1. David R Syiemlieh appointed new UPSC chairman
David R Syiemlieh has been appointed as the Chairman of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) by President Pranab Mukherjee. Syiemlieh, a UPSC member, has been asked to take over charge on January 4 and will remain the head of the organisation till his retirement on January 21, 2018 or till further orders. He will take over from Alka Sirohi, a former IAS officer of the Madhya Pradesh cadre.
2. AIIMS partners with MobiKwik to go cashless
AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences) Delhi has partnered with MobiKwik to go cashless. Resident doctors, staff and visitors can pay with MobiKwik in the institution’s cafeteria. Payment of doctor’s consultation, tests and other services will be made cashless by the first week of January 2017.
The Institute was established in 1956 and operates autonomoustly under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Daily, over 25000 patients visit the facility to receive best in class treatment for their ailments.
3. India 3rd among nations offering highest salaries to expats
India has ranked third among the countries offering the highest average annual salary to expatriates, according to HSBC Holdings data. Notably, Switzerland offers an average salary of $188,275 a year to expats, the highest in the world and almost twice the global average. Further, the best employment packages, including health benefits, are found in Middle East countries like Bahrain.
4. CCMB signs MoUs with 4 start-ups
Four biology start-up firms have signed up with the city-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) to incubate their companies at Innovation Hub (iHUB). The CCMB, a research establishment of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), in its efforts to engage with industry and to translate its own research, had in October last year launched an Innovation Hub (iHUB@CCMB) in its medical biotechnology complex
After the launch of Innovation Hub, this for the first time that four biology start-up companies – Oncosimis, Virupaksha Life Sciences, Theranosis and Bioartis – have signed and exchanged a licence agreement with CCMB recently to incubate their companies at iHUB.
5. Union Government launches mobile app for Haj Pilgrimage
The Union Ministry of Minority Affairs has launched Mobile App for Haj Pilgrimage. The app will provide information and facilitate e-payments for the pilgrimage. This is for the first time digital push has been given to the Haj application process. It is also a major initiative in the government’s ‘Digital India’ programme.
The main features of the app include applying for Haj, enquiry and information, news and updates and e-payment. It is available on Google Play store. The application can be made directly on the app. Using five adults and two infants can apply as a group.
6. Andhra Pradesh Government launches NTR Arogya Raksha Scheme
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu launched ‘Arogya Raksha’, a health insurance scheme. By paying Rs.1,200 a year as premium one can get an insurance coverage of Rs.2 lakh. One can become a member of the scheme just by paying Rs.100 a month and people should register themselves before February 28 through online with Aadhaar number.
Registration can be done through http://www.ntrvaidyaseva.ap.gov.in./
Under Arogya Raksha, end-to-end cashless services would be rendered for 1044 diseases under secondary and tertiary care through 432 government and private hospitals.
Banking & Finance
7. Paytm gets RBI’s permission to formally launch payments bank
Mobile payment service Paytm has received a formal nod from the Reserve Bank of India to launch its Paytm Payments Bank. Paytm Payments Bank will notably offer loans, wealth management and insurance. But since payments banks are not allowed to lend loans on their own, Paytm will have to rely on partnerships to sell their banking products via its platform.
Paytm Payments Bank Ltd is largely owned by One97 Communication founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma.
8. HDFC service allows bill payments through Facebook Messenger
HDFC bank has launched a chatbot service called ‘OnChat’ to allow users to make payments through Facebook Messenger. The chatbot will allow users to recharge their phones, pay electricity and DTH bills, and even book Uber and Ola taxis. Users can search for ‘HDFC Bank OnChat’ in the Messenger app and type “Hi” to configure the chatbot.
Science & Technology
9. Indian firm captures carbon dioxide to make baking powder
A breakthrough in the race to make useful products out of planet-heating CO2 emissions has been made in southern India.
A plant at the industrial port of Tuticorin is capturing CO2 from its own coal-powered boiler and using it to make soda ash – aka baking powder. The firm behind the Tuticorin process says its chemicals will lock up 60,000 tonnes of CO2 a year and the technology is attracting interest from around the world.
Until now it has been too expensive without subsidy to strip out CO2 from the relatively low concentrations in which it appears in flue gas. The Indian plant has overcome the problem by using a new CO2-stripping chemical.
10. Arthur Morris inducted into ICC Cricket Hall of Fame
Former Australia cricketer Arthur Morris has been inducted into the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Hall of Fame by ex-skipper Steve Waugh during the tea break on the opening day of the third Test between Australia and Pakistan.
Morris, who became the 82nd player to be inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame, was given the honour posthumously.
11. Booker prize-winning author John Berger dead at 90
John Berger,, the Booker prize-winning novelist and pioneering art critic, has passed away at the age of 90. The Marxist intellectual, whose BBC series, ‘Ways of Seeing’, brought a political view to art criticism, died at his home. He had been ill for about a year. Berger won the Booker Prize in 1972 for his novel ‘G’ and pledged to give half the prize money to the radical African-American movement, the Black Panthers.