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December 23, 2015

23rd December 2015 - Important Current Affairs updates

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International Affairs
  • Greece's parliament has approved legislation legalizing civil partnerships for gay couples, two years after the country was condemned by a European Court for discrimination.
  • The Philippines became the first Asian country to approve the sale of the world's first-ever dengue vaccine.
    • The vaccine Dengvaxia, manufactured by French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi, secured its first regulatory approval in Mexico a fortnight ago and is currently being reviewed by around 20 countries in Asia and Latin America.
    • It is hoped the drug could eventually help prevent millions of deaths from dengue, the world's fastest-growing mosquito-borne disease.

National Affairs
  • Today (23rd December) is Kisan Diwas (Farmer's Day)
    • This day is observed across the country to celebrate the birthday of Chaudhary Charan Singh, 5th Prime Minister of India.
  • Parliament has passed Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2015.
    • This bill lowers the age of a legally defined juvenile from 18 to 16 in the case of heinous crimes.
  • The Union Minister of Human Resource Development Smrithi Irani today launched the 6th All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) in New Delhi.
    • This survey covers all the Higher Education (HE) institutions of the country including Universities, Colleges and Stand-Alone institutions from 2010-11 to 2014-15.
  • Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar approved the long awaited Patna Metro Rail project's proposal today while directing that it be sent for the central government's clearance.
    • Note : The Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES) last year submitted the DPR on the project to the Bihar government, reducing the project estimates to Rs 14,000 crore from Rs 17,000 crore earlier. 
  • The union cabinet today approved the reconstruction and completion of Salma Dam Project in Afghanistan at the revised cost estimate of Rs.1,775.69 crore.
    • Salma dam project, on the upper reaches of Hari Rud River in Afghanistan's western Herat province, involves construction of a 107.5 meter high earth and rock-fill dam and a 42 MW powerhouse with three units of 14 MW each.
    • The project has potential to irrigate 75,000 hectares of land, and is scheduled to be completed by June 2016.
  • Seeking to make defence acquisition process simpler and transparent, Government today launched, a new ‘Make in India’ website that will provide an interface with industry and promised to finalise the new revised defence procurement procedure by January.
    • The website provides information related to all policy and procedural issues relevant for defence manufacturing industry.
    • It provides link to industrial promotion policies and programmes of various states and union territories. 

Business & Economy
  • Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa today announced that the country is planning to adopt the Chinese currency "Yuan" as legal tender.
    • It will be done in return for debt cancellation worth 40 million dollars in the second week of December 2015.
    • As per the decision, Yuan will be a function of trade between China and Zimbabwe and acceptability with customers in Zimbabwe.
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today announced that the entities that received in-principle approval for setting up payments banks and small finance banks can join any payment system only after getting the final licence.
    • The central bank, in August and September, announced the names of 21 entities that were granted in-principle approval for setting up payments banks and SFBs.
  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs today approved an investment of Rs. 5,000 crore by Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) into its overseas arm, ONGC Videsh.
    • The investment is in the form of ONGC converting into equity an existing loan to its overseas unit.
  • As part of its ease-of-doing business policy, the Union government has lifted restrictions and given security clearance for 1,671 projects in the tear 2015, almost double the number (815) in 2014.
    • Note : In 2013, when the United Progressive Alliance was in power, 712 projects were given clearance.
  • The union cabinet today approved the Lucknow Metro Rail Project Phase-1A.
    • This project which will cover a length of 22.878 km with 22 stations.
    • The cost of the project will be Rs.6,928 crore which will be supported by the central government with Rs.1,300 crore in the form of equity and subordinate debt.
  • Government today approved an integrated scheme with an outlay of Rs 3,000 crore for the development and management of fisheries sector as it seeks to bring 'blue revolution' in the country.
    • The central scheme will benefit the entire fisheries sector covering about 14.50 million fishers. It will be implemented in all the states and the union territories.
    • It would mainly focus on increasing production and productivity from aquaculture and fisheries resources, both inland and marine. 

New Appointments
  • Senior IAS officer Pawan Kumar Agarwal was today appointed as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of food regulator Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
  • Private carrier Jet Airways today appointed Amit Agarwal as its Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

Awards & Honors
  • The International Cricket Council (ICC) has announced the winners of ICC Awards for the year 2015
    • Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for ICC Cricketer of the Year - Steven Smith (Australia)
    • ICC Test Cricketer of the Year - Steven Smith (Australia)
    • ICC ODI Cricketer of the Year - AB de Villiers (South Africa)
    • ICC Women’s ODI Cricketer of the Year - Meg Lanning (Australia)
    • ICC Emerging Cricketer of the Year - Josh Hazlewood (Australia)
    • ICC Associate and Affiliate Cricketer of the Year - Khurram Khan (UAE)
    • ICC Twenty20 International Performance of the Year - Faf du Plessis (South Africa)
    • ICC Women’s T20I Cricketer of the Year - Stafanie Taylor (West Indies)
    • David Shepherd Trophy for ICC Umpire of the Year - Richard Kettleborough
    • ICC Spirit of Cricket Award - Brendon McCullum (New Zealand)

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