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January 29, 2016

29th January 2016 - Important Current Affairs updates

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International Affairs
  • World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan today announced that the Zika virus has been spreading explosively. 
    • She called for an emergency meeting on the outbreak on February 1.
    • Important Points Note about Zika Virus : 
      • The Zika virus, spread by Aedes mosquitoes, has been linked to brain defects in babies.  
      •  The Zika outbreak began in Brazil last year and has now spread to 24 countries in the Americas. 
      • Zika virus is believed to cause neurological problems like microcephaly, a condition of abnormally small head in babies. 
      • The Indian government has also set up a Technical Expert Group to suggest measures to deal with Zika virus.
  • China and Iran have signed 17 documents & letters of intents to broaden bilateral cooperation. 
    • The agreements were signed in Tehran during the Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Iran.
    • The agreements cover various fields such as energy, industrial capacity, finance, investment, communications, culture, judiciary, science and technology, news media, customs, climate change and human resources.

National Affairs
  • The Supreme Court today asked the government to set up an expert committee within four weeks to probe into the complaints related to the working conditions of nurses in private hospitals and nursing homes in the country. 
    • Based on the recommendations made by the committee, the three-judge bench will ask the Centre to consider forming a law.

Science & Technology
  • NASA’s Mars Opportunity rover has completed 12 years on the red planet.
    • The rover, that took six and a half months to land on Mars, costs about $14 million per year to operate. 
    • NASA believed it would only function for 90 days because of the extreme level of dust on Mars.
  • In a first of its kind trial on a public road, driverless shuttle bus WePod transported six passengers along a 200-meter stretch of road in Netherlands
  • Surat-based company Biomatiques Identification Solutions has launched a ‘Retina Recognition Technology’ for identifying Cattle
    • Under this, each animal is assigned a unique ‘Cattle UID’ which will help them qualify for insurance schemes. 
    • So far, there are 12 other companies in the world that offer iris recognition as a method for animal identification.

Awards & Honors
  • Wildlife film maker & Padma Shri awardee Naresh Bedi has been honoured with V Shantaram Life Time Achievement Award 2016.
    • He was presented this award during the inauguration of 14th edition of Mumbai International Festival for Documentary, Short and Animation Films – MIFF 2016.
    • About this Award : 
      • This award is instituted in memory of legendary film maker V Shantaram, who was head of the Films Division in the past. 
      • It is comprised of a trophy, shawl and a cash prize of Rs 5 lakhs.
  • For locating and destroying a suspicious Pakistani boat off the Gujarat coast in December 2014, two Naval officials have been awarded with President's Tatrakshak Medal. They are,
    • Commandant Chandra Shekar Joshi
    • Commandant Abhay Ambetkar 
    • Note : This year, 34 officers were awarded gallantry and meritorious service medals.
  • Indian activist and lawyer Henri Tiphagne has been selected for Amnesty International Germany’s human rights award 2016
    • The award will be present to him in April at the official ceremony at the Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin.
Books & Authors
  • The release of ‘Nathuram Godse – The Story of an Assassin’, a book on Mahatma Gandhi's killer Nathuram Godse has faced opposition from the newly formed 'Goa Forward' party. 
    • Calling the event a "veiled celebration of a murder", the party said that the release scheduled on January 30, Gandhi's death anniversary, will disturb peace and harmony.
    • This book was written by  : Anup Ashok Sardesai
Business & Economy
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg became richer by $6 billion in one day after the company’s stocks surged by over 10% today. 
    • The 31-year-old’s net worth is now around $47 billion. 
    • This has made Zuckerberg the sixth richest person in the world overnight, behind technology leaders Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos and investor Warren Buffet.
  • The Ministry of Shipping today announced that a batch of six metro coaches made in India were shipped to Australia from Mumbai port. 
    • Out of the planned 450 coaches, this is the first shipment to be exported to Australia within a period of two and a half years. 
    • Each coach is 75 feet in length and weighs 46 tonnes.
  • India's fiscal deficit in the first nine months (April-December) of the financial year stood at ₹4.88 lakh crore, 87.9% of its full-year target. 
    • In comparison, the figure was 100.2% in the previous fiscal. 
    • Note : The fiscal deficit is the difference between the government's total expenditure and revenue.
  • In order to attract investments in infrastructure sector, the finance ministry will organize a two-day India Investment Summit from February 4, which would see the participation of various global investors.
    • This summit will be held in New Delhi during 4th and 5th February 2016.
  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India signed an $80million loan agreement to continue improving infrastructure in two North Eastern State Capital cities Agartala and Aizwal.
    • The loan is the third tranche of a $200 million financing facility under the North Eastern Region Capital cities Development Investment Program and will be used for investments in water supply, solid waste management and sanitation in Agartala and Aizwal
    • It will also support urban reforms, benefiting nearly a million people in the two cities. 
    • Note : Previous program tranches have provided assistance to five other cities in the NortheastShillong (Meghalaya), Aizawl (Mizoram), Kohima (Nagaland), Gangtok (Sikkim) and Agartala (Tripura).
  • The Bank of Japan (BOJ) today announced that it would introduce negative interest rates from next month. 

New Appointments
  • Gurdeep Singh, managing director of Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Limited (GSEC), has been appointed as Chairman and Managing Director of central PSU National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC).

  • Paul Kantner (74), a founding member and guitarist of the 1960s American psychedelic band, the 'Jefferson Airplane', passed away. 
    • The band, which Kantner founded with vocalist Marty Balin, is best remembered for hits including 'Somebody to Love' and 'White Rabbit'.
  • Former minister and freedom fighter Maheswar Baug passed away.
    • He was twice elected to the state Assembly from Basta constituency in Balasore district in 1961 and 1977.

  • Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza and her Swiss partner Martina Hingis beat seventh seeded Czech combination of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka to win Australian Open women's doubles title on Friday.
  • The Indian women's cricket team defeated Australia in the 2nd T20I by 10 wickets and took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series. 
    • Player of the Match : Jhulan Goswami
  • Cricket South Africa have confirmed the appointment of AB de Villiers to replace Hashim Amla as South Africa's permanent Test captain
  • Former Manchester United central defender Nemanja Vidic announced his retirement from professional football. 
  • Former Australian MP, Pat Farmer, who is also an ultra-marathon runner, has set out on marathon 'The Spirit of India Run' covering 4600 km in 60 days. 
    • Started on January 26 from Kanyakumari, Pat will reach Srinagar on March 31. 
    • With this, he aims to promote goodwill between Australia and India, while also raising funds for girls' education in India.
  • Indian rifle shooter Abhinav Bindra was honoured with the International Shooting Sport Federation President's Button and Diploma of Honour, the highest honour of the sporting body. 
    • Important Points to Note :
    • The 33-year-old Dehradun-born shooter, in 2008, became the first Indian to win an Olympic Gold medal
    • He is also the only Indian to have Olympic and World title at the same time.
  • India clinched the ongoing three-match series against Australia 2-0 after winning the second T20 by 27 runs today. 
  • Pakistan’s discarded Test opening batsman Imran Farhat announced his retirement from international cricket in a bid to appear in the Masters Champions League (MCL), which commences in Dubai from today.

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