Daily GK Update - Current Affairs - 19th January 2016

1. UNWTO released World Tourism Barometer
i. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) on 18 January 2016 released the World Tourism Barometer, which reviewed trends in tourism at the regional and global level for 2015 and enumerated prospects for 2016.
ii. As per the publication, international tourist arrivals grew by 4.4 percent in 2015 to reach a total of 1184 million in 2015. In numbers, around 50 million more travelers were recorded in 2015 compared to that 2014.
iii. 2015 marks the 6th consecutive year of above-average growth, with international arrivals increasing by 4 percent or more every year since the post-crisis year of 2010. The tourist arrivals, in 2015, were largely influenced by exchange rates, oil prices and natural and manmade crises in many parts of the world.

iv. Growth in advanced economy destinations (5 percent growth) exceeded that of emerging economies (4 percent), boosted by the solid results of Europe (5 percent). By region, Europe, the Americas and Asia and the Pacific all recorded around 5 percent growth in 2015.
v. Arrivals to the Middle East increased by 3 percent, while in Africa points to an estimated 3 percent decrease mostly due to weak results in North Africa, which accounts for over one third of arrivals in the region.
vi. Based on the current trend and this outlook, UNWTO projects international tourist arrivals to grow by 4 percent worldwide in 2016. Among the world’s top source markets, China, with double-digit growth in expenditure every year since 2004, continues to lead global outbound travel.
2. Draft report of R V Easwar Committee to simplify Income-tax Act, 1961 released
i. Union Ministry of Finance on 18 January 2016 released the draft report of Justice R V Easwar (Retd) Committee to simplify the provisions of Income-tax Act, 1961.
ii. The draft recommendations of the 10-member committee contain 27 suggestions for amendments under the Income-tax Act, 1961 and 8 recommendations for reform through administrative instructions.
iii. Amendment to Section 255(3) to enhance the monetary limit for Single Member Bench (SMC) cases before the Tribunal to rupees one crore from the present rupees 15 lakhs. Amendment to Section 254(2) to reduce the time-limit for rectification of orders of the Tribunal from the present four years to 120 days. Deletion of section 143(1D) – Avoiding undesirable delay in issue of refunds
iv. Tax deduction at source (TDS) rates for individuals and Hindu undivided families (HUFs) to be reduced to 5 percent as against the present 10 percent. Proposal for certain amendments in rule 30 and 31 in relation to time and mode of payment of TDS and filing of statement of TDS under the provisions of section 200
v. The RV Easwar Committee was constituted on 27 October 2015 to study and identify the provisions/phrases in the Income-tax Act, 1961. The committee was also mandated to suggest measures to improve the ease of doing business, reduce litigation and accelerate the resolution of tax disputes.
3. Renowned film-maker Lakshman Rao Mohite alias Geethapriya died
i. Renowned Kannada lyricist and film-maker Geethapriya died of cardiac arrest on 17 January 2016 in Bengaluru. He was 84 and survived by wife, son and two daughters.
ii. Lakshman Rao Mohite was born on 15 June 1931 and became famous his pen-name Geethapriya. He penned lyrics for over 250 songs in Kannada and directed 40 films including one Hindi film.
iii. He wrote his first song for Sri Rama Pooja film in 1954 and became director through Mannina Maga, starring Rajkumar in 1968. The movie bagged National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Kannada and State awards.
iv. The Karnataka government honoured him with the Puttanna Kanagal Award in 1986 in recognition to his contribution to the Kannada film industry. He was also received the Dr. B. Saroja Devi National Award and Sandesha Awards in 2012.
4. World Bank to fund 20 million US dollar for reconstructing Indira Gandhi Zoological Park
i. In a global first, the World Bank in third week of January 2016 decided to extend an assistance of 20 million US dollar to help reconstruct the Indira Gandhi Zoological Park (IGZP), which got devastated during cyclone Hudhud in October 2014, in Visakhapatnam.
ii. It is the very first time in the history of the World Bank that it is directly involved in a zoo. The decision is a new addition in the portfolio of the bank as part of its ever-expanding work on urban regeneration.
iii. The funding is a part of the 370 million US dollar Andhra Pradesh Disaster Recovery Project for which the bank is extending assistance of 250 million US dollars from 2015-2020.
iv. The four coastal districts of Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and East Godavari are expected to get 20 million US dollar for forest restoration and disaster prevention measures.
v. Indira Gandhi Zoological Park is situated amidst Kambalakonda Reserve Forest in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. The park is named after the former Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi. It was declared open to the public on 19 May 1977.
