1. UNHCR chosen for 2015 Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has been chosen for the prestigious 2015 Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development. The prestigious award has been bestowed on office of UNHCR in recognition of its Immense contributions in assisting millions of refugees in their rehabilitation and resettlement. For working under difficult circumstances to bring about changes in order to reduce the flow of refugees. UN Refugee Agency was chosen for this edition of award by the international jury of the prize, headed by Vice President Hamid Ansari. It was declared on the occasion of 98th birth anniversary of India’s Iron Lady Indira Gandhi who was first women Prime Minister of India (in office from 1966–1977 and 1980–1984).
2. Nitish Kumar sworn-in as Bihar Chief Minister
Senior JDU leader Nitish Kumar was sworn-in as Chief Minister of Bihar for the fifth time on 20 November 2015. The swearing-in ceremony was held at the Gandhi Maidan in Patna.
Governor Ramnath Kovind administered the oath of office and secrecy to Nitish Kumar. He also administered the oath of the office to other council of ministers belonging to RJD, JD(U) and Congress parties.
RJD president Lalu Prasad's sons, first time MLA Tejaswi Prasad Yadav and Tej Pratap Yadav, were also sworn in.
3. 7th Central Pay Commission submitted its report; recommended 23.55% hike
The 7th Central Pay Commission (CPC) headed by Justice AK Mathur submitted its report to the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. The commission recommended 23.55 percent hike in pay and allowances of government employees.
The recommended pay revision will come into effect from 1 January 2016.
Recommendations of 7th Central Pay Commission
The minimum pay for government employees is recommended to be set at 18000 rupees per month.
The maximum pay is recommended to be 225000 rupees per month for Apex Scale and 250000 per month for Cabinet Secretary and others presently at the same pay level.
The increase in pay will be 16 percent, increase in allowances will be 63 percent and increase in pension will be 24 percent.
The present system of pay bands and grade pay has been dispensed and a new pay matrix has been designed. Grade Pay has been subsumed in the pay matrix. The status of the employee, determined by grade pay, will now be determined by the level in the pay matrix.
The rate of annual increment for employees will be 3 percent.
Abolition of 52 allowances and introduction of a Health Insurance Scheme.
One Rank One Pension proposed for civilian government employees on line of OROP for armed forces.
Increase in Military Service Pay and revised pension formula for civil employees including Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and Defence Personnel retiring before 1 January 2016.
Military Service Pay (MSP), which is a compensation for the various aspects of military service, will be admissible to the defence forces personnel only.
Ceiling of gratuity enhanced from 10 lakh rupees to 20 lakh rupees and ceiling on gratuity will be raised by 25 percent whenever DA rises by 50 percent.
Short service commissioned officers will be allowed to exit the armed forces at any point in time between 7 to 10 years of service.
A fitment factor of 2.57 which will be applied uniformly to all employees.
Systemic change in the process of Cadre Review for Group A officers recommended.
Allowances relating to Risk and Hardship will be governed by the newly proposed nine-cell Risk and Hardship Matrix.
It recommends that House Rent Allowance (HRA) be paid at the rate of 24 percent, 16 percent and 8 percent of the new Basic Pay for Class X, Y and Z cities respectively. The rate of HRA will be revised to 27 percent, 18 percent and 9 percent respectively when DA crosses 50 percent.
It recommended abolition of all non-interest bearing advances and increased the limit for interest-bearing advances for buying home from 7.5 lakh rupees to 25 lakh rupees.
Introduction of a Health Insurance Scheme for Central Government employees and pensioners has been recommended.
It recommends that in case of death in the line of duty, the force personnel of CAPFs should be accorded martyr status, at par with the defence forces personnel.
A consolidated pay package of 450000 rupees and 400000 rupees per month for Chairpersons and Members respectively of select Regulatory bodies.
Introduction of the Performance Related Pay (PRP) for all categories of Central Government employees, based on quality Results Framework Documents and Annual Performance Appraisal Reports.
All India Service officers and Central Services Group A officers who have completed 17 years of service should be eligible for empanelment under the Central Staffing Scheme and there should not be two year edge.
The age of superannuation for all CAPF personnel should be 60 years uniformly.
4. Egypt, Russia signed deal to build a nuclear power plant in Egypt
Egypt and Russia signed an agreement to build a nuclear power plant in Egypt. As per the agreement, Russia will extend a loan to Egypt to cover the cost of construction.
The plant is expected to be completed by 2022.
Highlights of the deal
• The plant will be the first in Egypt and will be built at Dabaa in the North of the country.
• The project would involve the building of a third-generation plant with four reactors.
• Egypt will not bear the cost of building this plant. It will be paid back through the actual production of electricity that will be generated by this plant.
5. University of East London awarded honorary doctorate to Ashok Amritraj
Tennis champion-turned Hollywood filmmaker Ashok Amritraj 5 was awarded with an honorary doctorate of Arts by the University of East London.
Amritraj was honoured for promoting talented moviemakers from across the world, including India.
About Ashok Amritraj
• Born on 22 February 1956 in Chennai, Amritraj started his career as a tennis player who represented India on an international level.
