Swaraj had tweeted
    about the huge food crisis faced by thousands of Indian workers in Saudi Arabia
    due to sudden job layoffs. 
  • Swaraj had treated the situation with great
    swiftness, launching a week-long operation on social media, giving migrants all
    the required information that would keep them properly fed and get them back
    home safely.

Global Agriculture Leadership Award 2016 awarded to Ratan Tata
  • The Indian Council of Food and
    Agriculture (ICFA) on 15 December 2016 presented ‘Global Agriculture Leadership
    Award 2016’ to Ratan Tata in Mumbai.
  • Tata was conferred with the
    prestigious award for his transformational role in scaling Tata Group as the
    globally admired group during his stint of 20 years as Chairman.
  • The Leadership Awards Jury was
    chaired by Prof. M.S. Swaminathan, pioneer of India’s Green Revolution.

Sports –
Indian cricketer Smriti Mandhana named in ICC Women’s Team of the Year
  • India batswoman Smriti Mandhana
    was on 14 December 2016 named in the International Cricket Council (ICC)
    Women’s Team of the Year 2016.
  • With this inclusion, she became
    the first Indian woman cricketer to figure in the prestigious list.

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