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151-200 DAILY GK DECEMBER 2015.

151. RBI liable to disclose information about banks under RTI Act: Supreme Court
i. The Supreme Court on 16 December 2015 held that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is liable to disclose information about the banks and financial institutions for their action against the loan defaulters including industrialists under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.
ii. The Court further ruled that RBI has statutory duty to uphold public interest and not the interest of individual banks. It has no legal duty to maximise the benefit of any public sector or private sector bank, and thus there is no relationship of trust between them.
iii. It also added that RBI does not place itself in a fiduciary relationship with the financial institutions as the reports of inspections, statements of bank and information related to business obtained by the RBI are not under pretext of confidence or trust.
iv. The bench made the remark while dismissing pleas filed by RBI and other private and nationalised banks against the Central Information Commission's (CIC) order to SBI and other banks for disclosure of information under the RTI Act.
v. The Bench gave the ruling against the petition filed by PP Kapoor, who had asked about the details of the loans taken by the industrialists that have not been repaid and he had asked about the names of the top defaulters who have not repaid their loans to public sector banks.

152. Union Cabinet approved revised Model Text for Indian Bilateral Investment Treaty
i. The Union Cabinet, presided by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 16 December 2015 gave its approval for the revised Model Text for the Indian Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT).
ii. The revised Indian model text for BIT will replace the existing Indian Model BIT.  The revised model BIT will be used for re-negotiation of existing BITs and negotiation of future BITs and investment chapters in Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreements (CECAs)/ Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements (CEPAs) / Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).
iii. The new Indian Model BIT text will provide appropriate protection to foreign investors in India and Indian investors in the foreign country, in the light of relevant international precedents and practices. Besides, it will maintain a balance between the investor's rights and the Government obligations.
iv. A BIT increases the comfort level and boosts the confidence of investors by assuring a level playing field and non-discrimination in all matters while providing for an independent forum for dispute settlement by arbitration. In turn, BITs help project India as a preferred Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) destination as well as protect outbound Indian FDI.

153. The Bose Brothers and Indian Independence – An Insider’s Account authored by Madhuri Bose
i. The Bose Brothers and Indian Independence – An Insider’s Account: Madhuri Bose, the grand-niece of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. The book titled The Bose Brothers and Indian Independence – An Insider’s Account authored by Madhuri Bose was released on 1 November 2015.
ii. The book came in news after grand-niece of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and author of the book, Madhuri Bose presented a copy of her book to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 17 December 2015. 
iii. Through the book, the author has tried to present a never-before account into the life of the iconic Bose Brother, Sarat and Subash Chandra Bose.
iv. It chronicles the role of the Bose Brothers in the Indian freedom struggle, drawing from first-hand accounts of Amiya Nath Bose who was close to them as a family, political ally, confidant and trusted envoy.
v. The book takes the readers through the turbulent political arena of India in the 1920s and unravels the politics of the Indian Nationalist Movement as experienced by Sarat and Subhash Chandra Bose. It reveals their interactions with contemporary leaders like Chittaranjan Das, Jinnah, Motilal and Jawaharlal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel and Mahatma Gandhi down the years till Partition in 1947, an event which Sarat Bose relentlessly opposed.

154. IRCTC ties up with Paytm for e-catering payments
i. Train passengers will now find it easier to make online payments for the food ordered through e-catering with Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) entering into a tie-up with Paytm, a leading payment and e-commerce shopping website.
ii. “Our tie-up with Paytm will provide an additional payment gateway for food of their choice. In the new age, we have to offer passengers not only novel food options but also more convenient payment methods. The arrangement with Paytm is an effort in that direction,” he pointed out.
iii. In order to popularise our operations, IRCTC has created a user-friendly website and has been sending SMS, E-mail to all e-ticket passengers. For e-catering facility, known as “Food on Track”, IRCTC has already tied up with online delivery firm Food Panda, enabling consumers to order from a variety of cuisine options. “We are in talks with several other reputed catering companies and fast food giants like McDonald’s, Bikanerwala, Nirula’s, Sagar Ratna, Wangs Kitchen, Sarvana Bhavan and Bittu Tikki Wala,” he informed.
iv. Currently, IRCTC provides e-catering facility in 1516 trains without pantry cars. In addition, it provides station- based “Food On Track” facility at 45 stations including Howrah, New Delhi, Chennai Central, Mumbai Central, Delhi, Bangalore City, Patna, Lucknow, Bhubaneswar, Madurai and Amritsar among others.
v. The e-catering facility allows passengers to order meals while travelling, either online on or by making a phone call to 0120-2383892-99 or the toll-free number at 1800-1034-139. They can also choose to do so through an SMS to 139 by giving details of their PNR and seat number.

155. Lalit Modi back as Rajasthan Cricket Association president
i. After being ousted as president of the Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) for 14 months, former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi was, on Wednesday, reinstated.
ii. On Tuesday, Amin Pathan withdrew the ‘no confidence’ motion against Modi, following which retired Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra reinstated Modi. Justice Mishra said 15 RCA member-districts had withdrawn their ‘no confidence’ motion “in the interests of the game.”
iii. Modi had been ousted in October 2014. In March, this year, Pathan had brought the ‘no confidence’ motion, after which the court intervened and RCA was temporarily barred from functioning for the past nine months.
iv. In 2013, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had banned Modi for life after it found him “guilty of committing acts of serious misconduct and indiscipline”. The BCCI later suspended RCA after Modi was made its president.
v. However, Team Rajasthan is participating in tournaments under the court’s permission even though there is no funding from the BCCI.

