· Colombian film 'Embrace of The Serpent' has been adjudged as the best film of the 46th International Film Festival of India (IFFI). Director Ciro Guerra of Embrace of The Serpent was bestowed with the Golden Peacock award and the cash prize of 40 lakh rupees. The Best Director award is given to Peter Greenway for the Netherlands film 'Eisenstein in Guanajuato. The Best male actor award is given to Vincent Lindon for the France film 'The Measure of a Man'. The Best Female actor award is given to five female actress for their roles in the Turkey Film 'Mustang'. The special Jury Award is given to Julia Vargas for his film 'Sealed Cargo'. The ICFT-UNESCO Fellini Award is presented to Kaushik Ganguly's Bengali film 'Cinemawala'.
· According to the extant FDI policy in India, FDI up to 100% under the automatic route is permitted in companies engaged in e-commerce provided that such companies would engage only in Business to Business (B2B) e-commerce. As per the recent rules, a manufacturer is permitted to sell its products manufactured in India through e-commerce retail. A single brand retail trading entity operating through brick and mortar stores, is permitted to undertake retail trading through e-commerce.
· India's second largest passenger car manufacturer Hyundai Motor India (HMIL) has launched 'Safe Move-Traffic Safety Campaign' under its CSR initiative. The campaign is launched in association with the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. The four main pillars of the campaign are safe move, green move, happy move and easy move. The campaign is launched to promote best practices of road and traffic safety habits among children.
· The Special drawing rights (SDR) is a type of international reserve asset maintained by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The value of SDR is based on the basket of key international currencies. The SDR basket currencies are reviewed by IMF every five years. Recently, International Monetary Fund (IMF) has included China's Yuan or Renminbi into its elite reserve currency basket mainly used as an international reserve asset with an effect from 1st October 2016. The other four currencies used in the SDR currency basket are U.S. dollars, euros, pounds sterling and Japanese yen.
· The ECBs are defined as money borrowed from foreign resources including the following: Commercial bank loans, Buyers' credit and suppliers' credit, Securitised instruments such as Floating Rate Notes and Fixed Rate Bonds , and Credit from official export credit agencies and commercial borrowings from the private sector window of Multilateral Financial Institutions such as International Finance Corporation (Washington), ADB, AFIC, CDC, etc. Recently, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has liberalised foreign currency borrowing norms for Indian companies. RBI has allowed pension funds, insurance funds, sovereign wealth funds to become potential lenders to Indian firms. This measure will help to more Indian firms to raise foreign funds. The RBI also raised the limit for small value external commercial borrowings(ECBs) with minimum average maturity of three years to $50 million from $20 million earlier.
· India's Chess champion Dronavalli Harika has won the inaugural FIDE World Online Women Blitz Championship, the final of which was held in Rome, Italy. The other finalist form India, Padmini Rout finished at ninth position.
· South Korea has been ranked at the top of UN International Telecommunications Union's ICT Development Index (IDI) 2015. It was revealed in UN ITU's flagship annual Measuring the Information Society (MISR) Report. Denmark and Iceland are ranked at second and third place respectively. Indian ranked at 131 position in the report. According to the report, globally 3.2 billion people are now online i.e. 43.4 per cent of the world's population.
· Recently, Russia has imposed economic sanctions against Turkey, a NATO member over the issue of downing of a Russian Sukhoi 24 warplane on the Syrian border. In this regard, Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree adopting a series of retaliatory economic measures against Turkey with an effect from 1st January 2016. The economic sanctions covers ban on imports from Turkey, work of Turkish companies in Russia and any Turkish nationals working for Russian companies.
· Russian legendary film Director and screenwriter Eldar Ryazanov (88) passed away recently in Moscow, Russia. He was one of Russia's best-loved Soviet-era film directors and an icon of popular USSR culture of tragi-comedies that satirised daily life in the erstwhile Soviet Union. Eldar Ryazanov was born on 18 November 1927 in Kuybyshev (now Samara) in the erstwhile USSR. He had directed some of the most popular Soviet Era comedies such as Irony of Fate (1975), Office Romance (1977) and The Garage (1979). Comedy film The Irony of Fate is still reckoned to be his most popular film in USSR and still televised on New Year's Eve in former Soviet countries. In 1984, he was named a People's Artist, a top USSR artistry tittle. He also has received the USSR State Prize (1977). He has won the Nika Award for Best Director (1991) for the film Promised Heaven. An asteroid 4258 Ryazanov was named after him.
· Belgium ranks as the top country for employee happiness. It was revealed by the Global Workforce Happiness Index of Universum, a global employer brand research firm. Universum has surveyed 2,50,000 professionals in 55 markets and calculated the Global Workforce happiness Index based on several factors such as employee's satisfaction at current job, the likelihood of recommending their current employer etc.
· Japan's $1.2 trillion Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) is the world's largest pension fund. It was originally set up in 2001. In 2006, there was organisational change and it was reset up as an independent administrative institution with mission to manage and invest the reserve funds of the employees' pension.
· Mr. Roch Marc Christian Kabore (58) has won the 2015 Presidential elections of the West African country, Burkina Faso. Earlier Mr. Kabore had served as Prime Minister and head of the National Assembly under President Mr. Blaise Compaore, who was toppled by an uprising in October 2014 after 27 years in power. Burkina Faso is a landlocked country and is one of the smaller economies in the region highly dependent on mining and commodities, particularly gold.
· Recently, the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon along with 13 agencies of the UN system has launched the new initiative titled "Anticipate, Absorb, Reshape" to build climate resilience in the world's most vulnerable countries. The 13 UN organisations participating in the Initiative are FAO, UNEP, UNFCCC, UN-Habitat, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNESCO, UNOPS, UNISDR, WFP, OCHA, WHO, and WMO. The initiative has been launched during the United Nations climate change conference (COP21) in Paris. The initiative will enhance the ability of the countries to anticipate climate hazards, absorb consequences and reshape development to reduce risks from climate hazards. The initiative will also work on mobilizing finance and knowledge and to create and operationalize partnerships to fight against climate change.
· The Polish professional footballer, Mr. Robert Lewandowski awarded with four separate official Guinness World Record certificates for scoring five goals in 9-minutes for German Football Club Bayern Munich against Wolfsburg.
· The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery is observed on December 2 every year with an objective to raise awareness about slavery and its impact on the society. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) presently there are an estimated 21 million forced labour victims worldwide, who creates US$ 150 billion in illegal profits in the private economy each year. On 2 December 1949, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly approved the resolution 'Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others'.
· The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest private foundation in the world. It was founded by Bill and Melinda Gates in 2000. Its headquarters are located in Seattle, Washington. It is controlled by its three trustees Bill Gates, Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. Susan Desmond-Hellmann is the present CEO of the foundation. The main aim of the foundation are enhancing healthcare and reduction of extreme poverty at the global level and also expanding educational opportunities and access to Information Technology in United States.
· The Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) is the world's largest bank by assets. It is one of the China's 'Big Four' state-owned commercial banks. It was founded in 1984. Its present assets worth US$3616 billion. By market capitalization, it is the second largest in the world. The other three China's state-owned commercial banks are the Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China, and China Construction Bank.
· Margi Sathi(50), who recently passed away was one of the finest exponents of Koodiyattom, the 2000 year old classical Sanskrit theatre and Nangiarkoothu, a woman-only offshoot of the Koodiyattom. She was recognised by the UNESCO as a unique artistic heritage of entire humanity. Sreeramacharitham and Kannakicharitham are the original choreographed texts by her.
· The World Bank has launched a $500 million Transformative Carbon Asset Facility (TCAF) to help developing countries pay for emission reductions and combat climate change. The Transformative Carbon Asset Facility (TCAF) will establish the world's first programmatic carbon market. The scheme will reward countries for reducing emissions by paying a fee for each tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) reduced. The facility will help countries implement their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).
· The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) was awarded with the E-India award at the E-India Summit 2015 for adopting technology to serve the public better and using manpower and resources efficiently through mobile applications. The award was received by the Mr. V.S. Tomar, Director (Systems) DDA in Mumbai.
· Every year International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) is being observed on 3 December to promote an understanding of disability issues. It also seeks to mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. The theme for year 2015 of International Day of Persons with Disabilities is Inclusion matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities. United Nations has estimated around one billion people are living with disabilities across the world and they are facing barriers of inclusion in many key aspects of society. In 1992, United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) had passed a resolution 47/3 for annually observing 3rd December as International Day of Disabled Persons. It was originally called as International Day of Disabled Persons.
· The Union Government has launched the "Accessible India Campaign" (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan) on December 3, 2015. The campaign seeks to make at least 50 % of all government buildings in the national capital and all state capitals "fully accessible" for the disabled by July 2018. It is a nationwide flagship campaign for achieving universal accessibility for persons with disabilities and to create an enabling and barrier free environment, with a focus on Built Environment, Public Transportation and Information and Communication Technologies. The campaign would involve making transport, public space, tourist places, international airports, railway stations and information and communication technology in India differently-able friendly.
· Recently, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) has given an environment clearance to the proposed Dholera International airport in Ahmedabad district. The proposed airport will be established in Ahmedabad district's Navagam village, which is 15 km from Dholera. It will cater to the regions of Vadodara, Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Nadiad, Kheda and Anand. The project will be developed in three phases with an estimated cost of around Rs 1,712 crore, of which the first phase will cost Rs 716 crore. By January 2016, the project is expected to receive the in-principle approval from the Civil Aviation Ministry of Government of India (GoI).
· On December 3, the European Space Agency has launched the LISA Pathfinder to detect Albert Einstein's gravitational waves. The LISA Pathfinder was blasted off on a Vega rocket from the spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. It is carrying gold-platinum cubes that will be released in freefall to try to detect the waves predicted by the one-hundred-year-old General Theory of Relativity. According to the theory, there should be universal ripples in the fabric of space and time, caused by massive objects accelerating through the Universe. But the fluctuations are so tiny, they have never been detected by scientists.
