1. Bharat Ratna for Vajpayee, Madan Mohan Malaviya.
i. The President's Office on Wednesday announced the Bharat Ratna award to Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya (posthumously) and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
ii. The announcement was made on the eve of Mr. Vajpayee's 90th birthday and the 153rd birth anniversary of Pandit Malviya.
iii. Earlier, Mr. Advani had written a letter to the UPA Government to award the Bharat Ratna to the former Prime Minister.
iv. Mr. Vajpayee will be the seventh Prime Minister to receive the award, while Pandit Malviya will be the 12th person to be honoured posthumously.
v. In 2013, the award was conferred to cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and scientist C.N.R Rao.
2. Cabinet clears coal Ordinance.
i. The Cabinet on Wednesday approved re-promulgation of an Ordinance to facilitate e-auction of coal blocks for private companies for captive use and allot mines directly to state and central PSUs.
ii. The government had to go in for re-promulgation of the Ordinance as the Rajya Sabha could not take up the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill.
iii. The re-promulgation of the Ordinance will enable the Coal Ministry to go ahead with its decision to give a total 101 mines, including 65 through auction, in the first phase.
iv. As many as 36 blocks will be directly allotted to state-owned companies. The government had increased the number of coal mines to be auctioned or allotted in the first tranche to 101, from 92.
v. Of the 101 blocks to be allotted and auctioned in the first lot, 63 mines would be given to the power sector, while the rest would be for sectors like steel and cement.
3. Govt approves Ordinance to hike FDI in insurance to 49%.
i. Government on Wednesday approved promulgation of an Ordinance to hike Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) cap in the insurance sector to 49 per cent from 26 per cent.
iii. The proposed hike in foreign investment limit to 49 per cent in the insurance sector has potential to attract up to USD 7-8 billion (about Rs 50,000 crore) from overseas investors, giving a major boost to the segment.
iv. The 49 per cent cap would include both FDI and foreign portfolio investments.
4. Deadline to exchange pre-2005 notes extended till June 30.
i. The deadline for exchanging pre-2005 currency notes of various denominations, including Rs 500 and Rs 1,000, has been extended by another six months till June, 30, 2015.
ii. The Reserve Bank of India has stated that the public can do so till June 30, 2015. Earlier in March 2014, it had set the last date for public to exchange these notes was January 1, 2015
111. In notes issued post 2005, the year of printing is visible at the bottom on the reverse.
iv. Post-2005 notes have added security features and help in curbing the menace of fake currency.
5. Filmmaker Kailasam Balachander passed away
i. South Indian filmmaker Kailasam Balachander died on 23 December 2014 following a heart attack. He was 84.
ii. His films like Bama Vijayam, Sindhubhairavi, Varumayin Niram Sivappu and Thanneer Thanneer are some of notable films in the history of Tamil cinema.
iii. He was honoured with the Padma Shri in 1987and is a recipient of the ANR National Award and Dadasaheb Phalke Award, India's highest award in cinema in 2010.
6. Snapdeal launched online Agri Store to aid farmers
i. E-retailing firm Snapdeal.com on 23 December 2014 launched the online Agri store offering agricultural products to the farmers. The store was launched on the occasion of National Farmer's Day.
ii. The Agri Store aims to offer wide variety of farm items from seeds to fertilisers, farming tools and irrigation tools. This online store is also accessible through mobile phones, making it convenient for farmers to shop.
A Hindi version of the store will also be launched soon to aid farmers in making an informed decision.