156. Rohit Sharma to launch cricket comic series 'Hyper Tygers’
i. Cricketer Rohit Sharma along with Graphic India, UK-based ISM Komix and Cornerstone Sport are set to launch a new environmental superhero team called 'Hyper Tygers’. The digital comic will be free to read on all devices from February 1 through Sharma’s Facebook page and the Graphic POP! Mobile app.
ii. “I’ve been a big fan of the work Graphic India has been doing in the country to create new Indian superheroes. The idea to collaborate with them to launch India’s first cricket-based superhero comic made perfect sense,” said Sharma.
iii. “Hyper Tygers is an action-packed adventure around a futuristic game of cricket unlike anything we have today. The story also serves as a larger allegory to protect our planet and its endangered wildlife, which is one of the great global challenges of our time,” he added.
iv. Hyper Tygers is set in a futuristic India in the year 2077, charting the meteoric rise of a small Indian rural community and their cricket team, including their mysterious hero the Green Tyger.
v. “Rohit Sharma is the perfect partner to help us bring this futuristic cricket world to India and the hundreds of millions of cricket fans in the country,”added Graphic’s Co-Founder & CEO, Sharad Devarajan.

157. American University announces APJ Abdul Kalam Fellowship for Indian students
i. The University of South Florida (USF) has announced a postgraduate fellowship in the name of former president Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam to support accomplished and talented Indian students looking to study abroad. 
ii. Launching the fellowship at the Global Higher Education summit of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), USF provost Ralph Wilcox said "Dr. Kalam left an indelible mark on the academic community, one that will now continue over time through this most prestigious Kalam Fellowship".
iii. The fellowship is open to Indian students who wish to pursue PhD in specified fields in science and engineering at USF. Fellowship holders will receive a tuition waiver amounting to $84,500 in four years, plus a stipend of $18,000 per year. With this fellowship in place, the university is also looking to have a larger enrolment of Indian students, making US their preferred country for higher education. (USF currently has 800 Indian students.)The fellowship will be effective from the next academi.

iv. According to Provost Wilcox, "Dr. Kalam was an honoured visitor to the University of South Florida, and he spoke at great lengths about the importance of green energy and sustainability. We want to honour the great man and his extraordinary life through this award and offer a platform to support highly talented young Indians and the next generation of global innovators and entrepreneurs." 
v. During his visit to India, Provost Wilcox and Dean Moez Limayem of USF's Muma College of Business also visited Infosys in Bangalore, Manipal University; Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, H.R. College of Commerce and Economics in Mumbai for partnership discussions. 
vi. The University of South Florida is a high-impact, global, research university dedicated to student success. USF is classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in the top tier of research  .. 

158. International Migrants Day observed across the world
i. International Migrants Day was observed across the world on 18 December 2015. Since 2014, more than 5000 women, men and children lost their lives in search of protection and a better life while migrating.
ii. The year 2015 will be remembered as a year of human suffering and migrant tragedies.  Tens of thousands have been exploited and abused by human traffickers.  And millions have been made into scapegoats and become the targets of xenophobic policies and alarmist rhetoric.
iii. With the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, world leaders vowed to protect the labour rights of migrant workers, combat transnational criminal human trafficking networks and promote well-regulated migration and mobility.
iv. The UN General Assembly on 4 December 2000 took into account the large and increasing number of migrants in the world and proclaimed 18 December as the International Migrants Day. The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families was adopted by the General Assembly on 18 December 1990.

159. Indian-origin official Sanjay Pradhan to lead Open Government Partnership
i. The Open Government Partnership (OGP) on 16 December 2015 selected Indian-origin World Bank official Sanjay Pradhan to lead the organization. Pradhan will help ensure that OGP continues to succeed in its mission to promote government transparency, accountability and responsiveness to citizens. Currently vice president for Change, Leadership and Innovation at the World Bank Group, Pradhan will assume the new charge by mid-2016.
ii. At present, Sanjay Pradhan leads the overall coordination of the internal reform process, and spearheads the leadership, learning and innovation for development agenda of the World Bank Group. Previously, he was the Vice President leading the World Bank Institute where he championed an open development approach centred around knowledge, learning, collaboration and innovation.
iii. Open Government Partnership is an international organization promoting multilateral initiative. It was formally launched on 20 September 2011, when the 8 founding governments (Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States) endorsed the Open Government Declaration, and announced their country action plans.
iv. It seeks strong commitments from participating government institutions to promote transparency, increase civic participation, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to make government more open, effective, and accountable.

160. RBI released final guidelines of Marginal Cost of Funds Methodology to calculate Interest Rates
i. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 17 December 2015 released the final guidelines on computing interest rates on advances based on the Marginal Cost of Funds Methodology. The guidelines will come into effect from 1 April 2016.
ii. The new methodology is aimed at bringing uniformity among BRs of banks so that they will be more sensitive to any changes in policy rates of the RBI like Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR), Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR), etc.
iii. All rupee loans sanctioned and credit limits renewed with effect from 1 April 2016 will be priced with reference to the Marginal Cost of Funds based Lending Rate (MCLR) which will be the internal benchmark for such purposes. The MCLR will be a tenor linked internal benchmark. Actual lending rates will be determined by adding the components of spread to the MCLR.
iv. The MCLR prevailing on the day loan is sanctioned will be applicable till the next reset date, irrespective of the changes in the benchmark during the interim period. Existing loans and credit limits linked to the Base Rate may continue till repayment or renewal, as the case may be. Existing borrowers will also have the option to move to the MCLR linked loan. Banks will continue to review and publish Base Rate as hitherto.
v. This new methodology will help improve the transmission of policy rates into the lending rates of banks. The guidelines are also expected to ensure availability of bank credit at interest rates which are fair to the borrowers as well as the banks.