· The renowned Indian violinist, Dr. Lakshminarayana Subramaniam (68) has been honoured with the ITC Sangeet Samman 2015. Dr. Subramaniam is the only musician who has performed and recorded South Indian and Western classical music, both orchestral and non-orchestral, composed for and conducted major orchestras. He scored for films like "Mississippi Masala" and "Salaam Bombay".
· Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has launched Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) Scheme to boost the quality of higher education in India. It was launched by Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Gandhi Nagar campus. GIAN Scheme aims at improving the quality of higher education in the country through international collaboration. Facilitate participation of high quality international academicians for delivering short-term courses and programs in Indian institutions. Initially 500 international faculties will be engaged in conducting courses and later in subsequent years 1000 faculties would be engaged under GIAN throughout India. Under this scheme, academicians will cover 13 disciplines and 352 courses to be taught in 68 national institutions. These courses will be webcasted live for students across the country through web portal www.gian.iitkgp.ac.in designed by IIT Kharagpur.
· The Aditya Birla Group's telecom company, Idea Cellular has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Akshaya Patra Foundation in Odisha for providing mid-day meals to school students in the state. Around 47,000 students from 625 schools in 10 locations of the state would benefit from this initiative. The purpose of this mission is to provide children with nutritious meals every day and also ensure that they attend school daily.
· As per the latest report published by credit rating agency Brickwork Ratings, Maharashtra is the biggest economy among the states in India in the FY 2014-15. Maharashtra accounts for Rs. 16.87 lakh crore in terms of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) and is followed by Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. In terms of GSDP, the fastest-growing states of India are Bihar (17.06 %), Madhya Pradesh (16.86 %) and Goa (16.43 %).
· The private sector bank, Axis Bank has become the India's first bank to launch Display variant Debit Card for its customers. The EMV chip embedded interactive debit card comes with a display screen and touch-sensitive button that enables customers to generate the OTP on the card itself. This OTP, in conjunction with the user id and password will allow the customer to seamlessly transact on internet banking without having to wait for OTP delivery via SMS or email.
· Veteran industrialist and former parliamentarian MAM Ramaswamy (84) passed away recently. He was the last King of Chettinad and co-founder and past chairman of the Rs. 10,000 crore Chettinad Group of companies. He was famously known as MAMR in political, business and sports circles. He was a politician from Janata Dal (Secular) party. He was a Member of the Parliament (MP) in the Rajya Sabha and had represented Karnataka. He also conferred with Padma Shree award.
· The British astronaut Tim Peake will attempt to run the London Marathon in space. On 24 April 2016, he will run 26.2 miles on a treadmill aboard the International Space Station (ISS), the same day as more than 30,000 runners will take part in the London Marathon. He will be only the second Briton in space after Helen Sharman in 1991. He will be the first Briton on board the ISS. Earlier, NASA astronaut Sunita Williams ran the Boston Marathon on board the ISS in 2007.
· Recently, the GAIL (India) Limited in collaboration with National Remote Sensing Centre, a unit of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), has launched a surveillance geo-portal – 'Bhuvan-GAIL Portal'. The portal utilises space technology to monitor GAIL (India) Ltd. pipelines. GAIL (India) Ltd. is presently monitoring its 13,000 km of pipeline network via helicopter surveys. It is also planning alternative methods such as advanced Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) to monitor pipelines.
· According to the latest report of the NITI Aayog, Bihar has emerged as the "fastest growing economy" at 17.06 per cent growth rate in 2014-15. NITI Aayog's data takes into account growth rate of states on Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP). Bihar is followed by Madhya Pradesh (16.86%) and Goa (16.43%). Maharashtra grew by 11.69 per cent to become the biggest state with Rs 16.87 trillion economy.
· Recently, the 44th Indian Navy Day was celebrated on December 4, 2015 to commemorate the success of Operation Trident of Indian Navy that was carried out during the 1971 Indo-Pak war. On December 4, 1971, the Indian Navy carried out Operation Trident, which was a devastating attack on Pakistan Naval Headquarters of Karachi. The attack irreparably damaged destroyers and oil storage tanks at the Karachi port. To commemorate this, December 4 is celebrated every year as the Indian Navy Day.
· The Union government will introduce the system of e-transfer of wages to the MGNREGA scheme beneficiaries from January 1, 2016 in Kerala. This will try to prevent the leakages in the scheme. If it is successful, then e-transfer of wages will also be introduced in other states. For smooth fund flow, the electronic Fund Management System (e-FMS) has been made mandatory from April, 2015.
· The Central public sector enterprise, National Textile Corporation Limited (NTC Ltd) has become the first textile corporation to sign Integrity Pact (IP) with Transparency International India (TII). It owns 23 working textile mills which produce yarn and fabric. Integrity Pact ensures that all activities and transactions between an organisation and their suppliers are handled in a fair, transparent and corruption-free manner. It prohibits any kind of bribing, favours or any other unethical practices with close monitoring by honorary Independent External Monitors (IEMs).
· The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has revised Priority Sector Lending (PSL) norms for Regional Rural Banks (RRBs). As per the new norms, the PSL target has increased to 75% of total outstanding advances from the existing 60%. It will come into effect from January 1, 2016. However, the RBI has liberalised the amount they can lend to segments such as agriculture and also included medium enterprises, social infrastructure and renewable energy under PSL category. Loans to individual farmers has increased to Rs. 50 lakh from the present Rs. 10 lakh against pledge/ hypothecation of agricultural produce (including warehouse receipts) for a period not exceeding 12 months. In case of housing loans, loans to individuals up to Rs. 20 lakh only are considered as PSL as against the earlier limit of Rs. 25 lakh.
· The first India International Science Festival (IISF) has started at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Delhi campus on December 4, 2015. It is being organised during December 4 to 8. It is a joint event of Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of Earth Sciences. The purpose of the IISF 2015 is to provide a platform for young scientists from all over the country to share and spread their scientific ideas, achievements and inventions. It is also supporting many flagship programmes like Make in India, Digital India, Start-up India, Smart Villages, Smart Cities, etc. initiated by the Government of India (GoI).
· Himachal Pradesh has become the first Indian state to launch Rotavirus vaccination project. The vaccine will help in controlling the child mortality rate (under 5 years of age) due to diarrhoea. The rotavirus vaccines are administered orally to infants in three dose course at ages of 6, 10 and 14 weeks and are part of Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP). The project was launched in Kangra district. It will soon be launched in Vellore (Tamil Nadu) and Pune (Maharashtra).
· To promote Uttar Pradesh as an international bird watching destination, the state government is hosting the first International Bird Festival at the National Chambal Sanctuary (NCS), Agra from December 4. It will come to an end on December 6. The festival is being celebrated between the ravines of Chambal and Yamuna. It is being conducted by the state forest department, in collaboration with FICCI.
· The Arvind Subramanian committee has submitted its report on 'Possible Tax rates under GST'. It has recommended standard rate for Goods and Services Tax (GST) at 17 to 18 per cent. It also recommended the revenue-neutral rate of 15 to 15.5 per cent. It is a single rate at which there will be no revenue loss to the centre and states in the GST regime. The union government had set up the committee under chairmanship of Chief Economic Advisor Dr. Subramanian in June 2015 to arrive at GST rates by factoring in the economic growth rate, taxpayer base and tax compliance levels.
· The Bharatvani project is set to be launched by the University Grants Commission (UGC). The main objective of the project is delivering knowledge in and about all languages in India using multimedia such as text, audio, video, images formats through a website. The website is proposed to be all inclusive, interactive, dynamic and moderated. The government is launching this project to strengthen the oral tradition by disseminating the unwritten vernaculars, country's classical literature in different languages, and also to develop e-content of the country's linguistic diversity.
· Fatema Mernissi(75) passed away recently. She was a Moroccan feminist writer and sociologist. She was best known for her focus on reconciling traditional Islam with progressive feminism. Her most celebrated book, Beyond the Veil, reviewed Islam from a feminist perspective rejecting its age-old patriarchal interpretations.
· German Formula 1 driver Nico Rosberg has won for the Mercedes team the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2015. It was Rosberg's third consecutive victory – a career first for the German – and his sixth of the season. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is a Formula One race which was announced in the year 2007 at the Abu Dhabi F1 Festival in the UAE.
· The United Kingdom has been selected as the host for the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 2018. This would be the third time that the United Kingdom would be hosting the Commonwealth meeting. Earlier it hosted the summit in 1977 and 1997. Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) holds every two years. The next Commonwealth summit was to be hosted by Vanuatu in 2017 but due to the devastating cyclone Pam, the country is unable to host the meeting.
· Recently, Dr. Henk Bekedam, a Dutch national and medical doctor by training, has taken charge as the World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to India. He has worked for 19 years with WHO as its representative in China and Egypt, director of Health Sector Development in the WHO Western Pacific Region Office in Manila, Philippines, and as team leader of the health sector reform project in Cambodia.
· The Biocon Limited CMD Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw has been honoured with 2015 Asian Business Leadership Forum (ABLF) Outstanding Business Achiever award. Along with her, the Hinduja brothers and GMR Group chairman G.M. Rao are presented with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award of ABLF. The 6th Asian Business Leadership Forum (ABLF) was held in Dubai.
· Recently, the Union Government has released a commemorative postage stamp to mark the Centenary year of Zoological Survey of India (ZSI). The postage stamp was released by Union Communication and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in the presence of Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar in New Delhi. They also released publications of ZSI- the Centenary Souvenir, Centenary Directory and A Glorious 100. ZSI is the apex institution on animal (fauna) taxonomy in India. It was established on 1 July 1916. Its headquarters is in Kolkata. It also has 16 regional centres located in different parts of the country.
