16, December 2016

1.Fifth India-Arab partnership forum in Oman

Source: The Hindu

Fifth India-Arab partnership forum is being held in Oman. Minister of State for External Affairs, M J Akbar is leading the Indian delegation to the fifth India-Arab Partnership Conference.


    • The conference is being organised by Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) in collaboration with Arab League Secretariat, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), General Union of Chambers of Commerce and Industry in the Arab Countries (GUCCIAC) and Federation of the Arab Business (FAB).


  • The theme of the fifth India-Arab Partnership Conference is “Partnership towards Innovation and Information Technology Co-operation.”


  • The conference will hold panel discussions on the topics identified for the conference – technology and innovation, the renewable energy and clean technology, the health and drug industry, the higher education and skill development, food security and safety and tourism.

2.Pak. test fires ‘Babur’ cruise missile

Source: The Hindu

    • Pakistan Army successfully test fired an enhanced version of an indigenously-designed cruise missile that can hit targets located at 700 km with all kinds of warheads, bringing many Indian cities within its range.


  • Called ‘Babur’ after the first  Moghal emperor, the missile is part of Babur Weapon System version-2 because it is an enhanced version of earlier missile.


  • Pakistan Army said in a statement that it incorporates advanced aerodynamics and avionics that can strike targets both at land and sea with high accuracy.
  • “Babur Weapon System is an important force multiplier for Pakistan’s strategic defence.

3.Liquor vends on National, State highways banned

Source: The Hindu

The Supreme Court has banned States and Union Territories from granting licences for the sale of liquor along National and State highways across the country, noting that drunken driving was the main culprit behind a large number of road accidents in the country.


  • The judgment is a result of the deep concern the court had expressed recently on the 1.5 lakh fatalities annually in road accidents.
  • It had blamed the Centre and the States for not doing enough as lives were lost on the roads.


  • A Bench of Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur and Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and L. Nageswara Rao said the licences of liquor shops across the highways will not be renewed after March 31, 2017.
  • The judgment ordered that the prohibition on sale of liquor alongside highways would extend to stretches of such highways that fall within limits of municipal corporations, city towns and local authorities.
  • The court prohibited signages and advertising of availability of liquor on highways and ordered the existing ones to be removed forthwith from both national and State highways.
  • It ordered that no shop for sale of liquor should be visible from the National and State highways.
  • Neither should they be directly accessible from the highways nor should they be situated within a distance of 500 metres from the outer edge of the highways or service lanes.

The court ordered all the States and Union Territories to “strictly enforce the directions.” It gave the Chief Secretaries and the State police chiefs a month’s time to chalk out a plan for enforcement of the judgment.

4.Thal Favang Kut festival begins in Mizoram

  • The ‘Thal Favang Kut’ festival organised by Department of Tourism, Government of Mizoram began in state capital Aizawl with enthusiasm and fervour.
  • It is a post-harvest festival which is celebrated after harvesting the paddy.
  • It is celebrated every year in to thank the almighty as well as to promote tourism in the state.

5.Rio de Janeiro ordained Unesco world heritage status

Rio de Janeiro, nicknamed the Marvelous City, officially entered the UN’s list of world heritage sites recognition of its soaring granite cliffs, urban rainforest and beaches.

The UN cultural body, Unesco, highlighted the “extraordinary fusion” of man-made and natural beauty in certifying Rio on the world heritage list.


Rio got a big tourism boost during the 2014 football World Cup and this August’s Olympic Games. However, persistent high crime, last year’s Zika epidemic, and political instability have hurt the city’s image.

The Unesco status was announced in 2012, but only became official after the Brazilian authorities were given four years to report on their plans for protecting the likes of Flamengo Park, Sugarloaf Mountain, the Corcovado, Copacabana beach, the Botanical Garden and Tijuca forest.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration.

  • The UNESCO World Heritage Sites are sites having special cultural or physical significance. The list is maintained by international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.
  • The committee comprises of 21 UNESCO member states which are elected by the General Assembly.
  • Each World Heritage Site included in the list remains part of the legal territory of the state where it is located. But inclusion of sites in the list by UNESCO is in the interest of the international community to preserve each site.
  • Presently, Italy with 50 sites is home to the greatest number of World Heritage Sites.

6.NITI Aayog announces launch of the schemes – Lucky Grahak Yojana and Digi-Dhan Vyapar Yojana – for incentivising digital payment

Source: PIB

NITI Aayog has announced the launch of the schemes Lucky Grahak Yojana and the Digi-Dhan Vyapar Yojana to give cash awards to consumers and merchants who utilize digital payment instruments for personal consumption expenditures.