161. WTO approved Afghanistan’s membership terms to join as 163rd member
i. World Trade Organisation (WTO) on 17 December 2015 unanimously approved Afghanistan’s WTO membership at the WTO’s Tenth Ministerial Conference (MC10) in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. With this, Afghanistan will become the 163rd WTO member and the ninth least-developed country to become a WTO member since the organization was established in 1995.
ii. The Protocol of Accession (PoA) was officially signed by Director General Roberto Azevedo and Afghanistan’s First Deputy Chief Executive Mohammad Khan Rahmani.
iii. Now to be the full-fledged WTO member, Afghanistan will have to ratify the deal by 30 June 2016. After the ratification and notification of the acceptance of its PoA to the WTO Director Genral, it will have to wait for next 30 days. 
iv. Afghanistan applied for WTO membership in 2004 and members of the Working Party concluded the negotiations on 11 November 2015.

162. Sahitya Akademi awards announced for the year 2015
i. Sahitya Akademi on 17 December 2015 announced the Sahitya Akademi Awards for the year 2015 in 23 languages. Poetry and short story writers dominated the awards.
ii. Among the winning books are six poetry collections, six books of short stories and four novels, besides two books each of essays and criticism.
iii. The awards were recommended by distinguished jury members representing 23 Indian languages and approved by the Executive Board of the Akademi, under its President Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari. The award in Bengali is to be announced at a later date.
iv. The award comprising an engraved plaque, a shawl and a cheque of one lakh rupees will be presented to the writers at a function on 16 February 2016 during Festival of Letters, the annual festival of the Akademi.

163. MLAs of Arunachal Pradesh Assembly passed resolution to remove Speaker Nabam Rebia
i. Out of the total 60 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) of the Arunachal Pradesh Assembly, 33 members on 16 December 2015 passed a resolution to remove the Speaker Nabam Rebia.
ii. The resolution was passed by voice vote by the 33 MLAs. Among them, 20 were rebel Congress MLAs, 11 belonged to the BJP and 2 were Independents. As per the article 179 (c) of the constitution, to remove the Speaker of the house, a resolution of the Assembly should be passed by a majority of all the then members of the Assembly.
iii. Though the majority of 33 MLAs satisfies, even exceeds by 3 members, the criterion of the article 179(c) the resolution became controversial due to the circumstances in which it was passed. The proceedings of the house, during the passage of the resolution, were boycotted by 27 members of the House, including the Chief Minister Nabam Tuki, his Ministerial colleagues and 16 MLAs of the ruling Congress.
iv. And, the House was also convened at the makeshift venue of a community hall after the district administration closed the Assembly Secretariat Complex in view of law and order problem.
v. By considering the above circumstances of passage of the resolution, the Guwahati High Court on 17 December 2015 put on hold all the resolutions of the Assembly and related decisions of the Governor in this regard. The court's bar will be applicable till 2 February 2016.

164. AP Shah Committee appointed to look into ONGC, RIL dispute on KG gas fields
i. Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas on 15 December 2015 appointed a single-member committee to look into the dispute between Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) and Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) on Krishna Godavari (KG) gas fields. The committee will be headed by the Chairman of the 20th Law Commission of India Justice (retd) Ajit Prakash Shah.
ii. The committee will look into acts of omission and commission and recommend compensation to ONGC from the RIL on account of undue advantage the latter has received due to enrichment of its gas fields from the adjacent blocks belonging to ONGC. The recommendations of the committee will be based on D&M’s report on the dispute and will be submitted within three months from the date of its constitution.
iii. In the Krishna-Godavari Basin, ONGC owns Krishna Godavari basin KG-DWN-98/2 (KG-D5) and the Godavari-PML gas fields. These two fields are connected with Dhirubhai-1 and 3 (D1 & D3) fields located in the KG-DWN-98/3 (KG-D6) Block of RIL.iv. In 2014, the ONGC contended that RIL’s fields were being enriched due to migration of gas from its idle fields. Against this backdrop, the Union Government appointed the US-based consultant DeGolyer and MacNaughton (D&M) to look into the matter.
iv. D&M, which submitted its report on 30 November 2015, concluded that out of the 58.68 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas produced from KG-D6 block between 1 April 2009 and 31 March 2015, 49.69 bcm belongs to RIL and the rest 8.981 bcm could have come from ONGC’s fields.

165. CII-ITC Sustainability Awards 2015 for Excellence in Sustainable Business conferred
i. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)-ITC Awards 2015 for Excellence in Sustainable Business were conferred on 15 December 2015 in New Delhi. They were conferred on 26 awardees in 4 main categories and 9 sub categories.
ii. The awards are a part of the CII-ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development’s efforts to create awareness, promote policy and practices, and create capacity to mainstream sustainability practices.
iii. The Union Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu was the special guest at the award presentation ceremony.

