AWARDS & HONOURS
1. Bengali poet Shankha Ghosh chosen for 2016 Jnanpith Award
Eminent modern Bengali poet Shankha Ghosh has been chosen for the prestigious Jnanpith Award for 2016. A prolific poet, critic and academician, Ghosh is an authority on Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. His poetic idiom and experiments with various poetic forms mark his greatness as a creative talent.Instituted in 1961, the award by Bharatiya Jnanpith recognises Indian literatteurs who write in one of the 22 Indian languages listed in Schedule Eight of the Indian Constitution.
Ghosh has also been the recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award, Narsingh Das Puraskar, Saraswati Samman, and Rabindra Puraskar among others. Last year the Jnanpith award was given to Gujarati writer Raghuveer Chaudhary.
BANKING & FINANCE
2. ICICI Bank launches EazyPay app for Merchants
ICICI Bank, India’s largest private sector bank has launched EazyPay mobile application for merchants that allows all-in-one acceptance payments platform. This app consolidates all digital wallets, QR code, Unified Payments Interface (UPI), and credit & debit cards modes of payments. With this, ICICI Bank became first bank in the country to roll out all-in-one payments platform. EazyPay allows merchants to receive payments from ICICI Bank’s own e-wallet ‘Pockets’.
3. Govt observes ‘Good Governance Day’
‘Good Governance Day’ is being observed by the government today on the occasion of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s birth anniversary. A 100-day campaign will be launched across the country on the theme of good governance on the occasion, Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu said. Under the campaign, MPs will travel across India to highlight the Centre’s key initiatives, he added.
4. NGT asks govt to regulate use of plastic during polls
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar issued notice to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) regarding rampant use of plastic flags and banners by political parties during elections and asked to decide on the issue within six months.
5. Pak Hindus in India can register for citizenship for ₹100
The registration fees for Hindus and other minority community people from three neighbouring countries, including Pakistan, as Indian citizens have been drastically reduced to as low as Rs 100 from Rs 15,000.
In a gazette notification, the Home Ministry said the new rules will be applicable to minority communities- Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians- from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and living in India on Long Term Visa.
However, for minority community people from countries other than the three, the fees will be Rs 10,000 for registration in India and Rs 15,000 if registered elsewhere.
6. Odisha Government launches Biju Sishu Surakshya Yojana to nurture HIV positive orphan kids
The Odisha Government launched the Biju Sishu Surakshya Yojana, a scheme to nurture the orphan and HIV-infected children residing in different child care institutions and orphanages. The main objective of the scheme is to facilitate care and protection towards orphans and HIV infected children of the state. It will act and supplement for providing additional resources and complementary modalities to the existing centrally sponsored schemes.
7. Missing Russian plane with 91 onboard crashes into Black Sea
A Russian military plane crashed in the Black Sea as it made its way to Syria with 92 people onboard, including Red Army Choir members heading to celebrate the New Year with troops. Fragments of the Tu-154 plane of the Russian defence ministry were found 1.5 kilometres from the Black Sea coast of the city of Sochi at a depth of 50 to 70 metres.
The plane had been on a routine flight to Russia’s Hmeimim airbase in western Syria, which has been used to launch air strikes in Moscow’s military campaign supporting its ally President Bashar al-Assad in the country’s devastating civil war.
8. Obama signs defence bill, enhances cooperation with India
US President Barack Obama has signed into law the $618 billion defence budget for 2017, which enhances security cooperation with India and conditions nearly half of the funding to Pakistan on a certification that it is taking demonstrable steps against the Haqqani Network. Early this year, US defence secretary Ashton Carter refused to give a similar certification to Pakistan due to which it was not given $300 million under coalition support fund.
9. Philippines evacuates thousands ahead of Christmas typhoon
Philippine authorities began evacuating thousands of people and shut down dozens of ports as a strong typhoon threatened to wallop the country’s east coast on Christmas Day. Nock-Ten is expected to be packing winds of between 203- 250 kilometres per hour when it crosses over Catanduanes, a remote island of 250,000 people in the Bicol region.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
10. New Ebola vaccine may be up to 100% effective: WHO
A prototype vaccine for Ebola may be “up to 100 percent effective” in protecting against the deadly virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) said. If all goes well, the vaccine could become available in 2018 under a fast-track approval process, it said.
In a major clinical trial, nearly 6,000 people in Guinea were given the test vaccine last year, at the tail end of a lethal epidemic of Ebola. Not one of the 6,000 contracted the disease. But in a control group of volunteers that did not receive the vaccine, 23 Ebola cases occurred, researchers reported in The Lancet medical journal.
11. Dinanath Bhargava who sketched National Emblem dies aged 89
Dinanath Bhargava, a co-artist in the team that sketched the national emblem ‘Lion Capital of Ashoka’ and decorated the pages of the Constitution’s manuscript, died at the age of 89 in Indore. Bhargava was suffering from cardiac ailments since the past decade. Born on November 1, 1927 at Multai in Betul district of Madhya Pradesh, Bhargava was chosen by noted painter Nandlal Bose, then the Principal of Kala Bhavan Shanti Niketan, in the group for designing the pages of the Indian Constitution’s manuscript.