• He competed in doubles at Wimbledon and the US Open.
• He reached the third round of the US Open in 1977.
• He also gained victories over Paul McNamee and his brother Vijay Amritraj in singles.
• Later, he jumped into film-making and created 2 billion US dollars in worldwide revenues.
• His filmography as producer includes movies such as Bringing down the House, Premonition, Machete, Blue Valentine and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.
6. TCS, Intel launched Centre of Excellence for IoT in Hyderabad
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), India's largest software exporter, launched a new Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Internet of Things (IoT) in collaboration with Intel.
The CoE is located at the TCS campus in Hyderabad.
Features of the CoE for IoT
• Its focus is to integrate IoT solutions developed by TCS on Intel IoT platforms and to fast-track creation of end-to-end solutions.
• It will augment developing new use cases for various industries for global customers in manufacturing, retail, hi-tech, semiconductors, healthcare and telecom industries.
• It will enable the creation of indigenous and innovative solutions, establish a strong ecosystem of IoT, cloud computing, and a software-defined network.
• It will help in creating new business opportunities; simplify product development and help customers deal with rapid changes in technology.
• It will develop the new Intel IoT Platform reference architecture for smart and connected things to enable the development of secure and integrated smart solutions.
7. WADA suspended Russian Anti-Doping Agency for non-compliance
World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) suspended the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) with immediate effect. WADA termed RUSADA as non-compliant with international sport's anti-doping code.
The WADA took the decision to suspend RUSADA following a key recommendation of the Independent Commission headed by Richard Proud. The commission had found widespread doping in Russian athletics.
The suspension means that Russia, now, has no functioning national anti-doping body to test its athletes in any sport. The suspension has also created doubts over participation of Russia in 2016 Summer Olympics to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Besides, Andorra, Argentina, Bolivia and Ukraine were also termed non-compliant. However, they were not suspended. They have been given a deadline of 18 March 2016 to comply with international sport's anti-doping code. In addition, Brazil, Belgium, France, Greece, Mexico and Spain were placed on a compliance watchlist.
8. World Economic Forum released Global Gender Gap Report 2015
World Economic Forum (WEF) on 19 November 2015 released the Global Gender Gap Report 2015. It ranked 145 economies according to how well they are leveraging their female talent pool, based on economic, educational, health-based and political indicators.
As per the report, the global gender gap across health, education, economic opportunity and politics has closed by only 4 percent in the past 10 years suggesting it will take another 118 years to close this gap completely.
And, out of the 145 countries surveyed, while Iceland topped the Gender Gap Index for the seventh year in a row, India stood at the 108th position.
Main Highlights of the Global Gender Gap Report 2015
• Top 5 countries with high gender equality are Iceland (1), Norway (2), Finland (3), Sweden (4) and Ireland (5).
• Five countries with least gender equality are Iran (141), Chad (142), Syria (143), Pakistan (144) and Yemen (145).
• The Nordic countries still dominate the Global Gender Gap Index. Ireland is the highest placed non-Nordic country, ranking 5th. Rwanda (6), Philippines (7) and New Zealand (10) are the only non-European countries in the top 10; and the United States falls eight places to 28th.
• As compared to 2006, an extra quarter of a billion women have entered the labor force in 2015 that is pegged at 1.75 billion.
• The pay disparities still persists as women received annual earnings up to 11000 US dollars in 2015 compared to earnings of 21000 US dollars by men. Incidentally, men earned the same amount, 11000 US dollars, in 2006.
9. Former Gujarat Governor and CEC RK Trivedi passes away
Former Gujarat Governor and Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Ram Krishna Trivedi passed away in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh after prolonged illness. He was 94. Mr. Trivedi had served as the CEC of India from 1982 to 1985 and was the first person to introduce the Election Photo identity card (EPIC) i.e. voter ID cards in Indian Elections. He had joined civil services in 1943 and had a long and distinguished career as a bureaucrat. Mr. Trivedi had served Governor of Gujarat from 1986 to 1990. He also had served as the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) and was appointed in October 1980. Government of India had honoured him with prestigious Padma Vibhushan in recognition to his services towards the nation.
10. Tata Steel commissions first phase of Kalinganagar plant in Odisha
Tata Steel has commissioned the first phase of its integrated steel plant at Kalinganagar steel plant in Jajpur district of Odisha. It was inaugurated by Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik as part of his Government ambition of industrialising the state rapidly.
Kalinga Nagar steel plant is the second biggest plant of the company and is the largest Greenfield steel project in the country. The plant is spread across 2200 acre land and has been established at an investment of Rs 25,000 crore. It has a production capacity of 6 million tonne per annum and generally would produce flat, lighter, high-tensile strength steel. The plant also boasts of India’s largest blast furnace at 4,330 cubic meters. On completion it would provide employment for 45,000 people.
11. Kelkar panel suggests new ways to fund PPP projects
The Vijay Kelkar committee, which was reviewing the public-private partnership model of infrastructure development, has made recommendations to improve the financing of such projects.
The committee has analysed the risks involved and the existing framework of risk-sharing between the project developer and the government and given its recommendations.