166. NSE launches three new group indices
i. The National Stock Exchange (NSE) has launched three separate indices on three corporate houses of India viz. Tata, Aditya Birla and Mahindra Group. The first of its kind three separate indices based on corporate houses have been designed to reflect the performance of companies belonging to the respective corporate group. Each of three indices will comprise all the companies of the respective business group.
ii. Nifty Tata Group Index: It includes 25 companies across 12 sectors with a total market capitalisation of 7.51 lakh crore rupees. It represents 7.83 per cent of the total market capitalisation of companies listed on the NSE.
iii. Nifty Aditya Birla Group Index: It consists of eight companies across seven sectors with the market capitalisation of 2.08 lakh crore rupees. It represents 2.17 per cent of the total market capitalisation of companies listed on the NSE.
iv. Nifty Mahindra Group Index: It consists of seven companies with a market capitalisation of about 1.64 lakh crore rupees. It represents 1.71 per cent of the total market capitalisation of companies listed on NSE.
v. These three indices have been created by the NSE’s group company India Index Services & Products Ltd (IISL). The company is planning to launch indices on other corporate groups and third-party products based on such indices.

167. R.K. Mathur appointed as CIC
i. Former Defence Secretary R.K. Mathur has been appointed as Chief Information Commissioner (CIC), breaking away from the convention of appointing the head from among the serving Information Commissioners.
ii. The post had fallen vacant after Vijai Sharma completed his tenure on December 1. “R.K. Mathur has been selected as Chief Information Commissioner,” Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh told PTI. He will have tenure of about three years, till he attains the age of 65 years.
iii. The 62-year-old Mr. Mathur, a retired IAS officer of Tripura cadre, was made Defence Secretary for a fixed two-year term on May 28, 2013. Mr. Mathur, who did his graduation from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur and post graduation from IIT, Delhi, has held various positions in his cadre state and at the Centre.
iv. He had been Secretary in Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, and Defence Production and Supplies. Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led selection committee, which has Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and leader of Congress Party in Lok Sabha, Mallikarjuna Kharge, as its members, had on Wednesday finalised Mr. Mathur’s name.
v. President Pranab Mukherjee has given his assent for appointment of Mr. Mathur as CIC, official sources said. As per RTI Act, CIC is appointed by the President on the recommendation of the selection committee. The Central Information Commission had been headless twice since the BJP government came into power in 2014. Earlier, it was without a chief for nearly 10 months after completion of the tenure of the then Chief Information Commissioner Rajiv Mathur in August 2014.

168. Theatre artiste Chatla Sriramulu no more
i. Noted writer and theatre artiste Chatla Sriramulu (84) passed away at Secunderabad on Friday. He was a railway employee who hailed from Vijayawada city.
ii. Mr. Sriramulu was awarded ‘Best Actor’ twice by Andhra Nataka Kala Parishad and was also a recipient of Central Government’s Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1982. He was the first artiste from Andhra Pradesh to receive Emeritus Fellowship from the Human Resources Department of Government of India.
iii. He was awarded the certificate of ‘Producer and Teacher’ by the British Drama League, London in 1970. Mr. Sriramulu was instrumental in the establishment of popular literary and cultural organization Rasaranjani which dedicated to the field of theatre arts.
iv. He acted in and directed more than 100 plays and wrote several books on a wide range of subjects.

169. President Pranab Mukherjee earns Garwood Award for Outstanding Global Leader in Open Innovation
i. The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee received Garwood Award for ‘Outstanding Global Leader in Open Innovation’ from UC Berkeley-Haas School of Business today (December 17, 2015) at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Prof. Solomon Darwin, Executive Director Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation presented the award to the President.
ii. The University of California, Berkeley, one of the most prestigious educational institutes in the world, has established the Garwood Award to acknowledge individuals who have embraced, supported and encouraged open innovation in a significant and impactful way.
iii. In his acceptance speech, the President said that open innovation is a way to future as it captures knowledge-flow from all sources, both internal and external, in an organization. Open innovation is most essential for government entities, who are tasked to serve the citizens. Placing of data in the public domain without compromising the privacy, promotes transparency, innovation and opens up new avenues to solve problems of citizens efficiently and effectively.
iv. The President said that innovation is a critical driver of growth and development. Open innovation takes the innovation to next level and creates a new eco-system of access and equal opportunities to all. Open innovation has a potential to transform the global social landscape and help achieve the goal of a more fair and just world.

170. British Novelist Peter Dickinson passed away
i. British Novelist Peter Dickinson passed away on 16 December 2015 following a brief illness in Winchester, Hampshire. He was 88. He was a prolific novelist for adults and children.
ii. He wrote almost 60 books which have been translated into 53 different languages.His first novel for children The Weathermonger was published in 1968 and was followed swiftly by Heartsease (1969) and The Devil’s Children (1970).

iii. He was the first and so far only author to win the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger award for two consecutive novels for his detective books Skin Deep in 1968 and A Pride Of Heroes in 1969.
iv. Two of his books Tulku (1979) and City of Gold (1980) won the Carnegie Medal.
v. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and former chairman of the Society of Authors.
vi. His last book In The Palace Of The Khans was published in 2012.