5. SBI offers loans for women entrepreneurs under MUDRA scheme
i. The ‘MUDRA' loan for women entrepreneurs or Boutique Finance for Women Entrepreneurs – a special loan scheme under Prime Minister MUDRA Yojana – has been launched for catering to the financial needs of women entrepreneurs.
ii. Under the scheme, State Bank of India too has come forward to participate and provide loans to help women entrepreneurs in West Bengal who are engaged in various handicraft activities. One such camp was organised by the bank, earlier this month., according to a release issued by the bank.
iii. Around 80 women entrepreneurs received sanctioned letters for loan, SBI said.
iv. Loans are being provided at a concessional rate of interest. Loans up to Rs. 10 lakh will be provided under the scheme without any collateral security. A maximum loan amount of Rs. 50 lakh can be availed under the scheme.
6. Jayalalithaa launches Amma Call Centre
i. In an initiative aimed at quick delivery of government services, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa today launched a round-the-clock call centre for ensuring fast response to grievances. The ‘Amma Call Centre’, which will work all through the year, was launched by the Chief Minister here through video-conferencing.
ii. Jayalalithaa is fondly addressed as ‘Amma’ (mother) by her supporters and her government is already running many initiatives named after her, including the hugely popular ’Amma Canteens’ which provide subsidised food, and ‘Amma Mineral Water’, among others.
iii. The latest initiative was aimed at ensuring quick response to people’s grievances where in they can dial toll-free number ’1100’ at any point of time in the day, a government release here said. The Chief Minister’s Special Cell is already involved in addressing people’s issues by referring petitions and letters to departments concerned and this is an effort to further quicken the process, it said.
iv. The details of the callers and the issues reported by them would be registered on computer and referred to the relevant department for action through e-mail, SMS and telephone, it said, adding, the callers will also be informed of the details through SMS like which department and official their issue had been referred to. “The action taken on the grievance will also be shared with the caller through SMS,” it said.
v. Equipped with latest technology like Computer Telephony Integration and Voice Logger System, the centre will initially handle up to 15,000 calls a day, with 138 operators recruited for the purpose. Their numbers will be expanded based on the requirement, the release added.
7. International Kolkata Book Fair on Jan 27
i. The 40th edition of the International Kolkata Book Fair – the world’s largest non-trade fair – is all set to bring to life a slice of history. The history of: Kolkata’s love affair with books. In a first of its kind, the Publishers and Booksellers Guild – organisers of the International Kolkata Book Fair – will organise a ‘heritage walk’ that takes the person through the 39-year-old journey of the fair.
ii. According to Sudhangshu Dey, Director, Publishers & Booksellers Guild, the walk will see installations depicting the landmark achievements of the book-fair including the inception of the Guild at the iconic (India) Coffee House of Kolkata – a favourite haunt of intellectuals and book lovers in the city.
iii. “The heritage walk will be organised within the fair grounds. The idea is to connect the younger generation with the fair. This is our first year with such an experiment. Based on the response, we might look at different variations in the coming years,” Dey told BusinessLine.
iv. Incidentally, the fair is also expected to go hi-tech this year. An application (mobile app) that can be downloaded on smart-phones to locate the book stalls. Around 600 (book) stalls and 200 ‘little magazines’ will be there in the 40th edition of the fair. This apart, special shuttle buses will ply to and from the fair grounds to the nearest point in central Kolkata.
v. Special arrangements have also been made with taxi-aggregrator, Ola. The taxi aggregrator will be given space to park its vehicles at the fair car parking lot.
8. HaloSource appoints Tamal Chaudhuri as India head
i. HaloSource Inc., a clean water technology solutions company trading on London’s Alternative Investment Market, has appointed Tamal Chaudhuri as General Manager, heading up the company’s India operations.
ii. He will be responsible for driving all aspects of the company’s business in the region. India is a key geographic region for the company, where it has a long-standing relationship with Eureka Forbes and most recently signed a supply agreement with Panasonic India Pvt Ltd.
iii. Chaudhuri has 29 years experience in senior roles in the consumer durables industry and joins HaloSource from water heater and purifier company A.O. Smith India Water Products Pvt Ltd. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Statistics from Presidency College, Kolkata. He has also completed the ‘Executive Program in Leadership’ at Stanford Graduate Business School, USA.
iv. In a statement, Martin Coles, CEO and President of HaloSource, said, “This is an exciting time for HaloSource in the rapidly growing water purification market in India, a key market for HaloSource. We continue to build our base of strong industry partners, such as Eureka Forbes and Panasonic, together with a number of other partners who deploy our industry-leading HaloPure technology in their devices and make a difference to the lives of millions every day.
v. We are pleased to welcome Tamal as head of our operations in India. His deep knowledge, extensive sector expertise, established network and proven track record in delivering value in the region will be invaluable to continue to drive the rapid growth of our business in India.”
