Daily GK Update - Current Affairs - 21st January 2016
1. Amitabh Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra replace Aamir Khan as 'Incredible India' brand ambassadors
i. The selection of the two actors follows the Centre's decision to discontinue the contract of actor Aamir Khan, who had angered the BJP-led government with his remarks on perceived intolerance in the country. Khan had promoted Indian tourism for a decade as the brand ambassador.
ii. A number of multi-disciplinary icons, including famous sports personalities, were shortlisted by the tourism ministry to be the face of the 'Incredible India' campaign.
Other suggestions being considered include choosing a female personality as the mascot for the 'Atithi Devo Bhava' series which is part of the 'Incredible India' campaign to attract foreign tourists.
iii. Khan had late last year stirred a controversy after he expressed "alarm and despondency" over rising instances of intolerance in the country in the past few months and said that his wife (Kiran Rao) even asked if they should move out of India as she feared for the safety of their children.
iv. Defending Khan's exit from the campaign, senior bureaucrat Amitabh Kant had said the actor, by terming India an 'intolerant country', worked against his role as that of a brand ambassador.
2. RBI asks banks to stop Rs 1,000 notes without security thread
i. The RBI today said it has received complaints about notes of Rs 1,000 denomination without the security thread being in circulation and has asked banks not to issue them in case these are found.
ii. “We have received complaints regarding banknotes in the denomination of Rs 1,000 printed by Currency Note Press, Nashik, on the paper (without security thread) supplied by Security Paper Mill (Hoshangabad),” an RBI spokesperson said.
iii. The Reserve Bank has informed all the banks in Mumbai region not to issue such notes if found in stock and to provide exchange value to the customer who approaches with such a note, if it is otherwise genuine.
iv. “We have also escalated the matter to the government,” the spokesperson said. The total number of such notes with public may not be more than 500 pieces, the spokesperson added.
So, in value terms these would be worth Rs 5,00,000.
v. Currency Note Press, Nashik is a Unit of Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Limited (SPMCIL) under administrative control of the Finance Ministry.
3. Oscar for Indian-origin actor, producer Rahul Thakkar in technical category
i. ke every year, the world is excitedly awaiting the Oscar Awards this year. But before the Academy Awards are announced on February 28, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present 10 scientific and technical achievements during its annual Scientific and Technical Awards Presentation on February 13.
ii. These awards will specially interest Indian audiences this year because one of the awardees is of Indian origin. Rahul Thakkar will be presented with the Technical Achievement Award for his contribution to cinema through "groundbreaking design", as announced on the official Oscar Awards website.
iii. The award goes to "Richard Chuang and Rahul Thakkar for the groundbreaking design, and to Andrew Pilgrim, Stewart Birnam and Mark Kirk for the review workflows and advanced playback features, of the DreamWorks Animation Media Review System," the Academy said.
iv. "Over its nearly two decades of development, this pioneering system enabled desktop and digital theater review. It continues to provide artist-driven, integrated, consistent and highly scalable studio-wide playback and interactive reviews," the statement added.
4. PM Narendra Modi released book titled The Z Factor written by Subhash Chandra
i. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 20 January 2016 released a book titled The Z Factor: My Journey as the Wrong Man at the Right Time in New Delhi.
ii. The book is the autobiography of the promoter of Essel/ Zee Group Subhash Chandra.
iii. It is a candid memoir of a ‘truly desi’ self-made businessman who came to Delhi at age twenty with seventeen rupees in his pocket.
iv. Now, Subhash Chandra has a net worth of 6.3 billion US dollars and annual group revenues of about 3 billion US dollars.
5. Union Cabinet approved MoU between India & UK on cooperation in governance reforms
i. The Union Cabinet on 20 January 2016 gave its ex-post facto approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and United Kingdom on cooperation in governance reforms. The MoU, which was signed in November 2015, seeks to extend bilateral cooperation in public administration and governance reforms.
ii. It covers areas of cooperation such as sharing good governance practices in public administration, user led service design, reducing bureaucracy in service delivery and government process re-engineering. It will also cover reforms towards strengthening of social security, collaboration between Government and Industry on staff management, crisis and disaster Management and digital transformation of government among others.
iii. It will help in understanding the system of customer oriented public service delivery in UK with reference to rapidly changing environments in the area of public service management and enable in adapting some of the best practices in the Indian Public Service Delivery System, A Joint Working Group on Public Administration and Governance will be responsible for implementation of the MoU.
iv. The MoU facilitates India to learn best administrative practices from the UK which is renowned for its Right to Information Act, Ombudsmen and Citizen Charter initiatives in the field of public administration. The MoU is part of India’s efforts in seeking international collaboration for initiatives in good governance and administrative reforms.