171.Jeff Williams appointed as Chief Operating Officer of Apple Inc
i. Jeff Williams was on 18 December 2015 appointed as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Apple Inc. The post of COO of the company had been lying vacant since Tim Cook's ascension to position of Chief Executive Officer of Apple Inc in 2011.
ii. Jeff joined Apple in 1998 as head of worldwide procurement and in 2004 he was named vice president of Operations.
iii. Since 2010, he has overseen Apple’s entire supply chain, service and support, and the social responsibility initiatives.
iii. He played a key role in Apple’s entry into the mobile phone market with the launch of iPhone.
iv. He continues to supervise development of Apple’s first wearable product Apple Watch.
v. Before joining Apple, Williams worked at IBM for three years in engineering and operations roles.

172. Harvard University’s Public Health School opening Mumbai centre
i. The Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health is to open its new centre in Mumbai, the first in South Asia, this Sunday, in a bid to help broaden and coordinate the School’s nearly 60 years of collaboration to improve health in India and around the world.

ii. The centre is to open at the Piramal Tower Annexe, in a space that has been provided by Swati Piramal and Ajay Piramal, two Harvard alumni. Swati Piramal, Vice Chairperson of Piramal Enterprises, graduated from Harvard’s School of Public Health in 1992.
iii. Ajay Piramal, is a graduate of Harvard Business School and is the Chairman of the Piramal Group.Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health is part of Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Harvard Business School has had a centre in Mumbai since 2006.

173. 2nd World Internet Conference concluded in Wuzen, China
i. The three-day long 2nd World Internet Conference was concluded on 18 December 2015 at Wuzen in China. Wuzen is located in Zhejiang Province in eastern China.

ii. The conference was held with theme An Interconnected World Shared and Governed by All—Building a Cyberspace Community of Shared Destiny.
iii. It was jointly organized by the Cyberspace Administration of China and the People's Government of Zhejiang Province.
iv. The conference focused on facilitating strategic-level discussions on global Internet governance, cyber security, the Internet industry as the engine of economic growth and social development, technological innovation and philosophy of the Internet.

174. Mumbai’s iconic Marine Drive turns 100
i. Mumbai’s iconic boulevard Marine Drive, also popularly called the Queen’s Necklace, completed 100 years, and residents of the city’s western waterfront flagged off the centenary celebrations with a postcard showcasing the crescent-shaped bay off the Arabian Sea.
ii. A part of city’s collective consciousness associated with the name Bombay, Marine Drive was part of the great revival as the metropolis transitioned from its 19th century fort ramparts to a modern city in the 1860s during the tenure of British Governor Sir Bartle Frere. In the rebuilding process, the city was blessed with two great architectural styles — the Victorian Gothic and Art Deco.

175. Narendra Modi hands over Shyamji’s UK Bar certificate to CM Anandiben Patel
i. Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday recalled nationalist leader Shyamji Krishna Varma as the first “non-Brahmin” to have received a “degree of Pandit” in Varanasi.

ii. He was speaking after handing over the certificate of reistatement of Varma to the UK Bar to Chief Minister Anandiben Patel at an event here.
iii. The certificate was given to Modi in the presence of UK Prime Minister David Cameron, during his visit to London last month. Modi, visiting the state only the third time after becoming Prime Minister, was in Kutch to inaugurate the three-day annual DGPs conference, being held at Dhordo in the White Rann. 

176. DAC approved purchase of Russian S-400 Triumf Air Defence Missile System
i. The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) on 18 December 2015 approved the purchase of Russian advance S-400 Triumf Air Defence Missile Systems from Russia at an estimated cost of 40000 crore rupees.
ii. The approval was given by Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar during DAC meeting in New Delhi.
iii. This system is capable of destroying incoming hostile missiles, aircraft and even drones within a range of up to 400 km. 
iv. This air defence system is capable to take on upto 36 targets at range of over 150 kilometres.
v. It is also capable of taking out ballistic missiles and hypersonic targets.
vi. Considered to be the most modern air defence system in the Russian arsenal, the new S-400 has a 2.5 times faster firing rate as compared to its predecessor S-300.

177.PFRDA switches to PAN for online enrolment under NPS
i. Pension fund regulatory body PFRDA has started using PAN instead of Aadhaar for validation of new customers who can now be registered online under the National Pension System (NPS) scheme.
ii. The Aadhaar-based online NPS account facility was started on a pilot basis, but following a Supreme Court judgment on usage of Aadhaar, it had to be discontinued.

178.Afghanistan becomes 163rd member of WTO
i. Afghanistan has become 163rd member nation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), global trade body after 11 years of negotiations. 
ii. WTO has formally approved Afghanistan’s membership proposal at its ongoing 10th ministerial conference in the Nairobi, Kenya. 
iii. In this regard, Protocol of Accession (PoA) was signed by WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo and Afghanistan’s First Deputy Chief Executive Mohammad Khan Rahmani. 
iv. The final accession to become a full member will come in to effect after PoA is ratified by Afghanistan Parliament till June 2016. It will be the 36th least developed country (LDC) to join the global trade body.

179.US Security Council unanimously adopts resolution on Syria peace plan
i. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has unanimously adopted a resolution No. 2254 outlining a peace process in Syria. 
ii. The resolution endorses an international roadmap for a Syria peace process to end Syria’s five-year-long civil war. 