· Recently, Indian Army chief General Dalbir Singh has reviewed the final validation phase of the training exercise 'Drad Sankalp' by the Indian Army's Southern Command at Thar, Rajasthan. The main focus of the exercise has been on validation of operational preparedness of the Indian Army to launch swift offensive in the desert terrain in a network-centric environment in close coordination with long range artillery and Air Force.
· Recently, India has launched the injectable inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) as part of the country's commitment to global polio eradication. The IPV injection will be given to children below one year of age, along with the third dose of the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) at the routine immunization sessions free of cost. In the first phase, the vaccine will be introduced in six states namely Assam, Gujarat, Punjab, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh. The introduction of IPV in routine immunization is as per recommendation made in the World Health Assembly in May 2015. In India, Hyderabad-based Shantha Biotechnics Private Limited is manufacturing the ShanIPV vaccine, which is used in the country's injectable IPV programme. Shantha will provide 2.3 million doses of ShanIPV in 2015, and 9 million in 2016 to Unicef for India's needs.
· The Armed Forces Flag Day is observed on December 7 annually. It is observed to make people realize it is as much their responsibility as the government's to take care of the families and dependents of the armed forces personnel staying away from them to fight for the country. Former Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru on December 7, 1954 said that a way to indicate the appreciation of armed forces serving our country is by contributing to the Flag Day Fund. Along with collecting funds from Indians for the welfare of the Indian armed forces personnel, it is a day to honour the soldiers, airmen and sailors of India.
· The South Western Railways (SWR) Zone with headquarters in Hubli, Karnataka has introduced biodiesel for trains, operating under its zone. Recently, the SWR's first train Hubballi- Bengaluru Janshatabdi Express powered by five per cent biodiesel blended with High Speed Diesel was flagged off from Hubli. The main aim of the initiative is to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) emission and carbon footprint and also to make fuel consumption more efficient. To meet its biodiesel demand, SWR zone has set up Biodiesel filling centres at Hubli, Bengaluru and Hospet. In next one year all the 13 railway depots within the zone will have their own filling units and the biodiesel blending will be gradually increased to ten percent.
· Singapore has replaced Mauritius as the top source of foreign direct investment (FDI) into India during the first half of the current fiscal year 2015-16. It was unveiled by the data during April to September 2015 period released by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP). India has attracted 6.69 billion dollars FDI from Singapore while it received 3.66 billion dollars from Mauritius. Overall, Singapore accounts for 15 per cent of the total inbound FDI received by India during April 2000 and September 2015. However, Mauritius accounted for 34 per cent of FDI during the same period.
· London-based Asian Lite newspaper has announced it would confer its 2015 Person of the Year honour on Jeddah-based NRI businessman K.T. Mohammed Rabeeh Rabeeulla. He is the managing director of Shifa Al Jazeera Medical Group. The jury panel said Rabeeullah is setting an example for the business leaders to help their communities and his philanthropic activities in the remote areas of Thailand are highly commendable. The award will be presented in London on April 23, 2016. Rabeeullah is also the winner of 2013 Pravasi Bharatiya Award, the highest honour for the members of Indian diaspora.
· Recently, Facebook has set up a SME Council in India to help small ventures from various industries share feedback and discuss ideas around leveraging technology to grow their enterprise. This is the second SME Council set up by Facebook globally, the first one being in the US. Presently, more than 45 million small businesses actively use Facebook Pages to connect to their consumers.
· Australia has won the 2014-15 Men's Hockey World League Final by defeating Belgium. In the final match played at Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel Stadium, Raipur, Australian team defeated Belgium by 2-1 goals. India was placed at third place in this league after defeating world number two and defending champions Netherlands by 3-2 goals in the penalty shoot-out.
· The Haryana Government has decided to celebrate "Gita Jayanti Mahotsava" throughout the state from December 19 to 21, 2015. To organize the festival, a district level celebration committee has been constituted under the chairmanship of Deputy Commissioners. A sum of Rs.10 lakh would be provided to each district by the Information, Public Relations and Culture Affairs department for setting up of exhibition, tentage, craft work, boarding and lodging of artist, refreshment and other related miscellaneous expenses.
· Andhra Pradesh (AP) has become the first Indian state to join the Centre's UDAY (Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana) scheme for revival of debt stressed power distribution companies. The scheme has been launched by Union Government to improve financial and operational efficiencies of power distribution companies. It envisages to reduce interest burden, cost of power and AT&C losses. The scheme is optional and operationalised through signing of MoU between state governments, state discoms and Centre. After Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand state also has joined the scheme.
· Recently, Goa has been listed in the top 10 Best Winter Locations of the World by the international agency "Atlas Choices". The other tourist destinations that are included in the list are Cape Town, Melbourne, Barbados, Miami, Saint Kitts, Punta Cana, Santiago, Tenerife and Boracay Island. The Atlas Choice is an international car booking agency with extensive knowledge in tourist spots. Beside this, Goa is also in the list of the 'Most Popular Domestic Destination this Winter' by Winter Vacation Value Report released by Trip Advisor.
· According to the recently released India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2015, the total forest cover of the country has increased by 3, 775 sq km, the tree cover has gone up by 1, 306 sq km. The total forest and tree cover is 24.16% of the total geographical area whereas only forest cover is 21.34% of the country's geographical area. The total carbon stock in the country' s forest is estimated to be 7044 million tonnes, an increase of 103 million tonnes.
· The Central Research Institute in Yoga and Naturopathy will be set up in Khordha District, Odisha. It will be set up by the Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy (CCRYN), which is an autonomous body under Department of AYUSH, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. It is an apex body in the field of Yoga and Naturopathy, actively engaged in promotion, propagation, research, education, training and publication work.
· Recently, the four-day 'Kala Ustav' event began at Bal Bhawan in New Delhi with the underlying theme of 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao'. The event is being organised by National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT). The event brings together students from across India, who will showcase their respective cultures through dance, music, visual art and theatre.
· The 2015 'Heart of Asia' conference is hosted by Islamabad, Pakistan. The focus of the 5th conference is to increase cooperation for countering security threats and promotion of connectivity in the region. From India, the external affairs minister Ms. Sushma Swaraj is attending the ministerial-level meeting. The 14 countries viz. Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the UAE had launched the initiative launched in 2011 for encouraging economic and security cooperation between Afghanistan and its neighbours for dealing with the common problems of terrorism, extremism and poverty. India will host the 2016 Heart of Asia conference on Afghanistan.
· The Maharashtra state legislature has become the first in the country to launch an online mechanism for legislators to send questions and move different motions in the House. The website "mls.org.in" has been launched as part of Digital MLAs initiative in the winter session of state legislature in Nagpur. To access the website, all MLAs and MLCs have been given unique user names and passwords so that they can send their questions and requests online. The system also facilitates them to move different motions like calling attention and half-an-hour discussion questions for legislature sessions. This facility is designed by the Maharashtra Knowledge Corporation Limited (MKCL) and available on Unicode and can be accessed in Marathi.
· The International Volunteer Day is observed on December 5. The theme for this year's observance is 'The world is changing. Are you? Volunteer!'. The day is viewed as a unique chance for volunteers and organizations to celebrate their efforts, to share their values, and to promote their work among their communities, NGOs, UN agencies, government authorities and the private sector.
· The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) has become the first oil company from India to join the World Bank's Zero Routine Flaring by 2030 Initiative. The Zero Routine Flaring by 2030 is a global initiative to end routine gas flaring at oil production sites around the world. The Governments that support the Initiative would provide a legal, regulatory, investment and operating environment that is conducive to upstream investments and to the development of viable markets for utilization of the gas and the infrastructure necessary to deliver the gas to these markets. This will provide companies the confidence and incentive as a basis for investing in flare elimination solutions. Till date, 45 governments, companies and organizations has joined "Zero Routine Flaring by 2030" Initiative.
· Recently, India has launched the Indian Long Term Ecological Observatories (I-LTEO) programme to scientifically monitor 8-different biomes (natural landscapes) across the country. The purpose of the programme is to identify and monitor targeted socio-ecological challenges and help build capacity within India. The I-LTEO will cover the Western Himalayas to Western Ghats, Eastern Himalayas to Andaman and Nicobar islands, central India to the Sundarbans and from Jammu and Kashmir to Rajasthan and Gujarat.
· Recently, the National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) has launched Wind Energy Resources Map of India at 100 meter above ground level and solar radiation map at ground level on online Geographic Information System (GIS) platform. The Wind and Solar Resource Maps will not only help and guide the wind and solar power developers and other stakeholders in identifying potential areas for the development of wind & solar power projects in the country but also help the central and state agencies in planning and developing the infrastructure including transmission system, required for installing renewable power projects in these potential areas. The NIWE is an autonomous R&D instituted by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
· In the first phase, India is developing Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPRs) at Vishakapatnam, Mangaluru and Padur (near Mangaluru). In the second phase India is planning to develop the SPRs at Chandikhol (Odisha), Bikaner (Rajasthan) and Rajkot (Gujarat). The SPRs acts as a valuable buffer against short term oil supply disruptions as well as to buy and store oil when prices are low and release them to refiners when there is a spike in global rates.
· Carolina Marin of Spain has won the 2015 BWF Female Player of the Year Award. Marin was in contention for the award along with China's Zhao Yunlei and Bao Yixin and India's Saina Nehwal. She started and ended the year on a perfect note by winning the All England in March and the Hong Kong Open in November. In between, she picked up three other World Superseries titles and retained her World Championships gold medal. China's Chen Long retained the Male Player of the Year award that he won last year.
