1. AP, Jharkhand join UDAY scheme to bolster Discoms
i. The Andhra Pradesh government has conveyed its in-principle decision to the Ministry of Power of joining UDAY (Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana) scheme.
ii. On receiving the official communication, Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy, lauded Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh N Chandrababu Naidu for joining the scheme.
iii. It seeks to reduce interest burden, cost of power and transmission and commercial losses. Consequently, Discom would become sustainable to supply adequate and reliable power enabling 24×7 power supply. The scheme provides that States would take over 75 per cent debt of Discoms, as on September 30, 2015 in two years.
iv. The UDAY scheme has inbuilt incentives encouraging State governments to voluntarily restructure their debts. These incentives include taking over of Discom debt by the States outside the fiscal deficit limits, reduction in the cost of power through various measures such as coal linkage rationalisation, liberal coal swaps, coal price rationalisation, correction in coal grade slippage, allocation of coal linkages at notified prices, priority/additional funding through schemes of Ministry of Power and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and, reduction in interest burden.
2. Tata Trusts partnered with Khan Academy for free online education
i. Tata Trusts and Khan Academy on 6 December 2015 announced a five-year, not-for-profit partnership to enable free online education for the Indian market. The partnership will adapt and build on Khan Academy’s existing resources and tools to serve the specific needs of the Indian learner.
ii. The five-year partnership will be divided into two phases. The first two years will focus on designing a robust set of educational resources tuned to the needs of middle- and low-income students in urban environments.
iii. The next phase will see diversification into other content areas, including offering classes in regional languages such as Marathi, Tamil and Bangla.
iv. Khan Academy is US-based non-profit educational organization which was founded in 2006. It was founded by educator Salman Khan to provide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere.
v. The academy produces short lectures in the form of YouTube videos. Khan Academy is significantly backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Broad Foundation, Google, and many other philanthropic organizations.
3. Ministry of Railways flagged off first double decker Goa-Mumbai train
i. Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu on 6 December 2015 flagged off the first Goa to Mumbai double-decker Shatabdi train through video conference from Panaji, Goa.
ii. The fully air-conditioned double-decker train is the first-of-its-kind in India.
iii. The train will run thrice a week between Margao and the Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) in Mumbai.
iv. The double decker train will cover the distance in around 12 hours. It has eight compartments with a seating capacity of 120 in each compartment.
4. Singapore replaced Mauritius as top source of FDI into India
i. Singapore replaced Mauritius as top source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into India during April-September of 2015-16 financial year. An announcement in this regard was made by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion of Ministry of Commerce and industry in the first week of December 2015.
ii. As per the data, between 15 April and 15 September 2015, India received 43096 crore rupees as FDI from Singapore. In the same period FDI from Mauritius was 23490 crore rupees.
iii. In the same period, While Netherlands was at number three with 7017 crore rupees of investment, the USA stood at the stood fourth with 5435 crore rupees.
iv. However in terms of cumulative inflows between April 2000 and September 2015 Mauritius still leads the investment list. While Mauritius contributed to 34 percent of total FDI investments, it was only 15 percent in the same period.
5. Commemorative coins of Rs 125, Rs 10 released in honour of Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar
i. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 6 December 2015 released two commemorative coins of 125 rupees and 10 rupees, as part of the 125th birth anniversary year celebrations of Dr. Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar.
ii. The coins were issued on his death anniversary, which is observed as Mahaparinirvan Divas of Babasaheb Ambedkar. He breathed his last on 6 December 1956.
iii. He was born on 14 April 1891 in Mhow, Madhya Pradesh. He was an Indian jurist, economist, politician and social reformer. He inspired the Modern Buddhist Movement and campaigned against social discrimination against Untouchables (Dalits), while also supporting the rights of women and labour.
iv. He was Independent India’s first law minister and the principal architect of the Constitution of India. In 1990, the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, was posthumously conferred upon Ambedkar. Ambedkar’s legacy includes numerous memorials and depictions in popular culture.