Key facts 
  • The resolution endorses formal talks on a political transition between the President Bashar al-Assad led Syrian government and opposition in early January 2016. 
  • Calls for implementation of a ceasefire in parallel with the talks on a political transition. Offensive and defensive actions against such terrorist groups in Syria such as ISIS will continue. 
  • Calls for establishment of credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance in Syria within six months. 
  • Free and fair elections to be held in Syria under UN supervision within 18 months. 

180.PM Narendra Modi inaugurates top Police Officers' Conference in Gujarat
i. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has formally inaugurated the All-India conference of Directors General of Police (AICDGPs) at Dhordo in white Rann of Kutch region near Bhuj, Gujarat. 
ii. Three day conference was inaugurated in the presence of Union Minister for Home Rajnath Singh, Minister of State for Home Kiran Rijju and Haribhai Patel. 

181.WB Govt approves proposal for formation of 5 new districts
i. West Bengal Government has approved proposal for formation of five new districts in the state. With this the total number of districts of Bengal will increase to 25. 
ii. Decision in this regard was taken by state Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata. 
iii. Following are the new districts:
  • Kalimpong 
  • Sundarbans 
  • Basirhat 
  • Burdwan (Industrial) 
  • Jhargram 

182.India's biggest wildlife rescue centre commissioned in Nagpur
i. India’s biggest Wildlife Rescue Centre named as Gorewada Zoo and Wildlife Rescue Centre has been commissioned at Gorewada near Nagpur, Maharashtra. 
ii. The centre was inaugurated by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in presence of State Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar. Key facts

183.ZSI Scientists discovered a new eel species named Bengal moray eel
i. Scientists of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) have a discovered a new species of eel named Bengal moray eel (Gymnothorax mishrai) along the coast of Digha in Purba Medinipur district of West Bengal. 
ii. The Eels are mainly snake-like fishes with fins and gills and are mostly found at bottom of rivers and seas. 

184.Dhoni to remain captain till World T20
i. The National selectors decided that M.S. Dhoni will remain captain of the limited-overs sides till the World T20 championship in March.
ii. Before announcing the teams for India’s upcoming tour of Australia next month, BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur announced the decision regarding Dhoni.
iii. However, chairman of selectors Sandeep Patil explained that the decision related to Dhoni’s captaincy was taken due to rumours related his tenure as captain in the shorter formats.

185. UN launched 2016 International Year of Pulses
i. Union Minister of Agriculture Radha Mohan Singh on 18 December 2015 announced that Union Government had been taking considerable steps to improve production of pulses in order to reduce country’s dependence on imports.
ii. These steps are in tune with the 2016 International Year of Pulses launched by the United Nations. The UN on 10 November 2015 launched the year at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, Italy. It was launched with the theme nutritious seeds for a sustainable future.

iii. The purpose of the launch is to raise awareness of the many benefits of pulses, boost their production and trade, and encourage new and smarter uses throughout the food chain.
iv. Pulses are important food crops for the food security of large proportions of populations, particularly in Latin America, Africa and Asia, where pulses are part of traditional diets and often grown by small farmers.

186. Eugenson Lyngdoh and Bala Devi bagged top AIFF honours
i. Bengaluru FC (BFC) midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh and striker Bala Devi on 20 December 2015 was named the 2015 All India Football Federation (AIFF) Player-of-the-Year and woman Footballer-of-the-Year respectively. The awards were announced at the AIFF Annual General Body Meeting held in Margao, Goa.
ii. Lyngdoh was chosen the winner on basis of votes from Coaches of I-League Clubs and he will be presented a prize of 2 lakh rupees along with a Trophy. Bala Devi will be presented with a Trophy along with a prize of 1 lakh rupees.
iii. Pritam Kotal was declared the 2015 AIFF Emerging Player of the Year. Besides, AIFF also introduced a new award the 2015 AIFF emerging Woman Footballer of the Year, which went to Pyari Xaxa. Furthermore, Football Association of Odisha (FAO) bagged the 2015 AIFF Award for Best Grassroots Programme.
iv. The 2015 AIFF Award for long time contribution to Indian Football was awarded to Coca Cola. CR Srikrishna won 2015 AIFF Award for Best Referee while the 2015 AIFF Award for Best Assistant Referee was awarded to Sapam Knnedy.

187. Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach crowned Miss Universe 2015
i. Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach was on 20 December 2015 crowned Miss Universe 2015 at the final of 64th edition of Miss Universe held in Las Vegas, the USA.
She was crowned by Miss Universe 2014 winner Paulina Vega of Columbia.
ii. Urvashi Rautela who represented India in the contest couldn’t make it to top 15 semi-finals round. She is a Filipino-German actress, model and beauty pageant titleholder. 
iii. She finished her secondary education with the ABS-CBN Distance Learning Center and studied culinary arts at the Center for Asian Culinary Studies in Metro Manila, Philippines. 
iv. She worked as a cosmetics model. At the age of 11, under the screen name Pia Romero, she worked as an actress.
v. She is currently a stylist and writer for the lifestyle section of a leading newspaper in the Philippines.

