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January 13, 2016

13th January 2016 - Important Current Affairs updates

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International Affairs
  • The United States today notified massive increase in fees in certain categories of the popular H-1B and L-1 visas which would mainly hit Indian IT companies.
    • The US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) said applicants for certain categories of H-1B visas post December 18, 2015 must submit an additional fee of US $4,000.
    • In addition, for those applying for certain L-1A and L-1B must submit an additional US $4,500.
  • External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will visit Israel and Palestine on 17th and 18th January 2016 to further build on the goodwill generated by the trip of President Pranab Mukherjee to the two West Asian nations three months back.
    • Palestine will be Ms. Swaraj’s first destination where she will hold talks with leadership of the country with an aim to boost bilateral engagement and deepen mutual understanding at the political level.
    • After completing her engagements in Palestine on January 17, she will go to Israel the same day for a two-day visit during which she will hold discussions with the Israeli leadership and review the entire gamut of India-Israel relations.
  • United States and Jordan have signed a Joint Action Plan (JAP) to improve efforts against nuclear and radiological smuggling. 
    • The partnership will help in enhancing the efforts to combat nuclear terrorism.
    • The JAP was signed by Secretary of State John Kerry and Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh in Washington.

National Affairs
  • The festival of Lohri is being celebrated today with traditional fervor and gaiety.
  • Gauhati High Court has issued order staying the Bulbuli fight at Hajo in Kamrup district.
    • The age-old Bulbuli fight is being organized during Bhogali Bihu.
  • The Supreme Court has asked Mysore government lab to further clarify whether test reports relating to lead & glutamic acid in Maggi noodles are within permissible parameters under law.
  • The union cabinet today approved the crop insurance scheme Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) to boost the farming sector and ensure farmers' welfare.
    • Important Note : Under PMFBY, the farmers are required to pay a uniform premium of two percent for all Kharif crops and 1.5 percent for all Rabi crops while it is five percent for annual commercial and horticultural crops.
  • Union Minister for Fertilizers and Chemicals Ananth Kumar has announced the sanction of Greenfield petrochemical complex and National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER) in Visakhapatnam and full-fledged Central Institute of Plastics Engineering & Technology to offer B.Tech and M.Tech courses in Vijayawada [both the cities are in Andhra Pradesh].

New Appointments
  • Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan has been appointed as the new brand ambassador of the Incredible India campaign by Trust Research Advisory (TRA).
    • Bachchan replaces actor Aamir Khan.
  • The board of directors of US-India Business Council has appointed Edward Monser, president of Emerson, and Deloitte Global CEO Punit Renjen as Vice Chairs.
    • The two come with experience in global manufacturing, business strategy and business development.

Committees in News
  • Union Government has constituted a committee to fast track the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail Corridor, meant for connecting two cities with bullet trains. 
    • The committee is tasked to interact with the Japanese counterpart for taking further steps in implementation of Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail Corridor.
    • The committee will be headed by : Arvind Panagariya (vice-chairman of the NITI Aayog)
  • Government today decided to set up a high-powered panel to process the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission which will have bearing on the remuneration of 47 lakh central government employees and 52 lakh pensioners.  
    • This panel will be headed by : P K Sinha (Cabinet Secretar)
    • Note : The implementation of the new pay scales is estimated to put an additional burden of Rs 1.02 lakh crore on the exchequer in 2016-17. 

Business & Economy
  • China has allowed the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and 5 other international financial institutions to participate in the country’s inter-bank foreign exchange market.
  • Bihar govt has decided to impose 13.5% tax on luxury items to mop up additional revenue for carrying development work.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the Chief Guest, and star attraction, at the Airtel-ET Global Business Summit (GBS) which is going to be held during 29th and 30th January 2016. 
    • Modi will inaugurate the summit on the evening of January 29.
  • Telecom major Vodafone today announced the availability of 4G SIMs for customers.
    • These 4G-ready SIMs will be made available at multi-brand outlets in a phased manner, the company said in a release.
  • State-owned BSNL also has started 4G services on non-commercial basis in Chandigarh promising broadband speed of up to 100 megabit per second (Mbps).

Books & Authors
  • Vice President Hamid Ansari with Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandyreleasing a book Jawaharlal Nehru and Indian Polity in Perspective edited by former DGP P J Alexander, in Thiruvananthapuram.. 
    • The focus of the book is on the role of Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, on shaping the polity of modern India.

Awards & Honors

  • Kerala becomes the first state in the country to attain complete primary education.
    • This has been achieved through the primary education equivalency drive of the state literacy mission — Athulyam.
  • Vice president Hamid Ansari today conferred the Sree Chithira Tirunal National Award on former Ambassador and vice chairman of the Kerala Higher Education Council T.P. Sreenivasan.
    • The award instituted by a private trust is annually bestowed on persons reckoned to have an excellent public service record.
  • Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan was bestowed honorary life membership of the Kolkata’s famed soccer outfit Mohammedan Sporting which is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year.
  • The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation has won the National Award on e-Governance 2015-16 for launching the Universal Account Number (UAN).
    • The EPFO won the gold award in the ‘innovative use of technology in e-governance’ category and the retirement body will get a cash prize of Rs 2 lakh.

  • Key architect in India's victory in 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, Lt Gen JFR Jacob (retd) passes away.
    • Born in 1923, Jacob is best known for his role in India's victory in the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971 and the liberation of Bangladesh.
  • Hall of Famer Monte Irvin, an outfielder who starred for the New York Giants in the 1950s, passed away. 
    • Irvin was the oldest living former Negro Leagues player.

  • World Number one pair of Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis equaled the world record of winning 28 consecutive matches, which was set by Puerto Rican-Belarusian duo  of Gigi-Fernandez and Natasha Zvereva in 1994
    • They achieved this feat after defeating Chen Liang and Shuai Peng in the Apia International quarterfinals in Sydney

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