6. Atlas V rocket lifted off with Cygnus Cargo Spaceship to ISS
i. A United Launch Alliance Atlas V (401 configuration) rocket carrying the OA-4 Cygnus cargo spacecraft with much needed supplies blasted off towards the International Space Station (ISS) on 6 December 2015.
ii. The rocket lifted off from Space Launch Complex 41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station after three days of delay due to poor weather.
iii. The current Cygnus mission would be the first US delivery of cargo since April, the last time SpaceX’s Dragon capsule reached the station. A Cygnus last reached the station in July 2014.
iv. Supplies at the station are running low due to several failed delivery runs and botched rocket launches. The capsule carries more than 3500kg of food, clothing, computer gear, spacewalk equipment, science experiments and other supplies.
7. Kaher Kazem appointed General Motors India head
i. General Motors has appointed Kaher Kazem as President and Managing Director of its India operations, effective January 1. Kazem, who is currently chief operating officer (COO) of GM India, will be replacing Arvind Saxena who has decided to retire after leading the company since early 2014, the carmaker said in a statement.
ii. Kazem’s proven track record will enable the company to deliver to Indian consumers the great vehicles they want and the world-class customer experience they deserve, he added. Kazem joined GM Holden in Australia in 1995 as a senior engineer. He later held several leadership positions at GM Holden Manufacturing Operations.
iii. In 2009, he was appointed vice president of Manufacturing and Quality for GM Thailand/Asean. Prior to taking on his current position earlier this year, where he managed the industrial side of the business, Kazem was president and MD of GM Uzbekistan from 2012.
iv. “I want to thank Arvind, who has helped lay the foundation for the future success of GM India. We look forward to a smooth transition to ensure the continued execution of our business transformation,” Jacoby said.
8. NRDC enters into pact with CSIR-IICT
i. The National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) has entered into a memorandum of agreement with CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad for marketing the latter’s inventions/innovations, patents, formulations, know-how/processes and also collection of premia and royalties.
ii. The Chairman & Managing Director of NRDC, H Purushotham, said CSIR-IICT has generated a large number of technologies, know-how/processes which can be transferred to industries for commercial exploitation and for social benefits.
iii. The main strength of CSIR-IICT is its rich pool of scientists and PhD students numbering over 600. CSIR-IICT has active collaborations with several countries, including France, Germany, UK, Switzerland, Italy, USA, Australia, Japan, and Korea.
iv. In another development, the NRDC has in association with the office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks (CGPDTM), launched a series of IPR awareness and capacity building workshops in 25 universities/institutions in 21 States.
v. The objective of the workshops is to create awareness about IP in academia in the wake of new IPR policy being launched by the Government of India and connecting IPRs to the ‘Make in India’ and ‘Start up India’ programmes, Purushotham said in a press release.
9. Cochin Shipyard launches fast patrol vessels for Coast Guard
i. The public sector Cochin Shipyard Ltd has launched the nineteenth of the 20 Fast Patrol Vessels being built for Indian Coast Guard. The vessel was named “ICGS Atulya” and launched by Hema Subramaniam, wife of Commodore K. Subramaniam, Chairman & Managing Director, CSL.
ii. As on date, 15 ships out of 20 have been handed over to the Indian Coast Guard. Cochin Shipyard has successfully delivered 15 ships in a span of just 25 months with an average delivery interval of 1.6 months, against the contractual commitment of 3 months interval.
iii. The last vessel of the order is to be delivered by Mar 2017 as per the contract with ICG. However, with the current pace of construction, the yard is targeting to accomplish this by mid of 2016, much ahead of schedule.
iv. The yard also paid a dividend of Rs. 16.99 crore to Government of India. The company is paying dividend for the seventh consecutive year, a release said.
10. Australia defeated Belgium to win Hockey World League Final
i. Australia on 6 December 2015 defeated Belgium by 2-1 to win 2014-2015 Men’s Hockey World League Final, which was held at Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel Stadium, Raipur. India defeated world number two and defending champions Netherlands by 3-2 in the penalty shoot-out, and clinched the bronze medal in the tournament.
ii. The 2014–15 Men’s International Hockey Federation (FIH) Hockey World League was the second edition of the FIH Hockey World League field hockey championship for men. It took place from 27 November to 6 December 2015 in Raipur, India. The Semifinals of the competition also served as a qualifier for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
iii. Each national association member of the FIH had the opportunity to compete in the tournament. After seeking entries to participate, 56 teams were announced to compete.
iv. A total of 8 teams competed for Hockey World League Final. The teams were India, Germany, Argentina, Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Belgium and Great Britain.
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