9. World’s oldest man dies at 112 in Japan
i. The world’s oldest man, Yasutaro Koide, died today at the age of 112 in central Japan, a local official said. Koide, born just months before the Wright brothers made their first successful flight, died in hospital in the central Japanese city of Nagoya, where he had lived for many years, said the city official.
ii. The super-centenarian, recognised as the world’s oldest male at 112 last year, died of heart failure and pneumonia, the official added. Koide, a former tailor who was born on March 13, 1903 in Fukui prefecture, northwest of Tokyo, received a certificate from Guinness World Records confirming the achievement after another Japanese man who was just a month older died in July.
iii. Asked about the key to longevity, Koide had reportedly said: “The best thing to do is avoid overwork and live with joy.” Japan is known for the longevity of its people and around a quarter of its population of 127 million is aged 65 or older.
iv. It was not immediately clear who would succeed Koide as the world’s oldest male. Currently, the world’s oldest person is American Susannah Mushatt Jones who is 116 and was born on July 6, 1899, according to the Guinness World Records website.
10. The Eagles' guitarist Glenn Frey passed away
i. Glenn Frey, a founding member and guitarist of the Eagles, one of the most popular and commercially successful artists of the 1970s, passed away on 18 January 2016 in New York, the USA. He was 67. Frey succumbed to complications from Rheumatoid Arthritis, Acute Ulcerative Colitis and Pneumonia.
ii. Glenn Lewis Frey was best known as a founder member of rock band the Eagles. During the 1970s, he played guitar with the band, as well as piano and keyboards. He was also one of the primary singers of the Eagles. He sang lead vocals on songs such as Take It Easy, Peaceful Easy Feeling, Tequila Sunrise, Already Gone, Heartache Tonight, and so on.
iii. The Eagles are an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1971 by Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner. The band holds five number-one singles, six Grammy Awards, five American Music Awards, and six number one albums.
iv. At the end of the 20th century, two of their albums, Their Greatest Hits and Hotel California, were ranked among the 20 best-selling albums in the United States. Hotel California is ranked 37th in Rolling Stoneā€Š's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The band was ranked number 75 on the magazine's 2004 list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
11. Guenter Butschek appointed as CEO and MD of Tata Motors
i. Guenter Butschek was on 18 January 2016 appointed as Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of India's biggest auto maker Tata Motors' Group.
ii. He was appointed after post of Managing Director of Tata Motors was vacant for two years since the death of Karl Slym on 26 January 2014 after falling from a hotel building in Bangkok. He is expected to join the company by 15 February 2016.
iii. Butschek will lead all operations of Tata Motors in India and in international markets including South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia and South Africa. However, Jaguar Land Rover would continue to be managed by its Chief Executive Officer and Director, Ralf Speth, who is also on the Board of Tata Motors.
iv. He joins Tata Motors after his stint as the Chief Operating Officer at Airbus and Member of the Group Executive Committee. Prior to Airbus, He worked at Daimler AG in international automotive management for more than 25 years.
v. He handled the sections like production, industrialization and procurement. He held position of President and Chief Executive Officer of Beijing Benz Automotive, a joint venture between Daimler AG and Beijing Automotive Industrial Holding in Beijing, China as his last role in the company.
12. Ronnie O'Sullivan defeated Barry Hawkins to win sixth Snooker Masters title
i. Ronnie O'Sullivan on 17 January 2016 won his sixth Snooker Masters title after defeating Barry Hawkins 10-1 in the final at the Alexandra Palace in London. O'Sullivan had previously won the event in 1995, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2014, equalling the record set by Stephen Hendry.
ii. Ronald Antonio O'Sullivan is an English professional snooker player. He is one of the most successful players in the sport's modern era. He is regarded by many commentators as the most naturally gifted player in snooker history, and is frequently described as a genius. He is also noted for his mercurial temperament and for his ambivalent relationship with the sport, from which he has repeatedly threatened to retire.
iii. He made his first century break at the age of 10. His first maximum break came at age 15. He turned professional in 1992 and soon earned the nickname The Rocket because of his rapid playing style.
iv. He achieved his first major professional success when he won the 1993 UK Championship at the age of 17 years and 358 days, making him the youngest player ever to win a ranking title. He is also the youngest player to have won the Masters.
v. He holds the record for the most competitive century breaks, with 807. He also holds the record for the most ratified maximum breaks in professional competition and for the three fastest competitive maximum breaks, the quickest in 5 minutes and 20 seconds.
vi. The Masters is a professional invitational snooker tournament. The tournament is held every year since 1975. It is the second longest running tournament behind the World Championship. It is one of the Triple Crown events. It is regarded as one of the most prestigious tournaments on the circuit.