· The German Chancellor Ms. Angela Merkel (61) has been named as the 2015 Time magazine's 'Person of the Year'. The magazine cited her role in Europe's crises over migration and Greek debt. Ms. Merkel is followed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (head of the Islamic State militant group), Mr. Donald Trump (nominated US Presidential candidate), Black Lives Matter ( activist group campaigning against violence towards black people, notably in the US), Mr. Hassan Rouhani (President of Iran), etc. With this, Ms. Merkel became only the 4th woman since 1927 to be named winner and the first women to feature in 29 years. The other three women were Wallis Simpson (1936), Queen Elizabeth II (1952) and Corazon Aquino (1986). The US Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is the winner of the online readers' poll for TIME Person of the Year. The readers' poll differs from the TIME person of the year award, which is chosen by the editors.
· The professor of the Indian Institute of Science (IISC) Bengaluru, Mr. U Ramamurty has won the 2015 The Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) award in the engineering category. The other Indians who got the award this year are Mr. Jagdish Ladha (International Rice Research Institute, New Delhi) in the agricultural sciences category and Mr. Sandip Trivedi (Tata Institute for Fundamental Research, Mumbai) in the physics category. The TWAS is a global science academy based in Trieste, Italy, working to advance science and engineering for sustainable prosperity in the developing world. Every year, the Academy awards 8 prizes of worth $15,000 each in the fields of agricultural sciences, biology, chemistry, earth sciences, engineering sciences, mathematics, medical sciences and physics.
· Indian-American entrepreneur and philanthropist, Mr. Frank Islam (63) has been chosen for the inaugural Uttar Pradesh Ratna Award for his achievements and outstanding contributions in a foreign country. He was born in Uttar Pradesh's (UP) Azamgarh district and studied at Aligarh Muslim University. He will be honoured by UP Chief Minister Mr. Akhilesh Yadav at the inaugural UP Pravasi Diwas in Agra on January 4, 2016. The UP Ratna award has been instituted to recognise achievements and outstanding contributions of NRIs who hail from the state.
· The 2nd World Internet Conference (WIC) (or Wuzhen Summit) will be held in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province of China from December 16-18, 2015. The theme of the 2015 WIC is "An Interconnected World Shared and Governed by All—Building a Cyberspace Community of Shared Destiny". The Conference will be a platform for building a cyberspace community of shared destiny, advocating worldwide respect to diversity, focusing on mutual development, forging consensus and confronting risks jointly.
· Recently, Myanmar has launched its first stock exchange – " Yangon Stock Exchange (YSX)". Initially, it will be open only to Myanmar companies and investors, and future law changes will eventually allow foreigners to invest in Myanmar shares. The exchange is founded by the state-owned Myanmar Economic Bank, Daiwa Securities and Japan Exchange Group, a company that operates the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The trading in the exchange is expected to begin in February or March 2016.
· India imports 80% of its oil demand. Presently Saudi Arabia is the largest supplier of oil to India. Saudi Arabia is followed by Iraq, Nigeria, Venezuela and Iran. Iran was India's second biggest supplier of crude oil after Saudi Arabia till 2010-11. After the Western countries sanctions imposed on Iran, India brought down the purchases in 2012-13 and had limited them in the years thereafter.
· Recently, Iran has successfully test fired medium range Ghadr-110 ballistic missile near the Chabahar, a port city in southeast of country along the Gulf of Oman. It is an improved and advance version of Shahab 3 missile. It has a range of 1,800 –2000 km and is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead as well as conventional warheads.
· The International Anti-Corruption Day has been observed annually on December 9. The theme of this year is "Break the corruption chain". This year's joint international campaign focuses on how corruption undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to human rights violations, distorts markets, erodes quality of life and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish.
· The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has released a report titled – 'Asian Economic Integration Report 2015: How Can Special Economic Zones Catalyze Economic Development?'. The report examined current trends in trade, finance, migration, remittances and other economic activities in the region, with a special chapter on the role of special economic zones (SEZs).
· ONGC's Shweta Singh has clinched the gold medal in the women's 10m air pistol at the 59th National Shooting Championship. It was the sixth national women's air pistol gold for Shweta. She was followed by Yashaswini.
· The renowned Bollywood actor, Mr. Naseerudin Shah (66) has been honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 12th edition of Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) in Dubai. Along with him, Egyptian actor Ezzat Al Alayli, award-winning French-Tunisian actor Sami Bouajila and French actress Catherine Deneuve were also honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the DIFF.
· For first time, the Indian cities of Varanasi and Jaipur have been designated as members of UNESCO's Creative Cities Network (UCCN). In the UCCN, Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) has been added in the City of Craft category of network and Jaipur (Rajasthan) has been added in the City of Music category of network. These cities are among the 47 cities from 33 countries that have been designated as new members of UCCN. The next meeting of the Creative Cities Network is scheduled for September 2016 in Ostersund (Sweden).
· The Indian-born author, Mr. Salman Rushdie (68) has been honoured with the prestigious 2015 Mailer Prize for Lifetime Achievement. The prize honours those writers who fully exercise their freedom of creativity and thrive on dialogue and debate. The American experimental performance artist, Laurie Anderson presented the award to Mr. Rushdie at a ceremony held at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York City. Rushdie is the author of many novels viz. Grimus, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, Booker Prize winner Midnight's Children, The Satanic Verses, etc.
· "On My Terms: From the Grassroots to the Corridors of Power" is an autobiography of Sharad Pawar. The book has been released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 10 December 2015. The book was released on the 75th birthday of Pawar, who is the Maratha strongman and the leader of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
· The president of the Oberoi Group, Mr. Kapil Chopra has been appointed as the chairman of 2016 World Travel & Tourism Council, India Initiative (WTTCII). Mr. Chopra, who served as the Vice-Chairman of 2015 WTTCII, has succeeded Mr. Manav Thadani (Chairman of HVS,South Asia). The Air India Chairman & Managing Director Ashwani Lohani has been appointed as the Vice-Chairman of WTTCII for 2016.
· Recently, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has announced the groups and schedule of the ICC World Twenty20 India 2016, which will be staged across eight venues in India from 8 March to 3 April. The men's event will carry a total prize money of $5.6million, while the total prize money for the women's event is $400,000.
· Myanmar has launched its first UNESCO Biosphere Reserve – Inle Lake in Shan state. The Inle Lake was designated as UNESCO Biosphere reserve in Paris in June 2015. With this, Myanmar fulfilled its commitment to bio-diversity and eco-system conservation under the UNESCO's Man and Biosphere Programme.
· Recently, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has declared a new global partnership with OPPO on a 4-year deal which runs from 2016 until 2020. The OPPO Electronics Corp. is a Chinese electronics manufacturer based in Dongguan, Guangdong province of China. It is a young and dynamic company and is one of the world's leading electronic and technology service providers. It has a strong presence in more than 20 countries and a significant number of regions worldwide, including Australia, China, USA and right across Africa, Europe, the Middle East, South Asia and Southeast Asia.
· The UN has observed the first-ever International Day of Remembrance of Genocide on December 9. The day marks an anniversary of the signing of the 1948 genocide Convention. This convention was one of the 1st United Nations (UN) conventions to address humanitarian issues. The International Day is established pursuant to the UNGA Resolution 69/323 of September 11, 2015, which calls for a manifestation of a collective sense of a duty before all victims of the crime of genocide.
· The Global Illicit Financial Flows Report 2004-13 is released by Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a research and advisory group based in Washington. The report ranked India as the fourth- biggest source of black money. According to the report, China tops the list for 2004-2013, with $139 billion average illicit financial flow per annum, followed by Russia ($104 billion per annum) and Mexico ($52.8 billion per annum).
· The veteran Agro-economist, prolific journalist and stalwart farmer leader, Sharad Anantrao Joshi (81) passed away in Pune, Maharashtra. He was the founder of Shetakari Sanghtana (farmers' Organisation), an NGO dedicated to the cause of farmers in Maharashtra. He was also the member of the Rajya Sabha during the period 2004 and 2010. Mr. Joshi was the only MP in Rajya Sabha to vote against the bill providing 33% reservation for women in Indian parliament and assemblies. He argued that it was much preferable to make women strong electorally first through the entire Panchayat Raj system before partial reservations were introduced at the Centre and State levels.
· The global software major, Wipro Limited's IoT solution 'Universal Data Parser' (UDP) has won the 2015 Aegis Graham Bell Award for Innovation in the field of Internet of Things (IoT). The UDP enables flexible adaptation of data streams from a wide range of end devices to IoT platforms and data stores. The Aegis Graham Bell Award is India's largest and the only innovation award in the field of Telecom, Internet, Media and Entertainment (TIME) and Social, Mobility Analytics and Cloud (SMAC). The award is intended to promote innovation, entrepreneurship in the field of Telecom, Internet, Media & Edutainment (TIME) and to provide recognition for outstanding contributions in this field in India.
· The Lasoong festival is the most popular festival of Sikkim. It is usually celebrated at the end of the tenth Tibetan lunar month (usually December). It is the most important festival among the Bhutias in India and is marked by the traditional Chaan dancing and merry-making. Losoong is celebrated across the monasteries in Bhutan, Nepal and India. In Sikkim, during the festival of Losoong, often dance forms depict narrativized tales from the life of Padmasambhava (or Guru Ugyen).
· Recently, Pakistan has successfully test-fired the medium-range Shaheen-III surface-to-surface ballistic missile. The missile can carry nuclear warheads within a range of 2,750 kms. Shaheen-I is also capable of carrying nuclear as well as conventional warheads and has a range of 900 kms while the Shaheen-II missile can also carry nuclear and conventional warheads up to a range of 1,500 kms.
· Elizabeth Susan Koshy from Kerala has won gold in the Women's 50m Rifle 3 Positions at the 59th National Shooting Championships held at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting range in New Delhi. Beside her, Anjum Moudgil from Haryana has won the silver and N Gaayathri from Tamil Nadu bagged bronze in the championship. For Elizabeth, it is the hat-trick.