6. CCEA approved setting up of over 5000 MW of Grid-connected Solar PV Power Projects
i. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on 20 January 2016 gave its approval for setting up over 5000 MW of Grid-Connected Solar PV Power Projects on build, own and operate basis.
ii. The work will be implemented by Solar Power Developers (SPDs) with Viability Gap Funding (VGF) under Batch-lV of Phase-ll of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM). The total investments expected under the scheme is about 30000 crore rupees.
iii. This would help in creating additional 5000 MW capacity of Grid-connected solar PV power generation projects in four trenches of each 1250 MW capacity during four financial years - 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19. It will also help in employment generation of about 30000 people in rural and urban areas with reduction of about 8.525 Million T of CO2 emissions into environment every year.
iv. Installation of 5000 MW Solar PV plants will generate about 8300 Million units per year, which caters power to almost 2.5 Million households. The Scheme will be implemented by Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) as per the guidelines of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
v. SECI will prepare necessary bidding documents for inviting the proposals for setting up of projects on a competitive bidding through e-bidding. SECI will enter into Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the selected developers and the Power Sale Agreement (PSA) with the buying entities.
vi. Requisite funds for provision of the VGF support will be made available to MNRE from the National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF), operated by Ministry of Finance. Out of 5000 MW, some capacity in each tranche, will be developed with mandatory condition of solar PV cells and Modules made in India. This will be called the Domestic Content Requirement (DCR) category and remaining will be in open category.
7. ISRO, Kuwait Institute signed MoU on cooperation in space exploration
i. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and Kuwait Institute of Scientific Research (KISR) on 20 January 2016 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.
ii. It will allow use of data from Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites by KISR for initiating a few research and application projects. It will also enable Training and Building and launching of remote sensing and communication satellites on commercial terms.
iii. It will provide impetus to explore newer research activities and application possibilities in the field of remote sensing; satellite communication; satellite navigation and exploration of outer space.
iv. It will lead to developing a joint activity in the field of application of space technology for the benefit of humanity.
v. It will lead to setting up of a Joint Working Group from ISRO and KISR which will work out the plan of action including the time-frame and the means of implementing this MoU.
8. SEBI released report of Narayan Murthy-panel on Alternative Investment Policy
i. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on 20 January 2016 released the first report of the Alternative Investment Policy Advisory Committee (AIPAC) for comments from the stakeholders.
ii. The 21-member committee was constituted by the SEBI in March 2015, under the chairmanship of N R Narayan Murthy, to suggest measures for development of the alternative investment funds (AIFs) and startup eco-system in the country.
iii. For creating a favourable tax environment the panel recommended that exempted income of AIFs should not suffer tax withholding of 10 percent.
iv. Overseas investors in India-centric fund vehicles should not be subject to the indirect transfer provisions of the IT Act when they transfer their investments in an India-centric vehicle to another investor.
v. Provisions relating to investor diversification, control or management of portfolio companies, tax residence, arm’s length remuneration of fund managers and annual reporting requirements under the Section 9A of the Income Tax Act, 1961 should be amended.
vi. Make foreign direct investment in AIFs work efficiently by clarifying the rules for investment by non-resident Indian investors in AIFs on a non-repatriation basis.
9. World Economic Forum meeting starts in Davos, Switzerland
i. The annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting has started in Swiss resort of Davos, Switzerland with participation of political leaders and business from around the world. In this edition of WEF meeting, the agenda includes the outlook of the global economy and measures to fight terrorism.
ii. Leaders from about 40 countries and more than 2,500 business people are attending the meeting. The 4-day conference will cover the discussions on tumbling oil prices and China’s uncertain economic prospects.
iii. It will be also discussing the issue of growing terror threats in the wake of the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris (France) and influx of migrants and refugees in Europe. Participants will also discuss environmental issues such as greenhouse gas emissions. They will also review the latest efforts to improve industrial production with robotics, artificial intelligence and information technology.
iv. WEF is an international institution founded by Klaus Schwab that works to improve the state of the world through public-private cooperation. It was established in 1971 and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
10. Eminent dancer Mrinalini Sarabhai passes away
i. Eminent danseuse Mrinalini Sarabhai, wife of the late Dr Vikram Sarabhai, father of India’s space programme, passed away here on Thursday following age-related health complications. She was 97.