    • The primary aim of these schemes is to incentivize digital transactions so that electronic payments are adopted by all sections of the society, especially the poor and the middle class.
    • It has been decided that National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) shall be the implementing agency for this scheme.
    • The schemes have been designed keeping in mind all sections of the society and their usage patterns. For instance, the poorest of poor will be eligible for rewards by using USSD. People in village and rural areas can participate in this scheme through AEPS.


  • The scheme will become operational with the first draw on 25th December, 2016 (as a Christmas gift to the nation) leading up to a Mega Draw on Babasaheb  Ambedkar  Jayanti on 14th April 2017.


  • To ensure that the focus of the scheme is on small transactions (entered into by common people), incentives shall be restricted to transactions within the range of Rs 50 and Rs 3000.

1.Lucky Grahak Yojana [Consumers]

  • Daily reward of Rs 1000 to be given to 15,000 lucky Consumers for a period of 100 days.
  • Weekly prizes worth Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10,000 and Rs. 5000 for Consumers who use the alternate modes of digital Payments.
  • This will include all forms of transactions viz. UPI, USSD, AEPS and RuPay Cards but will for the time being exclude transactions through Private Credit Cards and Digital Wallets.
  1. Digi-Dhan Vyapar Yojana[ Merchants]
  • Prizes for Merchants for all digital transactions conducted at Merchant establishments.
  • Weekly prizes worth Rs. 50,000, Rs 5,000 and Rs. 2,500.

7.Shri Rajnath Singh chairs a meeting of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration

Source: PIB

The Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh recently chaired a meeting with the delegation of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA).

  • During the meeting, it was decided to sympathetically examine and appropriately consider the long pending demands of the Gorkhas, the Adivasis and other people of Darjeeling district and the Dooars region.
  • In respect of granting ST Status to 11 Gorkha communities, the Minister informed that the committee constituted for preparing a report for this purpose has been recently granted extension for a further period of four months. The Committee will be asked to try to give its report as per the schedule.


    • Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) is a semi-autonomous administrative body for the Darjeeling hills in West Bengal.
    • GTA replaced the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, which was formed in 1988 and administered the Darjeeling hills for 23 years.


  • GTA presently has three hill subdivisions Darjeeling, Kalimpong, and Kurseong and some areas of Siliguri subdivision under its authority.
  • The GTA has administrative, executive and financial powers but no legislative powers.


8.Second Meeting of Interim Board of CEPI

Source: PIB

The Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India is partnering in the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovations (CEPI), a new global alliance between governments, industries, academia, philanthropy, inter-governmental institutions, the World Health Organization, and civil society.


  • The DBT is hosting the Second Meeting of the Interim Board of CEPI at New Delhi. The meeting is focused on identifying disease priorities, future strategy and setting of Permanent Secretariat for CEPI.


CEPI, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, is a “public-private coalition that aims to derail epidemics by speeding development of vaccines”.

  1. Majuli set to become country’s first ever carbon neutral district

Source: Business standard

Assam government has launched ‘Sustainable Action for Climate Resilient Development in Majuli’ (SACReD, Majuli) to make river island Majuli country’s first ever Carbon Neutral district by 2020.

The project has been initiated by Assam’s department of Environment and Forest to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It presents a vision and roadap for a carbon netural Majuli.

Key facts:

  • SACReD, Majuli project is part of the French Development Agency assisted Assam Project on Forest and Biodiversity Conservation (APFBC).
  • Under it, mitigation through forestry activities and biodiversity conservation will be the starting points for carbon neutral agenda followed by other interventions over the next three years.
  • The project will be designed and implemented in partnership with other departments of island district for which a district level committee under chairmanship of Deputy Commissioner has been constituted.

Majuli  Island

The Assam Government has granted district status to Majuli, a 400 square kilometres island in the Brahmaputra River. With this it becomes India’s first island district.

With this erosion-troubled Majuli island will become the 35th district of Assam. Earlier it was sub-division of Jorhat district.

  • Geographical occurrence: The fluvial riverine island is formed by the Brahmaputra river system. It is the world’s largest mid river delta (island) system.
  • The island is surrounded by Subanisri River in the North, main Brahmaputra River on the South and kherkatia Suli, split channel of Brahmaputra River in northeast.
  • People and Culture: Majuli island is mostly inhabited by Mishing tribal people.  It has been the hub of Assamese neo-Vaishnavite culture initiated by saint-reformer  Srimanta Sankardeva in 15th century.
  • The island had some 65 satras (monasteries adhering) to Vaishnavism. But large numbers of them were relocated to the mainland after being washed away.

Erosion: Due to erosion of river-bank of the island it has shrunk from about 1250 sq km in 1891 to about 515 sq km.

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