· Indian-origin Jamaludeen Mohamed Sali has been declared as the winner of this year's prestigious South East Asia Write Award. Jamaludeen Mohamed Sali is the author of the 7 books, 80 plays and more than 400 short stories including Vellai Kodugal (White Lines) Alaigal Pesuginrana (the Sound Of The Waves) that are now studied by Tamil Literature students in Singapore and Indian universities. The South East Asia Write Awards, started in 1979, are presented annually to poets and writers in Southeast Asia.
· The Zonal Councils in India are created under the State Reorganization Act, 1956. They are advisory bodies that discuss and advise the Central and State Governments on various matters of common interest. There are five Councils, one for each Zone viz., Eastern, Western, Northern, Southern, and Central. The Southern Zonal Council comprises of the States of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana and Puducherry. The meeting of each Zonal Council needs to be held once in a year to iron out the differences between the governments on issues of development concerning regional interest and national programmes. The 26th conference of the Southern Zonal Council is hosted in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh.
· Andrew Steer is the current President and CEO of the World Resources Institute, a global research organization that works in more than 50 countries. The NGO was established in 1982 with funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation under the leadership of James Gustave Speth. WRI's mission is to move human society to live in ways that protect Earth's environment and its capacity to provide for the needs and aspirations of current and future generations.
· The International Mountain Day is observed every year on December 11. It has been observed every year to create awareness about the importance of mountains to life, to highlight the opportunities and constraints in mountain development and to build alliances that will bring positive change to mountain peoples and environments around the world. This years' theme is "Promoting mountain products for better livelihoods".
· Recently, the Union Health Minister has laid the foundation stone for India's largest National Cancer Institute at AIIMS campus in Haryana's Jhajjar district. The Cancer Institute in Badsa will be "independent India's largest government-funded hospital project". The project is planned to be completed within three years. The Cancer Institute will be modelled after the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of USA and the government has already entered into a MoU with NCI USA during the visit of Prime Minister to USA in October 2014.
· The government of India has appointed a Judicial Committee to look into the implementation of One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme for the ex-Servicemen. The committee will headed by the Justice (Retd) L. Narasimha Reddy, former Chief Justice of Patna High Court. The Committee, with headquarters in Delhi, has been given a 6-month deadline for submission of its recommendations. The Terms of Reference for the committee is to examine and make recommendations on the removal of anomalies that may arise in the implementation of the OROP as notified by the Government on November 7, 2015.
· The 12th South Asian Games 2016 will be jointly hosted by Guwahati and Shillong from February 6-16, 2016. "TIKHOR", a one-horned rhino, is the mascot of the games. It carries the message and aspiration of peace, stability, amity and progress in the South Asian region. Tikhor is a popular character from Burhi Aair Sadhu (Grand Mother's Tales). The book is the first compilation of children's folk stories by Sahityarathi Lakshminath Bezboruah, a doyen of modern Assamese literature. The logo of the event is a flower with eight petals representing the 8- participating nations. The theme song of the games is 'Ei prithivi ekhan krirangan/krira hol shantir prangan' (This world is a playground and sports is a symbol of peace). The song was written by Bhupen Hazarika in 1995.
· Operation Smile-II is a nation-wide campaign to rescue and rehabilitate the missing children. It will start from January 1, 2016 and will end on January 31, 2016. During this one month operation, all children residing in shelter homes, platforms, bus stands, roads, religious places, etc. are to be screened by trained police personnel. The particulars of such identified children will be uploaded on the 'Missing child' portal of the Ministry of Women and Child Development by the respective State Police. Rehabilitation measures whenever needed are to be taken up in coordination with the other line Departments like Department of Women & Child Development, Police, Labour, etc, so that scope of re-victimization is eliminated.
· The Union HRD Ministry has launched 'e-pathshala' web portal to host educational resources for students, teachers, parents, researchers and educators. It is a single point repository of e- resources containing NCERT text-books and various other learning resources. Beside e-pathshala, Saaransh and National Programme on School Standards and Evaluation Framework (Shala Siddhi) web portals/mobile apps were also launched by the Union HRD Ministry. The Saransh portal will help the schools to identify areas of improvement in students, teachers and curriculum to facilitate and implement change. The Shala Siddhi web-portal will help all schools to assess themselves and the results can be seen by all enabling them to provide feedback.
· Indian professional golfer Anirban Lahiri (28) has been presented with the 2015 Asian Tour's Order of Merit crown. He is the 4th Indian golfer to win the region's biggest award. The earlier Indian winners are Jeev Milkha Singh (2006,2008), Arjun Atwal (2003) and Jyoti Randhawa (2002). The Asian Tour is the principal men's professional golf tour in Asia except for Japan. It is administered from offices in Singapore.
· To mark the 20th anniversary of Turkmenistan's status of permanent neutrality, the International conference on policy of neutrality has been hosted by Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. The importance of this conference is to highlight the neutrality of Turkmenistan for strengthening peace and security with a high quality of life. From Indian side, Vice-President Mr. Hamid Ansari has attended the conference.
· Two Indians, karthik Sawhney (21) and Neha Swain (28) have won the 2016 Queen's Young Leaders award for their exceptional work in transforming the lives of others and making a lasting difference in their communities. The award will be presented by the British monarch at a gala ceremony in Buckingham Palace in June next year. Kartik, who was born blind, has been acknowledged for his exceptional work highlighting universal access to education for all. Neha is co-founder of NGO Rubaroo, which provides an inclusive space for young people, irrespective of their socio-economic background, to develop their leadership skills through interactive workshops.
· According to the 2015 Human Development Report (HDR) released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), India's rank on Human Development Index (HDI) rose by a notch in 2014 — to 130 th from 131st a year earlier. The list is topped by Norway followed by Australia, Switzerland, Denmark and Netherlands. The Human Development Index (HDI) is an average measure of basic human development achievements in a country. It is a summary measure for assessing long-term progress in three basic dimensions of human development – a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living.
· In India, the National Energy Conservation Day is observed every year on December 14. The day is observed to raise awareness about the importance of energy and its conservation.
· Recently, the central region of Philippines has been hit by the powerful Typhoon Melor. Locally it is also known as Nona. Every year, Philippines is hit by an average of 20 tropical storms, most of them many are deadly.
· The renowned Israeli-US violinist Itzhak Perlman has been awarded the 2016 Genesis prize for his contribution as a musician, teacher and advocate for people with disabilities. The $1m prize is also known as Jewish Nobel Prize. It is established by Russian philanthropists and is given annually to an individual who has achieved professional success, contributed to humanity and shown a strong commitment to Jewish causes and the state of Israel.
· The USA Tennis player, Serena Williams has been honoured with the 2015 Sports Illustrated's Sportsperson of the Year. During 2015 season, she won five titles, including the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon and was at No. 1 in the WTA rankings. She became the first female athlete honoured on her own by the Sports Illustrated magazine in more than 30 years. The award recognizes the athlete or team whose performance that year embodies the spirit of sportsmanship and achievement.
· The World No. 3 Golfer, Rory McIlroy has won the 2015 European Tour player of the Year award for the third time. He became only the seventh player in European Tour history to be crowned European No 1 in consecutive campaigns.
· India's first National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (NOTTO) has been set up at Safdarjung hospital in New Delhi. The organisation works for ensuring increased availability of organs/tissues retrieved from deceased donors and save lives of many persons suffering from end stage organ failure.
· Recently, South African government has appointed Indian-origin politician Pravin Gordhan as the South Africa's new Finance Minister. He succeeded Mr. David van Rooyen. Prior to this appointment, Mr. Godhran was the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs. He also held the role of South Africa's finance minister from between 2009 and 2014.
· The veteran music composer Bappi Lahiri and singer Kumar Sanu has been honoured with the Lifetime Achievement awards by the West Bengal government. The Bishesh Sangeet Samman was awarded to Dwijen Mukhyopadhyay, Ajoy Chakraborty and Sandhya Mukherjee. The Bollywood musician Shantanu Moitra was honoured with Maha Sangeet Samman along with Mohammad Aziz, Kumar Bose and Shibaji Chattopadhyay. Sriradha Bandyopadhyay, Dileep Kumar Bose, Fakir Alamgir and Nachiketa were given Special Sangeet Samman.
· The Galkynysh natural gas field located in Turkmenistan is the world's second largest gas field. The gas field will provide the gas for the upcoming 1,814-km TAPI pipeline. The TAPI pipeline is the joint venture of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Recently, Turkmenistan has started work on its part of the pipeline.
· Sammaan, a platform to help companies find agencies for carrying out social welfare activities, has become operational on stock exchange BSE. As of now, more than 600 projects requiring funds of about Rs 2,000 crore listed on it. The CSR platform is launched by BSE along with industry body CII and think tank IICA.
· Leo Cornelio SVD, the Archbishop of Bhopal, received the prestigious International Human Rights Award for the year 2015 at the India Islamic Centre, New Delhi in a ceremony organised by All India Council of Human Rights, Liberties and Social Justice. The Award titled 'Ambassador of peace' was presented in the presence of various dignitaries from all over India as well as globally.
· Flood of Fire is written by Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh. It is the last volume of the Ibis trilogy. The other two novels of the trilogy are Sea of Poppies (2008), River of Smoke (2011).
· Recently, the World Bank has sanctioned a $1.5 billion loan to India for its Clean India Campaign. The loan will support Indian Government' s efforts to ensure all citizens in rural areas have access to improved sanitation and end the practice of open defecation by 2019. The loan will be used for Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) Support Operation Project. The project will promote behaviour change among rural communities and help accelerate results in India's states by giving them performance-based incentives. A national sample-survey of rural sanitation will be conducted every year by independent third-party agencies. Based on the survey findings, the World Bank will release funds to the Government of India. The Union Government will in turn pass on the funds to the states, based on their performance on certain parameters every year.