ii. Popularly known as “Amma”, the choreography legend is survived by her environmentalist son Kartikeya and daughter Mallika, well-known dancer and social activist. The former President, late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, protégé of Dr Sarabhai, was a close family friend.
iii. Ms Sarabhai, a Padma Bhushan awardee for her contributions to Bharatanatyam and other classical dance forms, was hospitalised here on Wednesday, Kartikeya, said. Her last rites will be performed at village Pethapur in Gandhinagar, which she used to visit frequently due to her keen interest in handicrafts, for which the village is well-known.
iv. Born on May 11, 1918, in Kerala, she was married to Dr. Vikram Sarabhai. Daughter of a former Member of Parliament, Ammu Swamimanathan, she spent her childhood in Switzerland, where she learnt her first lessons in western dance forms.
v. Subsequently, Mrinalini joined Santi Niketan, founded by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. She also had a stint at the American Academy of Dramatic Acts in the USA. She later founded the Ahmedabad-based Darpana Academy of Performing Arts for training youth in dance, drama, music and puppetry. She was also a poet, writer and naturalist. She was active at the academy until a few years ago.
vi. Mrinalini Sarabhai was decorated with many awards and citations in recognition of her contribution to the arts. She was credited with training hundreds of students in Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattam and Kathakali.
11. Indian Mi-25 helicopters set to join Afghan Air Force
i. Three Mi-25 gunship helicopters supplied by India are to officially join the Afghan Air Force today. The gunships, delivered at the end of December last year, have been in the assembly process. The decision for the delivery of Mi-25 gunship helicopters was concluded during the recent visit of Afghan National Security Adviser Mohammad Hanif Atmar to New Delhi.
ii. The attack helicopters are designed to take on fortified enemy positions and counter heavy ground fire. The Afghanistan Air Force (AAF) already operates three Indian Cheetal helicopters. The Cheetal helicopters were manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). Subsequently, Afghan pilots and technicians were trained to operate them.
iii. Sources indicated that the Afghan government has stepped up efforts to build the capabilities of the AAF to combat the Taliban-led insurgency across the country. India is set to replace its Mi-25 chopper fleet with the new generation Apache choppers that have been contracted from the US under a government-to-government deal.
iv. The US Air Force is to deliver the light attack turboprops to Afghanistan under the Light Air Support (LAS) programme to bolster its fighting capabilities. Up to 30 Afghan pilots are to be trained by the US Air Force over the next three years.
12. DMRC inks interim consultancy pact for light metro projects in Kerala
i. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has signed an interim consultancy agreement with Kerala Rapid Transit Ltd (KRTL) for the Rs. 6,728-crore 'light metro' in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode.
ii. KRTL is a special purpose vehicle set up by the state government to execute the mass rapid transport system for the two cities. S.D. Sharma, Director, Business Development, DMRC, and P.L. Sheikh Pareeth, Managing Director, KRTL, signed the interim consultancy agreement in the presence of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, his cabinet colleagues, and E Sreedharan, principal adviser, DMRC.
iii. In the coming days, DMRC will prepare the tender documents for procurement of rolling stock, land acquisition survey, estimates for the flyovers, identification of major utilities and utility shifting plans.
iv. DMRC had sought the interim consultancy to save time and cost escalation as the Ministry of Urban Development had not yet granted in-principle approval for or cleared the participation of the Centre and its 20 per cent equity contribution in the project.
v. The 21.82-km light metro in Thiruvananthapuram will be implemented at an estimated cost of Rs. 4,219 crore, while the 13.33-km project in Kozhikode is estimated to cost Rs. 2,509 crore. The Thiruvananthapuram project will be completed in five years and that in Kozhikode in four years, the Chief Minister said.
vi. He said despite the 'light metro' tag, the proposed projects in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode will more or less match the amenities and conveniences of the Kochi metro.
13. Uttar Pradesh won 2014-2015 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy
i. Uttar Pradesh on 20 January 2016 won its maiden Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy with a 38-run win over two- time champions Baroda in the final played at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. It was Uttar Pradesh’s ninth straight win in the tournament, including five in the preliminary league phase and three more in the super league stage.
ii. The Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy is a Twenty20 cricket domestic championship, named after a famous Indian cricketer, Syed Mushtaq Ali. It is organized by Board of Control for Cricket (BCCI), among the teams from Ranji Trophy.
iii. The 2008-09 season was the inaugural season for this trophy.
iv. BCCI had launched its own state structure in 2006-07 season with 27 Ranji teams divided in 5 Zones with the name of Inter-State T20 Championship, which was renamed and re-launched as the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
v. Gujarat was the winner of 2014-15 season of the tournament.