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January 20, 2016

20th January 2016 - Important Current Affairs updates

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International Affairs
  • India has slipped from 78th to 89th Rank on an annual Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTC).
    • India has fared the worst when compared to the other BRICS countries. 
    • This list has been topped by Switzerland. Meanwhile.
    • This index was  released on the first day of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. 
    • The index measures the quality of talent a country can produce, attract and retain.
  • India will hold Exercise Force Eighteen, one of the largest multi-national military exercises from March 2 to 8 in Pune as a part of its Look East policy. 
    • Over 18 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members will participate in the Field Training Exercise (FTX). 
    • The FTX will focus on Humanitarian Mine Action and Peace Keeping Operations.
  • South Korea has introduced tougher norms for passengers who disturb pilots, wherein a possible five-year imprisonment and a fine of up to $42,000 will be levied. 
    • Also, drunk passengers who create nuisance will be fined $8,224.
  • India and the UK today agreed to strengthen economic cooperation in various sectors including infrastructure financing, addressing issues of cross-border tax evasion and avoidance. 
    • Note : The agreement came as a part of a dialogue between Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and his UK counterpart George Osborne.

National Affairs
  • The Union Cabinet today approved a new power tariff policy that will promote clean energy and enable better regulations for power distribution companies. 
    • It will also support the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan under which power plants will use processed municipal waste water available in their area. 
    • The policy also aims to encourage faster roll out of investments in the sector.
  • Under the state initiative 'Mukh Mantri Tirath Yatra Scheme', Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukbir Singh Badal today inaugurated the first train journey to Varanasi from the Jalandhar City railway Station carrying many pilgrims. 
    • The initiative aimed at strengthening the communal harmony in the state, plans to introduce 12 more Tirath Yatra trains in January and February.
  • The Supreme Court today issued an order stating that the husband will not have any right on the property of his wife if she dies under suspicious circumstances within seven years of marriage
    • In such cases, the woman's children will be entitled to her property and if she did not have any offsprings, her parents will own the assets.
  • Following a ruling by the Supreme Court, helmets were made compulsory for pillion riders
    in Bengaluru
    from today. 
    • Note : The rule was effective from January 12, but the police had given an 8-day relaxation to buy helmets. 
    • Pillion - a seat for a passenger behind a motorcyclist
  • Andhra Pradesh Government reconstituted the Commission for Backward Classes with immediate effect.
    • AP Commission for Backward Classes (APCBC) will be a two member commission with Justice KL Manjunath, (Retd.) as its chairman and Member Secretary, APCBC as the other member.
    • Note : The Commission was not constituted since, 24 September 2011, when the previous commission term expired.
  • The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation, in association with Pawan Hans, will soon begin helicopter tours to tourist attractions in and around Mumbai
    • The 10-minute ride will include aerial views of Juhu beach, Chowpatty beach, Shivaji Terminus and Marine Drive.
    • The rides will later be extended to Elephanta Caves, Ajanta Caves and Shirdi.
  • According to a report published in The Lancet journal, India witnessed the highest number of stillbirths in the world in the year 2015
    • Notably, 5.9 lakh out of the total 26 lakh stillbirths in 2015 were reported from India, according to the World Health Organisation data. 
    • However, the highest rate of stillbirths (per 1,000 live births) was recorded in Pakistan.
    • Stillbirth - the birth of an infant that has died in the womb
  • In order to safeguard the interests of the financially distressed farmers and reduce their debt burden, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today gave permission to introduce 'Punjab Relief of Agriculture Indebtedness Bill' in the state assembly. 
  • A cafeteria, which serves food prepared by the inmates of Poojappura Central Prison, has been opened in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. 
    • The Food For Freedom Cafe emulates Tihar Food Court in New Delhi and is part of a rehabilitation programme for inmates. 
  • Maharashtra’s state cultural department is organising a 6-day festival at the historic Raigad Fort from January 21. 
    • The fort was built by Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji and was the place where he was coronated. 
  • The Union Government sanctioned 33000 crore for the development  of infrastructure projects in Tamilnadu
  • Bihar government has announced 35% reservation to women in government jobs in the state at all levels.
    • The decision was taken at a meeting of the state cabinet presided over by chief minister Nitish Kumar.

Latest Committees in News
  • The HRD Ministry has formed a 12-member committee in order to set up Yogic Art and Science departments in all universities across the country. 
    • The committee will be responsible for identifying various courses to be offered, designing curriculum, deciding qualification for faculty, among others. 
    • The panel is headed by Professor HR Nagendra, Yoga guru of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

People in News
  • Hari Nef, the 23-year-old transgender actor and model has became the first transgender model to be signed by top modelling agency.
    • Note : Gucci became the first major European fashion house to feature a transgender model in its menswear show in Milan Fashion Week.