· Recently, the ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C29 has successfully launched six commercial satellites from Singapore into their orbit from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) at Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. Of the six satellites, the 400 kg earth observation satellite called TeLEOS-1 is the main passenger for the PSLV rocket. Thus, the mission is called TeLEOS mission by ISRO.TeLEOS-1 is Singapore's first commercial earth observation satellite designed and developed by ST Electronics. The other five co-passenger satellites are VELOX-C1 (123 kg), VELOX-II (13 kg), Kent Ridge-1 (78 kg), Galassia (3.4 kg) and Athenoxat-1. This is the 32nd flight of PSLV and 11th flight of the launch vehicle in 'core-alone' configuration, which is without the use of solid strap-on motors.
· Saudi Arabia has launched Islamic Military Coalition, a new military alliance of 34 nations mainly Muslim nations to fight terrorism. It has been established in pursuance of the objectives and principles of the charter of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). It calls for all member states to cooperate to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. The establishment of coalition comes amid international pressure on the Gulf Arab states to do more in the fight against so-called Islamic State.
· Recently, the Supreme Court of India (SCI)has appointed Justice (Retd) Virendra Singh as new Lokayukta of Uttar Pradesh, after recording the repeated failure of the state government to comply with the court's directives. The Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi has exercised its extraordinary powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to make the appointment of Lokayukta.
· Pakistan has successfully tested the nuclear-capable Shaheen-IA ballistic missile with a range of 900 km. It is a land-based supersonic and short-to-intermediate range surface-to-surface guided ballistic missile, jointly designed and developed by the joint venture of NESCOM and the National Defence Complex (NDC). The missile is capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads to a range of 2,750 km.
· The state-owned Coal India Ltd. has become the title-sponsor for the next three editions of the Hockey India League beginning 2016. The tournament had six franchises teams from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Mumbai, Ranchi, Odisha and Punjab. Except Delhi and Punjab, the rest of the teams are from coal-bearing States.
· The 14th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) prime ministers' meeting was held in Zhengzhou, China. The prime ministers vowed to strengthen cooperation in renewable energy and environmental protection in a bid to reduce energy consumption and curb greenhouse gas emissions. They also suggested that the SCO expand cooperation with observers, dialogue partners and other international groups. They approved the SCO 2016 budget and decided to convene the 2016 prime ministers' meeting in Kyrgyzstan.
· The 44th anniversary of Vijay Diwas is celebrated in India on December 16, 2015 to mark India's victory over Pakistan in the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971. The day is celebrated to honour the martyrs of the 1971 war between the two countries. On this day in 1971, about 93,000 Pakistani soldiers surrendered to the Indian forces. This historic victory led to creation of Bangladesh.
· The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee has been honoured with the Garwood Award for 'Outstanding Global Leader in Open Innovation' from US Berkeley-Haas School at Rashtrapati Bhavan. The award was presented to Pranab Mukherjee for promoting open innovation, organizing first Festival of Innovation at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, for launching the first Innovations Scholars' 'In-Residence' programme to promote the spirit of innovation and provide a thriving creative atmosphere for grassroots innovation activities that will have the potential to transform the global landscape, etc. The University of California, Berkeley has established the Garwood Award to acknowledge individuals who have embraced, supported and encouraged open innovation in a significant and impactful way.
· Benedict Anderson was the author of the book 'Imagined Communities'. He passed away recently. He was a scholar of Southeast Asia who transformed the study of nationalism by positing that nations were "imagined communities" that arose from the fateful interplay of capitalism and the printing press.
· The Indian playwright and novelist, Cyrus Mistry has won the 2015 Sahitya Akademi awards for his English novel "Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer". Mistry's portrayal of the near-invisible community of Parsi corpse bearers is the most engaging aspect of the novel.
· The noted writer and theatre artiste, Chatla Sriramulu (84) passed away recently. He was a railway employee who hailed from Vijayawada of Andhra Pradesh. Sriramulu was awarded 'Best Actor' twice by Andhra Nataka Kala Parishad and was also a recipient of Central Government's Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1982. He was the first artiste from Andhra Pradesh to receive Emeritus Fellowship from the Human Resources Department of Government of India. He was instrumental in the establishment of Rasaranjani, a popular literary and cultural organisation dedicated to the theatre arts. He acted in and directed more than 100 plays and wrote several books on a wide range of subjects.
· The Former Defence Secretary, Radha Krishna Mathur (62) has been appointed as the new Chief Information Commissioner in the Central Information Commission, New Delhi and he will have a tenure of about three years, till he attains the age of 65 years. He succeeded Vijai Sharma, who completed his term on December 1, 2015. Mathur is a retired IAS officer of Tripura cadre. The Central Information Commission (CIC) consists of one chief and ten information commissioners.
· Recently, the Union Government has set up a judicial commission headed by the Chairman of the 20th Law Commission of India Justice (retd) Ajit Prakash Shah, to look into the findings of the international consultant DeGolyer & MacNaughton in the gas dispute between Reliance Industries (RIL) and state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC). The single-member panel will submit its report in 3 months.
· Ashok Kumar, who is one of the pioneers of the fightback against wildlife crimes in India and chairman emeritus of the Wildlife Trust of India, Noida, has been named the Sanctuary Legend Award by Sanctuary magazine. The 2015 Sanctuary Lifetime Service Award has been conferred to the husband-wife duo of Claude and Norma Alvares, founders of the Goa Foundation which first raised the issue of sand mining in Goa's beaches in 1987. The Sanctuary Asia's Wildlife Photography Awards not only recognise the work of nature photographers, but also the contribution by individuals and groups working to protect country's forest and wildlife. The other awardees are Wildlife Service Awards ( Varad Giri, Nandini Velho, Param Jit Singh, Yash Veer Bhatnagar, Gir Lion Protection Team), Young Naturalist Awards ( Viral Joshi, Sailaja Nayak and Virendra Singh Panwar), etc.
· The International Migrants Day is observed annually on December 18 by the international community to recognize and celebrate the rights of migrants around the world. The year 2015 marked the 25th anniversary of the UN's International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. It was approved by the UN General Assembly on Dec. 18, 1990. The year 2015 will be remembered as a year of human suffering and migrant tragedies. Millions of people have been exploited and abused by human traffickers and become the targets of xenophobic policies and alarmist rhetoric. The theme of this year is " #IAmAMigrant " as a powerful social media hashtag.
· Recently, the landlocked Asian country, Afghanistan has officially became the 164th member nation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), to join the global trade body after 11 years of negotiations. Formally, the WTO has approved Afghanistan's membership proposal at its ongoing 10th ministerial conference in the Nairobi, Kenya. Before Afghanistan, Liberia has officially joined the WTO at the conference on December 16, 2015. At present, Bhutan is the only SAARC member which has so far not joined the multilateral trade body.
· Recently, the Sahitya Akademi has released a list of 23 poets and authors for 2015 Sahitya Akademi Award. In it, Ram Shankar Awasthi (Sanskrit), Brajendra Kumar Brahma (Bodo), Dhian Singh (Dogri),Cyrus Mistry (English), Jaswinder Singh (Punjabi) and Madhu Acharya 'Ashawadi' (Rajasthani), Arun Khopkar (Marathi), Kula Saikia (Assamese), Man Mohan Jha (Maithili), Gupta Pradhan (Nepali), etc. has been chosen for this prestigious award. The Akademi also announced Bhasha Samman award to scholar Shrikant Bahulkar, in recognition of his contribution to classical and medieval literature. The Sahitya Akademi Award is a literary honour in India, which the Sahitya Akademi, India's National Academy of Letters, annually confers on writers of the most outstanding books of literary merit published in any of the major Indian languages recognised by the Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi. It comprises a plaque and a cash prize of Rs. 100,000.
· The University of South Florida (USF) has launched a postgraduate annual fellowship worth $156,000 (Rs.1,03,71,660) in the name of former president Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam for Indian students who wish to enrol for PhD courses in specified fields of science and engineering at the institution. The recipients will obtain a fee waiver for four years. They will also receive a stipend worth $18,000 every year. The Kalam fellowship will be effective from the academic year 2016-17.
· Recently, Apurvi Chandela has won the women's gold in 10m air rifle in the 59th National shooting championship. Geetakshi Dixit clinched the silver, one point behind Apurvi.
· In India, 24th December is observed as National Consumer Day. On this day the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 had received the assent of the President. The enactment of this Act was considered as a historic milestone in the consumer movement in the country. The theme of the 2015 National Consumer Rights Day is "Safe & Healthy Food: Combating Food Adulteration". World Consumer Rights Day is observed on 15th March every year.
· Barcelona FC has won the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup for a third time by defeating River Plate by 3-0 goals at International Stadium Yokoham in Japan. It is the fifth trophy of Barcelona FC in the 2015 season. Earlier, Barcelona FC had won the FIFA Club World Cup in 2009 and 2011.
· India's biggest Wildlife Rescue Centre "Gorewada Zoo and Wildlife Rescue Centre" has been commissioned at Gorewada near Nagpur, Maharashtra. Gorewada Zoo and Wildlife Rescue Centre is managed by the Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM). Nagpur based Maharashtra Animal and Fisheries (MAF) University is also part of this centre. The centre is spread over 30 hectares and has been created on the lines of Gujarat based Gir National Park which is also one of the biggest and best wildlife centre in the country.
· Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach (26) has won the 2015 Miss Universe crown at the 64th Miss Universe pageant held in Las Vegas, the USA. She is a professional model, actress, host and TV personality.
· Chennaiyin FC has won the second edition of Indian Super League (ISL) Football tournament. In the final played at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Goa, they defeated hosts Goa FC by 3-2 goals score. The ISL football league was launched in 2013 to promote football in India on the lines of Indian Premier League and Twenty20 formats of Cricket. The awards of the 2nd edition of ISL are as follows: a) Golden boot Award : John Stiven Mendoza Valencia (Chennaiyin FC); b) Golden Glove Award: Apoula Edima Edel Bete (Chennaiyin FC); c) Muthoot Group Fair Play Award: Mumbai FC; d) Hero of the League award: John Stiven Mendoza Valencia (Chennaiyin FC); e) Fittest Player of the ISL 2015: Iain Hume (Atletico de Kolkata); f) Emerging Player of the League: Jeje Lalpekhlua (Chennaiyin FC).
