Daily Current Affairs - 29th Dec 2017

Anisa Sayyed wins women’s 25m pistol gold with new national record

  • Haryana shooter Anisa Sayyed won the women’s 25m pistol gold with a new record at the ongoing 61st National Shooting Championship Competitions (61st NSCC). Anisa shot a new finals national record score of 33 to prevail over the Maharashtra duo of Shital Shivaji Thorat and
  • Rahi Sarnobat, who won the silver and bronze medals respectively at the National Games Shooting Range.

Apple and Amazon in talks to set up in Saudi Arabia

  • Apple and Amazon are in licensing discussions with Riyadh on investing in Saudi Arabia. Apple was in talks with SAGIA, Saudi Arabia’s foreign investment authority. A licensing agreement for Apple stores with SAGIA is expected by February, with an initial retail store targeted for 2019.
  • Both companies already sell products in Saudi Arabia via third parties but they and other global tech giants have yet to establish a direct presence.
  • Saudi Arabia has been easing regulatory impediments for the past two years, including limits on foreign ownership which had long kept investors away, since falling crude prices highlighted the need to diversify its oil-dependent economy.

Association of Indian Football Coaches launched in Mumbai

  • The Association of Indian Football Coaches, AIFC was launched in Mumbai with the recognition of the All India Football Association to provide a platform for the coaches. The association aim is to make it 65,000 coaches in the next five years as football is growing rapidly in India.
  • The board of directors of the newly floated coaches body comprises former India captain I M Vijayan, former international player Derrick Pereira, Sanjoy Sen and Thangboi Singto.

Centre approves Rs 100 crore project to tackle stubble burning

  • The Union Environment Ministry has approved a regional project on Climate Resilience Building among Farmers through Crop Residue Management to tackle Stubble Burning. The project was approved at the meeting of the National Steering Committee on Climate Change held in New Delhi yesterday.
  • The first phase of the project has been approved at a cost of around 100 Crore rupees for the States of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
  • The project not only aims to mitigate climate change impacts and enhance adaptive capacity, but will also counter the adverse environmental impacts that arise from burning.
  • Environment and Forest Minister: Dr Harsh Vardhan

George Weah elected Liberian president

  • Ex-football superstar George Weah has been announced as the winner of Liberia's presidential run-off, beating Vice President Joseph Boakai in the first democratic transfer of power in decades following two devastating civil wars.
  • Weah is set to replace incumbent Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who took over at the helm of Africa's oldest republic in 2006.
  • Weah had won with 61.5 per cent of Tuesday's vote while his opponent Boakai had secured only 38.5 percent support. The NEC said that with 98.1 percent of all votes counted.
  • Liberia:
  • Capital: Monrovia
  • Currency: Liberian dollar

Hyderabad to host World Kite and Sweet Festival from January 13 to 15

  • Hyderabad is set to host World Sweet Festival and International Kite Festival at Parade Grounds between January 13 and 15. The festival will have a display varieties of sweets from 25 States at one place will be the festival’s highlight.
  • The organisers will also display 1,000 varieties of sweets for purchase.

India test-fires supersonic interceptor missile

  • India successfully test-fired an indigenously developed advanced air defence (AAD) supersonic interceptor missile, capable of destroying an incoming ballistic missile at low altitude.
  • This was the third supersonic interceptor test carried out by India this year in which an incoming ballistic missile target was successfully intercepted. Earlier, two similar tests were conducted in February and March this year.

India's SEBI tightens shareholding norms for rating agencies, mutual funds

  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) unveiled a number of measures to boost governance and resolve issues around conflicts of interest for credit rating agencies (CRAs) and asset management companies (AMCs).
  • According to SEBI, no CRA will be allowed to hold a stake of more than 10 percent, directly or indirectly, in any other CRA or have a position on the board.
  • Shareholders with a stake of 10 percent or more in a CRA will not be permitted to hold 10 percent or more of the shares in any other CRA, except for pension funds, insurance schemes and mutual fund schemes.
  • SEBI raised the minimum net worth requirement of a CRA to 250 million rupees from 50 million rupees.
  • The regulator similarly curbed cross-holdings in asset management companies.
  • The regulator has been tightening norms for credit rating agencies, including increasing disclosure requirements, in a bid to boost transparency and accountability.