188. Miss Spain Mireia Lalaguna Royo crowned Miss World 2015
i. Miss Spain Mireia Lalaguna Royo on 19 December 2015 was crowned Miss World 2015 at the Beauty of Crown Theater in Sanya, China. Rolene Strauss of South Africa crowned Mireia Lalaguna as her successor at the end of the event. It is the first time Spain has won the title of Miss World.
ii. Mireia, a 23-year-old medical college student and a pianist from Barcelona, was crowned Miss World Spain 2015 on 24 October 2015 after participating at the 2015 edition of Miss World Spain held in Malaga, Spain.
iii. Miss Russia Sofia Nikitchuk was the runner-up, while Miss Indonesia Maria Harfanti stood third in the pageant.
iv. Miss India Aditi Arya won the People’s Choice Award which ensured her direct entry in the competition. Yet the Indian beauty queen failed to make it to the final top 20 contestants.

189. West Bengal Government approved proposal for formation of 5 new districts
i. The West Bengal Government on 18 December 2015 cleared the proposal for setting up five new districts in the state. These five new districts will increase the number of districts of West Bengal to 25.
ii. Earlier, state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had promised about setting up new districts for better administrative control and for deliverance of public service at the door steps of the people staying in remote areas.
iii. Kalimpong: It will be carved out of Kalimpong subdivision of the State’s Darjeeling district.
iv. Basirhat: It will be formed out of North 24 Parganas district.
v. Sunderbans: It currently stretches across parts of the North and South 24 Parganas districts.
vi. Jhargram: It will be carved out of Paschim Midnapore district.
vii. Burdwan (Industrial) and Burdwan (Rural): The existing Burdwan district will be bifurcated into Burdwan (Industrial) and Burdwan (Rural).
viii. At least six months to a year will be taken to create the new districts after getting necessary court orders, infrastructure and funds.

190. Miss Iraq beauty pageant held for the first time since 1972
i. Miss Iraq beauty pageant was held for the first time since 1972. It was held on 20 December 2015 at a hotel in the capital Baghdad and involved eight contestants. In the final event of the pageant, Shaymaa Qasim Abdelrahman was crowned Miss Iraq. She is a 20-year-old from multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk which is situated in the north of Iraq.
ii. In the week running up to the event, the eight finalists embarked on a string of pre-pageant activities, including a visit to a camp for displaced people in Baghdad. They also participated in a tree-planting ceremony near the ruins of the ancient city of Babylon.
iii. The contest was held successfully despite the death threats from Islamic militant organistaions like ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). It, now, allows Iraq to send its representative for the international Miss Universe contest.
iv. It has been cancelled for the last four decades due to unrest in the Middle East. For the last time, it was held in 1972 when the country was stable and prosperous.

191. Kane Williamson became first-ever Kiwi batsman to top ICC Test rankings
i. Kane Williamson, 25, on 21 December 2015 became the first cricketer from New Zealand to top the International Cricket Council’s (ICC’s) Test rankings. He clinched the spot after guiding the Black Caps to a series-clinching five-wicket win in the second Test against Sri Lanka in Hamilton.
ii. With this, Williamson moved above England's Joe Root (886 points) and South Africa's AB de Villiers (881) to sit on 889 points.
iii. Besides, 2015 has been a golden year for Williamson, who took aggregate to 1172, the highest by a New Zealander in a calendar year. 

192. Abhay Singh won U-19 Singapore Squash Open
i. India’s Abhay Singh on 20 December 2015 won the Under-19 Singapore Squash Open. In the final of the Old Chang Kee Singapore Open, he defeated second seed Alwin Chai of Malaysia.
He defeated Chai 11-8, 11-3, 11-8 in the final played at Singapore.
ii. With this win, Abhay, the world number one junior player, has won seven junior titles in the year 2015. Out of seven titles, two of them are international titles.
iii. In the first round, Abhay defeated Vivek Palaniappan of Singapore 11-2, 11-2, 11-1. He followed this up with a fighting win over Yusuke Ogata of Japan 13- 15, 11-3, 11-8, 10-12, 11-6.
iv. In the semi-finals, he beat Kojiro Tan of Singapore 7-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-7 for a place in the title round.

193. Chennaiyin FC crowned 2015 ISL champion
i. Chennaiyin FC was crowned as the champions of the 2nd Indian Super League (ISL) Football tournament on 20 December 2015. In the final played at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, Goa, Chennaiyin defeated the hosts FC Goa, 3-2.
ii. Goa was leading 2-1 till the 87th minute, but an own goal from their keeper, Laxmikant Kattimani, in the 90th minute and Colombian Stiven Mendoza's strike seconds later helped Chennai win the title.
iii. Mendoza, who finished as the tournament's highest scorer with 13 goals, bagged the 'Golden boot' as well as the 'Hero of the League' award.

194. FC Barcelona won 2015 FIFA Club World Cup
i. FC Barcelona on 20 December 2015 won the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup. To win the title, Barcelona defeated Argentina’s River Plate by 3-0. The final match was held at the International Stadium in Yokohama, Japan.
ii. From Barcelona, Luis Suárez of Uruguay scored two goals, while the remaining goal was made by Lionel Messi of Argentina. With this goal, Messi became the first player to score in three finals after leading Barca to victory in 2009 and 2011.
iii. At the end of the annual event, Suarez collected the Player-of-the-Tournament and Golden Boot awards. So far, the event was held for 12 times and Barcelona tops the table of winners with three titles overall.
iv. The 2013 title was won by FC Bayern Munich that was held in Morocco.