· The Government of Mexico has approved the use of the first-ever vaccine (Dengvaxia) for dengue fever. The Dengvaxia vaccine is manufactured by the French drug maker Sanofi. The vaccine protected two-thirds of people against dengue in those aged 9 and older in two large clinical trials spanning Latin America and Asia, involving more than 40,000 children and adolescents.
· Andy Murray has won the 2015 BBC Sports Personality of the Year for the second time in three years. The 2013 winner inspired Great Britain's tennis team to a first Davis Cup victory for 79 years. Rugby World Cup-winning fly-half Dan Carter has been named 2015 BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year.
· India has ranked a low 97th out of 144 nations on Forbes' annual list of the best countries for business in 2015, scoring poorly on metrics like trade and monetary freedom and tackling challenges like corruption and violence. Denmark topped the list of the 144 nations on the Best Countries of Business in 2015 list by Forbes.
· The WTO's 10th Ministerial Conference was held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 15 to 19 December 2015. It culminated in the adoption of the "Nairobi Package", a series of six Ministerial Decisions on agriculture, cotton and issues related to least-developed countries (LDCs). The present Director-General of the WTO is Roberto Azevedo.
· India's Abhay Singh has won the boys Under-19 Singapore Squash Open title by beating second seed Alwin Chai of Malaysia in the final match. Abhay, world number one junior player, now has a tally of seven junior titles this year, two of them international.
· Recently, the Odisha Government has launched Anwesha scheme to provide free education to SC/ST students from remote areas in urban area public schools. As per the scheme, every year 5000 children from backward castes will pursue quality education in leading English medium schools. In the first phase, the scheme will be operational in 17 tribal-dominated districts of Odisha. The state government will bear all expenses of the children like school fees, uniform, books, hostel, transportation, etc. In future, the facility will be extended to two lakh more students.
· Recently, the Delhi Government has appointed a one-member commission of inquiry to probe the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) scam in which Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is also under lens. The commission of inquiry will be headed by former solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam.
· Recently, China has launched the Dark Matter Particle Explorer (DAMPE) satellite to shed light on mysterious dark matter. The purpose of the satellite is to search for smoking-gun signals of dark matter, invisible material. It was China's first space telescope and launched on a Long March 2-D rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre. The satellite would be place in a sun- synchronous orbit at a height of 500 kilometres to observe the direction, energy and electric charge of high-energy particles in space. It has a nicknamed "Wukong" after the Monkey King with penetrating eyes in the Chinese classical fiction Journey to the West.
· Star Indian boxer Vijender Singh, who is the former Olympic and World Championships bronze-medallist, continued his dominant position in the professional circuit by winning a third successive knockout against Bulgaria's Samet Hyuseinov in less than two rounds in England. He is the first Indian to score Pro-Boxing hat-trick.
· The Indian mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan was born on 22 December 1887. In recognition of his contribution to Mathematics, December 22 has been observed as the National Mathematics Day in India since 2012.
· Recently, the National Institute of Mental Health And Neurological Sciences (NIMHANS) has been declared as an Institute of National Importance by an act of parliament. It is a medical institution located in Bangalore to provide state of art and specialized care in the areas of mental health, neurological and neurosurgical problems.
· Recently, the Union Cabinet has approved the reconstruction and completion of Salma Dam Project in Afghanistan at a revised cost estimate of Rs 1,775.69 crore. The dam project is situated on the upper reaches of Hari Rud River in Herat province, it involves construction of a 107.5 metre high earth and rock fill dam and a 42 MW powerhouse with three units of 14 MW each. It also has provision for releasing water for irrigation of 75,000 hectares of land. The project is scheduled to be completed by June, 2016. M/s. WAPCOS, a central public sector unit under the Ministry of Water Resources, is executing the project. The availability of power and water through the project is expected to lead to the overall economic development of the western region of Afghanistan and generate goodwill for India.
· The Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL) has became the first licensed shipyard in India to build Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) ships for any client worldwide. The certification / license has been given by the French Company, Gaztransport et Technigaz (GTT). Now, the CSL is authorised to use the membrane type technologies of GTT for any liquid gas carriers, more particularly the LNG carriers. With this nod, India has joined the league of South Korea, Japan and China to build LNG transportation ships. The GTT France is the world leader in design engineering and technology provider of membrane type containment systems for transportation and storage of LNG.
· Recently, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has written to Karnataka Chief Secretary and Deputy Commissioners of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts to take immediate steps to stop the 'Kambala' (annual Buffalo race in muddy fields) events in the current season. The AWBI said that the Supreme Court judgement of May 7, 2014, banning all bull races in the country was still in force. Kambala season in the coastal region of Karnataka begins in November and lasts till March. Five events have already been held this year starting with Surya Chandra Kambala at Bangadi in Dakshina Kannada on November 21.
· Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis are named as women's doubles World champions by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) in recognition of their great success in season 2015. Hingis is an ITF World champion 15 years after last being named World champion in singles in 2000. In 2015, the pair has won two Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon and the US Open, and seven other tournaments. The ITF also announced American Serena Williams and Serbian Novak Djokovic as the 2015 ITF World champions.
· To ensure better transmission of its rate cut to borrowers, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has introduced the Marginal Cost of Funds based Lending Rate (MCLR) to calculate the banks lending rate to borrowers. All rupee loans sanctioned and credit limits renewed w.e.f. April 1, 2016 will be priced with reference to the MCLR method. Currently, many banks follow average cost of funds or 'blended cost of funds (liabilities) method' for calculating the base rate. The MCLR methodology will help the borrowers to reap the benefit of lower lending rates. It will also improve transparency in the methodology followed by banks for determining interest rates on advances.
· Andhra Pradesh has won the bid to host the 2019 National Games after Meghalaya withdrew from the bidding process after a series of meetings with its Andhra Pradesh counterparts. While Goa is hosting the next edition (36th) of National Games in 2016, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Haryana had placed bids for the 2018 games. Although National Games are held once in two years, the next calendar is said to have been adjusted to 2019 following AP's request.
· Philippines has became the first Asian country to approve the sale of the world's first ever dengue vaccine Dengvaxia in the country. The Dengvaxia vaccine has been manufactured by French pharmaceutical manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur. It has been designed to protect people in the 9-45 age groups from all four subtypes of the virus.
· Gujarat has become the first state in the country to take up Public-Private Partnership Projects for an in-situ redevelopment of slums in urban areas under the recently launched Prime Minister's Awas Yojana (Urban).
· Recently, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has adopted a resolution to designate 'November 5' as World Tsunami Awareness Day every year. The purpose of tsunami day is to raise awareness among people in the world of the dangers of tsunami and stressing the importance of early warning systems in order to mitigate damage. The November 5 has been selected by UNGA to coincide with the annual anniversary of the 1854 Inamura-no-hi or "Fire of Inamura" event. On November 5 of that year a Japanese villager through his quick action saved countless lives when he set fire to sheaves of rice, thus warning people of the imminent danger of a tsunami. Note: The International Day for Disaster Reduction has been observed annually on October 13 to highlight tsunami.
· India's former wicket-keeper batsman, Mr. Syed Kirmani has been chosen for the prestigious 2015 C.K. Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award. He will be the 23rd recipient of the award. The award comprises a trophy, citation and cheque for Rs. 25 lakhs. He played 88 test matches and 49 ODIs. In 1983 world cup, Kirmani won the best wicket-keeper, in it, he shared an unbeaten 126 run-partnership with Kapil Dev against Zimbabwe as the Indian captain went on to register one of India's greatest wins at Tunbridge Wells.
· Recently, the Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has inaugurated the cable stayed-bridge on river Ravi at Basholi area of Kathua district of Jammu province. The 592-metre-long Basholi bridge is first of its kind in North India. It will provide close connectivity between the three states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab. The other three cable-stayed bridges are of India are Hooghly Bridge at Kolkata, Naini Bridge in Allahabad and Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link in Mumbai.
· The Australian captain, Steven Smith has became the 4th Australia player and 11th player overall to won the prestigious Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy after being named as the ICC Cricketer of the Year 2015. He also won the 2015 ICC Test Cricketer of the Year award.
· Recently, the Zimbabwe government has announced that it will officially make the Chinese yuan as legal currency after Beijing confirmed that it would cancel $40m in debts. As per the decision, Yuan will be a function of trade between China and Zimbabwe and acceptability with customers in Zimbabwe.
· Rakesh K. Jain, an Indian American professor, has been bestowed with the 2015 National Medal of Science of the United States. He will be presented the award along with 16 other winners by President Barack Obama at a White House ceremony in January 2016. Currently, Mr. Jain is working as professor at Harvard Medical School and also is the director of tumour biology laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is regarded as a pioneer in the area of tumour micro-environment and widely recognized for his seminal discoveries in tumor biology, in vivo imaging, bioengineering, drug delivery and bench-to-bedside translation. The National Medal of Science is an honour bestowed by the President of the United States to individuals in science and engineering who have made important contributions to the advancement of knowledge in the fields of behavioural and social sciences, biology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics and physics.
· Tech Mahindra has launched the 'MoboMoney', a first of its kind 'Tap N Pay' contactless digital payment solution for the Indian masses. MoboMoney is a prepaid wallet issued in the form of a NFC (Near Field Communication) contactless tag that could be used to 'Tap N Pay' for goods and services. Termed as India's first commercial NFC ecosystem rollout, MoboMoney allows consumers to load their wallet by paying cash at its 1000+ retail network, helping convert cash into e-cash.