India, Afghanistan launch 2nd air cargo route linking Kabul to Mumbai

  • India and Afghanistan have launched the second air cargo route, linking Kabul to Mumbai. The objective of the air corridors is to boost the export of fresh fruits and medicinal plants from Afghanistan. The first route from Kabul to New Delhi was launched in June.
  • The air corridors between Afghanistan and India are key to boosting exports to India and the rest of the world.
  • Afghanistan has, so far, exported 1,600 tonnes of fruits, worth more than 20 million US dollars, to India via the air corridor.

Italy's President Mattarella dissolves Parliament ahead of elections

  • Italy's President Sergio Mattarella has dissolved Parliament as the country prepares for general elections in March next year. The elections are scheduled to be held on March 4 and are expected to mark a new era of uncertainty for the country.
  • Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni is the third leader of the parliament that was elected in 2013. He is likely to stay in office until the creation of the new government following elections.
  • The next parliament could be left without a clear majority as the vote is predicted to be split between the right, centre-left and the populist Five Star movement. Instability is nothing new for the country that has seen 64 governments since 1946.
  • Italy:
  • Capital: Rome
  • Currency: Euro

Jio to buy RCom assets, inks pact

  • Reliance Jio Infocomm, the telecom arm of Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries (RIL) has inked a definitive agreement to buy the wireless infrastructure assets of Anil Ambani-led Reliance Communications and its affiliates in an all-cash deal. Market circles are pegging the deal size at roughly Rs 24,000 crore,
  • Jio will acquire assets under four categories - towers, optic fibre cable network, spectrum and media convergence nodes (MCNs) from RCom and its affiliates.

Lok Sabha passes triple talaq Bill

  • The Lok Sabha passed a bill that makes instant triple talaq or talaq-e-biddat a criminal offence, with a jail term of up to three years. All amendments to it were defeated. The bill will now be tabled in the Rajya Sabha where it is likely to sail through.
  • The proposed law would be applicable to the entire country, except in Jammu and Kashmir. It would make instant talaq punishable and would be a cognisable, non-bailable offence.

More Indian scientists coming back now

  • According to figures from the Department of Science and Technology, the number of Indian-origin scientists working internationally and returning to India between 2012 and 2017 has jumped 70% from that from 2007 to 2012.
  • This is primarily due to schemes such as the Ramanujan Fellowship Scheme and the Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) Faculty Scheme and the Ramalingaswami re-entry fellowship scheme coordinated by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
  • As these schemes allow high-calibre Indian researchers working abroad to relocate to Indian institutes and universities of their respective interest and domain. Of the 373 scientists, who got these scholarships between 2014 and 2016, only 125 were absorbed into their host institutions.

Star Wars Actor Alfie Curtis Passes Away at 87

  • Alfie Curtis, who played the menacing character who threatened Luke Skywalker in the Mos Eisley cantina scene in 1977’s Star Wars, has passed away. Curtis went on to do more than a dozen more film and TV roles in his career, perhaps most notably, as the Milkman opposite John Hurt in 1980's The Elephant Man.

UDAY States have reduced losses by Rs.16,762.64 crore in FY17

  • According to Power Minister R.K.Singh, the financial losses of States participating in the UDAY Scheme have reduced from Rs.51,589.51 crore in 2015-16 to Rs.34,826.87 crore in 2016-17.
  • States participating in UDAY saw a reduction of 1% in their aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses and a Rs.0.17/unit reduction in the gap between the average cost of supply and the average revenue realised in financial year 2017.
  • Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) is the financial turnaround and revival package for electricity distribution companies of India (DISCOMs) initiated by the Union of India.
  • It allows state governments, which own the DISCOMs, to take over 75 percent of their debt as of September 30, 2015, and pay back lenders by selling bonds. DISCOMs are expected to issue bonds for the remaining 25 percent of their debt.

UNSC denies international port access to four North Korean ships

  • The UN Security Council has denied international port access to four North Korean ships suspected of carrying transported goods banned under international sanctions targeting Pyongyang. Diplomats said, the ban of the four vessels was requested by the United States along with measures targeting ships registered in other countries.
  • In 2017, the Security Council has slapped three sets of sanctions on North Korea. Blocking suspected vessels from ports except in the case of humanitarian need, is provided for in the August resolution.

Zimbabwe's ex-army chief sworn in as vice-president

  • Retired army chief Constantino Chiwenga, who led a de facto coup in November that ended Robert Mugabe's 37-year rule, was installed as Zimbabwe's vice-president in Harare. Veteran politician Kembo Mohadi will be sworn in as the other vice-president.
  • Current Zimbabwen president Mnangagwa has appointed several senior military officers to his cabinet and the ruling party's top decision-making body, the politburo.
  • The president is under pressure from opposition parties and the public to implement political reforms.