1. Sir Tim Barrow appointed as Britain’s EU ambassador
UK’s government has appointed career diplomat Sir Tim Barrow as its ambassador to the EU. The office of Britain’s PM Theresa May said that Barrow is a seasoned and tough negotiator who will bring energy to Brexit talks. The former ambassador Sir Ivan Rogers had resigned after accusing the government of “ill-founded arguments and muddled thinking” over the Brexit negotiation.
2. US First Lady picks Indian-American Swetha Prabakara for education campaign
U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama has selected 16-year-old Indian-American Swetha Prabakaran to serve in the inaugural Student Advisory Board of an education campaign, which seeks to provide educational opportunities for teenagers in America.
Swetha, a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia, is the founder and CEO of Everybody Code Now!, a non-profit body working to empower the next generation of youth to become engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs.
3. India and Kazakhstan sign Protocol to amend DTAC
India and Kazakhstan signed a Protocol to amend the existing Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC) between the two countries which was earlier signed on 9th December, 1996 for the avoidance of double taxation and for the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income. The Protocol provides internationally accepted standards for effective exchange of information on tax matters.
4. 16th meeting of FSDC held in New Delhi
The 16th meeting of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) was held in New Delhi. It was chaired by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. The Central Government had established Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) in December 2010 with the Finance Minister as it Chairman. The idea to create it was first mooted by the Raghuram Rajan Committee on Financial Sector Reforms in 2008.
5. DGFT bans import of exotic skins
The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has issued a notification amending a trade policy to prohibit the import of skins of reptiles and fur of chinchillas, minks and foxes. In 2014, PETA India wrote to the Inspector General of Forests in the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and spoke with Union Minister Maneka Gandhi, on banning the import of all exotic skins and fur products. After her intervention, the Ministry of Commerce & Industry sought MoEFCC’s comments, which agreed to ban certain items.
6. Cabinet approves 26% strategic sale in BEML
The government has approved of 26% strategic sale in state run BEML Ltd. The company in a notification to stock exchanges informed that the government, ministry of defence has approved of the strategic sale plan. At the current market pricing of ₹999.50 a share, 26 per cent stake of BEML could fetch the exchequer over ₹1,000 crore.
Established in May 1964, BEML operates on three major business verticals for associated equipment manufacturing — mining and construction, rail and metro and defence and aerospace. Its turnover has risen to more than ₹3,500 crore.
7. EPFO makes Aadhar mandatory for its pensioners
Retirement fund body EPFO has made it mandatory for its about 50 lakh pensioners and around four crore subscribers to provide either Aadhaar or a proof that they have applied for it till month-end to remain the beneficiary of its social security schemes. EPFO has asked its over 120 field offices to provide wide publicity to the move through media as well as individual notes through employers to create awareness among members and pensioners about providing Aadhaar as their identification.
8. IRCTC to launch new app for booking tickets faster
Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) Limited will soon launch a new ticketing App which will have several features added to the existing one for faster booking of tickets.
Equipped with the latest technology, existing IRCTC Connect will now become IRCTC Rail Connect to facilitate the booking of train tickets in a faster and easier way, a senior Railway Ministry official said, reports PTI.
9. 44th New Delhi World Book Fair begins
The 25th edition of the New Delhi World Book Fair themed ‘Manushi – writings on and by women’ begun with over 800 participating publishers from across the country and abroad. Touted as Asia’s largest, the nine-day fair was inaugurated by Mahendra Nath Pandey, Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development.
10. India’s GDP growth expected to be slower at 7.1% in 2016-17: CSO
According to growth projection released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth is expected to grow at a slower pace at 7.1% in 2016-17 as compared to 7.6% in 2015-16.
This estimate is in sync with the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) economic growth forecast and is largely based on data from the first seven months of the year. The slowdown is chiefly due to an industrial slowdown.
11. World Bank holds meet with India on Indus Water Treaty
India asked the World Bank not to rush in brokering a deal on its dispute with Pakistan over Ratle and Kishenganga projects coming up in Jammu and Kashmir. India conveyed its position during a meeting with World Bank representative in New Delhi. India asserted that the differences between India and Pakistan can be resolved bilaterally or through a neutral expert.
IWT is a bilateral water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan signed in 1960. It was brokered by the World Bank (then the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development).
12. Russia begins withdrawing troops from Syria
Russia began withdrawing its forces from Syria in a move that will leave the Syrian government to fend for itself to a much greater extent — but with a greatly strengthened hand in negotiations over the country’s future. The first group of Russian planes left Hmeymim air base in Syria.
13. UN declares 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has declared the year 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. The declaration recalls the potential of tourism sector to advance the universal 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
It will promote tourism sector’s role in five key areas:
(i) Inclusive and sustainable economic growth
(ii) Social inclusiveness, employment and poverty reduction
(iii) Cultural values, diversity and heritage
(iv) Resource efficiency, environmental protection and climate change
(v) Mutual understanding, peace and security.
14. Norway to become first country to switch off FM radio
Norway is set to become the first nation to start switching off its FM radio network, in a risky and unpopular leap to digital technology. Sixty-six percent of Norwegians oppose switching off FM, with just 17 percent in favor and the rest undecided, according to an opinion poll published by the daily Dagbladet last month. Switzerland plans a similar shift from 2020, and Britain and Denmark are among those also considering such a switch.
15. Giant iceberg set to break away from Antarctica: Scientists
A 5,000-square-kilometre iceberg is poised to break away from Antarctica. Just 20 kilometres of ice is preventing iceberg Larsen C from floating away, as a rift growing for over a decade has suddenly widened. Scientists say that the break-off, expected to be among the ten largest ever recorded, is not driven by climate change.
16. NASA to send African-American for first time to space station
NASA is sending an African-American astronaut to the International Space Station for the first time. The traveler is Jeanette Epps, a physics and science whiz who used to work for the CIA as a technical intelligence officer. Epps will head to the ISS as a flight engineer in 2018. Her commander will be Andrew Feustel, a veteran astronaut. A dozen or so African-American astronauts have traveled on US space shuttle missions but Epps will be the first African American on the space station.
17. Scientists discover rare double-ringed galaxy in space
Scientists have spotted a rare double-ringed elliptical galaxy, approximately 359 light years away from the Earth. Identified as PGC 1000714, it has a 5.5 billion-year-old core at its heart that looks red and is circled by a faint blue ring. While the rings are made up of mostly of young stars, the core is made of older stars.
18. December 2016 was the warmest in eight years
The year 2016 saw the second hottest December in the last 10 years in Coimbatore. The data available with the Agro Climatic Research Centre says that the maximum temperature in December 2016 was 29.9 degree Celsius, which was next only to December 2012’s 30.5 degree Celsius.
19. Noted Manipur based historian Gangmumei Kamei passes away
Noted Manipur-based historian, litterateur and scholar Gangmumei Kamei, who had also served as a minister, passed away in Imphal following protracted illness. Kamei was currently a member of the North Eastern Council (NEC). Born on October 21, 1939 in Imphal. He specialized in history.
Kamei, who had specialised in the history of the North-eastern region, had served as a professor of History in Manipur University, and was also elected president of the Northeast India History Association (NEIHA) in its Kohima session of 1986.
20. Veteran actor Om Puri passes away
Veteran actor Om Puri has passed away at the age of 66 due to heart attack. He was found dead at his Mumbai house. The recipient of two National awards and two Filmfare Awards including a Lifetime Achievement Award, Om Puri had an illustrious film career , spanning over four decades.