· India observed its second National Good governance day on December 25, 2015 to create awareness among the Indian people of accountability in government. On this occasion, the Union Health ministry has launched four information technology driven initiatives to mark good governance day. The initiatives include IT-based programmes focused on maternal and child care, tobacco control and tuberculosis diagnosis and treatment. National Good governance day was established in 2014 to observe the birthday of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
· Recently, Korada Ramana bagged gold medals in the men's 56kg categories in the Senior National Weightlifting Championships at the SAI centre in Patiala. Apart from him, Sanjita Chanu has also won gold in the women's 48 kg in the championship.
· Recently, the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) and Oil India Ltd (OIL) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Russian National Oil company Rosneft for cooperation in geologic survey, exploration and production of hydrocarbons in select onshore areas in Russia. As per the MoU, all three oil companies are agreed to examine the possibility of cooperation in respect of the Taas-Yuryakh Neftegazodobycha LLC assets in East Serbia. ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL)is in talks to raise its stake in Russia's second biggest oilfield of Vankor.
· Search engine Yahoo said that 'Cow' has emerged as the 'Personality of the Year 2015' on the back of online buzz around beef ban and associated discussions on intolerance. The trend is a part of Yahoo's 2015 Year in Review (YIR) for India. It is a look at the year's top trends, happenings and events.
· Veteran Bollywood actress and style icon, Sadhana Shivdasani (74) passed away on December 25, 2015 at Mumbai, Maharashtra. The legendary actress introduced the fringe hairstyle in the Indian film industry, which was famously known as Sadhana cut. She was known for films like Mera Saaya,, Love in Simla, Parakh, Hum Dono, Waqt, Geeta Mera Naam, Who Kaun Thi, Ek Phool Do Mali, Intaquam, etc.
· Recently, US state of Ohio has named a 36-year-old Indian American doctor Amit Majmudar, as the first Poet Laureate for showcasing a variety of styles in his poetry. Majmudar who serves as a diagnostic and nuclear radiologist, is also a medical doctor in Columbus. The legislation creating the position of the State's official poet was passed in 2014.
· The Migration and Remittances Factbook 2016 is released by the World Bank. According to the report, total remittance flows to India are expected to touch a staggering $72.2 billion in 2015, making it the highest recipient worldwide. China is ranked second, with remittance flows expected to reach $63.9 billion, followed by the Philippines ($29.7 billion), Mexico ($25.7 billion) and France ($24.6 billion). Total global remittances are estimated to exceed $600 billion in 2015.
· Recently, the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee has inaugurated the Sri Venkateswara Veda Patasala at Ai Bhimavaram village in Akiveedu mandal of West Godavari district, Andhra Pradesh. Mukherjee stated that Vedic texts enshrine the message of world peace, prosperity and sustainable development. The Tirumala Tirupati Devastanams (TTD) has constructed the Pathshala at a cost of about 5 crore rupees.
· India is building its first Naval Base on the Assumption Island of Seychelles in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) as a joint project between both countries. India's first Naval Base project has acquired significance following China acquiring its first African naval base in Djibouti (near Horn of Africa) in November 2014. From March 2016, India is also set to acquire a fully operational coastal radar system (CRS) in Seychelles. It would further enhance India's ability to gather intelligence and assist in surveillance operations in IOR especially vital energy lanes near Seychelles.
· Recently, the Indian luger, Shiva Keshavan has clinched a silver medal at the 2015 Asian Luge Championship held in Nagano, Japan. The first place was grabbed by Japan's Hidenari Kanayama and the third place is grabbed by South Korea's Dong Hyeon Kim. Shiva Keshavan is a five time Olympian and the first Indian representative to compete in luge at the Winter Olympic Games.
· In the 2015 Globe Soccer Awards, the Best player of the Year 2015 has been given to the Argentine footballer Lionel Messi. The other awardees are as follows: Barcelona (Best Club), Josep Maria Bartomeu (Best President), Frank Lampard (Player Career Award) etc.
· Recently, Achyutanand Mishra has been bestowed with 2015 Atal Samman Award for his outstanding contribution to the society. The award has been given by the cultural organisation 'Abhiyan' on the occasion of the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's 91st birthday at Mumbai, Maharashtra on December 25, 2015.
· Jammu and Kashmir will host the 12th National Ice-Skating Championship at the ski-resort of Gulmarg from December 30, 2015 for five days. Almost 17 teams from various states like Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are going to participate in the championship under the sponsorship of national ice skating association. Around 150 athletes will take part in the ice skating championship which will include Short Track Speed Skating, Dancing and Figure Skating.
· The renowned American science fiction and fantasy writer, George Clayton Johnson (86) passed away in Los Angeles, US. He was best known for co-writing the novel Logan's Run with William F. Nolan. Johnson was also known for his television scripts for The Twilight Zone (including "Nothing in the Dark", "Kick the Can", "A Game of Pool", and "A Penny for Your Thoughts") and the first telecast episode of Star Trek, entitled "The Man Trap".
· The senior IAS officer of Kerala cadre, Amitabh Kant has been given additional responsibility of being Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NITI Aayog from December 31, 2015. He will succeed the incumbent NITI Aayog CEO Sindhushree Khullar whose extended tenure will end on December 31, 2015. Currently, Kant is serving as Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) and is expected to retire on February 28, 2016.
· Recently, the largest private sector lender, ICICI Bank has tied up with Indian Railway's e-ticketing platform IRCTC to sell rail tickets through its website. With this, ICICI Bank's website and mobile app have become the first non-IRCTC platform which can now book train tickets. Soon, the facility to book rail tickets on its mobile banking application and prepaid digital wallet will be launch. To avail the facility, the users will have to first register themselves on the website of Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC). Once this is done, passengers need to complete a one-time registration with ICICI Bank in order to book train tickets via their website and mobile app.
· Telangana has become the second State after Maharashtra to set up the Zoroastrian jury. The 15-member Zoroastrian jury will aid the settlement of marriage and divorce of the Parsi people in the State within their community.
· The first ever Iranshah Udvada Utsav(IUU) was organised in Udvada, Navasari of Gujarat from December 25-27. Udvada is the holiest place for Paris from across the world. The plan is to develop Udvavda as pilgrim centre. Iranshah Udvada Utsav is the brainchild of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The IUU was jointly organised by the Foundation for Development of Udavada (FDU) and the Udavada Samast Anjuman (USA), which have eminent Parsi leaders as members.
· In the 2015 Pro Wrestling League final, Mumbai Garuda team beat the Haryana Hammers. Pro Wrestling League (PWL) India 2015 is the first wrestling league in India which is owned by Pro Sportify. In the present season, a total of 6 teams each with 9 players have participated.
· The Oscar-winning cinematographer and documentary filmmaker, Haskell Wexler (93) passed away in California, USA. He was best known for his work in films like Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Days of Heaven, Bound for Glory, In the Heat of the Night, American Graffiti, etc. Wexler was one of the film history's most influential cinematographers in a survey of the members of the International Cinematographers Guild.
· Gujarat has won its first Vijay Hazare Cricket Trophy by defeating Delhi in the finals by 139 runs at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore. The 2015-16 Vijay Hazare Trophy is the 14th season of this tournament, that was hosted by Karnataka from December 10 to 28, 2015. The trophy is a List A cricket tournament in India, is also known as the Ranji One Day Trophy and is named after the famous Indian cricketer Vijay Hazare.
· The noted Gujarati litterateur, Raghuveer Chaudhary (76) has been selected for the 51st Jnanpith award for his contribution to Indian literature. He wrote more than eighty books including novels, poetry, plays and literary criticism. Some of them are Trijo Purush, Purvarang, Laagni, Sikandar Sani, Tamasa, Akasmik Sparsh, etc. Chaudhary is the fourth Gujarati writer to won this prestigious award after Uma Shankar Joshi (1967), Pannalal Patel (1985) and Rajendra Shah (2001).
· Recently, China has successfully launched its most sophisticated Earth-observation satellite, Gaofen-4. It is China's first geosynchronous orbit HD optical imaging satellite and the world's most sophisticated HD geosynchronous orbit remote sensing satellite. It was launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in the southwestern province of Sichuan through a Long March-3B carrier rocket. The data collected by Gaofen-4 will be used for disaster prevention and relief, surveillance of geological disasters and forest disasters and meteorological forecast.
· The second edition of the All Light India International Film Festival (ALIIFF) and Indywood Film Market will be held at Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad from August 17 to 21, 2016. The film festival will witness participation from more than 70 countries, 1,000 international delegates, 3,000 film market delegates and more than 1,500 film submissions.
· Committee The Reserve Bank of India has released Deepak Mohanty committee report on medium-term path on financial inclusion. The committee noted that after the launch of the JanDhanYojana substantial progress has been made in terms of access of financial products and services. However, the panel said that much need to be done for inclusion of women, small and marginal farmers, and micro & small enterprises.
· Recently, Giorgi Kvirikashvili has been designated as the 12th Prime Minister of Georgia by the Parliament of the country. Prior to this, he was the Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development. Kvirikashvili was elected by the Parliament after then Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili had resigned from the post on December 29, 2015 without explaining his decision.
· The 2015 South Asian Football Federation Cup (SAFF Championship) is the 11th edition of the SAFF Championship, the biennial international men's football championship of South Asia organized by SAFF. It is being held in India from 23 December 2015 to 3 January 2016.
· The Varunastra is an advanced heavyweight anti-submarine torpedo of India. It is developed by Naval Science and Technological Laboratory (NSTL) of the DRDO for the Indian Navy. Its weight is 1500 kg.
· Asia's largest underground railway station has been opened in China's southern city of Shenzhen. The three-storey 'Futian High-speed Railway Station' would cover an area of 147,000 square meters and have seating for 3,000 passengers. It is also the world's second largest underground railway station, only after the Grand Central Station in New York, the USA.