1. India successfully tests its longest range nuclear missile
Agni-5, India’s longest range nuclear capable missile, was successfully test fired from the Kalam Island off Odisha coast today by the Defence Research and Development Organisation or DRDO. The intercontinental surface-to-surface ballistic missile, the latest in India’s “Agni” family of medium to intercontinental range missiles, with new technology for navigation and guidance, gives India the strategic depth it needs to contain its enemies, say scientists. Ready to be deployed, the Agni-5 will soon join India’s military arsenal.
2. Centre inks deal with MIT to develop inland waterways
The Centre has signed a deal with the Infrastructure Architecture Lab of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for developing ferry services at 18 locations across six cities. All these cities, including Allahabad, Varanasi, Patna and Kolkata, are located on National Waterway 1, the longest waterway in India. Notably, India has approximately 14,500 km of navigable waterways.
3. India’s first 2G Ethanol Bio-refinery to be set up in Punjab
Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal recently laid the foundation stone of Punjab’s first second-generation bioethanol plant at Talwandi Sabo in Bathinda district. Built on 49 acres of land, the Rs 500 crore plant offers a practical solution to the problem of stubble burning by converting crop residue into ethanol. The project shall also yield 32000 MTPA of bio-fertilisers, which shall in turn be incorporated into soil for improving soil fertility raising overall farm productivity in the state.
4. GOI launches Smart Consumer mobile App & OCMC for speedy redressal of consumer grievances
The Union Government has launched ‘Smart Consumer’ mobile App and an ‘Online Consumer Mediation Centre (OCMC)’ to provide speedy redressal of consumer grievances. Apart from this, a helpline 14404 was also launched for consumer related grievances on the occasion of National Consumer Day (24th December). The OCMC has been launched in association with Bengaluru based National Law School of India University (NLSIU) to provide speedy redressal of consumer grievances in New Delhi.
5. Odisha Government to launch DAMAN programme for malaria control
The Odisha government has decided to launch a new malaria control programme, DAMAN , in inaccessible areas with annual expenditure of Rs 24 crore from the state budget. DAMAN stands for Durgama Anchalare Malaria Nirakaran (malaria control in inaccessible areas) will be implemented in 8,000 villages of all 79 blocks of eight high malaria endemic southern districts. DAMAN will continue for five years with a total spending of Rs 120 crore. The government has already sanctioned Rs 10 crore to role out the programme.
6. China resumes diplomatic relations with Sao Tome
China resumed diplomatic relations with Sao Tome and Principe in Beijing, after the African nation cut “diplomatic ties” with the Taiwan region. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Sao Tome and Principe counterpart Urbino Botelho held talks at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, and signed a joint communique on resuming diplomatic relations.
Sao Tome and Principe, an island nation in the Gulf of Guinea and a former Portuguese colony, established diplomatic relations with China immediately after gaining independence in 1975 but switched to the Taiwan region in 1997. China suggested both countries work to enhance political trust and friendship of their people, as well as cooperation in agriculture, fishery and tourism.
7. Italy approves bailout for the world’s oldest bank
Italy’s government approved a state bailout for Monte dei Paschi di Siena, after the world’s oldest bank failed to secure backing from private investors. Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and his cabinet paved the way for a 20 billion euro ($20.8 billion) rescue fund to help the country’s embattled banking sector, with BMPS, Italy’s third largest bank, the priority.
Monte dei Paschi was found to be the weakest of 51 European banks that went through the ECB’s stress testing earlier in the year and was given until the end of 2016 to resolve its dire situation or face being wound down.
8. Earthquake of magnitude 7.7 hits Chile
A strong Christmas Day quake rattled southern Chile, triggering initial tsunami fears and evacuations, but no deaths were reported and damage was minor. The quake registered 7.7 on the Moment Magnitude scale according to seismologists at the US Geological Survey. The epicenter of the shallow quake was on the southern part of Chiloe island, in a zone of several national parks.
9. Scientists develops first Biological Pacemaker using Human Stem Cells
In a major advancement in medical sciences, Canadian Scientists have succeeded to develop first functional pacemaker cells from human stem cells that can be considered as a promising alternative to electronic pacemakers. These pacemakers can regulate heart beats with electrical impulses. Pluripotent stem cells have the potential to differentiate into more than 200 different cell types that make up every tissue and organ in the body.
Learning how to generate pacemaker cells could help in understanding disorders in pacemaker cells, and provide a cell source for developing a biological pacemaker. Biological pacemakers represent a promising alternative to electronic pacemakers.
MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS
10. Snapchat acquires Israeli startup Cimagine
Snap Inc, the parent company behind the popular Snapchat app, has acquired an augmented reality company Cimagine Media for an estimated $30-40 million. Cimagine Media is a four-year-old startup, which helps retailers and consumers visualise products that they are planning to purchase by placing them in their home before purchasing. Cimagine already has partnerships with a number of big-ticket brands such as Shop Direct, Coca-Cola and John Levis.
11. Singer George Michael dies aged 53
British pop singer George Michael, who rose to fame with the band ‘Wham!’ and sold more than 100 million albums in his career, has died at the age of 53. Michael was due to release a documentary in 2017 after years of living as a virtual recluse in which he hit the headlines for a series of bizarre incidents linked to drugs.
12. Oscar-winning art director Gil Parrondo dead at 95
Gil Parrondo, an Academy Award-winning art director for Patton and Nicholas and Alexandra, has died at the age of 95. Parrondo won Oscars for art direction for Patton in 1970 and Nicholas and Alexandra in 1974. He was nominated for another Oscar for Travels with My Aunt in 1972 and worked on scores of other films, including Doctor Zhivago.
In a near-80-year career, at the time of his death, he was working on 33 Days, Carlos Saura’s upcoming movie on Picasso’s painting go Guernica, starring Antonio Banderas.