Business & Economy
  • Private sector lender ICICI Bank today announced that it has entered South Africa by opening a full service branch at Sandton in Johannesburg. 
  • Online payment startup Mobikwik today announced a tie-up with the Delhi Jal Board that will facilitate people in Delhi to pay water bills using their mobiles through the Mobikwik interface. 
    • Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will officially launch the Delhi Jal Board app tomorrow after which the service will be functional. 
    • Important Note : Mobikwik has also partnered with IRCTC recently.
  • Former Twitter Chief, Dick Costolo today revealed that he’s cofounding a new fitness startup with Bryan Oki, former CEO and co-founder of another fitness-focused platform, called Fitify
  • Engineering and construction major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today announced that its joint venture firm with Daewoo E&C of South Korea has bagged ₹3,115 crore order for construction of a new Ganga bridge in Bihar
  • Amid growing concerns about China's economic growth rate, the country's central bank, the People's Bank of China, today announced that it would inject over $91.22 billion into the money markets
  • Microsoft today announced the acquisition of a modified third-party version of the building-block game Minecraft, called MinecraftEdu, which is designed for classrooms. 
    • With this acquisition, Microsoft plans to launch a classroom edition of Minecraft, called 'Minecraft: Education Edition'
    • Note : Created in 2010, MinecraftEdu is currently used by over 7,000 classrooms in over 40 countries.

New Appointments
  • ICICI Bank has appointed Vishakha Mulye as Executive Director on its board. 

Awards & Honors
  • India's Industrialist Mukesh Ambani, IT titan Azim Premji, pharma boss Dilip Shanghvi and business magnates, Hinduja Brothers are among the world's 62 richest individuals.
    • This list was topped by Bill Gates.
    • This list was published by Oxfam (Oxford Committee for Famine Relief).  

  • Senior journalist and scholar Aroon Tikekar, who authored over 20 books, passed away here today due to breathing-related complications.
    • He was the reference chief of the Times of India and a senior assistant editor for Maharashtra Times.
    • He was the Editor of Loksatta, Marathi newspaper of the Indian Express Group Newspaper, for over a decade (1992-2002).
  • Former Maharashtra health minister and Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Dr Daulatrao Aher passed away.

Science & Technology
  • Taking yet another step to put India in the company of select nations which have their own navigation systems, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) today successfully placed in orbit IRNSS-1E, the fifth of the seven satellites that would form a constellation of navigation satellite network.
    • PSLV-C31 (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) carrying 1,425kg IRNSS-1E (Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System) lifted off from the second launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota at 9.31am. 
    • This was PSLV's 33rd flight. 
    • As in the previous four launches, Isro used an XL version of the rocket.
  • According to data from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the year 2015 was the Earth's warmest year in terms of average temperature in 136 years
    • The heat also broke all the monthly records except for January and April, with December setting the record for being the hottest since 1880.
  • In the list for the 25 worst internet passwords of 2015 by software security firm SplashData, '123456' retained its top position for the third consecutive year. 
    • 'Password' ranked second on the list.
  • The Nepal government has approved the construction plan for the country’s second international airport at Nijgadh in Bara district.
    • The country so far has only the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, approximately 7-hours away by road from the industrial area of Terai plains, where only smaller jets can land. 
    • The construction of the new airport will begin in April 2016.
  • Pakistan has successfully test-fired the Ra'ad air-launched cruise missile with a range of 350 km 
  • Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology are developing Robotarium,a new laboratory that would allow remote access to robots
    • With an estimated capacity of 100 robots, the Robotarium is expected to be fully operational by 2017. Researchers and students would be able to upload their own programming code and observe the results through a streamed video feed.

  • Sahara Force India Academy racer Jehan Daruvala has won one of New Zealand’s most prestigious events, the Lady Wigram Trophy.
    • It was Daruvala’s maiden victory in Formula cars since making the switch from karting in 2015.
    • In August 2015, Daruvala won Rookie of the Year at the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC series championships in the Netherlands.
  • A 24-year-old referee from Dindigul (Tamil Nadu), Rupa Devi today qualified to officiate international football matches conducted by FIFA.   
    • She has refereeing experience at state and national level matches as well as at the AFC Under-14 Football Festival in 2013.
  • Australia beat India by 25 runs in the fourth ODI in Canberra to take a 4-0 lead in the five-match series. 
    • Note : Kohli became the fastest and youngest to score 25 ODI centuries, as he achieved the feat in 162 innings.

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