195. Union HRD Ministry launched the 6th All India Survey on Higher Education
i. The Union Minister of Human Resource Development Zubin Irani on 21 December 2015 launched the 6th All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) in New Delhi.
ii. The survey covers all the Higher Education (HE) institutions of the country including Universities, Colleges and Stand-Alone institutions from 2010-11 to 2014-15.

iii. It brings out the correct and complete picture of the higher education system so that relevant statistics are available to the Central Government as well as State Governments in order to devise future educational policies.
iv. The major findings of the AISHE 2014-15 included increase in overall enrolment from 27.5 million in 2010-11 to 33.3 million in 2014-15 and improvement in Gross Enrolment Ratio which is a ratio of enrolment in higher education to population in the eligible age group (18-23) years from 19.4 percent on 2010-11 to 23.6 percent in 2014-15. 

196. Odisha Government launched Anwesha scheme to provide free education to SC/ST students
i. The Odisha Government on 21 December 2015 launched Anwesha scheme to provide free education to scheduled caste and scheduled tribe students. Under the scheme, 5000 SC and ST children will annually be enrolled into Standard I in leading private schools in urban areas of the state.
ii. State Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced the scheme at Saragi Phul- a three day children's festival for ST, SC children held at Adivasi Ground, Bhubaneswar.
iii. The government will bear all expenses for education of the students under the scheme which will be implemented in 17 districts. The expenses for fees, uniform, books, hostel accommodation as well transportation will be sponsored by the government.
iv. The government aims to enrol a total of 50000 SC and ST students in phases. Over 3.5 lakh ST and SC students staying in hostels are to continue their education while 2 lakh more will avail the facility soon. For each student, government will give 25000 rupees for school fees per annum excluding hostel cost and scholarship.
v. Separate hostel will be constructed for these children and counsellor will be appointed to help students in self-studies in hostels.

197. Nepal Cabinet decided to amend Constitution to address Madhesis' demands
i. Government of Nepal on 20 December 2015 decided to amend the Constitution to address two key demands of agitating Madhesis regarding proportional representation and constituency delimitation.
ii. A decision in this regard was approved at an emergency cabinet meeting held at Singha Durbar in Kathmandu. The decision to amend the constitution assumes significance against the backdrop of continuing agitation by Madhesis’, since the adoption of the Constitution on 20 September 2015, which led to death of around 50 civilians.
iii. The Madhesi people inhabit the flat southern region of Nepal known as the Madhesh. Their dissatisfaction with the new Constitution was with the fact that the Pahadi or hill communities, who constitute 50 percent of the population, got 100 seats in the parliament, while Madhesis’ got only 65 seats.
iv. Madhesis’ were also fighting against the Constitutional scheme related to proposed boundaries of the new provinces. Unlike the earlier structure in which majority Madhesis’ were within a single administrative region, the new schemes proposes its split in two and force them to share their provinces with hill districts.

198. SpaceX successfully launched and landed Falcon 9 rocket
i. American aerospace company SpaceX on 21 December 2015 achieved the historic feat of successfully launching and landing Falcon 9 rocket.

ii. The Falcon 9 rocket was successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida carrying 11 satellites to low-Earth orbit and was also successfully landed after 10 minutes to the Earth. 
iii. It is the first time in the history of rocketry that a rocket has returned back after delivering a spacecraft to its orbit, so that it could potentially fly again. This exercise of using reusable rockets will help in reducing the cost of access to space making explorations a more realistic goal.
iv. The 230-foot Falcon 9 blasted off from Launch Complex with 1.5 million pounds of thrust and carrying 11 commercial satellites. It marks the company's first flight since an accident in June 2015 that destroyed a cargo ship bound for the International Space Station.
v. Success of SpaceX's mission is significant as the NASA is heavily relying on this private company for transport to the International Space Station after the US Space Shuttle program ended in 2011.

199. Delhi Government appointed Gopal Subramanium Commission on DDCA scam
i. Delhi Government on 21 December 2015 appointed a one-member commission of inquiry on Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) scam. A decision in this regard was taken in  a cabinet committee meeting headed by the Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

ii. The commission will be headed by former Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium. It will probe the alleged financial irregularities by the administrators of the DDCA.
iii. The commission was appointed on the basis of recommendation of the three-member committee headed by Chetan Sanghi. The committee was constituted to probe alleged financial irregularities in DDCA after the Chief Minister’s office received serious complaints about its functioning.
iv. The committee, which submitted its report on 17 November 2015, suggested the Delhi Government to set up a commission under the Commission of Enquiries Act 1952 to probe affairs of the cricket administrators.

200. 10th WTO Ministerial Conference adopted Nairobi Package
i. The five-day long 10th World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference concluded on 19 December 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya. The conference concluded with the adoption of the Nairobi Package that is aimed at benefitting organization’s poorest members.

ii. The conference was attended by trade ministers of 162 member countries of the WTO. India was represented by Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Commerce & Industry Nirmala Sitharaman. It is for the first such meeting hosted by an African nation.
iii. The Nairobi Package contains a series of six Ministerial Decisions on agriculture, cotton and issues related to least-developed countries.
iv. The conference agreed on the timetable for implementing a landmark deal to eliminate tariffs on 201 information technology products valued at over 1.3 trillion US dollars per year.

v. Negotiations on the expanded ITA were conducted by 53 WTO members, including both developed and developing countries, which account for approximately 90 per cent of world trade in these products.

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